home / interviews
Ana Voog's Tori Chat (US, www)
anacam.com and toriamos.com
October 20, 1999
Ana Voog's chat with Tori Amos
november 18th  at 7pm was the unveiling of tori amos' new official website, www.toriamos.com! to go along with the grand opening, they showed the premiere of a conversation i had with tori amos in NYC on october 20th! it's about 1/2 an hour long ( edited down from an hour ) and i think it turned out very well!
Ana: Hi! My name is Ana Voog and I have a webcam at A-n-a-c-a-m.com, Anacam.com. And I am the luckiest person in the entire world to have somehow have made it to New York to interview my complete inspiration who keeps me going, like, all the time and I just, I can't put it into words so just...Oh my God! And I do music too, but, and here's Tori. And I get to interview her.
Tori: I'm Tori, and um, I've known Ana for years. So we've been really looking forward to doing this. And um, I'm so thrilled to see you!
Ana: I'm thrilled to see you, and of course, you're so beautiful as always. You always give me energy and stuff but now I feel completely ... I mean this is the first time I've ever done anything like this, ok? I don't normally fly to New York and just get to interview my like ... I feel like a mod, you know, in like 1969 that meets The Who. And I'm just going "Ready Steady Go! Yeah!" Freaks me out, so it's really cool. We're supposed to have a really normal conversation right now, but this is, well, I guess it's as normal as it's gonna be 'cause I live a really weird life, so, but this isn't normal for me, but in a way I guess it is normal.
Tori: Tell them the life you lead.
Ana: Well it's ...
Tori: Like when we were having tea backstage a few weeks ago. Um, I just did a show in Minneapolis and Ana came to see me. Actually, in the afternoon you came to see me and I hadn't seen you in, what, a year and a half or two years?
Ana: Yeah, cause I couldn't find you and stuff 'cause I had changed my name to Ana Voog. Before that it was Rachel Olsen, which it still is, but everyone calls me Ana now, Ana Voog. And uh... I can't explain my life!
Tori: No but it's fascinating because I'd been hearing about this Ana character that does all sorts of things on a cam, and I knew Rach years ago, years and years ago, when you um, were making your music in Minneapolis, and you would come back at the shows, backstage and we would talk and have tea. So I hadn't associated that this woman that was doing all these things in a cam that my crew was talking about was... little Rach. So um, it was fascinating to me. I started going like this with my crew [waving arms around, blocking Ana's eyes] going "Wait! This is Rach, you can't be obsessed with Rach!" And they said "We don't know what you're talking about, this is Ana, she's hot." So I'm like, "Oh, yeah yeah."
Ana: [laughs] Yeah, so I have a cam, um, in my house. It's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and I just, for the last 2 * years I've been just documenting my life. It's not a surveillance thing and it's not like a peeping thing, you don't come in and go "ooh, I'm peeping on her." You know I've like opened the doors. I don't show everything, I'd like to show everything but I can't because my boyfriend doesn't like the cam and stuff like that but I just ...
Tori: But you don't do potty right?
Ana: No, I don't go to the bathroom on cams, though. I'm really sorry for those fetishists.
Tori: Yeah, good. No, that's good, it's good.
Ana: Maybe someday if I'm really drunk. No. I swear. No, I won't do it. It's not, I think I have enough, there's enough photographs
Tori: There is enough, I'm sure.
Ana: So I just like to show stuff. I just like to play, it's like doodling with the cam. You'll have to go there and just look, I can't even explain it, I can't sum it up. But it's the best thing that ever happened to me.
What is the most important thing that you've learned in life so far? That you, like, apply to your life, that you're like "oh, man I'm glad to learn that, that's a skill that I use every day" that has helped you through life?
Tori: I think the phrase that comes to mind the most now is, my grandfather used to tell me this, he was part Cherokee, and he would say to me "You cannot separate yourself from your creations." It took me awhile to let that become a part of my, I don't know, um, waking kind of um, grandfather voice phrases 'cause there are always those that all of us have, but as I have I think worked with music long enough and made enough mistakes and realized, done things that I've regretted doing, whatever I've done or haven't done I can't separate myself when I do it. Even if you want to go back and make amends it still becomes a part of your tapestry.
