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Canberra's No. 1 Free Entertainment Guide
September 7, 2007
What a Doll
Then I started thinking. 'What is it that really gets the right-wing upset?'
by Sasha Perera
No longer the widely-accepted Tori Amos from the bitter and twisted years, the Tori Amos of 2007 is an attractive and enigmatic woman, with graceful poise and charming elegance. Shortcut - she's kinda hot. She may indeed have always been this way in some form - although unlikely - but following her '90s international success, Tori Amos was widely regarded as an angst-ridden, anti-men, alternative-rock singer/songwriter with 'issues.' Now living in the English countryside with her husband and young daughter, the American artist is a different woman; a woman who's learned to let go, has transformed into a confident erotic creature, and a woman who's happier as a result. She's also a woman who exists in five distinct personalities, as she reveals on her return-to-form album American Doll Posse, written and performed by Tori Amos and her alter-egos Santa, Clyde, Isabel and Pip. American Doll Posse is as vehement and as striking as her earlier '90s work, but this time charged with a newly-adopted feminine-warrior gang sensibility...and a touch of lipstick and couture fierceness.
"When the songs started coming, I began to realise early on that there was a diversity in styles, musically. This is very different from a record whereby there's a thread going through it as far as the arrangements go, there's a very organic feeling from beginning to the end, or that it's just electronica from beginning to end. No - I realised this was coming from different voices, and so I began to categorise these voices and they came out as five distinct voices, whereby I could link different songs together for all kinds of reasons.
"I knew pretty quickly that there was more than one perception - this came through sonically," Tori continues lucidly. "That's how I know what's going on in my life. It's always sonic first - that's my map, and the blueprint I follow. An architect will follow his plans for structure and I likewise have sonic plans that come through. It's always been that way since I was a little girl. It is a performance art piece, and the music was first to come, to dictate what the women would be, as far as my guide. Then I started thinking, 'what is it that really gets the right-wing upset? - right wing in America. The thing that gets them incredibly upset is the idea, not of a God, but of a Mother-God, equal to a Father-God. It drives them mad and batty."
So then the aim was to go after the Christian right-wing with this defiant and assertive new album?
"It's time to go after them," Tori says resolutely. "I'm going after them, but I'm not doing it by going after them like an Avon-lady. It's more akin to being in their water; programmable soda," she says referring to a track on the album, "being in what you drink, being in the ether. It's about ideology. People need to begin to realise that there's much more that you can access than what the patriarchy has set forth. For women it's been very basic; very black and white - and as a piano player I understand black and white - but I think black and white needs to stay on the piano. The psyche of a woman really is complex; it's a complicated thing - my husband tells me all the time! He always says to me, 'Wifey, you have no idea what I'm going through,' and I say 'Stop complaining - you're a lucky guy who gets to shag five different women and be monogamous!'
"There's this belief that anything that doesn't agree with a male god is evil...sounds like an American President! So anyway I thought let's go to the Greek pantheon - a lot of people have heard about it or know it - and the five woman are there. I did not choose Hera because I feel she has sided with the patriarchy, and so I decided to choose the five women (including Tori, the singer) and their patterns. So they were loosely what I based the character types of posse on."
Going into battle with her American Doll Posse, Tori Amos leads the charge on her new album with the aim of turning the tables, and taking on a new viewpoint which turns away from the personal politics, and instead looks at global politics from a female perspective. Inspired by the future of her daughter and the world she is bringing her up in, Tori takes a firm aim, and fires. On the opening album track Yo George, Isabel (a humanisation of Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt) firmly finds her target with the lyrics "Is this just the madness of King George/Yo George/Well you have the whole nation on all fours." Tori's lyrics and inspiration for this album were as a result of the experience of encountering young women in America who were dealing with their men being sent off to war.
"I was in the States touring The Beekeeper and this is how I began observing American women responding to the re-election of an executive-branch that were still sending young men and women overseas, and not listening to we-the-people. Yet the majority of people voted for this force, who have lied to us all, to stay in power. It's not just about a candidate, or who is the President - for me it was about 'where are we going as the supposed self-dubbed leaders of democracy?'
"We have to fight for our lives. We have to fight for what our forefathers and foremothers died for. They died for an idea of liberty of the emancipated human being. We have a powerful, powerful right-wing in out country and whoever's President will have to combat this strong organised force. Let's not kid ourselves, whoever wins in two years time, we still have to address this lurking essence that is supposedly the right arm of God," she says, spoken like a Preacher's daughter (that she is) who knows the extent of force of the right-wing Christian community.
Be that as it may, American Doll Posse also offers up another notable revelation. Tori Amos - as herself, and not one of the other ladies on the album - has begun to embrace her inner erotic-woman, as highlighted on the honky-tonk rumble of her first single "Big Wheel," in which she boldly proclaims, "I am a M-I-L-F don't you forget."
"It was during this crazy 19-day recording session, which was 10-12 hours a day, and I got up one morning with this rhythm and this song in my head. I ran across to the studio barefoot, as the sun was coming up, and I wrote the idea down and then went over to check my computer and my niece had sent me a note, knowing that I was recording, saying, 'Whatever you do today, just remember you are a M-I-L-F!' and straight away I knew that was it. I had been christened and I've embraced it."
As our time together finishes, Tori wants to let her Australian audiences know that she's on her way down under later this year with her American Doll Posse.
"It's a done deal - I'm coming in September. All the girls have their passports and their wardrobes ready. I have been looking at their wardrobes and I must admit I'm jealous. I do love what Tori gets to wear, but I have to tell you, I'm a little jealous of some of the other girls' outfits."
Footnote: just for the record, and with a mischievous smile, Tori denies any kind of multi-personality-disorder breakdown!
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