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Top (UK)
(free UK Tower Records magazine)
December 1999/January 2000

Tori Amos

By Sylvie Simmons

"I don't want to write something I've already written - not only don't want to, can't. I don't see things in the exact same way I did, no one does. I once wrote a song that goes 'I've got 50 different hearts in 50 different drawers' - I haven't thought of that song in so long! I don't think it made an album, did it? I'll have to get one of the guys to go on the Internet and ask if they know what happened to it. I'm using too much deodorant", Tori Amos chuckles. "It rots the brain."

Tori herself has no time for "the little box that sits on people's desk which I call The Alien. So much information, so fast - oh hello?" A little white dog saunters past on the windswept cliff in Cornwall where we're sitting - Tori and her English engineer husband have a house here. It stops, puts its head on one side and looks at Tori quizzically, part intimacy, part challenge, part animal curiosity, which, oddly, is exactly how Tori looks at journalists.

But where were we? The Internet. Her caution is understandable, judging by what TOP found on a quick trawl for Tori sites: obsessional fan analyses of her lyrical take on literature, masturbation, food. You've probably heard Tori described a thousand times as 'kooky', and at times she does appear the spoor of Kate Bush and Mozart adopted by the Brothers Grimm, but all things considered she's one of the most normal and valuable artists the '90s has produced.

Without Tori, safe to say there would have been no Alanis Morissette, nor any of the candid, confessional '90s "Chick Rock" singer-songwriters. Though she refuses to take the credit, the influence of her '91 solo debut, Little Earthquakes (which followed her failed heavy metal album in the '80s, Y Kant Tori Read) has been acknowledged by them all, not least megastar Morissette, with whom she recently toured.

Her record label told her, "Radio won't play you, they're playing one female already", but word of mouth built a cult following, and next album, Under the Pink, sold millions. Girl rock became a bigger force to reckon with than the then-dominant grunge, and the acoustic piano was reinvented as sexy - as the live half of Tori's latest, To Venus and Back, attests. "Rhythm reminds you that you are sexual", she says, "a woman" - something she didn't learn growing up as the daughter and granddaughter of strict Southern Methodist preachers.

Her mission in the next millenium remains "to marry the two Marys - Mary Magdalene and Mary the Divine Mother, whom I refuse to call 'the virgin'. The Christian church has a lot to answer for stripping the Magdalene of her wisdom and Mother Mary of her sexuality. If I weren't a preacher's daughter", she laughs, "I could see myself starting the New Order of the Nazarenes..."


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