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MTV Live (US, TV)
April 24, 1998

Tori Amos interview

Tori Amos is interviewed by Carson Daly.


Carson: One thing about Tori Amos, she has an amazing, amazing fan base. You know, when we premiered the video for her latest single Spark, the video was actually like on a website, right Paul ? It had the MTV Live logo, I mean anything with Tori Amos is immediately up on the web. So we're gonna give you a large chunk of time to ask Tori some questions yourself. You'll have a chance to call in. Let me give you the phone number to MTV Live. 888 311 4343. Let me check in with my good friend and partner, Kurt Loder and news. Kurt ?

Kurt: Wonderful, wonderful musician too, Tori Amos.

Carson: She really is.

Kurt: Great piano player.

(Kurt does the MTV news report, then they cut to a live-from-Atlanta interview with Dave Matthews, then a commercial break. A clip of "Spark" plays as they go to break.)

Carson: All right, let me give you the phone number for Tori if you'd like to ask some questions. 888 311 4343. Let's bring her out right now. Ladies and gentlemen, Tori Amos. Tori, where are ya ? Toriiiii.....

Tori: Hi.

Carson: Hi

Tori: How are you ?

Carson: How are *you*.

Tori: (as they shake hands) I'm a little sticky.

Carson: Oh that's all right. Come on over and say hello to the fans if you wouldn't mind. (leads her to window)

Tori: Where are they ?

Carson: These people have been out here all day. Going crazy. (they are at the big picture window, the fans are on the street below. The EWF scream and cheer as they see Tori)

Tori: (sees them) Oh ! My.

Carson: What's your reaction to all this ?

Tori: I had no idea they were out there !

Carson: They ain't here for me, that's for sure.

Tori: Fantastic. (shot of EWFs holding up big handmade TORI signs)

Carson: This is my favorite, this big one right here.

Tori: Which one's your favorite ?

Carson: The big, the big Tori one. (we see an EWF holding up a large shiny silver sign)

Tori: No, he's cute.

Carson: It's like a mirror. Isn't it nice ? Your adoring fans.

Tori: Fantastic, fantastic.

Carson: I wish this would open and you could like, make a speech.

Tori: I know, just dive out there.

Carson: (he walks away from the window) Come on and sit down, make yourself at home. (takes a step back toward the window) This is Sasha and Digweed-- Tori Amos. (she shakes their hands)

Tori: Hi how are you guys ? Nice to meet you. You do some fantastic stuff over here, don't you. (they don't reply)

Carson: (over by sofa) Tori come on over here and make yourself at home. (Tori moves to sofa) You look wonderful. Now this is, this is beautiful here. (indicates her outfit, kisses her hand)

Tori: Thank you.

Carson: Sort of describe this. Is this a... ?

Tori: A friend of mine Jessica Ogden made this. And she's a wonderful designer in London. She's starting out, and she's a friend, and I love her as a person, and I love, I love her art and clothes.

Carson: Yeh, it's beautiful. You know, it's funny, um, I get the feeling that like, everything that we do from now on is just gonna be on the internet by midnight.

Tori: Yeh.

Carson: It just seems that you have these, these *eyes*. That are...that anything Tori, it just, just pops out. Your video for Spark,

Tori: Yeh.

Carson: we premiered it, and it was on, like, a website within an hour.

Tori: Really.

Carson: Very progressive fans you have.

Tori: Well I'll tell you what's a bit odd is when like um you go to the pharmacy and you know, just you're getting *stuff* like personal *stuff*,

Carson: Yeh.

Tori: And uh, you hear that, friends of mine will call me up and say (laughs) oh I heard you went to the pharmacy today and

Carson: Right

Tori: They know what you bought, and

Carson: Soon it's gonna get, they're gonna call you and tell you where you're gonna go.

Tori: Yeh-- I think so.

Carson: "Don't forget, you need to stop by the bank Tori !"

Tori: Yeh. It's, it's, it's a whole 'nother world because I don't have a computer. So I don't know, I mean I don't know that world at all, but I just know that um, they know what I'm up to.

Carson: Right. Um, you know what, we're so glad to have you here, you're so loved in this building. And obviously outside this building. We had so many questions to ask you, so we decided to sort of put 'em into categories. And they all of course pertain to you. And you can sort of pick 'em, we've got history....

Tori: Oh ! OK.

Carson: arts and leisure and potpourri.

Tori: All right.

Carson: So why don't you go ahead, where do you wanna start with, history, uh arts and leisure or potpourri ?

Tori: Oh definitely potpourri.

