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Boyz (UK)
May 10, 2007



tori amos

'Maybe I'm a dirty girl!'


Well, we all knew that Tori, but what about the new album? Back with a bang and the superb new LP American Doll Posse, our favourite pig-suckling piano-pop princess is on typically outspoken form and speaks exclusively to boyz.

So, what's the worst interview you've ever had?

Oh, there have been a couple. Well, two in fifteen years anyway. This is for boyz magazine, right? So we're safe? One time, there was this really macho guy from Europe. I don't think I should mention the country.

I'm guessing Italy...

No, it was Paris, France. I'm gonna lay it out for you so it's a little shocking. I was pregnant and miscarrying, but I didn't know it yet. It was one of the last interviews I did before I haemorrhaged. He said to me, 'How do you feel about making a killing by marketing your pain?'

What did you reply?

I think I said, 'Do you have a book deal? Clearly not.'

How did that go down?

We didn't get along. You could tell he had issues with successful women. The other one was a phoner, and he had heard I had a cleaner and said, 'How can you, a liberated woman, have a cleaner?' and I replied, 'How much do you make a week, sunshine?' and he said, 'Why?' I replied, 'Because I am telling you right now, my cleaner makes three times the amount you make, and you would be so lucky to be my cleaner. Go fuck yourself.' Then I just put the phone down.

You've always escaped being categorised, haven't you?

I've had to fight for that. We both know a lot of female artists have been destroyed, having tried a different image they can't pull off. For example, you've got a talented gal, somebody on a record label is chasing a look because it's working for a few other women and they put a lot of seduction around the idea that, 'You can carry this off, and this is the way forward for you.' It doesn't work, they lose half their audience. Trying this kind of music, trying these clothes, sleeping with that producer.

Oh, I haven't heard that bit before...

Well, we've all done it. If you're doing it when you're 43 then you've got trouble. There's nothing shocking about all that for me. Maybe I'm a dirty girl.

You're one type of gay icon, but what about the divas?

Your composers are your composers. You just have to honour them. You could put some women in a room and say, 'Write a song,' and we could do it. There are some women who are never going to do it, even with twelve hunky men as the prize, lathered up in oil. Until you're writing your own music by yourself, it's like, 'Yeah, I style myself too.'

Really?

No, I'm full of shit! But I'm not dissing them by saying that. I'm saying you have to acknowledge people that really do write their own stuff.

Your Dad was a reverend. Was he strict?

Well, I had been composing since I was really little, and I didn't want to learn any more classical music. My dad recognised I was having a real crisis, aged 11.

I started learning piano from a Catholic nun called Sister Ernestine, who would snore through the whole lesson. I would just play whatever I wanted and nothing was getting accomplished. Dad said to me, at 13, 'What's going to happen here? You've got all this promise and for what? Half your friends are going to be pregnant by the time you're 16, (which a few of them were). If I were to get you a job, well, what's your take on all of this?' My mother had gone away for a few weeks and my father said, 'Get dressed in your sister's clothes,' so that I looked older. So I put on some high heels and went down town with my Dad and we ended up at My. Henry's, which was a gay bar, and I would stand outside while he would knock on each door, and he would knock on about six doors and it was the gay bar where he said, 'I have a daughter who can play piano, and she can really, really play,'and I don't know who that guy was, but he said, 'If she can play, she can play for tips and she can go out there and do it. If it doesn't work in ten minutes, then Reverend, you need to go.' I was in and I worked for tips, and guys would come and sing round the piano.

What would you play?

I would play all kinds of stuff. Streisand... everything and anything. All from the last fifteen, twenty years, up until then.

What was the biggest?

Let me think about this. 'Send In The Clowns.' 'Isn't it rich...?' it's the one that uses 'A Little Night Music.' I can't remember what else.

I read a quote where you said, you learnt how to be a woman in the gay bars...

I did. It's true. They taught me how not to be a slag and a slut, and how to carry it with grace. How to not put it out for free, not to be so desperate, they would just say, 'What is all this hanging out of the dress?' Not that I was doing it, but they would make me look and the waiters would sit next to me and say, 'Watch and learn. What is she doing? What is she putting with that?'

I had these visions of drag queens teaching you how to walk...

Well, there was all kinds of tuition for many years, because there were always gay guys around.

Your Dad must have been pleased...

Not a problem. He thought it was the safest place for me to be, which it was. I also think that there was a real sense of... well, gay men were very much about women's rights and not to be subservient to the heterosexual male and not to be tacky in your presentation. I'm not saying not to be bitchy, that's another conversation, but how not to be tacky, and so it was really important for me to grasp that. I leraned a lot from them.

American Doll Posse is out now on Columbia Records. Tori will play the Hammersmith Apollo on 3 and 4 July.


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