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May 1992

Tori Amos interview in Los Angeles


Tori: I started, um, playing 2 1/2, so my mother says, and so that is my earliest memories is always playing the piano.

Interviewer: And you were composing some stuff when you were very young as well.

Tori: Well, I was always coming up with my own stuff, I guess, because it was hymns, and um, records that my mother had, and sometimes, you know, the stuff she had was really great. And then I got into the hymn and I had to come up with something a bit more exciting. It's the same song over and over again, the hymns.

Interviewer: Do you remember any of the original stuff? Haven't you gotten back to what you first played and sorta tinkered at the piano?

Tori: No, because that was all just stream of consciousness, I had no idea. The things I remember writing were songs with words in it and music and I can remember some of what I wrote that I came up with in elementary school but the earlier stuff was just stream of consciousness and it would go - I wouldn't hang on to it.

Interviewer: You, yourself, because I would never be so bold ever since you called yourself something of a failed child prodigy in going through (unintelligible) the schools and losing the scholarships, tell me about that.

Tori: I think that if you can recognize that you were in a sense a failed prodigy makes the hurt go away. You're eleven, and you're very aware of what's happening to you. You're aware that people have a sense of shame. A sense of, god, she was so gifted since she was five. (laughing) That feels if you've let yourself down, you let them down, that you failed. And I think a lot of kids know that feeling when they haven't gotten on that team or they haven't won that, you know...I don't want to say race...

Interviewer: Championship?

Tori: Maybe finals, or whatever you want to call it. If it's sports or if it's music. Um the feeling you had something and you lost it. It is devastating, it is devastating. I don't think the people that have gone through can truly understand what it's like when you're eleven and you feel like a fifteen-year-old professional. One that has been fired, that has no place to go, and thinks it's over.

Interviewer: Well, now you have Little Earthquakes, which the attention it's getting, the praise it's getting, and coming from Y Kant Tori Read to this, and crowds right here-

Tori: It isn't that simple, isn't it?

Interviewer: I hear from all of these people who've been to all of these shows like my friend in Denver who are lining up to shows for hours and hours before showtime tonight's show one of the picks of the week here in LA. How does that feel? Is there a sense of euphoria that you've been in?

Tori: Well, each night is a different night for me. I played clubs for fifteen years instead of playing clubs when I was thirteen that's what gave me, um, life again, after leaving the Peabody Conservatory when I was eleven. And when I started playing clubs, I um, I got the little Judy Garland, um, rush, like when you get when you playing intimate cabarets, like when you needed (unintelligible), and I truly was a cabaret performer. And that when on when from there for fifteen years from playing with different people finally and doing band stuff, and trying everything I could try, and some of it just didn't work, and some of it took me to a place that I am now, which is going back to the piano, and bringing everything I know back to it. (Silent All These Years plays)

Tori: Only one has been released in the States, and another one is coming in I think two weeks?

Interviewer: Is it for Crucify?

Tori: It is for Crucify. We finish filming next week, so, um, I worked with her on the covers (Cindy Palmano) - the video, that was her first video, Silent All These Years.

Interviewer: And what a first video to have!

Tori: She really, I think, has been storing this up because she's such a visual...visionary, that, it made complete sense - not because we got on so well, but because the video would work. Even though she is a stills photographer.

Interviewer: Does an element of that in the video - (unintelligible) - it would make sense that she would do stills.

Tori: That's her um, that's really her expertise. And because I'm a piano player, I'm gonna bring that sensibility to anything I'm gonna do. So working with her, she thinks frame by frame. I mean, frame by frame. And she knows what exactly what should be in that frame. And she's also very such, which would (unintelligible).

Interviewer: Which brings me to - I get all this press on Tori Amos. But this one is my favorite - it's just a picture of you with the word "demented" underneath it.

Tori: Oh, I did not see that. You're in Columbia.

Interviewer: This to me, this to me is the most wonderful thing in the world because that would be perfect for me as for somebody to take a photo and put the word "demented" underneath. How true is that?

Tori: Well, I guess it's true to him or her. Kelly Collins/Combs is the one who wrote it. Which is...fine.

Interviewer: And I think that's great. Um, getting back to Crucify, it's got three covers on it. One's got Stones, one's Led Zeppelin, the Nirvana cover, which has got a lot of radio play out here. Have you gotten any feedback from them on the record?

Tori: Not personally, I have heard, I have heard things.

Interviewer: Okay, we'll leave it at that. Is there anybody you'd want to cover anything of yours, that you play anything, "god, I think someone else can sort of do this justice as well."

Tori: Well, there's this guy in Seattle, that's has broken instruments and they're all broken doing one of my songs during their live shows. And um, I'm really excited about that. I think it stays on the same tone except about four minutes into the show it rises a third and comes back down.

Interviewer: I hadn't heard that, I can't wait to do this.

[transcribed by Kristen Loftis]

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