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September 29, 1999
live online chat with Tori Amos
7:30pm, before her concert in Dallas, Texas
Question: Where did the inspiration for To Venus and Back come from??
Tori Amos: This is a three-tiered answer. The initial jolt was when I was having a really good Corton-Charlemagne with two of my girlfriends in Ohio. I think it was a Dayton show, but it was near the end of the tour last year. And I knew that we were doing a live record and at the time I thought we were doing a B-side record with a few extra tracks, not knowing what the few extra tracks were at all because they hadn't been written yet. So, my two friends were coming up with all sorts of things and I knew I had to go to somewhere and back from somewhere. Finally, after all of, you can imagine the silliness, Natalie looked at me and said, you'd go to Venus and back if you could. And I looked at her and said, absolutely wherever Venus is, I would go there.
Second tier: Now that the title was in place, strangely enough, songs started to come and visit me. And, not one at a time, but several motifs and themes would come belonging to very different essences. I knew that we were starting to go through the live DATs end of February of '99. What I didn't realize is all the songs were coming or that a new album was in the birthing. When I ended at and the Cornwall, at the end of February, which is where Martian Engineering is, my hangout, I had no idea even still that I was making a new record. And I played all the songs from Mark & Marcel who engineered this album and mixed it. And they looked at me and said that sonically these songs really would sound random if I put them on a B-side compilation.
Third tier: As I opened up much more to the Venus spectrum, people have been sending me information on Venus mythology. I should say Venusian, I guess. And I don't just mean in the sense of a woman, but in the sense of feminine consciousness. And it's quite strange how none of these songs started to come except for Juarez, which came while I was in Texas. Which is where I'm talking to you from right now. And only that came in bits and pieces and that was in October of last year.
Question: You mentioned last year in an interview that your favorite singer is Elizabeth Fraser and your favorite song is "Treasure." Have
you ever thought of collaborating with her or any other musicians you admire?
Tori Amos: No. I'm kind of a hermit. I think collaboration comes out of a relaxed atmosphere, usually when you're just hanging around and in this day and age, people don't hang around anymore, if you've noticed. It's sort of a different time for that. But I'm also quite shy. I know it doesn't seem like it, but when
I'm not behind a piano, I am.
Question: What is your idea of a perfect concert experience?
Tori Amos: Well, that's an interesting one because I'm making the set list now to go on in about an hour and a half and I'm trying to get a sense of place. I'm trying to get a sense of the amount of photons that are hitting the earth right now in this particular place, which is Dallas. And, you just try and kind of get your audience and the show in the beam where that speed of light beem is coming from. And I know somebody is rolling their eyes at me right now, but you try and
play to 10,000 people and see if you can hold them. When you make it all about you, it gets boring very quick. So, ultimately, people come to a concert because they want to take a trip. And, music, as we all know, has a certain power if it's done right, because you're translating from the ether, you're translating the non-tangible and you still can't hold it in your hands. Not like a painting. That's what it is. The CD isn't the music, do you see what I mean? So when we're playing live it goes through a person's being and I think music has the power to change forms and shapes, a person's aura. Do I believe in auras? Of course. Do I know many people who can read them? Of course not. I can't read them, but I can sense sound.
Question: Tori, thank you for all of the wonderful music you write. "1000 Oceans" is an amazing song and one that is especially meaningful to me as I am currently losing the love of my life. What inspired you to write "1000 Oceans?"
Tori Amos: Well, different things really. I was woken up in the middle of the night at about 5:30 in the morning or something. And a woman's voice was singing it to me. She was African, quite ancient. And I couldn't understand any of the words, but she was humming hte first couple phrases. So I crawled out of bed and found my way to the piano and I put in on a little ghetto blaster so I wouldn't forget it and in the next few weeks I started to shape it. It wasn't about one event. It was clear to me that there was this endless determination that the song had to reach her love. And I don't know if that was a child or a lover or a friend who the song couldn't seem to be able to make contact with anymore. So when I finally found, and I was looking through a map and when I look for lyrics I go hunting. So, as I was looking through all the maps and finding places, I was looking on maps of Dartmoor and I was working with a lot of different regions. And finally it hit me, that it was through the solar field and it wasn't listed on the maps. Because I was being dragged away from the maps to go to sort of a physics book, actually an astronomy book, a book on all sorts of laws and principles of the universe that Marcel had. And, as I finally found solar field it was like I started to feel her jump up and down. Sometimes the songs do that. You get a sense of that they really are alive. So, my husband had lost his father and he would swing by where I was playing and he would say to me, can you play that little song about the oceans? And that seemed to be sort of a way that we would talk about his dad when no other words could work. So, I think it means different things for different people. But the sense that I got was I couldn't measure the amount of love that this song had for the person that she was singing it about. And it was quite.... it moved me. It was like a resolve, an endless resolve to follow her love. And, she's not a stalker by the way.
Question: You talk a lot about wine in your interviews. Do you have any particular favorites?
Tori Amos: Yes, actually. I love a good Pomerol. Bordeaux is really my fave. Red Bordeaux, White Burgundy. When you get a 1990, you're really in
heaven, they're really yummy. I can get into a Borolo. Italian wine can be gorgeous. I'm going through some great Spanish reserves right now. A good reserve. '94. California wines, sometimes I really enjoy, but sometimes they're a bit tricky. Kissler's worth going for, a good Kissler. And Silver Oak is really good too. And, for the White Burgundy's it's always good to go for a good Montrashet. But there are many different kinds. You've got to find a house... '96s are good.
