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Diva magazine (UK)
February 2004

Listen to the Librarian

My mates and I have this game we play when bored and drunk: name a female artist who's sane. You can't do it: Beverly Craven, Kate Bush, Bjork, Babs - eccentrics at least, the lot of them. To my shame, Tori Amos had always been on my list. I just saw this woman possessed by a piano losing it on stage as she sang of cornflakes, zebras and professional widows. Then the call came. Would I be interested in interviewing Tori? Yes. So the frantic CD hunt began, and my thoughts changed.

By the time the interview had come and gone, I'd learnt a lesson: listen; these lasses have much to teach.

We spoke first about the new album. Did she enjoy playing Librarian?

"I've loved it. Knowing you're the keeper of where the knowledge is is kind of great - instead of where the fountain of Venus is, which I think of as overrated, anyway. I know where the knowledge is, which is cool."

My theory on the madness of Queen Amos not challenged so far, I ask Tori if her tunes feel very different now.

"I think Playboy Mommy feels very different," she says. "I wrote it when I was in deep sadness, but with Natashya in my life now, I'm in very a different space. When I heard it, what I heard was the amount of love that this woman singing had inside her. My mother told me years ago that you won't love until you become a mother; unselfish love."

And the other songs on the album? "Well, my relationship with all my songs is only my relationship with them. I've come to understand that they have relationships with people, that all my fans have different pictures that they attach to the songs, and that's completely valid. When I perform, I walk into the song like it's architecture, a sonic building, and I have to bring my recent experiences to it to be able to sing it truthfully. So I might be seeing different pictures than when I wrote it, but that's the only way I can do it."

I think I'm beginning to get it now, now I'm listening. How does that theory work on stage? "Being on stage, there's a skill to that and I've tried to explain it to people; some choose to hear and some choose not to. We'll see how you do."

Okay, I say; Tori's testing me.

"When I come out to the piano, I'm holding a space for the songs to come. They can crawl inside my body. I'm sort of like a beach condo; hopefully, a cute one!"

Oh yeah, I say, the flaming flirt in me taking over again.

"The songs come inside me, re-form in me, and I see and sing from their perspective. Is my perspective similar? Sometimes. Sometimes maybe I'm the character that's in shock by this song's character's behaviour, but I'm there, singing from the other point of view."

We carry on talking about record companies, Cornwall, concerts, causes. What would the record companies need if they fancied making a Tori Amos Juniour?

Tori laughs, "My father, definitely my mother - with her tomahawk around her apron and her bible in the other hand - and the stomach for it all!"

Finally, we get to the women in her professional life. Any Madonna and Britney-type collaborations planned? Tori pauses. The next video, I ask, pushing my luck. Another pause.

"You're so cute," she replies, "I think -- and I'll say this to the Diva readers -- the one thing we need to understand is that if you're going to French kiss another woman, it doesn't mean you're going to be an ingenue at 40. If you're 20, it doesn't mean you're going to get wisdom. You're going to get some cute lipgloss on and a yummy feeling inside, but there's a bit of a devouring going on.

"When someone French kisses another woman to try and get something, that isn't passion; it's very interesting to me, an intriguing study. If you're going to French kiss somebody, French kiss a woman that can say, 'Okay, honey; okay sister, come with me and I'll show you a tongue like you've never seen before'. If you're going to walk down that road, do it! A tongue does not touch the intelligence inside another person. You know, Madonna's stayed around for 20 years, but Britney is not going to get that, and Madonna isn't going to become 20 years younger. I did not see 'I honour you' in that kiss. But that's me; that's what I saw."


We end our chat. She likes herself, she's enjoying life, and I'm enjoying her. So, reread her words. Take a good listen to Miss Amos and enjoy her, too. She's definitely got some fine knowledge to share.


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