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The Sunday Mail (Australia)
Queensland , Australia, newspaper
May 15, 2005
Tori's own land of Oz
by Sally Browne
TORI Amos, the free-spirited entertainer, has a new muse in her life. The muse is 4 years old - or "four going on 40" according to her mum - and her name is Natashya.
"We're moving into another phase of independence," says Amos, 41, "which is always wild when you're in the middle of another country."
Natashya asserted her independence at Sydney airport when she was asked to remove her shoes, as Amos delighted in telling her Brisbane audience this week.
Natashya is also aware her mum has a weird job.
"She just knows that when I go on stage that Tori Amos takes Mommy away from Tash. So Tori Amos is not very popular with Tash right now. But she also knows that Tori Amos buys her cool presents."
Home for Natashya, Amos and her husband of seven years, sound engineer Mark Hawley, is Cornwall, England, where Amos writes and records. It's then that the door closes.
"Creating music is a very kind of personal, private thing," Amos says from the Brisbane Hilton hotel just hours before her show.
"It's not something that I really do in front of anybody. It's an internal process."
It's been more than 11 years since Amos last came to the Land of Oz, on the back of her successful second solo album Under the Pink. Since then she has been married, released seven albums, experienced miscarriages before Natashya's birth, lived through the death of her brother, Michael, and talked about it all in a book, Tori Amos: Piece by Piece, released this year.
Amos is at once open and opaque. The warmth she directs to her grateful audience, thirsty after years of her absence, is palpable. She is aware of the paradox of taking something so personal as her music to an audience of millions.
"On one level it's no big deal in that you don't want - I don't, anyway - to lock the songs away and throw away the key. Those out there might want to have a relationship with these creatures."
Her latest album, The Beekeeper, was partly inspired by the Celtic beekeeping traditions of Cornwall. A honeycomb of songs, arranged thematically into "gardens", the album also explores her concept of "Original Sinsuality", an alternative take on the Tree of Knowledge story.
On stage, Amos focuses on two instruments, the organ (which she considers male) and the piano (female). In a process of "cross-pollination", she plays them simultaneously, behind her back, with a dexterity that only a former child prodigy - she won a piano scholarship at the age of five - with a healthy diet and exercise regime can manage.
Amos has also been inspired by the Nag Hammadi Gnostic gospels, discovered in 1945 and brought to a wide audience in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. She has said that along with Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, Mary Magdalene has been an influence.
"Of everything that I've been able to piece together it seems that she was one of the early prophets of Christianity, not a prostitute, but a prophet. It was just not profitable for the early church, who didn't believe women should speak in church."
Amos, the daughter of a Cherokee mother and Methodist minister father, is vocal on the "hijacking" of religion by the powers-that-be for political ends. Her song The Power of Orange Knickers, on which she duets with Irish singer Damien Rice, asks: "Who is this terrorist"?
The previous time she was in Australia, Amos says, she was "falling in love with Natashya's dad."
"I've never really been around children as an adult, so in a way children are new to me. Every day is sort of a whole 'nother set of 'Oh, wow!'
"And to see a country I haven't been to for so long through her eyes, it's something that I try to imprint, tattoo underneath my skin, so I can remember on her face, how she saw the sun rise.
"She thinks she's in the land of Oz, like Dorothy and the red shoes. In her mind, it's the Emerald City."
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