Ana: Yeah. Seriously, like actually it's interwoven like energy threads, it's just there.
Tori: Sure. It's there.
Ana: Well what have you regretted, though, doing? 'Cause I don't think I know if I've regretted anything that I've done. Even if I've made some ... Well, no, there's actually just some little really small things that I've regretted that I'm just not even going to talk about, that are so small.
Tori: maybe revealing myself to acquaintances that, um, feelings I had, impressions I had. Fantasies maybe that I had of our relationship. Even women sometimes and then you meet them and you realize that we really, I didn't know them and they didn't know me well enough.
Ana: Yeah, you needed to wait a little while to reveal those beautiful, special things.
Tori: I needed to wait a little, yeah. Yeah, because then you kind of hear about them through other people. For me, I've always really wanted to be a good drinking buddy. Like you know there. Not, I won't say at a pub because they don't serve good wine at a pub, and I won't say at a wine bar because I don't like the vibe of a wine bar. But just say we're hanging out at the studio in Cornwall, and we've got the crew there. We had a big party with the crew. About 35 of them, Johnny, were all there? Before we started the whole tour with Alanis. We were in England and her, um, pirate ship was in the states. And we were gathering our, um, I guess you could say vision. Um, on the coast of Cornwall where pirate ships used to come in. And we had some gorgeous wine that we had sent down. And um, we were on the lawn with torches, and the moon was out. It was in England, um, England at its best, I would say. And there were no lights anywhere except what you get from the sky. Um, we were at Martian Studios and Venus was in the sky, which is really ... it wasn't planned that way, doing this record it was kind of strange. And yet, I've always wanted so that the drum tech could come up to me with his bottle of Jack in his hand or the guitar tech, and feel like we could really have a good conversation that didn't have anything to do with work. Passion about music, yes. You know what I mean.
Ana: Yes, I do. I totally know what you mean. And I don't remember what that was about.
Tori: About being a good drinking buddy. I think that's always been a real desire, I've always wanted people to feel like we could sit down and have a good glass of something.
Ana: I will be your drinking buddy any day!
Tori: You're a good drinking buddy.
Ana: Is there anything that you do before you go onstage to kind of ground yourself, or was it already inbred, or did you just kind of figure it out as you were on stage, sort of channel yourself in anything and become grounded and yet bring all the energy in? And do you see it as a diagram or what do you do with that. Because that fascinates me
Tori: Well, There are a few things, I think. Number 1, it's about being a container. And you ask yourself, "Can I hold the space?" And you don't worry about ...
Ana: Ok, space meaning the whole stadium? Or just around yourself?
Tori: It can be the whole, no it can be the whole stadium. But you have to be able to contain the energy in a room. And if you're not willing, sometimes you get torn and ripped asunder. You know, that's how you develop that skill. There are some times I would walk out there and get heckled. And there has to be a place where you don't, as the person containing the space, you can not have a, um...a perceived outcome of what it should be. You have to really walk out there knowing that this place - a crowd can go into a riot real quick and you have to be able to harness the essences in the room.
Ana: God, I just want to know how to do that! I just want you to write a little manual for me. But I don't know if you could write a manual for it, I suppose it's different for each individual person.
Tori: Well, part of it, it is different for each place. But I think that, first of all you have to know that you're plugging yourself into this, obviously it's not a physical plug but it's a 220 voltage. There is a risk you may get fried that night and I have been fried before, and Johnny will tell you there were nights, there were times I walked out in front of, what was it, 50,000 Germans at a rock in ring. And this was early on, after Little Earthquakes, and I had played in clubs for 13 years before that. And I had Germans chanting "Schnell (?) you fucking cunt" or something like that. And I love the Germs, I really do. But this was not a good day for me. And I shouldn't have been there because they were drinking out of gasoline, um, alcohol out of gasoline canisters. And I was out early before, I don't know The Scorpions or something like that. And I was singing Me and a Gun. Which, for those of you that don't know, that's a song about a girl getting raped and it's from her perspective in her head. And so the guys started shouting something at me and I looked back and I said "LOOK YOU MOTHER FUCKER, THIS IS MY FUCKING STAGE. YOU CAN FUCKING SHOOT ME OFF IT." And it was a moment where you own that stage and you have to be willing to devour 60,000 people, or...
