home / interviews
New York Post (US, www)
December 14, 2009
Tori Amos: I don't write 'just tunes'
by Ryan Brockington
I have always had an undying love of the female singer/songwriter. From Aimee Mann to Regina Spektor, my lust for the affected lives these ladies lead lengthens with each listen. However, Tori Amos, the scarlet-haired queen of the musical movement, was somehow lost on my radar.
I have always understood her music, and furthermore appreciated her unique straddle-the-piano-bench performance style. But I think I avoided her throughout the years because she seemed to be such an indie-rock cliche to me, and I just thought it was better left untouched.
I wish there was a way to sneak up on your past self and punch your own face.
Last week, I was not only given the chance to talk to Tori about her recent holiday album release, “Midwinter Graces,” but I sat and watched her perform an intimate seven-song set at Spin magazine's Spin House Live event in NYC. Her presence and confidence on stage is something incomparable to anyone I have seen. Then, when we spoke, she surprised me again with her abundant knowledge of … well, everything and her take on other music Diva's like Lady GaGa and Beyonce.
PopWrap: Firstly, thank you so much for such an amazing show at the Spin House. It was my first time seeing you live and definitely not my last.
Tori Amos: Your first time? Well shame on you! It was a nice, intimate group of people, very fun.
PW: Your new holiday CD has plenty of familiar sounding Christmas songs on it, but they are strangely mixed in with original tracks you wrote. Having a minister as a father, was it a bit hard to tell him you were altering these Christian classics?
Tori: Well, at the end of the day everyone is just trying to have some champagne and enjoy the birth of a nice little baby, right? So my goal wasn't to bash Christians at all, it was to just celebrate everything, celebrate the world. My father was definitely a part of the process and at times it was interesting to wonder his viewpoint, but it was just storytelling really.
PW: My favorite song you sang, “Pink and Glitter,” is about the birth of a baby girl instead of the normal Christmas songs based on the birth of a baby boy, Jesus. Is the song about your daughter?
Tori: It is, of course. The joy, initially, was not in the actual material, but in my family. My daughter is my joy and she loves that song, as do I.
PW: This CD kept that same Tori Amos quality you have held intact since the beginning of your career, even though it explored a different genre of music. Do you find people like Madonna, who reinvent their sound, to be selling out?
Tori: I certainly go through different phases, from electronic to acoustic piano, most composers would die if they didn't. However, as a true songwriter, I don't write “just tunes.” Each work needs a narrative. It's about the overall body of work, not just being a singer.
PW: Do you find artists like Lady GaGa and Beyonce, women who bank on their full “act,” to be entertaining?
Tori: Wow, well, you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater, I mean they are a commercial storm, yes, but it's an entertaining storm for sure. Our world is a huge mess right now, and not big enough for masses of intolerant people. We need open arms for all things, desperately.
PW: The music world has for sure shown you much deserved open arms, for sure. As for what's next for Tori, is there anything you're listening to now that is influencing your future efforts?
Tori: Well, I am loving big band music right now, a lot of Benny Goodman and oh, Earth Wind & Fire too! As for upcoming things, I'm not sure exactly, no repeating though, moving forward. No repeating!
Tori's Christmas CD, “Midwinter Graces,” is in stores now
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos