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"Artist of the Month" Special (Canada, TV)
MusiquePlus TV in Montreal
October 13, 1999

Tori Amos interview and live performance



[listen/download audio]

transcript

Host: (introduces Tori)

Tori sings Concertina and Purple People.

video clip/interlude: Little Earthquakes 1992

Tori: (Talking over clips from the Crucify, Winter and SATY videos) The hardest is self-acceptance . . . because what writing this album was was accepting the vamp in me, accepting the self-righteous virgin that's just so shameful, accepting the warrior, and accepting the mother, you know? Accepting all these sides. Hos

Tori: We're back with Tori Amos, bla bla bla . . . So we're here to talk about your new album, To Venus and Back . . . it's great. (laughs awkwardly)

Tori: Thanks.

Host: How are you?

Tori: I'm really well.

Host: Really well? That's good. So you have this new album, and I hear it was just kind of unexpected, it just sort of came to life almost by itself. It was supposed to be b-sides and live stuff, and you have a whole bunch of new material on it.

Tori: Well, I was having a really good bottle of wine w/ my girlfriends, Corton Charlemagne, actually -

Host: Oh, are you a wine connoisseur?

Tori: Yeah, I love it . . . love it . . . (turns to audience) LOVE IT. (laughs) So I was with these women (snip to and back title story) And once the title was in place, it's strange how the songs just decided to kind of waltz through the door like "Hi, we're from Venus! Let's go."

Host: So they just let you know, by themselves?

Tori: Oh, they let you know.

Host: How do they let you know?

Tori: Because you can be um . . . really having a good time with your husband and you kind of get this (tugs her hair up and sideways & makes a loud buzzing sound like a really large, annoying fly has latched onto it and is pulling her sideways) song. They're very cheeky that way, I mean they're manipulative you know? Because it's sort of like "If you want to finish this little . . . tete-a-tete, oui?

Host: Yes, tete-a-tete.

Tori: "Then you have to promise you'll surrender every second you have to *me* for the next few days. So it becomes this -

Host: The songs are lovers also.

Tori: Lovers . . . dominatrixes.

Host: And are the b-sides angry they're not on this album?

Tori: No, they're hanging out.

Host: Yeah? Bsides will be bsides?

Tori: They want to be a quadruple box set. They don't want to be separated from each other because there's quite a . . . what is it?

Host: A camaraderie?

Tori: Yeah . . . That's very good! And there's this status in being a bside, you see.

Host: Yeah, it's very cultish.

Tori: Yeah, they have this whole underground thing, they have pamphlets out on them, they like being who they are. So when it was time to choose maybe 6 or 7 songs plus a few new ones . . . it wasn't a really good concept of mine, it was one of my poopier ones.

Host: It's kind of a mix?

Tori: Yeah, it's too random. So the new girls are like "Trust us, let us just come in, we don't breathe oxygen. Trust us, we're fine, we breathe wine." Right here, the host turned to the camera and started translating the whole conversation into French (quite accurately I might add) then turns back to Tori.

Host: I find it really interesting -

Tori: Wait wait wait. How did you do that?

Host: (Laughs)

Tori: No, you *remember* . . . wait a minute, do you have a boyfriend?

Host: Yes, I do.

Tori: Because has he ever like . . . I want to tell him something, what's his name?

Host: He's right here actually.

Tori: Okay, you don't have to say his name. Whoever you are right here, do you *realize* - I'm sure you do - but if you say to her "I'm taking you to Sardinia," over, I don't know, Margarita, and you think she's not going to remember, and you think you're going to get away with taking her to Florida . . . You, my friend, are *not* hot.

Host: Thank you! You just whipped him into shape!

Host: It's really weird how you recorded an album about Venus and travelling and travels of the heart in a studio called Martian Studios?

Tori: I didn't know that at the time. And of course the guys who named Martian, one of them being over there, partners Mark and Marcel, really enjoy that bit of male . . . like knobs being thrown in there . . . engineers, having their 2 cents in there. Martian engineering's been there for awhile. Little did we know. I didn't put it together.

Host: But it's just odd about the Venus concept . . . would you actually go?

Tori: Yes, I would go. . . Or have we gone there? Some say it's possible, maybe a long long time ago, it was a place.

Host: Yeah, I was told you were reading stuff about us descending from the Sumerians, who descended from the people . . . up there, if I can call them that.

