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Performing Arts (US)
official magazine of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center
MEET THE ARTIST
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"I developed this record around rhythm," she says. "I wanted to use rhythm in a way that I hadn't used it before; I wanted to integrate the piano with it. On the whole record, the piano and vocal were cut live with a drummer and a programmer. I didn't want to be isolated this time around. I've done the 'girl and the piano' thing. I wanted to be a player with other players."
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"The piano player knew her head was on the chopping block with this one," she says with a smile. "She really had to practice hard to be able to play with these guys!"
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If Tori had long known that she wanted to use rhythm and live recording in a way she hadn't done before, she couldn't have foreseen the wider source of inspiration for her new songs. "I wasn't going to write this record as soon as I did," she says. "But at the end of 1996, I was near the finish of a tour and I was pregnant. I had known from very early on -- within a week -- that I was pregnant. So I lived with the feeling and got attached to the soul that was coming in. And then, at almost three months, I miscarried. It was a great shock to me, because I really thought I was out of the woods, and I was really excited to be a mom.
"I went through a lot of different feelings after the miscarriage," she continues. "You go through everything possible. You question qhat is fair, you get angry with the spirit for not wanting to come, you keep asking why. And then, as I was going through the anger and the sorrow, the songs started to come. Before I was even aware, they were coming to me in droves. Looking back, that's the way it's always happened for me in my life. When things get really empty for me -- empty in my outer life -- in my inner life, the music world, the songs come across galaxies to find me."
That event was the seed of the new album. The loss of her baby was what Tori called "the egg" of her music. "People had a very hard time talking to me about what had happened," she says. "And I had a hard time talking about it. But the songs seemed to have such an easy time talking to me. And I began to feel the freedom of the music."
That freedom revealed itself in a variety of ways. "Each song would show me a certain side of myself because of what I was going through," Tori says. "So a song like cruel came to me out of my anger. She's your cocaine and iieee came out of a sense of loss and sacrifice. And other songs celebrated the fact that I had found a new appreciation for life through this loss."
Perhaps it's surprising, but from the choirgirl hotel -- as spiky and spirited and even barbed as it often can be -- is never somber in the way that Tori's last album, Boys for Pele, was. "I crossed the River Styx on that record," Amos says of Pele, an album that charted what she called "a change -- for good -- in my relationships with men." And the new album is different, too, from Little Earthquakes ("a diary") and Under the Pink ("a kind of impressionistic painting").
from the choirgirl hotel emerges as, somehow, a much more complete record than the singer has made before. Tori agrees: "Each song to me is complete. They're not as interconnected; they're not dependent on each other to work. They get to hang out together and you get to know them together, but they exist quite happily without each other."
t o r i p h o r i a
tori amos digital archive