Ana: ...they devour you.
Tori: Or they devour you. And you must be a wolverine and yet then after you go there then you can turn it into, "I'll make love with 50,000 people also." And um, there was not a space to make love with 50,000 people. Whereas at Pink Pop, which we played last year? 98. That was about making love to a huge crowd. And you can't always determine what it's gonna be, but as the years have rolled on, it's been, like we talked about working with how to anchor a show. I'll change songs like that in the middle of a show because you have to surrender to things are changing every nanosecond and the muse is working through everybody there and through me. And of course, we're having a relationship. And never do I walk onstage thinking or wishing to heal anybody because then that puts us in a hierarchy. Now it's different being a huntress and a wolverine and, kind of a bit of a pied piper going...you know. I'm the waitress serving the wine. And when you take that position, then it isn't this [hierarchy], but it is it a little bit because you are the one with the wine.
Ana: Yeah. I think you can be a healer too, though, without it having to be a hierarchy.
Tori: It can be, but it's a personal choice if somebody, what it is for me, a perspective I usually take is that this is a place where people have, can have free will and have their own journey, whatever they want it to be. And sometimes it has them running out of the theater.
Ana: But there's nothing you do before you go onstage to like prepare yourself
Tori: Sure, there are many things I do.
Ana: Like what?
Tori: One thing is that when we go to a city, say it's Chicago. Um, I spend time outside with the people, but then I go inside, I walk the venue. And maybe it's part of my grandfather really always saying to me "you listen to the land." And being part indigenous American, I'm very connected to this land here. Whereas you know, a lot of the Europeans that settled here haven't owned that. Really the goal was that the indigenous, the 500 nations, people say the Native Americans - the Indians call themselves the Indians to each other because they're just gonna make those fucking white folks never forget how bad their sense of direction is. But anyway, um, the goal was that they would never rise again. That was the goal from the white Europeans, and they have not risen again. And the Germans, that was their goal, they weren't as successful, um, as the Americans making sure the Indians ... genocide. So there are you know thousands, a few thousand left. But there is a mythology to this land that until you can claim the blood of the land, the story of the land, then you can't access the land. But whoever you are if you just really go "ok, own it, honor it, get it," just really understand, then I think you hear the voices of the land because they held this land for thousands of years. So whether I play Chicago or somewhere in Alabama, I tune into the land, and not just this week, but I listen ...
Ana: 'Cause it changes every day.
Tori: It changes every day, but I'm also looking at the bloodline of the land that the city's built on Sometimes, it's kind of funny but people will give me, like Johnny will say something to me before the show, that's another thing that'll happen. And I don't really tell anybody afterwards. You know it's not like it's um, you know breaking national security or anything. Or doing crew gossip. We do that too, of course. But, before we take stage some night he'll say things to me. Like I'll look at him and go "Ok, what do ya see? What do ya got?" And he'll think of some kind of anecdote of a place we're in and it might be a word play. Um...you now there's so many.
Ana: Oh God, now I'm totally curious.
Tori: (to Johnny) Oh, what's one of them, there's so many?
Ana: I love word plays I love that stuff. That's my favorite.
(Johnny's voice ... too mumbled to hear. Something about ice and sports arenas.)
Tori: We've done the sports arenas with ice. And the idea of um, somebody beneath the ice. And a woman trying to break through the ice.
Ana: It's like that Kate Bush song, "Hounds of Love..."
Tori: Yes, and it's also like Nicole Kidman, when they did put her beneath the ice in To Die For. And she never go out of the ice. But sometimes he'll look at me and say "we're in the ice, we're in the hockey arena and all these guys skate over her and she's trapped beneath the ice." And sometimes there will be a real focus to the show. You know there's a point of view that you start with. And everybody's in this place. Um, so it doesn't really work for television because people are not all in the same space. So you can't really work that one when you're doing tele. It's a different bag of tricks.