Tori: Yeah.

Host: Yeah, you interested in all that?

Tori: Well, I'm fascinated by the different combinations of what the religions have tried to hide from us . . . if they decide where we go, then they hold the power, and I think it's just a little bit more complicated than they like to let us believe.

Host: Yeah, I don't think it's all a formula.

Tori: I don't think so.

Host: We're going to talk to your fans right now . . . (brings up an audience member)

audience member: With all the media attention that's given to your persona and deciphering your lyrics, do you feel that your incredible talents as a pianist are often overlooked?

Tori: I'm just hoping they won't realize when I fall off my stool too much. I'm clumsy sometimes. I wish I could tell you that I was inebriated because it would give me an excuse, but I never drink and play.

Host: Unless it's wine of course.

Tori: Unless it's a man of course.

Host: And how do I follow that one up?!

audience member: Tori, how accurately do you feel your videos depict the songs they represent?

Tori: Well sometimes I get along really well with the director and there's a . . . I don't know, but you have to trust him or her. There must be a respect for their vision because that's not what I do, you know? You have to work as a team. I like working as a team - until I don't. But you know, it's that thing where you go to them because you want their vision, and I have a lot of respect for the visual medium. The sonic medium is where I hang out, but I get inspired a lot by the visual because then you don't feel like . . . sometimes the sonic thing gets a little incestuous, like all the musicians hang out together. And yes, you spur each other on, but when there's a different medium and there's no sound, it's completely -

Host: But it's an extension of what you do sonically.

Tori: Yes, sometimes. But sometimes you conk your head and go "What are you on?" Like, can I just add one thing really quick? The Glory of the 80s video is coming out and this director says to me - he's French, so I'm going to do his accent - he goes "I have zis idea!"
and I'm like "Okay . . . "
And he goes "No 80s reference, ugh!"
And I said "Yeah, yeah, okay."
And he goes "So you're hooked, yeah? (holds out her arms like she's being crucified) Like a modern Joan of Arc but . . . mmm . . . strange. Sexual, oui?" And he's going on and on and he goes "You vill morph into these different creatures . . . "
And I'm like "O-kay"

Host: That's when you call for security!

Tori: So I'm in this torture chamber, which is supposed to be quite fashionable, I guess, in his mind, and yeah, there you have it . . . the French.

Host: Did you actually go along with it?

Tori: Oh, yes, it's done!

Host: How was it? Did he hang you from the torture chamber?

Tori: Ooooh, yes.

Host: Was it pleasurable at least? A good experience?

Tori: Fascinating, because there's something very . . . metallic about the whole thing. You're in wires and I'm in this glam dress . . .

Host: Well, the 80s were about wires and -

Tori: And black lipstick. Like -

Host: Very very new age.

Tori: Very Robert Smith in a way.

audience member: You live in England now. And I want to know if it inspired you in any way, if it changes the way you write?

Tori: Sometimes, I mean sometimes the Brits - I married one so I have to be very careful here - You know, some of my best friend are [brits], and their humour gets us all through very tricky times. But there are just times when you're going "Where is the passion? Where is the *booty*? Where is the sauce???" And you can't cuss very well. They can't say FUCK. You know. But. Other than that. I like it.

Host: Is that what it is, the Brits don't like the F-word?

Tori: No, they can't say it properly. They say Feck. Maybe you have to have a southern booty. You gotta . . . you have to swallow to be able to say that word. And the brits . . .

Host: Why do I feel like I'm changing colors all of a sudden?

audience member: I'd like to know, when you were a little girl, what did you imagine it would be like in the yr. 2000 and is it very different from reality today?

Tori: I was imagining Robert Plant. Adoring me. It's good that we're friends. But the thing is, I was imagining him when I was 8. I really got him. Because you have to remember, I was 8 in - Marcel, help! - 1971? 1971. So Robert, in 1971 . . . I mean he's good for now, but we're all aging. But in 1971, that wiggling at that microphone? In my Methodist household, religious, no kissing in front of *anybody*, women will be virgins until they're married, you turn your soul over to God and your body over to your husband - and you keep your bank account to yourself! - and that was *it*!

Host: And you've got Plant singing Whole Lotta Love which is completely the opposite.

Tori: Let me tell you. And I went *yes*. He is the Goddess.

