home / interviews
Irish Independent (Ireland)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Q&A: Tori Amos
by Ed Power
On Barack, bust ups and taking it easy
You've described your new album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin as 'audio mescaline'. It's certainly a change from your last record, American Doll Posse, which was an old-fashioned, pedal-to-the-floor rocker in places.
We're in a different world from where we were with the last album. When I was making American Doll Posse we were still in the Bush regime. I started Abnormally Attracted to Sin on the road, before Obama had really even taken hold. There was an excitement for change in the air. And then, at the end of last year, everything crashed. There seemed to be a state of paralysis. Songs have been coming out of how to survive these turbulent times.
One of the album's themes is the relationship between women and power -- as a wealthy, successful musician, it's a subject I'd imagine you are uniquely positioned to comment upon. So is fame a gift or a burden?
I see myself as a female composer first. I chose to temper fame. It's a very dangerous mischief. I do flirt with it, but I think I have a real grounded life. Being a mom has anchored me in a really deep way and I'm a hands-on kind of mom.
On the subject of upheaval, you've been through an eventful time career-wise, having left SonyBMG and entered into a licensing deal with Universal. Was it a bitter falling out?
Coming out of the whole Sony experience, I didn't want to have anything like that again. It's that old structure where there doesn't seem to be any exchange between the creative side and the fiscal side. No understanding of how it really has to work as a unit. You have to work together instead of one side trying to get one over on the other, which never works in the end. I'd had enough of that.
So you hooked up with an old mentor, Doug Morris, at Universal.
I said to him 'I'll give you golden eggs -- but let the goose fly. Don't start getting me in a fucking pot of boiling water. I'm going to go mad'. And he laughed. We did a joint venture deal which means if there are any profits we both kind of win and if there aren't any, then we both kind of put in. You invest all the money in yourself anyway and get a tiny percent back, so why not be conscious of what you are doing?
To change subjects slightly -- okay radically -- is it true that 'Ophelia', on the new record, is inspired by young women with a history of self-harm approaching you after concerts?
Yes. A lot of those woman have been coming to the shows on and off for years. I think it's so complicated, because they are trying to find some control and if they can control their own pain then sometimes that is the only control they feel they have in their lives. I think the song is really looking into the fact that there have to be other ways instead of harming yourself to find that control.
'Abnormally Attracted to Sin' is a line from Guys and Dolls. I hadn't put you down as a fan of corn-ball musicals.
I saw it recently and I thought, 'As a minister's daughter I know just what to do with the phrase'. You see, this is a time when women are choosing to be in relationships with abusive men, but in the west you have other choices. We have to redefine for the woman that this is not a powerful man. He is small on every level.
Tell us about your relationship with Ireland. You've recorded here and name-checked various places in song.
I still have a house in Kinsale where I can find my solace again. I go there, if we're honest, to regenerate and recharge. I shut the world out and reclaim myself. It's the private hideaway.
Ever sneak out for a few pints?
I have my haunts, my favourite restaurants. They know me at Jim Edward's down in Kinsale. I call up, or someone calls for me, and asks, 'can you get a table? Tori will be there tomorrow night'. And they always manage to have a table for me.
Abnormally Attracted to Sin is released today
[Wikipedia: Irish Independent]
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos