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April 12, 2007

Tori Amos, "American Doll Posse": "The Many 'Selves' Of One Woman."

She speaks slowly for emphasis, but not presumptuously: Tori Amos, in Milan today to meet the press in support of her new monstrous (23 tracks in all) album "American Doll Posse," has put plenty of meat on the grill for this one. In order to deeply examine what makes her up, a female artist in a world dominated historically by the patriarchy, Amos has recreated herself as different feminine figures from classical Greek mythology, such as Artemis and Persephone, literally dividing herself in five (the doll posse itself, comprised of her alter egos Isabel, Clyde, Pip, Santa, and Tori) to interpret five different types of personalities, each with her own characteristics and peculiarities.

"The women that I interpret aren't comparable to anyone," she explains, "simply because they are a sort of collage of many female figures I've had the opportunity to interact with. Woman is too complicated to be reduced to one single individual. And besides, it's time to emancipate ourselves from the model the west has set up, which grew out of the Biblical tradition that reduces the woman to either a holy mother or a sexual object. The reason I wanted to give different voices to my songs is rooted in the creation of the songs themselves. I think that my work is to complete songs that I "capture" from the air, and this time it was the compositions that requested different voices. Since that was the case, I had to give it to them."

Why refer to classical Greece?

"I also thought of the Celtic and Egyptian cultures, but I believe that the Greek civilization is the most popular in the world. Plus I referred to the Greek pantheon to seek out the Mother God, rather than only 'God the Father.'"

So it's a feminist album?

"'Feminist' is a term that lends itself to being misunderstood, like 'Christian' or 'Muslim.' I prefer to think of it as a 'feminine emancipation' disc."

Even today when the west has almost managed to erase the line between the sexes?

"Certainly," she responds, arriving at the heart of the discussion: "If you had been in the USA after 2001, you couldn't be unaware of it. Since the Americans re-elected Bush, they have continued to support the lies. The Christian lobby and the extreme right have only gotten stronger. I don't believe things are getting better, even with the end of the presidential mandate. For this I thought: how can I combat this advance? What is the thing that pisses these people off the most? The answer I came up with was the idea of the Mother God. Women, who usually have great difficulty supporting one another, have to organize themselves, resist and fight together, using their own ancestral memories as weapons."

Ah, the mystery is solved! More of a political album than a feminist one.

"Yes. My daughter has grown up now and - via the internet - has figured out who I am and what I do. One day she said to me, 'You know, Mommy? Tori can be pretty naughty when she wants to, can't she?' She's right. So, after a year or so of peace and quiet, I decided to take out the tomahawk."

Was the decision made as a family thing?

"Hmm, well, my mother gave her blessing. My father, who's a pastor, still sticks with his own ideas, but he told me something very important: 'Use the weapon of the word if you want to change the world, because you have that gift.'"

Kind of bad timing to try to change the world with songs, though, given the often frustrated attempts of fellow militants such as Neil Young, REM, and Pearl Jam...

"I hope people who listen to the album will understand my conclusions," she defends, "however, I am not trying to convince anyone. I simply try to facilitate a reaction. Also because the younger generation is too self-focused to take notice of the world that surrounds them. Take a girl today: she's too preoccupied with trying to get a physically acceptable body to get politically involved. I try to talk to them, to get inside their problems, with songs like 'Fat Slut,' in order to understand them and then hopefully get them out of that rut."

A real image, a true image, then. Completely different than those published by the media today.

"Take Britney Spears for example: I know people that have worked with her, I know that she's a sweet girl, but her sweetness was deemed inadequate to sell the product that she represented. So they forced her to be something else. And that's terrible..."

And how does Tori see the possibility that Hillary Clinton may become the first female president of the USA?

"I'll never tell you my preference, in order to not influence anyone, but certainly it may be that she is the most qualified for the title. After all, no one else besides her can claim a first-hand experience in the White House."

Tori's world tour will kick off right in our own country, the 28th of May in Rome, and then will proceed to Florence and Milan. How will the singer allow the posse to join in?

"The show will be divided into two acts. In the first act - according to the mood, as I will decide from night to night - one of the girls will bring tracks from the new album along with a cover song she particularly identifies with, while the second act will be me, who also has access to the old repertoire. A bit tiresome for the band, who will have to prepare themselves for six different shows plus five covers."


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