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Vogue (Germany)
September 2001

Tori Amos

interview by Alain de Botton
photos by Lord Snowdon

[translated by Claudia]

Vogue-Talk with Alain de Botton, writer, who is a fan of Tori's music. He had the chance of choosing an interview partner and he chose Tori.

Alain: I wrote many of my books while listening to your music, therefore your songs will accompany me for my whole life.

Tori: I'm very glad to hear this. Tell me, are you writing constantly in your thought, like at night when you try to get to sleep or when you wake up?

Alain: The wish to write is caused by the beauty and the pain in me. If I am attracted to something visually I immediately want to put that into words. Do you understand this?

Tori: My mothertongue is music. I don't know if other musicians feel the same way, but music takes possession of some people, and these people have to make music their certer of life.

Alain: How does this happen?

Tori: Music is a way to communicate without words. Making music is such an intimate thing that I have problems talking about it. Let's get to know each other. In case you would go in vacation with me, where would you go?

Alain: I love the desert. I have seen New Mexico and Arizona, I guess I would take you there.

Tori: In Arizona I have the feeling that this land of the Navajo and Hopi is sacred. I feel secure there, I don't feel secure in big cities like London or New York.

Alain: How do you feel as an American living in Europe?

Tori: Europe is sometimes confusing to me, not in a negative sense. Fortunately, I am married to an Englishman, who can explain many characteristics of the Europeans to me. I was born in North Carolina and am part Cherokee. My grandfather taught me spirituality, he inspired me a lot, and even my father - a preacher - couldn't change my ideas, which were more American-Indian than European-Christian.

Tori: I have to tell you of my wonderful garden I laid out near my house in Florida, with dozens of tropical plants and flowers. That gave me a lot of power, in particular during my pregnancy. Giving birth to my daughter was a similar experience as to give birth to a song.

Alain: Don't you think that creativity and motherhood hinder each other?

Tori: I had three miscarriages before, therfore I love my little girl even more. Motherhood inspired me a lot, but I am writing different songs now. ... Often people ask me about my childhood, when I am getting up in the morning, how I spend my days. They want to get behind my music - whether they like it or not.

I was sometimes disappointed after having met popular actors or musicians. They were missing the magic I expected. It is embarrassing for me today, but at the beginning of my career, I wanted to go to Parties where all the celebrities were, to meet important people. But I realized that this isn't worth it. In the meantime I have all kinds of friends.

My career started at the age of five. I should have become a concert pianist, but at the age of 12, I started to send my own songs to music producers. I lived in L.A. and played awful bar music, while people around me had cocktails and sometimes even vomited an the piano. That was the absolute low of my life. I made the music the producers wanted me to make, I sold my soul and even wore the clothes they told me to wear. I cried for days when I read they discovered another singing chick. Then I realized that money and egoism is not the right way.

In the music industry success is always connected with your look. I know singers who can't perform one song without a boob.But they have sexappeal, look good in the video and sell millions of records. With a brilliant marketing everything is possible. But there are also brilliant musicians, who get refused by producers cause they don't like their look.

Alain: But your succes won't last long if it is only based on your look.

Tori: I know some extremely successful rappers, whose lyrics are against women and against gays. When I talk to them anout that they say, "Hey, Tori, don't be so strict. It's only words, we don't believe in our lyrics anyway." The problem is that in the arena are 30,000 kids who take them for face value.

Alain: Do you have siblings?

Tori: Yes, two, ehy do you ask?

Alain: I have an older sister, She is a psychologist and works with children. I know families with great envy and quarrels, when one family member is a celebrity? How is that in your family?

Tori: Unfortunately it is the case in my family, my sister and my brother are both succesful physicians, but they are a bit envious that I am so popular.

Alain: What is your greatest fear?

Tori: To look back on my life in 30 or 40 years and realize that I have not given everything I could have given.

Alain:Is it hard for you to coordinate love and work?

Tori: Yes, extremely.

Alain: Why?

Tori: Somebody taught us that we always have to fall in love, again and again. And that you get demotivated in a long partnership.

Alain: Really sad...

Tori: How do you handle the balance between love and work?

Alain: I went to a therapy one day when I was lovesick. My therapist said, "You sholdn't worry about that, you are a writer." I couln't believe this.

Tori: I think you are looking for someone to marry.

Alain: Yes, but I know that it is much easier to write about love than to live love....

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