Carson: Potpourri, all right. (to someone off camera) What's that, the purple ones ? I'm not good with color codes, as you notice.

Tori: OK.

Carson: (he chooses a purple card) All right. What is your favorite ice cream ? We'll sorta run through these.

Tori: Ummm... well. I like coconut, um, I like maple, I like double chocolate, I like coconut and maple...

Carson: All right.

Tori: I like butterscotch.

Carson: That's enough. That's good. I mean, you know, hey...

Tori: (laughs) Can't you tell ? (pats her thighs)

Carson: No--please !

Tori: Yeh.

Carson: All right go ahead another one. History, uh....

Tori: Can I pull it ? (she reaches for a card from his hands)

Carson: Yeh, sure. You know the system.

Tori: Then I'll give it to you. Cos I know it's your gig to read it. (she chooses one and hands it back to him) So, is it upside down ?

Carson: (reading from the card) You have such ardent fans. That means *hard core*. I looked it up, I didn't know what it meant. (reading the rest of the question) Do you ever get freaked out by the devotion of your fans ? Something that we just touched on.

Tori: Well... you know, when you talk to them, it's not like they've just come from Bedlam or anything. You know, they don't have white coats on.

Carson: Right.

Tori: You can just...

(crowd outside cheers)

Carson: They must've heard you. (actually, it's because the cameras are on them again)

Tori: You can have a conversation with them.

Carson: Right.

Tori: It's just people, I'm just a musician. (we see a shot, on the studio monitor, of EWFs holding up signs out on the street)

Carson: Right.

Tori: And um, I'd like to feel lke, uh, you know I'm a friend who makes music. And uh, sometimes you can really have a great chat with them. You can get what's going on, they can tell you things you never thought of before, you can exchange...

Carson: Yeh. It's nice that you're open to that two-way learning process too, you're not sort of closed off from them.

Tori: Yeh, and I also think what it is, is uh, you're just in contact with people.

Carson: Right.

Tori: It's an intimate thing, it's not like (indicates with her hands, two different levels) you're here and they're there, or (switches levels with hands) or they're there and you're here, it's much more of an exchange.

Carson: Right, and I think that's why they love you for that too. Because so many musicians put that barrier up between them.

Tori: Well they lose. The musicians lose out. You know, they forget why they're doing it.

(CD is holding out cards again)

Tori: Yeh. Now what's this ? (points)

Carson: Uh, the green would be uh, arts and leisures. For a hundred.

Tori: (looking to someone off camera) No ? Yeh ? No ? Well we just had a green, let's do this. (chooses a yellow card)

Carson: OK let's do this one. (Tori hands the card to Carson Daly). History. Thank you very much. (reading from the card) Uh, what was your score on your SATs ? Did you take the SATs ?

Tori: Yeh.

Carson: Do you remember your score ?

Tori: No. (laughter from off camera)

Carson: No ? Wanna make something up ? How's 1580 ?

Tori: Well, I don't think I did very well. I really, I really don't do very well on that kinda thing.

Carson: You know what ? Me neither.

Tori: Really ?

Carson: Yeh, I don't know any of that stuff. But in life,

Tori: So how'd you get this job then ?

Carson: Um.....

Tori: Did you have to take a test ?

Carson: I played your music for six years in radio.

Tori: So you were in radio.

Carson: You know what's funny, Silent All These Years, last year, I was at KROQ in L.A., just had this huge resurgence, and I was on at night and we played it at night.

Tori: So you were a DJ and now, now you've come over here.

Carson: Yeh, from a DJ to a VJ. We have a call for ya. Hi ?

Caller: Hello ? [The caller's name is John N.]

Carson: Hi how are you ?

Caller: Good.

Carson: Good, what's your question for Tori ?

Caller: Um, hi Tori.

Tori: What's your name ?

Carson: What's your name ?

Caller: Um, this is John. Norville ?

Carson: Hi John.

Caller: Hi Tori I love you, you're great.

(Tori waves)

Caller: And um I was wondering, if you have moved away, with your new music, have you moved away from the girl with the piano kind of image ? To a kind of collaboration ?

Tori: Well the piano's very much there, like when you see the shows, I mean, I swear to God I need an oxygen machine next to the piano. So the piano's very present, but, I'm just um, I'm working *with* musicians now. And, I really needed to do that, as a player and as a musician, to grow.

Carson: Thank you, John. It does sort of seem that way. Like, listening to this record, it's like almost, you've spent three records like playing one on one between the audience and you, like one-on-one basketball, and now it's like, you got drafted.

Tori: Well....

Carson: Now it's, you're involved with a team. An amazing team.

