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Keyboard (France)
April 2003

[translated from French by Sylvain Cavailles]

Tori Amos
Inner walk!


She's just celebrated her 10 year career. Therefore an assessment was needed: Tori keeps on getting awards, the way she's used to. All of her albums regularly go gold or platinum, so that her craftsmanship can be acclaimed. Since 1994, she's been nominated for the Grammy Awards ten times, in such categories as Best Rock Singer or Best Alternative music. Do we need to say more?!!

Her talent, widely acknowledged by her peers, she offers it to us with each one of her creations. But this time, Tori succeeded in surpassing herself, for our greatest joy. Scarlet's Walk, her new album, released last year, is certainly one of the best in her career. Her approach of the most dramatic event of her country is the most constructive of all. "After September 11th," she explains, "people were perceiving America as a friend, as a wounded human being. She was not an object anymore. Never again will she become a mere nationalist concept. She was a mother, a friend, plunged in the throes of pain. And the questions came. Why? How did this happen? A lot of people acknowledged some realities. It became obvious that we were leading a quest. The songs came very fast. Me too, I was looking inside myself for answers, and over all for the good questions. I was on Scarlet's steps."

This constructive and world-opened vision, she owes it to her Native American culture, taught to her by her Cherokee grandfather. A philosophy and altruism such as she only could learn, in her own way, from her ancestors' knowledge. "In North-Carolina," she answers, "where as a child, and then a teenager, I was living in the summer, these stories, which were our roots, reinforced our feeling of belonging. My grandfather was reviving these memories by telling me his people's stories. I was feeling an unbelievable compassion for what had happened to them. I'm certain that before he died, he vaccinated me from forgetting." Not surprising, regarding his origins!

A way of living she always puts into practice, even in her musical approach. Tori gives lots of explanations about the crafting of her new record. "If I've chosen to tell a little of the life of Amber, this porn star, it's because I've really met this kind of characters in reality, in different shapes, the same way I met the manic-depressive or all of the other protagonists of this record. Amber's character seduced me with her story, her life and her worries. She's a resident of this country just as any other American woman. Really! I don't see why I should keep her out of anything. She has rights like anybody else in this country." And she adds, "This record talks about relationships and friendships. Scarlet and I are like two completely different individuals, who very much could have made this initiatory trip and meet along the way the characters I put in my record. It's as much an inner trip, with all the extraordinary people that she meets, as a real walk across a wounded and disoriented country. We all have questions with no answers, our fears, our joys, our desires, our beliefs and the ones we lost. The most important this is what will keep us going on until our last breath. The only way to go on is by bringing ourselves into question".

Such questions and introspection can lead Tori Amos to surpassing herself, but can they lead her to happiness? "Happy, I hope I am, she says, but what is happiness?... (she pauses a long time). Like everyone I appreciate the concept of happiness, but if I am so fulfilled it's only because I've become the mother of a charming little girl. It's an extraordinary experience that isn't always easy, but it brings so much more than just joy. (long pause!) If I am happy today, it's because I know how the smile of a child and hours of sleep can be important in a human life (laughs). Being a mother is much more important to me than being recognized as a musician or singer, or the pleasure of sex or any other thing. My daughter brings me an unquestionable balance that I didn't have before, the ability to take on all the choices that are to be made in one's life and to focus on what's really important. The joy of having a child cannot be compared to anything. It's an incomparable gift of life.

Though she comes from the United States, from North-Carolina, it's in England that she settled, and even recorded her last opus. Stunning, that's the contrary of what lots of English people do. "Scarlet's Walk," she asserts, "is a self-produced album recorded in Cornwall, in a studio where I have my ways: I have already created several records there, with the same team. But this time three musicians joined us: guitarists Robbie McIntosh, Mac Aladdin and David Torn, who bring a new dimension to these songs, which were principally conceived for the piano, my eternal Bosendorfer". Therefore, a different alchemy than her former works, which had to be expressed at its best for this new challenge. "The musicians were very conscious of the musical purpose I had. They tried to use instruments that suited best the origins and the spirit of these songs. The recording was made in close collaboration with sound-engineer Mark Hawley, who is also my husband. I always feel like I'm in a new adventure with him. It's delicious to work with someone who constantly make you surpass yourself and with whom you have a passionate relationship. For nothing in the world would I change this way of working".

And as soon as she talks about working, Tori Amos talks about the instrument without which she would be nothing, worse, she wouldn't exist. "The piano, she says, allowed me to widen the abilities of my left hand, and the dexterity and precision of the other. You let your hands go along with your emotions and inspirations. You become your own instrument, and the piano, my teacher and my best friend. She who walks with me in any of my feelings. I've never felt this kind of sensations in any other circumstances. The piano reveals itself as an extension of my thoughts, of my acts and the instrument who gives shape to who I really am".

This relationship began early. Tori Amos plays music by the age of five, when she's granted to the Peabody conservatory in Baltimore. Her first influences go from Fats Waller to Nat King Cole, and Jimi Hendrix. At 11, she's expelled from the conservatory for playing by ear. The following years, she plays Gershwin, accompanied by her father. They find bars and hotels in Washington and Baltimore where they can play. The father and the daughter lead a double life: she plays music by night for people twice her age, and the day after she goes to high school with people her age. Tired of this life, after moving to Los Angeles, Tori doesn't want to play the piano anymore. But her destiny will catch up with her. While visiting the house of one of the family's friends, where she finds a big old piano, she begins to tinkle out again. She begins to rediscover her old voice, her old self. >From then on, her life will forever be dictated by music, and so will her way of exploring time and various musical universes. Let's hope it lasts.

Here is another translation of part of the article from amandine where Tori talks about Tash:

"Happy? I think I am! But what is Happiness? (she thinks a few minutes) I do like the concept of happiness, like everybody does, but today if I can say that I'm really happy that's just because I'm the mummy of a very cute little girl. This is an extraordinary experience which is not always easy but does procure so much more than just happiness. (long silence) If I'm happy today, that's because I know how much a child's smile and hours of sleep can count in an human life. (laughs) Being a mother is more important to me than being recognized as a musician or a singer, it is even more important than the pleasure that sex or anything else can bring. My daughter brought me a stability that I didn't have before, the capacity of assuming the choices that have to be made in a life and the capacity of focusing on the essential. The joy of having a child is absolutley not comparable, it's a gift from life that can not be equaled."


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