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May 19, 2007
with Tori Amos
by Christa Titus
Since Tori Amos released her debut album, "Little Earthquakes," 15 years ago, the singer/pianist has usually examined life from other people's perspectives, be they fathers or mothers, gods or goddesses, artists or anarchists. One such memorable turn was her 2001 album "Strange Little Girls," where she covered songs written by men -- like Slayer's "Raining Blood" -- to give them a female viewpoint.
Amos resumes the role of channeler for "American Doll Posse" (Epic), which enters The Billboard 200 this week at No. 5 after selling 54,000 copies. She examines women's place in society thgrough the eyes of five personalities (Santa, Clyde, Isabel, Tori and Pip) who represent archetypes females are often compressed into, sometimes willingly, sometimes not.
When did it become apparent that these were the five personalities that were coming out?
As [the songs] started to come alive, I could see how some songs were more associated with others. I began to be drawn to the idea of the patriarchy and what it's created over the last few thousand years, and how it's affecting all of us right now in its extreme form . . . I decided in order to really take the muzzle off, one that is invisible, as a woman, as an American woman at this time, I had to go back to the matriarchy before the monotheistic authority took power. So I went to the Greek tradition, and the girls began to align: one with Athena, one with Artemis, one with Aphrodite, one with Persephone and one with Demeter/Dionysis.
While reading the press materials, the questions I thought of weren't so much related to the album but what it represents. Did you realize while writing it that you were creating a springboard for such questions?
I just plugged into this music plug in the sky, the 220 voltage somewhere, where I looked up and said, "OK, girls, you have an all-access pass. I will try and be a scribe for these songs to speak how we as women need to speak to ourselves."
It seems to me that right now [laughs] the men have made a real mess of it, and the women are great strategists as well. Confrontation isn't geting us anywhere, it's only taking us further to our demise. And so it seems that there has to be a round table of thinkers and perspectives, and I don't believe that somebody's going to open the door for us into the round table. That's not going to happen. But we can choose to walk through the door ourselves. But that takes a lot of commitment.
It might be hard to narrow it down, but does one song sum up the album's concept?
With 23, it's kind of tricky. I think each girl would have one . . . I think to start the record with "Yo George" sets everything up. "Big Wheel" means very different things because of where it's situated, and then "Bouncing Off Clouds" after that. The order is very important. I did not make a record for iTunes. This is a double album. I mean, could you imagine telling William Faulkner, "OK, you get a chapter. That's all you get"?
There are blogs for each woman that are "hidden" online.
I thought that it was really important through the project and through the touring, which lasts till mid-December, that along with the music, people can go online ito this abstract world and communicate with these women. They have stories, and we follow their stories, which I thought was really important. I like the idea of a multimedia approach to this subject matter. Because I don't think that there has to be an end of the expression with the releasing of the album. I like the idea of, how would you say it, improvisation along the way. And I'm getting to know them more each day, I guess, as we're getting ready for the tour.
And they're all supposed to be on the road with you?
Oh, they are on the road. They will all be on the road.
Do they all get their own bus?
No, they get their own wardrobe. Buses are expensive.
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