Tori: They're wonderful people. I mean, I hope though, that the audience doesn't feel like they can't be intimate still.

Carson: Right.

Tori: Because the guys that have come to play. I mean Caton was with me on the last tour and the audience really opened up to, to him. But Jon and Matt are very much about, you know, they're heart people, they're you know, as players they're monsters, but but as people, they really wanna kinda be a part of it too. And yet they know, you know they're jumping into a party that's been going on a few years.

Carson: Right, and they respect that I'm sure.

Tori: They do, but they're like, they wanna dive in there and bite people's butts. (smiles)

Carson: Right, but you have to watch that. We're gonna play your video now for "Spark". It seems like this was an intense amount of physical-ness for you in your video. I mean this was sort of new. Tell us about-- was this grueling to shoot ? Sorta describe it.

(the Spark video begins on the studio monitor)

Tori: Well let's put it this way. I really had no idea that I was gonna be crawling through a river on my knees (she subconsciously strokes her leg while telling this part) in England in the cold, but, um, I started to get into the story and I really believe that this girl, it was about striving, and it was about, she wanted to live so desperately (video is showing Tori struggling on the ground) that she would do anything to uh, to do that.

Carson: So, as it starts, is she kidnapped ? The video starts right out as...

Tori: Well, all you know is, this car crash saved her life. So the idea is, some things that are really horrible, yeh they *are* horrible but then you move on, and then maybe, wow, she was uh, in the back of this trunk, the car crashed, her life is saved because of what you think is a horrible thing normally, a car crash.

Carson: Right.

Tori: And then she starts to find a will in herself (the video shows Tori rising to her knees) to strive, you know, to stay alive, and she starts believing in her ability um, to get through.

Carson: Where was it shot ?

Tori: In Dartmoor, in England. One of the moors. In Dartmoor. Yeh.

Carson: Right.

Tori: And that was really mud. Yeh.

Carson: What did that say on the tree-- Skeeter ?

Tori: (quietly) Yeh it said Skeeter. (video shows closeup of "Skeeter") There are little messages through the whole...

Carson: What is Skeeter, is that something symbolic ?

Tori: It was something special yeh. And um, I think the main thing is, (video shows Tori walking to the river) you know he's out there looking for her, whether he's one of the Kray brothers or you're not quite sure who he is.

Carson: Right.

Tori: But um, she's finding her way, you know ? Having to trust her instincts.

Carson: How much of this vision of the song did you relate to the director to make this visual match your lyrics ?

Tori: Well the truth is, I love this director so much, James Brown, from the Apollo 440 video, which I know these guys (indicates Sasha and Digweed) know, the Apollo 440.

Carson: Right.

Tori: And um, he turned in a treatment to me that I just said, I love you, but this treatment is so not the spirit of this piece. And I said, take me to the water, this woman is, is, you know, you don't know sometimes where you're gonna go, from one minute to the next. I mean life is that precious, (video shows Tori swimming underwater in the river) and I think people forget, that we don't know where we're gonna be in an hour from now,

Carson: Right.

Tori: You know we don't really appreciate that. And she's, what I love is that, from one second to the next she doesn't know how she's gonna get through. But she's, um, she's coming through for herself. (video shows Tori coming up out of the water and then running on the river bank)

Carson: So how grueling was this, all this water scenes for you,

Tori: It was freezing !

Carson: Was it demanding ?

Tori: Well let's put it this way, there was a body double on-set, who was supposed to go into the river, but she (laughing) hyperventilated, she was so sweet, she's this amazing athlete but she wouldn't go in.

Carson: That's what she was there for, right ?

Tori: Yeh but, you know, she's a wonderful person and it was like, OK someone's gotta do it and we're the only two people with red hair so it's my turn. So....

Carson: We just saw the guy check his watch.

Tori: Yeh.

Carson: Is there any symbolism to that ?

Tori: Well there's a lot. In the whole video.

Carson: Yeh.

Tori: There are like a hundred things that James put in as subtext.

Carson: Is that important to you ?

Tori: OH YES. (Tori in video is running up to the road)

Carson: To sort of have that

Tori: Oh yeh

Carson: not, not the obvious ?

Tori: Oh yeh.

Carson: It looks like the iceberg effect, you know ?

(Tori in video runs up to the car in the road)

Tori: Now this is my favorite bit. Now you think, Oh my God....

Carson: She's saved, is what you're thinking.

(video shot of the blond male teen in the car)

Tori: Well and you think, and then you look at *these* people. Yeh...

Carson: Yeh but here I think, couple of young, they're gonna pick her up for sure right ?

Tori: Yeh

Carson: I mean, they look a little zombie-like, but...