Pretend for a minute that you're Earth. And you, I know we're little creatures all of us and people might say, "hubris" but just bag the ideas for a minute and just play along. So just say you're Earth and you take on that role. There's going to be a place on the circumference of Earth where there's a person walking though a field. And the sun is there, could be in Tuscany. The light is gorge, the olive grove is there and there's a calmness and it's what a lot of people say they would like to achieve. But I don't want to just achieve that, that's one thing I want to achieve, but we're Earth now. Which I think it a real exciting thing to try to contain for ten minutes.
Tori: Earth. Now on another part of her body, there's somebody getting mutilated. It's all happening at the same time. On another part of the planet, they're having a volcano, down in the Caribbean, and people are losing everything they have. Somewhere else there's a party going on, and a boy is discovering his sexuality and realizes he likes other boys. Whatever, this is all going on.
Ana: Yes, I understand that totally.
Tori: So sometimes, the way I deal with a show is to ...
Ana: Connecting with other people that are still on that length and it's a grid.
Tori: just try to be Earth for a minute, a little tiny mini Earth. Mini Earth. And to try and be all of these things, have all these things live in a show, and it doesn't, um, the planet, Little Earth doesn't blow up. But some of them are quite ferocious and some of them can be deliciously beautiful. But they all must exist for there to be Earth. That's what fascinates me is to try and contain all of those elements in one show.
Ana: I know there must be a way to create a reality or something like that where you could just go out and be so powerful that you just emit, like, love so much that evil would just go away, you know what I mean? I wish that that's what I could attain to just go for a walk at night without fear, or even in the daytime without fear, and I can't do that yet. Can you do it yet?
Tori: Look. I think there's a real place where I don't have any illusions. This is not a peace and love planet right now. There are people that are working towards that, but I think that we all have to respect that there's been violence going on in this planet for a long time. Women and children, and men who haven't been on the top of the food chain have all been property. And it's been about power, power has been the driving force of the planet not integrity. We're coming to place where people are questioning," ok what is integrity, what is real power?" Now when somebody's got their boot on your neck and they're gang raping you, I don't think there's enough studying you can do -
Tori: studying, preparing meditating.
Ana: Yes! No! There's no preparing!
Tori: I think what has to be addressed is that, you know I don't have a fantasy about what this planet is night now. I'm fascinated by the planet but there are people right now that would make a choice that isn't about integrity. And to expect that,
Ana: Or just to coexist. It's just so hard to coexist in the same, if they live in the same block as you.
Tori: Yes, because this is not a place where we have agreed to be mutually respectful. This is a free will planet. People have got to get that. And people can come in and good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.
Ana: But do you believe that we create our own reality? That in a way if bad things happen to a good person that in a way that was brought to a person for a lesson? For them to grow or something as a person?
Tori: Look, I think there's a lot of horse shit in that because nobody is talking directly to the divine and we don't know, there are a lot of esoterics and shamen that have their opinion. But I think when you see some of the little girls that I have that have been gang raped, it's real hard to justify that shit and say that her higher self wanted it.
Ana: Yeah, like she was born into this world knowing that that would happen.
Tori: And you can't say she was Hitler. Those things I feel are really weak and naŒve and, try it on somebody else. I think there is place where there is the aching heart, we do weep many tears because when you see that some people are close to soul death you're so cut off from your heart that you can to that to somebody else. It doesn't justify what you've done to somebody else just because you're in pain, and I think that until a generation rises up, claims their pain and says "I must take the abscess I must take the poison and I must take the wound and look at it, and transmute it," and that's what the medicine women did and that's what the medicine men did. And I do think that as the young ones are coming up and all the information is coming to the planet, a big choice is on our plate and, and I think this, in my little humble opinion, what's happening as we cross into the early 2000's, this planet that we're on ... how much can she take? I know we've got parties to go to, we've got houses to built, we've got boats to buy. We've got sewage to dump. But there's a place where we're going to be sitting there having to deal with very basic facts. And sometimes -
Ana: What are the facts to you?
