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Let the earth move for you
by Sam Johnson
Tori Amos is moving to a new house and her flat is in turmoil, perching room only. Undeterred, she moves among the chaos in the tiny kitchen slicing and frying apples in healthy poly-un-fat-free stuff. She offers healthy herbal tea, sweetened by the contents of a mysterious phial from the fridge. On closer inspection, this turns out to be the liquid ingredient in a lady's facial mask. "Trust me," smiles Tori. "I've been using this for two years and I'm fine. The labelling is just a trick to get the stuff through U.S. customs." Welcome to the healthy but complicated world of Tori Amos.
She has been living in London for nearly a year, after her American record label politely ushered her in this direction and into the arms of London-based eastwest. The singing and songwriting skills of this American lady were thought to be more to the British taste. The words "Kate Bush" are sometimes mentioned. Tori found her own way around town, and started playing gigs, the thing she loves the best. At her first gig, there were no punters. At the second, two people came and things were on the up.
Now, she has released a debut LP called Little Earthquakes. It is certain that it has sold more than two copies because it entered the chart at No. 15 in its first week of release. The record features a dozen slices of Tori's off-kilter, piano-drive pop, and if that sounds like some wispy thing, then it isn't. Little Earthquakes is not some polite creature, too shy to be noticed, but a regular buttonholer of an album, with a few words to say to you now.
"Yeah, I'm happy with it. I'm happy with the songs -- I said what I wanted to say. Occasionally, it runs through my mind that I could have interpreted some things another way, but on the whole, it's over... next!"
Having done the apples and tea, Tori now begins the vigorous production of an omelette. Clearly, she dislikes inactivity. Certain songs on the new album, for example "Crucify" the first track, have led people to compare Tori to Kate Bush, as previously mentioned. Does she mind this?
"I don't mind at all. The truth is that I think there's maybe a quality, an energy that people sense we have in common. In fact, if you put our songs back to back, they're as alike as night and day. I'm a huge fan of hers, of course, but this comparison was first made ten years ago in a club and at that time I hadn't heard any of her work. When I did hear her work, I loved it, but I made it a rule not to get every record she made because I didn't want to cop. Let's face it, when you're compared to somebody that you like, it doesn't get much better than that."
So who else does she like?
"I love Chrissie Hynde -- she's an incredible force. Then there's so many male poets who have influenced me -- Pablo Neruda, e.e. cummings, the big poets. Then, of course, there's Bob Dylan and people like that. If you really want to write songs, then you have to expose yourself to people who have done it."
Although she takes great care with her lyrics, Tori admits that she is fundamentally a musical animal.
"I trust the musical framework much more because I've been making music since before I could talk. When people bash my melodies it doesn't matter because I know if they're happening or not regardless of whatever anyone tells me. Music was my vocabulary and I will bash things if they're not right. I'm writing about 20 things at the moment and they're all wrong -- some of them may have two bars that are happening, but they're not right and I won't do them until they are."
Tori Amos, as you can hear, is a most serious artiste. She is in the grip of her muse and she recognises that as a life sentence: "I have to accept that this is just my life... it's never going to go away. As soon as this bunch of songs is over, there's a whole other set on the way -- maybe sextuplets... it's constantly feeling pregnant, really."
Tori is not sure what the future holds. She might do another record, she might do a children's book, but one thing is for certain: "The thing that I won't do is waste my time and everybody's time making something that isn't right, just for the sake of putting something out."
Suddenly, Ms Amos does not seem so complicated after all. She seems to be, in fact, very sensible indeed: "I learned a painful lesson about music a long time ago -- just because it means something to you, it doesn't mean it's going to mean anything to anybody else. You have to be detached from your work."
She is. That's why it works.
[article shared by Samantha Free]
[transcribed by jason/yessaid]
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