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KFOG, Berkeley (US, radio)
KFOG, Berkeley, California (104.5 FM)
October 8, 1999

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Tori Amos interview and live performance

Recorded live at Fantasy Studios, hosted by John Grapone.

John: Good afternoon Fogheads in the Bay Area and Fogheads here in the Fantasy studios in Berkeley. The old saying better late than never, she literally just got off an airplane. She flew in especially for this show so we got to let her know we really appreciate her. Then she's off to Boise Idaho. Her new record is called to venus and back. Would you please welcome to Fantasy Studios, Tori Amos.

Tori: hi. How's it going?

John: Hi Tori

Tori: Hey, how are you John?

John: You a little jet lagged or...

Tori: No, its just Seattle (laughter). We did a show last night in Seattle and came down this morning and then we do a show in Boise.

John: Boise Idaho.

Tori: Yeah, whooo. Last time it was very tricky because mothers were dragging their daughters out of the audience --

John: Ahhhh

Tori: And it was very scary. Passing my merchandise going, "I had no idea." Anyway...

John: We're not buying that t-shirt.

Tori: Yah, so, um we'll start off with a little song. Yah, you guys, can you hear it? In the studio?

John: I think we're all plugged in.

Tori: We're all happening? Yah, this is a little song from the new album.

Tori plays Lust.

John: Tori Amos live on KFOG we are at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Again her new record on Atlantic is called to venus and back. She did come here from Seattle so we won't even ask about Venus, maybe a little bit later. Tori we've got some questions from our audience known as Fogheads if you'd like to refer to them as such.

Tori: Good

John: And we assume you'll have an answer. Is that ok?

Tori: Let's go.

John: We're gonna try it. This first one is from Elizabeth Randell from Oakland, California. What were your inspirations for the beautiful and new song called "Lust?"

Tori: Ummm. Well, I think um, I had no idea... Kay, let's put it this way. When I was aware that I was getting married and it sort of, it dawned on me that, you know when a zit comes that freak you out. When you see these people married and you're going, "oh my god, is that my life with those ridiculous fuzzy slippers on?" I mean, that's really not -- this clichÈ kind of life that um, got so screwed up with bad television and I think I started to write "Lust" once I'd been married for a while and I realized that um, I had no idea what I was getting into. Does that make any sense?

John: Does your husband know all the words? Just curious.

Tori: He doesn't need to know the words.

John: Ok, alright. We'll come back for another question but that's a pretty big piano Tori, so if you can play us another song we'd appreciate it.

Tori: It's nine feet. That's how I like them. (laughter) Kay. This is um, actually it ended up on the live disc of the venus album and the this is, we did it at sound check. It didn't make choirgirl but it ended up being one of our favorites and the band loved it too. So we were just fooling around and um...

Tori plays Purple People.

John: Tori Amos live from Fantasy Studios. It's a private concert, live broadcast. We'd like to welcome you, the listening audience and everyone here in the Fantasy Studios. This is John Grapone. One of the things that has intrigued me, Tori, over the years, besides your music obviously, is the covers. The artwork, the story that you kind of put out with your covers. I just look at them while I'm listening and try and figure out sometimes what you are trying to convey. So with that in mind, here's another question from Derek Wonderlich of San Jose: is there a story behind the song "Siren?" If so, tell us please.

Tori: Ugghh. Well...

John: And I don't think any of these are trick questions right? We hope not.

Tori: The whole thing about "Siren" was I was asked to um, do this music to this film, Great Expectations. And um, when I saw the rough cut of the movie it was a bit of a different thing than it ended up to be. But point is, the scene that they asked me to do, um, when I first saw it, I was on the water and my concept of his character um, who was Ethan Hawke playing the part of -- they call it Finn in the movie. But it's Pip, right? That's the correct Great Expectations person. Anyway, I felt like those guys were on a boat fishing. And uh, they had had this grunge music there -- being a manly kind of thing and I'm like, screw that, that's ridiculous. If you're gonna do a manly thing on the water, go Polynesian, 800 years ago. Go into the sirens and do it correctly. I mean the Miller time and all the baited worms all this stuff from the great tackle shop -- blow that. Go and find the sirens, make your sacrifice, cut off a toe, do what you're supposed to. Be good guys. So I decided that it would make his character a bit more enriching if um, there was this mythological element of the sea creatures.

