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Musician (US)
April 1995

If I Knew Then What I Know Now...

Tori Amos

I would have switched to margarine years ago. You're 31 and you look down below that bikini line...

But seriously, I had some lost years musically. Mainly because I stopped writing music to challenge myself. It became about chasing somebody's idea of what was valid. After seven years of getting rejected, I started to question whether my stuff was effeective. A lot of people make choices of what's hot because they're chasing some silly little demographic somewhere. And that's ridiculous, because people respond to what moves them. It took me years to understand that I had to make music that moved me.

As a musician and as a songwriter, you're going to have to find some way to deal with rejection. Sometimes you can turn it into "God, make my stuff better. Maybe they said something I can use here." Or maybe they just don't get it. There are very few visionaries. Most people are looking for what's already happened. You have to kind of weigh it. You can't have a craft when you're completely closed, either. If you love everything you do, something's wrong, and if you hate everything you do, something's wrong.

When you go to church, you're going to get something out of it, but you're going to probably get 20 years of guilt, too. The music business is like that. Nobody wants a dumb musician. We don't have to be stupid, we don't have to not know what's going on, and yet we still can be committed to our work.

I would love to make a harpsichord record. But sometimes I make certain decisions because I go, "You know, if I do this, then I might be touring tiny little 50-seaters in Germany." And to be quite honest, I don't really like the food in Germany. So the harpsichord has to be just a fragment of the next record. You have to make your choices knowing that there are going to be consequences. Just say, "I can't get fucked off if KROQ doesn't want to play my harpsichord record." If you want to do that 12-tone album, then do it. but take responsibility for it.

There's nothing worse than a whiny musician. Make your work, stay committed to your work, stand by your work and shut up. Just don't feel sorry for yourself. And don't be precious. I don't find it romantic to say, "Oh, it was so much purer when the music was not involved in the music business." Then guess what, honey, don't make records. 'Cause there's thousands of other kids whose space you're taking up with your fucking tape. And you're wasting a tree to fucking write your lyrics on. So stay at home. That's my advice.

Photo by Loren Haynes

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