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CBC, Vancouver (Canada, radio)
"The Beat"
May 7, 1992

Tori Amos interview


Interviewer: Your songs are so personal. Are they the place you get to express all the things you have been working through?

Tori: That's how I usually know what I'm thinking about. I don't know how I really feel about something until I write about it, I get surprised sometimes how much I dislike something or somebody, you know. I'm smiling across the kitchen table and I write something that leads me to believe I'd be hacking their head off if I could. But I don't hack their head off, that's not my way. I just right songs instead.

Interviewer: Now, have you ever written a song and gone back and found it too personal to share?

Tori: That's interesting. Um, sometimes, if it's also about somebody else, and it makes reference to them, and they're aware of what it is because when you're making reference to someone sometimes they know. Sometimes I don't want certain people to know how I feel about them sometimes because I, you make certain choices in your life, I get shy about that stuff. See, nobody knows the name and numbers, they might speculate and it isn't about them, but they don't really know, especially when I look them in the eye - they don't really know. And I get a good kick out of that. But when they do know, that's scary because he knows you have a crush on him, and that kind of stuff.

Interviewer: Do you spend a lot of time analyzing yourself about how you feel about things?

Tori: Yeah...but we have fifty different personalities so we have many different viewpoints. I find that it's very clear which part of my self wants to speak out about something and they all hae perspectives on things.

Interviewer: Do you feel sometimes you've gone through something and then you write about it and through the writing you go through something and you put it on an album and you perform it, is it strange to have given it away?

Tori: (deep breathing) I can't really protect it for the first time before I play it in front of people. I get naked, I get all those things, I feel exposed, but then I also get very protective. And I, um, push myself into, oh, being brave, because I like sharing these songs because they kinda, they kinda, want to meet other people, not just me. They get tired of hanging out with (unintellgilble). Songwriting's is um, songwriting is always a trick because you can edit yourself out of your essence. You really have to tell your mind to go down pub and go get something to drink. And you can sit there and argue yourself out until you end up, week after week with torn pages and nothing accomplished because you don't even allow yourself to go exploring. At it's really like that, it's a trip down the Congo, it's so what it should be when you're writing.

Interviewer: Literally down into the heart of darkness?

Tori: Yeah, I try...dive off the back of my tongue...get in there.

Interviewer: Are all these songs on Little Earthquakes personal experiences for you or are they--?

Tori: Unfortunately.

Interviewer: Well, I'm glad you're working through them.

Tori: Working through them, I mean, some of them I feel I have passed the other side on them, and the others, it's just a constant. The beginnings to um, I think it really have a good time, and have a giggle, and I mean really giggle, for real, is when you're able to go into the sad places and say, okay, this made me sad, with this certain event, this is really pissing me off. And when you can give that equal time, then your giggles aren't trying to find a laugh out of the worst joke in the evening. You need to giggle about something - you could really be happy. I think people, you know, I'll tell you something. In one of the shows, I don't remember which city it was, but it was recently, but I walked in, and somebody in the dressing room. Everybody's pictures and posters were up, you know, and they had Sarah McLachlan's up, and what a beautiful picture of her, I think she's really wonderful. And her's wasn't touched. And I looked at my picture and they had this little sad frown, puppy dog nose drawn on it. It's amazing to me that people think that I'm so desperately sad. When I'm sad, I'm really sad. And when I'm truly happy, and when I got my nice out and having a good old time getting my digs in, I got a jar of honey right by the knife. And it's really about balance. And um, I think it's pretty exciting when you're looking at yourself. It's great.

Interviewer: Why did you record Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit?

Tori: I thought it was really fun to do that. I, first of all, loved that song, a really powerful song, made me really...brought out a lot of things that I was very angry about. And, um, I'm a piano player, and I brought it to my medium. I think it's that song. It's painful, and it slices through. I guess this um, this control-minded side of our society that makes me really rebel, that wanna censor, that wanna hush you up, the ones that want you to be good girls and good boys. Some people don't understand what that is.

Interviewer: Some people may view this as an incredible opportunistic move to record this song at its height of popularity. What would you say to them?

Tori: Well, I recorded this in England. I have almost as much press as the Queen. So let's be really fair about this. I was pretty well known when you came and I recorded that. I did not just record Nirvana - I recorded, um, a Led Zep cover, a Rolling Stones cover, and people have happen to pick up on it. Also, you know, I think the album speaks for itself that I've written. And um, I've been doing covers of Bartok and Mozart since I was 2 1/2. Nirvana's not in bad company, I don't see the big deal. Plus, I also think that uh, piano player and acoustic piano player has to break concepts - well I do, anyway, I get really tired of "that's really nice" and um, "really nice" is just not acceptable with me.

[transcribed by Kristen Loftis]

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