John: How's that, Derek, for an answer? Where is Derek? Alright, he's going home a happy young man. One more question then a song cause I have to know the answer to this one. This one is from Ann in San Francisco. Ann does not want to give her last name.

Tori: Oh.

John: That's alright Ann, don't worry. How do you feel about people calling you a freak?

Tori: (Laughter)

John: First of all, who has called you a freak?

Tori: I don't know

John: Anybody I know?

Tori: They don't do it to my face. Um, I don't really engage in any of that. What are you gonna do? I mean I don't know.

John: Those who can't do review I think...

Tori: Ha-Ha. Well, with the journalists sometimes I try and be kind to them but it's like, obviously you didn't get your book deal this week.

John: (laughing) Ok Freak -- I mean Tori, how about another song on KFOG?

Tori: Another song? Um, ok. This is off the new album, it's called "Concertina."

Tori plays Concertina.

John: Tori Amos. Once again her new one is on Atlantic Records it's called to venus and back. It gives us the best of both worlds, live recordings and studio recordings and uh, truly appreciate you stopping by Tori. We know you are off to Boise Idaho, just update us --

Tori: Hooray.

John: Boise. Boise.

Tori: They have a fantastic um, fondue place just for those who are interested.

John: Are you -- is this still with Alanis Morrisette or has that ended?

Tori: No, Alanis and I, we sort of split company about, I don't know, two weeks ago. We've been doing the southwest and we did Texas on our own. She's gone to New Zealand and we've been um, doing some margari

Tori:booty-shakin'-thing --

John: You came to Berkeley and we appreciate that.

Tori: Yah.

John: Uh, couple of questions here, we know you gotta run. Where so you look for your inspiration? That one comes from Jennifer Akson of San Francisco.

Tori: Well, I think, the strange thing is -- not my SAT scores. My god, I saw that program, did you all see that program the other night? Oh my god it freaked me out. It was about Berkeley. It was all about Berkeley and who was going to Berkeley. I'd never get into bloody Berkeley. Like I have the worst SAT scores in Maryland, I think. Because I'm reading the page and it's the most -- I've never been so... my eyes started getting cross-eyed. The way that they are asking the question, I've had like, um, more literacy from drunks, you know, at my piano spilling beer all over saying, "Baby, could you sing me "After the Loving" one more time?" and so I just decided to make a picture and so I just started checking boxes that I thought were cute. But my point being is...

John: Yes.

Tori: In those tests... I don't think they ever ask you if you really -- like the artists I respect and get on with, never think you're creating by yourself. You have to be a container. And you have to really know that there is a muse out there. And it can look however you want it to look. It's not necessarily tangible. But there is a thing to um -- when writer's get freaked out that they're not gonna write again. I never get that freaked out because I think if you leave good wine, a little good Silver Oak for her in the corner she's always gonna come. There's this strange respect that you have to have for the muse. So that's one. And if you think it's all about you then your ego gets um, a really shocking thing when she decides not to come and you can't write anymore. The other thing is, um, since you know you're a translator since that's really what artists are, you're kind of co-creating but really you're translating. And you have to know that once it comes you've got to start sculpting because she's a bit cheeky. You have to learn how to be a hunter. A hunter for frequency. That's how you write songs. Sometimes you get -- all you get is [sings a bit of something I can't understand] that's it. And you know though, you have a seed. It's the beginning like a little tiny creature. Like a little fetus and you have to begin trying to stalk it, find it's frequency (audience laughter). It's true. Like those trackers in Africa. It's the same thing except it's sonic geometry.

[there is a long silence and sporadic laughter]

John: Tori Amos on KFOG. Now I'm just curious, for the final song are you going to do "After the Loving?" I don't know...

Tori: Well, I do, you know this version...

John: Let's do a little.

Tori: Ok, it goes um -- Captain Bob used to sing this for me every night... "I'll sing you to sleep after the loving" -- then he waited every night to do this bit -- "I brush back the hair from your thighs." Horrible moment of my life.

John: Whew. Just fill up that tip jar.

Tori: Yah. Ok, here we go.

Tori plays 1000 Oceans.


[transcribed by Caryn Grunwald]


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