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July/August 1998, Issue 19
[includes a video performance of "Spark" live in Hollywood]
I was in the Cherub Choir when I was three. And I remember there was a Christmas church special production that we put on and, you know, you always want to be an angel, I think, when you're a little girl, or a devil, it's one or the other. But I ended up being the donkey. And I know somebody has to be the donkey, right, but it's always that moment of, my father would say, "Now, Myra Ellen, you be a good sport, now, you be the donkey." And that's my first memory of being in the choir.
The Shape I Am In
You want the instruments to come at you sort of like star ships, you know. So if they're coming out of the speakers, you'll sit there and go, "Well, I want part of that bit to be split off and some of it come of here and some of it come from underneath," and you're constantly making shapes. And the engineers were very much about the shape.
A Muse to Muse
Every songwriter is in their own songs, even if it's from an observational standpoint, or you couldn't write, you couldn't translate them. You would be getting these songs to translate or, you know, they'd go to Jewel or something, and I'd get her songs. But, obviously, I don't. They come to her in a way that only she can interpret. And that's what's exciting, I think, about seeing yourself as a translator instead of being the only creator because, well, first of all, because you're not, and second of all, I think you insult the Muse when you do that.
Musicially, obviously, I was a fan of Led Zeppelin. Come on, who wasn't a fan of David Cassidy for his jeans?
Producing Choirgirl Hotel
I wanted to take the bloodline further, from the keyboard, from the piano, to the synth world. And the songs really demanded it because there's an ancientness I felt about them, but they're extremely here, now, and in their go-go boots, you know, they're very much about using any aspect in the studio. Obviously, we have loads of gear. We spend all the royalty checks on shoes and gear.
There is a deep connection that I have to the gay community because those boys, you know, they taught me how to sit and they taught me how to buy shoes and how to put on the right lipstick and I remember saying, somebody asked me, I remember saying, you know, "I want to conquer the world. I want to be an independent woman. I want to have my own business. I don't want to have to answer to a man. I really want to, you know, do it for myself." And I remember Joey McDonald saying to me, "Oh, but sweetie, do it with the right color lipstick on."
I just think it's so fantastic that I walk into the studio in Cornwall, there are computers everywhere. There are eight computers in that house, just everywhere. Everybody has their own. It's like, "No, this is mine." "Well, this one's mine." And I go, "Okay." I just bring them tea, stand over their shoulder. I find it all really fascinating. I'm into that with my keyboards. I have my harpsichords and I have the Boseys and I care for them and they have a really sweet piano tech and he brings them blankets and they get humidifiers. And, you know, they're really cared for. So, I understand that affection for a non, quote-unquote, living being.
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the World of Tori Amos