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September 11, 2001

World of the Strange

Tori Amos Interview

By Justin Stoneman

The spectacular, sparkly piano wizard Tori Amos is back - with an exciting new album featuring her interpretations of classic songs from artists such as Eminem, Depeche Mode and even heavy metal rockers Slayer. We sneak into her luxury hotel room for a revealing, intimate chat...

[Tori Amos]: "Come and look out the window!" [ushering over to see incredible view looking over bustling London streets]

Wow, this is beautiful.

"The sights from this hotel room are spectacular, I could watch the goings-on here all day."

What an excellent place to write - I think I would struggle to get a piano in the lift, but I could bring you up a keyboard...

"Oh yes! Excellent."

I was chatting to your old friend E from the Eels the other day and he told me to send you all his love.

"Wow! Really? He is gorgeous, If you are speaking to him again tell him I miss him and I say hello. Is he well?"

Yes he is very well, he has a big beard now and looks a bit scary - you toured with The Eels didn't you? Is that how you two became chums?

"Yeah I toured with them in 1992... Actually, my brain is a little funny, it is hard for me to remember. He opened for me for many shows, along with the Divine Comedy, so I was so fortunate to get these artists who have become such powerful musical forces."

Did you realise at the time that you might be uncovering some bright lights for the future, that there was great potential there?

"Oh yeah, without question, we all knew there were great jewels there to discover. I have been so lucky."

You must then have a great ear for spotting new musical talent, have you uncovered any new jewels recently you can tell us about?

"Well, yeah I think I maybe can see magic when it is there, I have some vision, but I always seem to disagree with the record company with regards to these insights! I cannot name any names.

"I have a lot of respect for the people that come to my shows, when they respond to an artist, when you can see that happen, then you know that there is something special there. It is a great thing."

Strange days

Your new album features a series of covers of various classic songs, I Don't Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats, Bonnie and Clyde by Eminem, Heart of Gold by Neil Young, Raining Blood by Slayer(!) [Tori is pictured above in the garb she wears to illustrate her performance of Lloyd Cole's Rattlesnakes, but also dons more costumes for other characters and songs.]

What inspired such an eclectic mix of cover versions?

"Well they are all powerful songs written by male artists, each one has its own unique story and voice, and I wanted to try and inject a female voice and expression to them. It does not come from an interest in the particular artists, it is the message, passion and power of the songs."

Was there a connection between the tracks that you chose?

"The music is actually reflective of our times, where we are right now. Don't you think we have made so many strides, in so many areas of our lives?

"The one thing that comes up for me at the minute is what they can do with heart surgery now - my mum has just had an amazing procedure on her heart, which a few years ago would not have been possible.

"What they can do with a heart surgically is amazing, but with the internal workings of the heart we have not really made that many strides. We have forgotten to prioritise that."

Kid power

Has your daughter, Natashya, had a profound impact on your life and your music?

"Oh yes, unbelievably, she is an amazing force. The Glam Squad were telling me some interesting things the other day about children actually - the Glam Squad is the name I give to the people that make me look presentable when we do photographs and TV work - they are very impressive people.

"One of them said to me, and I think they pull all this information out of their ass, but she said it has been proven that children really look a lot like their fathers, so that historically when the child was born and the father saw that it looked like him - he would claim that it was his.

"They did not have genetic testing in these times, this was a really important thing. Natashya really looks like her father, my husband."

So he has not demanded any DNA testing then?

"No he has not, and part of the reason is that she looks like him."

And is he the father...?

"Yes! He is, I do know the answer to this one, there have been times in my life when..."

He is definitely the father?!?

"She is definitely his."

He will be pleased to know that.

[laughing] "I feel like I am on the Newlywed Game!"

Musical master-pizza

You have said in the past that you get an urge to play the piano, like you get the urge to eat pizza - what flavour pizza would this new album be?

"It has been so long since I had a good pizza. I could really use one."

Well I can phone to get us some, are you a Pizza Hut or a Deep Pan Pizza girl?

"Oh no, no, no I need the thin crust."

Pizza Hut can do that for you.

"No wait, okay, I'll let you in on a secret, the best pizza in London is a little Italian place called Osteria Basilica. It is amazing, have you been there?"

No, not yet, I think maybe you and I will go there together tonight...

"Well indeed! I'll write down the details for you, it is marvellous. I like it simple, Margherita and a thin crust. Pizza and piano are amazing."

So would there be a flavour then that best compares to the new album?

"Ah well, you see, each song has a different flavour. Yet sometimes I think that some of the songs draw on each other, every day I see different things in them. There are surprising flavours that jump out at me all the time."

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