(Tori in the video is at their car window)

Carson: Like, here we go, I need help.

(we see a closeup shot of the blond female teen in the car)

Tori: Yeh but she, she wants to go to a rave. She's got something else going. (car in video pulls away as Tori sinks to her knees) So I think, you know, you don't know what's gonna happen to her but she's still alive and she's come this far and you have to ask, my God, is she better off not getting in the car with those Village of the Damned people ?

Carson: Right. It's a beautiful video. Um, we're gonna have to take a short... I'm coming to, I'm all, hah!, I was captivated by Spark. Hey we're gonna take a short break, we still have a premiere video from our brand new VJ Jesse and we'll have more from Tori Amos, we'll be right back on MTV Live, stick around.

(commercial break, coming back on a shot of the crowd of EWF on the sidewalk)

(Tori waves to them on the monitor, from the sofa)

Carson: Tori let's continue let's ask a couple of these questions here, this is very important. (he chooses a question card and reads it) Um what three albums do you think everybody should own ?

Tori: Oh God.

Carson: Do you have any sort of music important to you ? So many people put on your record, for, for whatever reason I mean, is there anything that you put on to sort of--

Tori: Marvin Gaye. Greatest Hits. That always gets me through.

Carson: Really.

Tori: When, when my girlfriends and I are together, you know, we're just hanging out, and,

Carson: What do you and your girlfriends do together ? What sort of, what would be a night with Tori and the girls ?

Tori: Um, (long pause) probably by water,

Carson: By water,

Tori: Yeh, with a tequila 1800, fresh strawberries, definitely fresh strawberries, fresh coconut, so, strawberry margaritas,

Carson: Really !

Tori: And um, unfortunately something probably very fattening.

Carson: Right. A little maple ice cream or something ?

Tori: Yeh. Well no. I'm a savory girl. I'm much more into nachos, and shrimp with garlic butter,

Carson: Oh.

Tori: Yeh, yeh. You know, where the butter just drips down your chin, I like...

Carson: Oh let me tell ya I love that too. (reading from another question card) Whatever happened to the much-hyped duet with Michael Stipe ?

Tori: I dunno, you know ? Um, I saw him the other night. It's funny, we haven't talked about that in a long time. It just, the movie company had another idea, they wanted Bryan Adams and Bryan's a sweetie and I understand that that's what they wanted.

Carson: Yeh.

Tori: But, what Michael and I did was definitely not that. So we did something I think a little too left of center for what they wanted.

Carson: Ah, that's always the problem. Kurt Loder would like to ask you a question. Kurt, can you pop up?

Kurt: (on the monitor) Hey, hello, here I am. I've got a question. I think you've summed up a lot of people's ideas about blondes in this video. I just wondered if a blonde had ever done something really offensive to you, perhaps.

Tori: Um, (a loud crash off-camera) (Tori turns and looks)

Carson: We're all right !

Tori: Fantastic ! (turns back to Kurt) Um,

Carson: Tori doesn't realize that our studio is made of giant Leg-O's and can

Tori: No, but (points off-camera)

Carson: And can fall apart at any second.

Kurt: Are the strawberries here yet ?

Tori: I think the thing is, um, when you see the album artwork, Kurt ?

Kurt: Uh-huh ?

Tori: The two, they're twins, they're brother and sister, (another loud crash off-camera) And, um-- That must be a blond person, you insulted them, Kurt, they're coming to get us.

Kurt: Village of the Damned-ettes.

Tori: Yeh but the thing is, in the album artwork, you question are they angels, you know, helping my character out. And in the video you know, you go, maybe they're just too busy, to care about this person, or maybe if she gets in the car with 'em, is it gonna be worse for her ? And I just, I like questioning sometimes, people have an idea of what is a clean, good person,

Kurt: Mm-hm.

Tori: You know, what people should look like, to be thought of as angelic, and um, you know sometimes you find angelic people in, and they don't *really* look like that, they look a bit scary, and yet, they have hearts of gold.

Carson: Absolutely. That's true. Kind of like Jesse, Kurt.

Kurt: Actually there's a song by Romstein, this new band, that's very much on that same subject. Skeeter, could you explain "Skeeter" a little more, come on, is it Skeeter Davis the singer or... you can tell us.

Tori: Well, Skeeter, it was, it was, a sp... a special me... a special message.

Kurt: Uh-huh. To someone named Skeeter ?

Tori: Yeh. Someone named Skeeter.

Carson: I love watching Kurt pry. Should I like, take notes or something...

Kurt: OK.