Question: You have done work on several soundtracks for movies. Do you consider these songs children like all others, or are they different because
they're created for a specific movie?
Tori Amos: Little different. It depends what my memory is in the movie. Experience, like "Butterfly" I have great feelings about because I enjoyed doing it. I didn't enjoy doing Great Expectations in the end because it got politically weird and people weren't forthright anymore. And, you have to understand something, having a studio tell me what to do after we'd made an agreement isn't what I considered having integrity. So, in my world, we have a team of people and we talk about things and we make decisions based on the creativity. And we sometimes have our hiccups and stuff, but musicians are sometimes just extraneous for film people and I don't see writing songs as extraneous. Obviously, it's not the center of the film, but there needs to be a level of respect and some film people forget that. When I remind them of that, they seemed quite shocked. When in actuality, I call it just bad manners.
Question: Tori, once you're done with your solo leg of the tour, and go to Europe, will you be back to visit us in the States anytime soon? Just like, tour alone for Venus and Back? We'd love to see you in Florida!
Tori Amos: I don't know where I'm going after this. It's hard to know. Things move so fast right now on the planet, as we all know. You have to change your plans because a little lightbulb goes off and you realize what creatively you need to do. And right now I don't have a lightbulb that tells me anything after 2000.
EAMusic1: plans for the millenium?
Tori Amos: Not really, quiet. I'm looking to 2012 anyway, that's the Mayan calendar of record keeping that I go by. It's not that I think that this time isn't valid, I do. But I follow the Mayan calendar.
Question: You are considered one of the Goddesses that have a very fanatical fan base..... I was just wondering how that devotion affects you in your life and music choices and paths..... your feelings about that devotion that some fans have for you.
Tori Amos: Well, you don't get caught up in it if you're wise. Because, you have to understand that I translate the songs and the warmth that I get from people is unbelievably moving. But it's quite sacred. And, I think over the years, you really realize that the people are identifying with the songs and essentially I try and hold a space for them as a woman, as a musician, and somebody that's just trying to be a good co-creator. And we all have this ability. No matter what anybody tells you, you all have the ability to co-create. Now, it might not all be music. That's not what I'm saying. So, I just try and remember to be gracious, because, in all honesty, she could take off and leave me in the dust at anytime. And I know she might. And I have to feel like that I did a good job holding the space and that I tried to be honorable.
Question: Do you think it is likely that you will be creating more music as a solo artist in the future, or do you plan on sticking with a band?
Tori Amos: I don't know. I don't know. I think that the piano really wanted to have an integration with other players and the last few years of my life have been about that, the rhythm of it, how to work with all those little knobs in a studio, making sonic shapes. Venus is very much about that because VEnus comes
from the ether. She's not Little Earthquakes. She's from different laws and that's really important to remember. I'm enjoying playing with the guys immensely right now. We only have 8 shows, including tonight so every minute is so precious. I don't know if it is for anybody else, but I already have tears in my eyes, because to be a part of other people that have so much passion is a real gift. Play for people that are open to hearing that and I mean as an artist, you dream and dream of that. So if you really begin to see that the gold is not in how many records you sell, the gold is that there was an exchange between musicians and the people that come to the shows.
Question: what is one piece of advice you would give to a young person?
Tori Amos: Well, I don't know how young you are, but I think that each generation had has responsibility to understand it's here. There is a collective of that and then there is the individual. A lot of people want wisdom without doing the work. In the ancient days, as we know, we all had to become apprentices spiritually, and it looked different for different people because some people had gifts in some areas and didn't have to work on some areas, if you see what I mean. But the one thing I find we can all do a little better on is seeing our part in everything. There is an argument when there's success. Strange how we sometimes raise our hands when we're a part in achieving somthing because we can't see our value. Also strange how we can't raise our hand when there's an argument because of course we would never argue, we would never stir it up. We would never say something oh so subtly below the belt that nobody picked up on. Jung calls this working with your shadow. There are books out there that I recommend for people that want to go into the psyche. Anything by Marion Woodman, powerful stuff. He's a Jungian. Robert Johnson, he wrote a book called Owning Your Own Shadow which I think is powerful. There's a book that I've just gotten, which seems to be quite fascinating called
The Fruitful Darkness by Joan Halifax. Quite a fascinating book if you want to go through the bloodlines called Laurence Gardner, it traces back the lineage of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ and her life, Bloodline of the Holy Grail is the name of the book. It's the hidden lineage of Jesus revealed. And do you want to know who he is? He is the Chevalier Labhran (accent on the "a" going to the left) de St. Germain So, his access is quite something because he is the Jacobite Historiographer Royal
and he has a second book that just came out that deals with before Jesus, so lineages say 5000 BC down. And all this information about opening yourself to different information, checking in with your own instincts and seeing what feels right and putting aside what doesn't feel right at the time. When I mention these books, there are zillions of books, but it's about a quest and about getting up off your ass and being part of the creative process in your own life instead of a blob in front of the TV screen all the time. Balance the TV people. It's one thing to enjoy it and it's another thing to be a servant of it. Because it sucks and it sucks and it sucks your own creativity.
EAMusic1: Thank you Tori so much for chatting with us. :)
Tori Amos: Thank you.
EAMusic1: Thanks for all of your great questions everyone. Sorry we could not answer them all. Tori's new double CD is called to Venus and Back and it is wonderful - go check it out! Take care and have a wonderful evening. :)
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