Tori Amos interview and private live performance
at the Expression Center for New Media in Emeryville, CA
songs: Pancake, Upside Down, Strange
Interviewer: Please welcome Tori Amos!
(Cheers from crowd)
Tori: Hello everybody. How's it going?
T: Good. Um, should I play a little song first? Is that the idea?
I: We've taken the time to write a few questions for you Tori...Starting with Lisa Medders...(someone yells out....LIZA)...Liza Medders...
T: Hi Liza
I: Liza would like to know how you choose the songs that you cover.
T: Um, you you probably run to quite a few nobody hears so its not as if you all hear the ones...every single one I do. There are a lot of them hidden. This is why it's good to own your own studio. Um, so that, um like the Radiohead records don't get out. Um, so basically either they guy that's in the studio, I'm either married to or um, I will shoot if those tapes get out. I have no issue with that. You need to understand I'm completely against guns but I will shoot them. (Audience laughs) So um if that Like a Virgin Cover that I did on margarita's many years ago with Matt Chamberlin and this bass player, Beck's bass player like doing dog sounds in the back, that you won't hear that one. So you try a few things.
I: We have another question from Jennifer Anderson and she would like to know if your child influenced any of the songs on Scarlet's walk.
T: I guess um you know its odd, you don't know sometimes how a kid effects you because I'm not writing children's' songs per say. Some people go off an then write children's books or children's records or whatever but I think that more than anything maybe my position changed as far as how I saw myself so I'm almost forty and um I see myself more in the next generation. I don't see myself like you, which is I'm just a lot of people go try to get all the beauty aids think that their 24 when your not and um there, I must say, there are so many things about being that age but there are other things that you can be when you get older and so there is a trade for lines on your face. There's an exchange if you do the work. There are things you can't have when your 24, you just can't. Because you haven't had enough hormonal problems yet to have the grace to know how to deal with it. Um, or just be, ya know, a grippe old lady so um the thing is having a child made me want to be lighthouse, not need to compete. Like maybe what I was doing when I was 34. You compete with other torchbearers out in the ocean on their ships. Spreading the word, you know, getting passing messages and that kind of thing when I became a mom, I realized well, wait a minute, all these young gals that are going out there and discovering um different things and putting their ideas out there have to come back to shore sometimes. And it's important for those of us who have been out there to hold a space. And I have a daughter and its good to be a lighthouse. It's a different role being a light house then it is being this wild ship out in the night, you know those mass mermaids out there. Well, that was a good time I must say I had some fun but it's very different when you become a mom. It was for me anyway. I have no idea if I answered your question at all.
I: Would you like to play another song and then we'll ask you a couple more questions?
T: OK...I'll do that.
(plays Upside Down)
I: Eliza would like to ask you how you find your musical voice? Or how do you find your musical voice?
T: Its constant I think work..So...and your voice changes I think what you want to talk about and um, lets face it things you talked about two years ago if you try to talk about it now in the same way, your not seeing it the same so I think its important I have being saying this quite a bit recently. To have a way of working and one thing I do is I have a like a pallet so I have a lot of visual artist surrounding my world. The piano surrounded by a library and um, I bring books in and out and they change every two months. And so it pushes me maybe to think of a subject, snow boarding, for example. In a way that I would not normally so I immerse myself in that for a while and maybe at the same time I'm looking at certain architects and then that way your vocabulary starts changing and um, I always have different rhymes coming in to my audio library. So you start expanding. Now this might not mean much if your working on your first record but if your working on your 8th record then the public usually has excavated you. They think they have anyway by your first record or second if nobody heard the first one. So um it's important that you don't feel like your held hostage to what people think you should be. Or that you don't you know, you can't stop growing and Um, I don't know I find that I discover things all the time and if I'm discovering things I figure other people will with my work. So that's what I do. It's a constant way of working, way of living. I don't just sit down at the piano and come up with 12 great songs. It does not work like that. I come up with 200 songs out come 12. Maybe it takes 8 months to write one, write a bridge in a week and then it takes you the other 7 months to come up with the rest and you have hundreds of choices placed on the floor like a bloodline. How you're going to do it. Similar I would think to how a Architect would build something. You have options on rooms and how you're going to make them. So that's what I do. It's a process, and it's a skill. It's not just like oh I'm gonna, ya know, take a journey on some elixir and write something great. That's ludicrous. Maybe that happens once.
I: OK, we have a question from Aaron Quiggley from Cupertino. Wants to know, what inspired you to go to Montana for your Scarlet's Walk photographs.
T: Well Kurt Marcus, the photographer inspired me to go there. I loved his work. Somebody turned me on to it. And I don't know if you're familiar with his work but he's really um, respected by other photographers and I heard about him through other photographers. And as you all know sometimes you hear about somebody that might not be getting a lot of "commercial" attention from other artist in their field. And that's how you become aware of their work. So um, I started, opening myself up to what he did and he had just done a book about cowboys and I loved the way that he shot them. And so, um, called him up and sent him the music and we immediately had some ideas. And he felt that Montana was one of the few places in America where you don't, you don't need permits and Hollywood hasn't completely jaded everybody in the town and made them so angry that you can't even walk in and take a photograph without jumping through hoops of two months of ya know, paperwork going back and forth. So he um, said why don't you just bring your buddies and come. So we did, I brought my buddies. And we went for days and days and days and it was heaven and fell in love. I'd been there before but not in that way.
I: OK this one is from Shannon Doe and it's a very profound question. What do you do when you get a really ignoring some stuck in your head? (Audience laughs..)
T: I start re-writing it..So give me an annoying song (Someone say's Linkin Park)...What's that?? How it go??
I: She references the Alan Parson's project...
T: The Alan Parsons' project? Is that what she said??
T: "Skuuuu Du Duuu Duuu Duuuuu My shoes haaaave....bubble gum on themmmmm" You know...you just have to re-write it in your head till you own that song totally and completely. "You are a scummmmm...and I'm gonna call you dink dink dink" and you call them up. Betch you 5 dollars somebody will be singing "You Are a Scum" in their head. So that's what I do anyways.
I: Thanks so much for answering our questions and playing our songs for us...(Tori laughs) They tell me that you will play one more song for us.
[transcribed by Heather Mayes]
t o r i p h o r i a tori amos digital archive yessaid.com