Tori: I'll tell you later Kurt. I'll tell you later. It's kind of a, it's kind of a private thing.

Carson: OK, thank you Kurt. (Kurt throws a kiss and vanishes from the monitor) Hey Tori have you met Jesse our brand new VJ ? We're talking about over 4,000 people came out to audition. 4,000.

Tori: Oh ! Fantastic. No, I've never met Jesse.

Carson: And the people, MTV viewers, chose Jesse, and it's been like Jesse-mania.

Tori: Fantastic.

Carson: It's like, modeling deals, and ads, and life-size... there's like a Jesse blimp that goes over the Yankees game. It's nuts. Jesse come on out here. Here he is.

Jesse: Oh, hey.

Carson: Jesse, that would be you. (Jesse comes in) Come in, say hello.

Tori: Hi, sweetie. (they kiss)

Jesse: It's awesome to meet you !

Tori: Nice to meet *you*.

Jesse: Aw... hey.

Tori: Hi.

Jesse: Wow. (Jesse leans his head onto Tori's shoulders)

Carson: Jesse we should mention that, uh you're doing an internet chat tonight.

Jesse: I am.

Carson: This is on, uh the internet. Tori, you're like an expert on the internet. You had the first internet concert, so maybe...

Jesse: I know nothin' about it. I know what a computer is. But like, I dunno, you know ?

Tori: You'll do fine.

Carson: So you can go ahead and chat with Jesse and ask him some tough questions. Jesse, tell us about your day-to-day, what was it like for you today ? You were in the studio today. Tell us about those musicians.

Jesse: Aw, man, I'm a little embarrassed, cos these, one day I'm gonna, it's not that smart a video, but we got in the studio, and I got me and my boys together,

Carson: Who are your boys ?

Jesse: Oh, uh, guitar Pete, and Anthony on the beat, and, uh, it's these two crazy guys, right ? And then we just, we got in the studio and we started like rockin' and rollin' and they wanted us to do a song about my week, right, cos it's been nuts man, I won the contest, to be a VJ ? And then like,

Tori: When did you win ? Last week ?

Jesse: Last Saturday.

Carson: Tori he won $25,000.

Tori: So this is all happening for you like right now.

Jesse: Yeh, it's nuts.

Carson: So Jesse what is the name of your band, did you have a name ?

Jesse: Oh yeh we kinda came up with something, it's "Jesse Camp and the high flyin' no denyin' satisfyin' rock and roll, movers shakers and hit makers".

Carson: Boy is that all gonna fit on the CD I dunno. Let's go ahead and check out the video. It's an MTV Live Premiere. Jesse and all that he just said.

(Jesse is whispering to Tori, while she says:)

Tori: Good for you. Really, good for you.

(Jesse's video plays, a song and video about his first week on MTV).

(back in the studio after the video ends)

Carson: Hey, so you have no idea what you're missing. A duet has broken out between Jesse and Tori.

Jesse: Yeh, we was doin' "Dream On".

Carson: How about a little round, can you do a little round ?

Tori: What, what, let's take it from the bar...

Jesse: (singing) The lines in my face getting clearer,

(Tori joins in singing, and they sing a couple of verses of "Dream On" together a capella)

Carson: (talks about Jesse's upcoming internet chat, while they continue singing, then:) All right, I hate to interrupt. Tori, thanks for being here. (Tori stops singing and looks at Carson Daly) From the Choirgirl Hotel, (Tori hugs Jesse)

Tori: I love, he's so *sweet* !

Carson: Check out uh, Tori's record, it's amazing, Tori,

Tori: He's so sweet.

Carson: Tori's record, it's amazing. You can take him with you. (Crew laughs off-camera)

Tori: Oh, I'll take him with me any day !

(Tori and Jesse kiss, a quick peck on the lips)

Tori: (to Jesse) You'll come see me ?

Jesse: Definitely, definitely.

Carson: You're more than welcome. Tori thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it. The album is amazing.

Tori: Thank you very much.

Carson: Please come back and visit us. (to camera) We'll be right back with more MTV Live, stick around.

Tori: (to Jesse) OK, let's go and say hi to the fans. Let's over. Come on, let's go. Hand in hand, let's go.

(she takes his hand, they walk over to the large picture window, and they wave to the EWF on the sidewalk below.)

[transcribed by Kim H.]

* On May 5, 1998, MTV broadcast "True Life: Who Is Jesse Camp?" The "Dream On" duet with Tori Amos was shown during a montage, followed by Jesse saying, "I fell in love with Tori Amos. Our eyes connected, our souls connected, wowee, wow, wow, wow, man. That's the stuff that Papa likes!"

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