Host: So in the yr. 2000, which is coming up -

Tori: I'll be shagging my husband.

Host: You're a mind-reader!

Host: So I wanted to talk about covers . . . and maybe duets with Robert Plant. Because you've covered Zepplin in the past with Thank You . . . how do you come about choosing which songs are right for you? I know the first time I heard you I was in the record shop and I'm walking around and this piano song starts playing and I'm singing all the lyrics going "How the hell do I know this?" And the chorus comes on and it's Smells like Teen Spirit. How do you come about choosing which song is right for you? And do fans actually write, like "You should do this song."

Tori: Yeah, they do, but I don't really . . . that's not how they come about. It's strange how it comes about sometimes. It's not really like I go after it. They kinda sorta show up. I was in Sweden watching the video for Teen spirit, and it was just breaking, on the cusp, and I felt the piano sort of trip me as I was taking off my makeup. You know, she whistles at me sometimes and just says "We have to approach this differently." And it's not because the original artist doesn't honor the song, it's just because they've done it so well you think there's a different approach and the song can hold it. And sometimes there are songs that I just won't approach because I don't have any perspective on it.

Host: Right, but you also have this way of making the song your own, I mean with Nirvana I think you really managed to showcase the poetry behind Kurt Cobain's lyrics.

Tori: Well sometimes extremes do work. Sometimes they don't. I tried to do a . . . my Like a Virgin cover will stay locked up at Martian Engineering. We had too many little red drinks.

Host: Maybe something we won't be hearing?

Tori: No.

Host: Awww.

video clip/interlude: Under the Pink 1994

Tori: (over clips from the God, Cornflake Girl, Pretty Good Year and Past the Mission videos) "The way I see it is if you ripped everybody's skins off, no matter what culture you're from, we're all pink. And I"m interested in the inner world, what's going on inside."

Tori sings Lust and Bliss.

video clip/Interlude: Boys for Pele 1996

Tori: (over clips from CALS, Talula and Hey Jupiter) "Pele is the volcano Goddess of Hawaii, and the record has an undercurrent of me stealing fire from men, knowing I had to find my own. The title means to me the men that have brought me to my fire. And I love fire."

Tori sings Cooling and Josephine.

video clip/Interlude: From the Choirgirl Hotel - 1998

Tori: (over clips from Spark and Jackie's Strength) "Even when I lost a child, the love didn't go away. My heart opened in a way it had never been opened before then and I carry that with me to this day. ? and I mourned together over this loss and then all these songs came, and I felt this creative force not as a human mother, but as a musical mother. And you creative life where you can."

Host: We were going to talk about Glory of the 80s, but . . .

Tori: (Holding a pair of purple faerie wings a fan gave to her during the commercial) Joel, where are you? Joel's my protector. Knight of the round table. Look, we got you wings! You're a winged protector now. (Puts wings on Joel) Let's be honest here, who's going to have the balls to go up to him and say "Well aren't you a wimp?" That's not gonna happen. That's what's so fantastic about a guy like that wearing faerie wings. We need more of them. Start a cause!

Host: We should! The girl who built them should start an industry.

Tori: For my crew! My crew would wear them.

Host: The people at Martian Studios would wear wings?

Tori: Oh yeah, they'd be bottomless (?)

Host: Little cherubs. Screw Glory of the 80s, we're going to talk about your fans. I've never seen [anything like] this. I saw you during the UTP tour, I waited around after your show. You came out, you gave us hugs, you talked to us, you were . . . these people are just coming up to you, up to 45 seconds before going to the floor. You just said "How much time do we have left to commercial? 45 seconds? We'll go talk to them." You're the first person that I've seen that has such a genuine love for the love you get from the fans.

Tori: I think I've studied this, kind of. The thing is it's unfortunate that all these musicians forget there was a time they used to throw scraps of fat - when they'd eat their food, they'd throw it to their dogs - they'd go here, you sang and this is what you get. And I think musicians and actors forget that's it's a privilege to be able to even play music cause so many ppl are creative, and don't get that opportunity. I meet so many great musicians, you know, who can't even get out of North Carolina. Who are great! And they have something to share, but for whatever reason haven't been given that opportunity. If you really respect the tradition of musicians, which is a bloodline of thousands of years, then you know that we're all part of a creative force and that there's a graciousness that should come with it or you're just a mole on a butt. There are some cute moles, believe me, I've seen, but never a cute mole on a butt.

