Tori talks about

Scarlet's Walk

Tori: ...There was a seed that was planted after the eleventh [of Sept. 2001], which was that people started seeing America as a soul, as a being. Whether itís their mother or a love or a sister, whatever it was to them... She was a being, as the Native Americans have always thought of her, sheís a living essence who has a past that goes back before, you know, the colonists. And so Native Americans would come and visit me, too, and they would be saying things like, "now is the time when the people that hold the land and the people that own the land need to come together and try and take care of her." And I kind of sat back and said, "wow, things are happening here on so many levels that I don't understand and I just need to keep traveling and need to keep taking information," and this story started weaving itself. Scarlet really is a thread, thatís all it is. And it goes through me for a lot of it but then it sometimes leaves me, particularly when my character goes to the Boston airport and I take a little flight into New York and I get in and the thread has followed another woman on another plane that ends up going to New York and the plane doesnít make it. So, the thread comes back to me and um, itís very painful what Iíve learned from this other womanís experience.

Bean: You know what I havenít done in a long time, I donít know, ever, is listen to a whole album as one piece. I find a song I like and I just fixate on it until I'm tired of it. Do people in general do that and are you a little worried that they will miss the whole story line and treat it as a whole piece?

Tori: Well, I kinda recommend... go driving with it because thatís how it was created. Itís a road trip. And you can make it to Palm Springs and back, itís a long record, itís long. [KROQ, LA - August 19, 2002]

Ryan: A Sorta Fairytale. Uh, driving along the Ventura. Would that be the freeway?

Tori: Yeah. Did it many times. Lived here almost eight years.

Ryan: It's the 101, right, so talk about this song... well, you go ahead.

Tori: Well, this is the second song on the album. The album is called Sarlet's Walk, and it's a road trip. It's about a woman travelling slowly West to East. Um, and it's based on real people and real events. And it starts in LA, really the valley, where my character, Scarlet, comes to see her friend who's a fading porn star...

Tori: Scarlet is me in this. That's who, we, we wear the same shoe size. That's handy.

Ryan: Ok, so it works. And so the journey starts in southern California.

Tori: Yeah, in the valley, and I go see my friend the porn star.

Ryan: Why are you going to see the porn star?

Tori: Because she called me.

Ryan: She called. Why'd she call?

Tori: She's having a tough time... She has to, well, she has to go to the Porno Awards. She's giving one... In Vegas, which we... Which is where we go. We take that trip and the whole thing about it is, is she's presenting, she's not getting one. And it's just...

Ryan: She's very upset about that. That happened to me at the Teen Choice Awards.

Tori: But, don't you think... See, I've known women over the years that, at the time they came to La, um, they were dancers, they had dreams, and said, "Hey, just a little bit here, just a little bit there." And then, before they know it, they're involved, it's good money, and sometimes it's straight to video. I'm talking about porn, yeah.

Ryan: It's not many people's dream to be a porn star. Many women, I would think.

Tori: No, but it's, but it's what they get from it. They can, they maybe have a kid, they can, they can help pay for it... but it's for many reasons why some of them do it. And it just, I've always had a place in my heart for these women. I have a lot of time for them. [Star 98.7, LA - August 19, 2002]

"I wrote a lot of Scarlet's Walk while I was on tour. That was, as you know, a very strange time touring in America. It was the end of September 2001 - two weeks after the twins fell down. And it started to really take over my unconscious. By the end of that tour, Native Americans had come to visit me. Somehow, they had tapped into what I was doing, and I found that quite intimidating. And they came back and kindly and lovingly read me the riot act. And said "Look, we believe that you are writing about our spiritual mother, which is part of your background - we understand that your mother's people are Eastern Cherokee. But if you're going to talk about our spiritual mother then you have to tell her story." It hurts to hear those things, and it's very humbling. But that's when Scarlet came. And I haven't had that experience on all tours. That's one of the few where most of that was written; on the road, touring in very troubled times."

When you were confronted by these bigger concepts, what was it like to come back to the piano? Did you feel like you could explore these things through the piano?

"Scarlet came at a time when I had experimented with all forms of keyboards, from harpsichord to synthesizers to sampled things, and each album that I've done I think has taught me something about a different facet of the keyboard world. I am a pianist more than a keyboard player. And you have to delineate that for yourself. I know B-3 players who are B-3 players. I would never say to you that I am a B-3 player, ever. I mean, maybe in 40 years time if I started doing it tomorrow for six hours a day. The piano is my passion and my core. With Scarlet, it wasn't about samples sounds. I needed to capture the authenticity of the land, so I used instruments that weren't a sample of themselves. And I was also trying to tap into that "great American road trip." And the Wurly and the Rhodes lent themselves to that. But we were going for more of that classic songwriting, sonically nostalgic feeling. The instruments, the engineering, the way that things were recorded, the choice Matt was making - the different kits he had. It all went core-up. As opposed to everything in post - it wasn't about that. It was the compressors that were being used at the time as we were recording. There was more of a classic approach, but we were using very updated equipment."

On a tune like "Pancake," did you write on the Wurly? Do certain tunes come to life on different instruments as opposed to piano?

"Yes, definately. I had the Wurly and the Rhodes out with me on Strange Little Girls and maybe that's why things started developing. "Sweet Sangria" was written as you hear it, partly on the Rhodes and partly on piano. So there was a real integration of these keyboards; that they were a part of the soundscape for this journey, for this woman who was born in the 1960s. They're a part of her template, and, growing up and listening to those records, they were a part of that. Synths hadn't been developed yet, so they're not a part of her palette." [Keyboard - December 2003]


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