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The Inside Connection (US)
The Creative Travels of Tori Amos
Dreams, Nightmares and Exploring the Imagination
"I didn't plan to release a studio album this year. Maybe a live album with a few unreleased songs, but definitely not a studio album," claims Tori Amos sincerely.
She says that she planned to explore the landscape in Cornwall, England, cycle around a bit, enjoy her marriage with sound engineer Mark Hawley and just take life easy. She planned to rest up for her tour with Alanis Morissette and "go with the flow," as she said, but expect the unexpected from Ms. Amos. Her muse struck and she recorded the superb double album To Venus And Back. "I don't know how it happened," she admits. "Creativity is such a mysterious force. I wasn't under any pressure and the songs started coming along. Why should I have pushed them away?"
For Tori, recording an album is like making wine: something that requires a lot of edication and is certainly not just a pastime. "If you're making wine, you don't do it because you're bored; you do it because you like what you're doing. You love the way the grapes turn to wine, the first sip of it. Creative juices -- that's what I need in my life. That's what makes life worth living!"
Ms. Amos is clearly smitten with her home in Cornwall and can't stop describing its appeal. "It's a wild and passionate landscape. Mark, my husband, spent all his summers in Cornwall when he was a kid and now he brought me here and shows me the beauty of it. I feel like a sponge who takes it all in -- the fresh air, the landscape, the people."
To Venus And Back follows From The Choirgirl Hotel, the second album she record in Cornwall. She describes the process as "very spontaneous and not contrived." Some of the songs were written in the studio shortly before recording them, and the album is definitely different from her past work. While Boys For Pele was more of a concept album describing the men in her life, and From The Choirgirl Hotel was released after her recovery from a tragic miscarriage, To Venus And Back includes rocking and dreamy tracks and the ballad "1000 Oceans," probably the best song from a performer and songwriter famous for great material.
"For me, Venus is an album about feelings, dreams and just watching things, but I don't want to analyze it and explain it all. I think it's very important that the listener does it him or herself. They should find their own explanations, project their own feelings. That's part of the charm of a song."
For the complex Tori Amos, a song is never just a song, but always a bit of herself and her philosophy. Most of the time, she gladly shares that philosophy with everybody who's willing to listen, but never forces it on anybody. "I remember when I was a teenager. It's a weird time. You discover secrets you didn't know existed and you explore them. It's like a trip you're taking and music is the soundtrack for your journey. There's music that won't help you on your journey, that won't help you discover anything about yourself and all the secrets, and there's music that does. I don't want to give you examples because I think it's different for everybody, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Music was something that accompanied me all my life, so maybe my view might be out of focus, but I really don't think so!"
Tori Amos is often described as the mysterious fairy of the music world. She seems to live in her own world and often deals with things you can't see until she describes them in a song. You end up loving the music but feeling a slight chill. She's the original dreamer, but confesses, "I have a lot of nightmares. Sometimes I wake up and wonder what is real and what is only part of my imagination that's playing a trick on me. It can be very weird and sometimes very scary. On the other hand, it's a lot of fun for my friends. When there's an embarrassed silence at a dinner party because somebody said something incredibly stupid, someone always turns around and says, 'Tori, tell us about your latest nightmare!' At least my dark sides have a glimmer of light to them!"
While Tori's songs often deal with death and her dark sides, they're seldom completely gloomy and depressing. Love is a theme that fascinates her and she never tires of adding new elements of it to her songs. Being married gave her a lot of new inspirations. "It's a challenge, a big challenge. It's not like in the movies; not at all. When you see a film, it's usually two people who meet, find each other and get married in the end, or it's a marriage that doesn't work and there are affairs, adultery, the whole works. They never show a real marriage, what a marriage is like in the real world, the day to day business!"
This description does sound slightly boring, but Tori disagrees vehemently. "Not at all. It can't get boring! It is a challenge and you're trying to keep a healthy balance between being passionate, being sensible and being reasonable. Sometimes you have to be really grown up and do the taxes, another day is like you're spending time with the best friend you've ever had. And of course there are times for passion. I don't find it boring at all! Juggling the ingredients and keeping the balance is everything else than boring. It's like a never-ending challenge; a thrill, if you want!"
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