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The Big Issue (UK)
June 2005

The Honey Trap

by Stephen Russell

Interviewing an artist you genuinely admire can be dangerous. The prospect of interviewing Tori Amos, not exactly renowned for her openness towards the press, adds an extra dimension of jitters. So, when more than a full minute elapses between the first question and the resulting answer, it seems like this could become one of those infamous encounters when the journalist winds up dead in the water.

The gap between second question and answer is no less extended, and a mild panic might start to set in, if it were not for Amos' sudden and impassioned turn to the debate over America's place in world affairs, and its influence on her new album, The Beekeeper.

"I was writing this work from my perch in Cornwall, looking out across the Atlantic to my home country, America," she recalls. "I don't see myself at all as an expat. I don't know where I'd be living in the world right now had it not been a choice for love. Therefore I write a lot about the mechanism that is America. I've always done that and I think I always will."

Her previous album, Scarlet's Way, saw Amos turn inwards, looking at the US through the teachings of the Native American population. Having now moved to Cornwall to be with her husband and raise her children, The Beekeeper still focuses on America, but from a European viewpoint.

"It made sense that the medicine man - or medicine woman - energy needed to be recognised on this continent, in a European tradition. What I found was a mirror image of the American medicine man/woman - the beekeeper - that is part of Europe's ancient tradition. As I started to research I began to see that it went back further on the continent, as part of the ancient feminine. The honey bee represents sacred sexuality."

Amos seizes upon this understanding of the feminine, and uses it as a rallying cry against what she perceives as a reassertion of the dominant white patriarchy in the US.

"It's very hard to see through a mechanism like patriarchy if you are divided within your own being. Because the Christian right has gained so much prominence in the States over the last few years, I felt that it was essential to talk about the division within the being and it brought me to the tradition of the beekeepers."

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