Host: There are cute moles?

Tori: There are cute ones but not if you're a musician who's shitty to your audience.

Host: Definitely, I understand, it's a mutual respect thing.

Tori: ...HAIRY mole.

Host: ewwwww.

Host: Speaking of your fans, more questions?

audience member: I want to know what you think of the music industry right now, seeing that the charts are mostly dominated by very commercial groups and sometimes the image is more important than the music itself.

Tori: Well, right now, if you're an entertainer, it's a very good time for you. So if that's your interest, then go for it. That's what's really in demand. Poets aren't really . . . I hope you're good at serving food. Making coffee. But that doesn't mean . . . see, we don't have a value right now on that tradition. And a lot of times our value is in how many pieces you sell. And I don't think it should be about either or. There's always been a place for entertainers. But when you lose your poets, something very tragic happens because they're the pulse. Whether they're rappers or they're without music, or whether they're screaming at the top of their lungs, when you lose your poets, a very dangerous thing hpapens. They're like the shadow voice that lives behind the heart. And I think right now everything is so much about the bottom line. That's when it gets scary cause good wine was never made out of the bottom line. You don't get great wine in Safeway. It ain't ever gonna happen! You get okay wine. Because that's not how it's made. When you make something by hand and you honor everybody that makes it, there's a different processing.

Host: Definitely. You've worked a lot at this kind of process on this album, trying to travel and find what is behind the heart, it seems.

Tori: Yeah, trying to observe more, trying to be a better listener.

Host: Does that comes from being in a band context, more of a group dynamic?

Tori: That's just washing your hands a lot. You know boys. I love boys, but you have to keep that antibacterial soap on the bus.

Host: Long live Purel.

Tori: Because When they come out of that little lavatory on the bus. Guess what?

Host: They go pick the grapes out of the bowl?

Tori: Their hands are *not* . . . you can tell, nothing's changed since when they went in!

Host: Tori, I understand.

Tori: No towels are wet.

Host: The sink is as clean as it was.

Tori: So then the chips are sitting there and they're reaching for them , and you're like UGH! I'm sorry, come on, I know it's sterile but really! We adore them, but.

audience member: How does it feel to be the inspiration for the character Delirium in Neil Gaiman's comic the Sandman?

Host: (takes out Deat

Host: The High Cost of Living) So how does it feel?

Tori: Well, I think I steal from her.

Host: She inspires you?

Tori: Yes, she does. There are times I've spent with Neil where you know, we're toodling around and things you think you say in confidence end up in a comic book, you know? And then of course there are things that she says that I start saying. There's a strange sort of stealing going on.

Host: I'm trying to find her in here (flipping through book)

Tori: She's the one who looks like a goldfish bowl hit her in the head. Hold on, I'll find her, keep talking. . . I don't think she's in there.

Host: The intro's by you.

Tori: Yeah, this is High Cost of Living. Death's story.

Host: It's like art feeding off life and life feeding off something that's not quite reality, is that what it is?

Tori: Yeah, you know, having a friend as a writer, it's really funny, because what you pull on people gets pulled on you. And I think that's how I get my comeupins.

Host: Karma

Tori: Yeah.

audience member: You frequently use ppl's names in songs, like Greg and Lucy in Pretty Good Year and Billy in Precious Things. Are these ppl real or just characters you build up for your songs?

Tori: Greg was definitely real. Billy was *definitely* real. He was my crush. (little girl voice) when I was twelve.

Host: Awww.

Tori: Yeah anyways. (sticks out tongue)

Host: But how much of it is fiction and how many of them are real? Like Michael Stipe will write in a character to convey what he has to say.

Tori: Michael Stipe *lives* in character. And he's a friend and I adore him but really (rolls eyes and lets her head fall back) Wow, it's exhausting being him I'm sure. But the thing is, these are real people, but sometimes a character is made up of a few people. And sometimes the guys are women, sometimes the women are guys. So that you know, I can still have friends.

video clip/Interlude: Tori and her fans - 1999

Tori: (over clips from Bliss) When you're boyfriend leaves and you're alone in the house and you talk to your cat differently - sort of like that. I think the audience is a wonderful multiplicity of cats. And sometimes we need to kick the boyfriends off the stage and have our own little chat.

Tori sings Spring Haze and 1000 Oceans.


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