Tori: The facts are, when will we have hit bottom? When do we as a planet hit bottom and go "ok, we've got to turn this around?"
Ana: That happens in a way, a little bit. But just only in certain communities.
Tori: Yes but there's this ridiculous notion that some people have which is "we won't be destroyed as a whole." And there's a crazy kind of naiveness in that. So I do think that when you and I talk about how to walk outside, I used to feel like I could drive through South Central LA, I used to think I could do stuff. There's an arrogance maybe that you have when you're younger. And you realize that nobody is invincible, if you meet up with somebody that is just coming from a really violent place and you get in their way.
Ana: So are you still afraid, though, to walk at night? Or can you do it with kind of a fearlessness, a little bit?
Tori: Look, I think that the great lionesses of the plains have an instinct and I think that still there's always some small-dicked hunter out there, whether it's a man or a woman, who needs to bring that lioness down and don't think that no matter how ferocious she is, no matter what your instincts are, if that hunter is , I don't know, safely shrouded many feet away with a hidden gun, you cannot, any instinct you've got cannot prepare you for that. So of course, um I am cautious. But I am a hunter, a hunter for frequency. And yet I have no illusions that there aren't people that are hunting also. And some of them are hunting for women.
Ana: But do you think that there's a way that you can change your vibrations so that those people aren't even hunting you? So that it just almost repels them?
Tori: Ghandi thought that too.
Ana: Yeah! I know. Or Lennon. Well, actually Lennon was really obsessed with guns so you.
Tori: I'm sure Martin Luther King thought that. . There are some great people who were very advanced, who couldn't get away from the hunter's gun.
Ana: I guess you've just gotta do what you do and hope for the best.
Tori: John Lennon though that too.
I'll tell you, you know you never know who your next guru's gonna be. Sometimes that guy sitting next to you on the bus and it's hard to know where you're getting that mantra that takes you through the next day.
Ana: What special powers do you wish you had that you don't, you know a kind of Superman thing...
Tori: That I could be a seahorse.
Tori: Oh yeah!
Ana: What special powers do they have? Besides looking totally cool.
Tori: Well aren't they completely contained?
Ana: Containing what? Water?
Tori: No, I mean um, a male and female they've got all bits.
Ana: Oh yeah! Maybe!
Tori: They can do it with themselves.
Ana: That's cool. Oh wait, this is another one that's kind of heavy but I bet you could answer it. What do you fear the most?
Tori: Um... that I won't have heard somebody that I really care about, I won't have heard them and because of that they feel like I wasn't there for them when in actuality... I didn't hear them. And you know that's always a hard thing.
Ana: You mean people around you that are close?
Tori: People that I love yeah. That I couldn't hear them that I couldn't show up, you know just show up, I might be sitting there. Just not there for them.
Ana: Yes. I understand. I just don't believe that you could do that.
Tori: Oh yeah. Um. Yeah.
Ana: Well, you're on tour a lot, so I guess that could happen. And, if you could be invisible what would you do? And I know you wrote "Happy Phantom" which is one of my favorite songs but maybe it's changed since then. Like if you really seriously could be invisible, what would you go around doing? 'Cause that's a fantasy of mine.
Tori: Oh, God. I would go and see what the government, what information they have.
Ana: I know, that's totally what I would do, I would go in there and say "I knew it! I knew it!"
Tori: Yeah, I'm fascinated by that.
Ana: Would you like go through people's houses and read their diaries, just to see? Just watch people's conversations? Kinda like sit on their couch, find a really good family and kind of connect to them and go "Oh, this is really cool" and just listen?
Tori: Um...No, I'll let you do that. You do that one. I wanna go to the CIA and see some of the things that they've been up to, the secrets.
Ana: I wonder if it would be as fascinating as we imagine?
Tori: I'm sure it would be, um, you know stomach turning.
Ana: AND, one more thing. My boyfriend made me say. He's like, will you come over to our house and make him pancakes?
Tori: Can I bring my chef, and together we'll make pancakes for you?
Ana: I think that would be good enough for him.
(She kisses Ana on the cheek and they wave to the camera.)
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos