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The Berkeley Beacon (US)
Emerson College, Boston, student newspaper
November 21, 2002
Amos Is Still Going Strong
Tori sits down to talk about the future of music, politics and her new album
By Eileen Magan
When Tori Amos sat down to talk about her new album before her sold-out show in Lowell, she was very relaxed yet animated, wearing a simple button-down shirt, jean skirt and the very Tori-esque michievous expression.
She discussed many things, including her new baby and her newly released album, Scarlet's Walk. Scarlet's Walk is Amos' seventh album since she started with her first acclaimed album Little Earthquakes in 1991.
"I guess Scarlet's Walk was challenging because it's a sonic novel for me -- I sat with it for a couple years," Amos said.
"Everyone has a metaphorical pallet, and you have to keep changing what's in your pallet. I was taught to do this. It's a foundation for me and where I start constructing."
This variety she spoke of was also true in her concert in Lowell Nov. 19. Performing for more than two hours, she played many tracks from the new album, mixed in with old favorites such as "Tear in Your Hand" and her hit single from Little Earthquakes, "Silent All These Years." She also did a few covers, including "Famous Blue Raincoat," a Leonard Cohen song.
Songwriting is a complex process for Amos -- one that can take years. "That I'm just going to sit down and write great songs is a silly idea," she said. "Every songwriter has one good record in them, and then they have to go out and learn how to be a songwriter."
As far as Scarlet's Walk being a concept album and therefore not as personal, Amos does not think albums can be totally removed from your own personality. "Sometimes I think you have to find ways to put your personal feelings in your character -- just because you have a character doesn't mean that you aren't in it," she said.
"There are four lovers in Scarlet's Walk, and my husband doesn't know who he is in this work -- I think it's better that way." WERS, who helped set up the interview, asked Amos what she feels is the difference between corporate radio and college radio.
"You have an opportunity to set a tone, to get people thinking, and to light torches," Amos said firmly. "College radio can change the face of the world -- or not."
Amos addressed the American college generation, stating the generation has not yet made the choice to network, and to talk about what's going on in the world, mainly the threat of war with Iraq. "When will you make this choice? When your friends come back in body bags?" she asked, getting very passionate, her normally soft voice growing louder. "I've been down on my knees at 3 a.m. waiting for that phone call to come and it never came," she said.
Amos, now 39, sees herself as a nurturer rather than a new artist. "I've had my opportunity to rise up -- now it's my turn to hold the torch for you to pick up yours," she said. "I know who I am. Sometimes I'm not crazy about it, but now I'm concerned with what you're going to do."
As far as what the future holds for music, Amos hopes the tradition of musicians singing and expressing themselves continues. For this to happen, there needs to be a continuation of people learning and nurturing their craft. "I'm a student still, and I had to study a lot to create Scarlet's Walk," she said. "We need to keep nurturing out poets and songwriters -- it's a craft, and it has to be nurtured."
However, one problem that Amos noticed, is that people do not nurture their craft, but instead assume that it is easy to be an artist.
"There's a confusion that's set it, where someone will be driving to the dentist saying, 'I can sing better than that Mariah Carey -- I'm going to do that,'" she said. "Just because you wake up and write in your journal does not make you a writer -- sorry folks."
Tori Amos is also known for starting the organization RAINN, or Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. She felt this organization was necessary, because prior to that, people had no way to talk about their difficult experiences.
"Other people have had to walk through those trenches? sometimes it's just the fact that someone else has been through it," she said. "[RAINN] brought people together who needed to talk about the dark night of the soul."
One interesting thing about Scarlet's Walk is the CD unlocks the Web site, and allows you to experience features on the Web site that are inaccessible without it. Also, you cannot listen to the album tracks on the Web site, as you might be able to with most artists.
Amos was very passionate on the unfairness of the music downloading systems. "I don't go to the [gas] station and they say, 'Tori, love the songs, take the gas for free,'" she said, amused at the concept. "To think it's OK to take and not give back -- what sort of value system is that? It's about value -- if you don't value your music, it's going to go."
Amos also talked briefly about New York City and Sept. 11, as this is mentioned in her album, with songs like "I Can't See New York."
"For the first time in a long time, there was a collective memory that was happening in people," she said. "The soul of New York became personified as a mother, as a friend. She was burning, but she was alive."
Tori Amos will be touring for the next month in Canada and on the West Coast. She will return to the East Coast on March 6 and 7 to perform at Radio City Music Hall. Scarlet's Walk is out now, and available at all record stores. For more information, visit Tori Amos' Web site, www.toriamos.com
[interview conducted on November 19, 2002]
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