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April 2, 2009
THE INSIDER: TORI AMOS
The alt-music poster child is back.
by Rebecca Willa Davis
The first thing you notice about Tori Amos, besides her still-vivid red hair, is that she's a total press pro.
She greets me like an old friend, compliments me on my dress, and stretches out on the couch like a ten-year-old watching TV, even though it's the first time we've ever met.
It's no surprise; after all, the iconic musician has been wooing audiences for nearly 20 years. On the eve of her new release, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Amos opened up to NYLON about making it on Broadway, singing duets, and fighting your way up the alt-music world's ranks.
I hear you're working on a musical right now. How's that going?
I'm getting put through my paces, in a good way. I guess what that is, is that the project still has a green light. For a while it was the only thing that I thought about creatively. Samuel Adamson and I had been put together as a team a few years ago. And we're at a stage now where, after we've turned in the first draft, the producer, who's here in New York, said, "Okay great. Let's roll up our sleeves now."
Any idea when it will open?
Well, we want to have the draft -- a real working draft -- top to tail done by the end of the year, and then, I think, start going into proper workshops with it.
So you're doing a musical, you've inspired a comic book, you've put out albums...is there anything you haven't done that you'd really love to do?
Yeah, I'm sure there is. [Laughs] That's so funny. Well I haven't done a Christmas record. There are all kinds of things I haven't done... I haven't done a duets record.
Would you do it with anyone in particular?
Ben Harper -- I just ran into him at SXSW. But if I did a duets record, I think it'd be really fun to do 12 to 14 songs with different people, different styles, different worlds. When I ran into Ben again after many years, I realized [a duets album] is something I could enjoy doing -- working with people that not only you respect, but that you get a great buzz with.
With the increased digitalization of music, did you approach your new album any differently?
Well, I wanted to deliver a beautiful package and I know that this is a time when packaging is becoming obsolete and it's all very disposable. Sometimes I'll look at packaging and think, "Oh my God, why did you even waste the trees?" Having such an affinity with the visual world, I don't capitulate to the fears out there. I think that there's got to be somebody who embraces the visual side in a digital sonic age and weaves it in there. We're trying to understand this wild west of digital format, and visuals are going to be involved. How is yet being defined, [but] I thought if each song [from the new album] had its own little movie.
How do you manage to stay relevant and still connect with your audience, after nearly 20 years making music?
Well, you have to be interested and excited about what you're doing. As you develop enough life experience, you've got to value what that is. Youth does not have that. Youth has a lot but it doesn't have any fucking wisdom. That's not negative, it's just like, I don't have lineless skin, and you don't get these lines without living. I know that sometimes the culture only values the teenage perspective, but there are other perspectives, too. And when you're about ready to jump off a cliff, I don't know if talking about shopping is going to get you through it.
Is it any easier to be taken seriously as a young female musician?
Sure. In some ways, there are a lot of opportunities for musicians now that were really tough in 1990. There are a lot of outlets now that you didn't have then. I think there are so many opportunities as a new female artist, and as a new male artist as well. There seems to be a lot more out there now, and I think that's exciting.
So it's not so much a matter of changing norms, but rather of people who can take advantage of it?
Well, and you've got to get through the fact that the aphrodisiac is the new, the next thing. It's like a fix, [the public] needs the next one to be consumed with, and then the next one. What's changed -- and what needs to happen now -- is that they are able to keep coming back to artists as they change and grow. They do have something to say, they just have a different fight now.
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