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September 20, 2007

liveDaily Interview: Tori Amos

by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
LiveDaily Contributor

Tori Amos is still appalled by the results of the 2004 presidential election -- so much so that she unleashed Greek gods via her album "American Doll Posse" to deal with it.

"I started writing 'American Doll Posse' on 'The Beekeeper' tour after the last election," she said during a phone interview with LiveDaily. "I couldn't believe that we wouldn't make a different choice with all the information we knew."

"That's what sparked my, um, warrior self, because I didn't understand where the women were. So I started to study us and try to figure out, 'Were we distracted?' 'Were we self involved?' 'Did we just forget how important we are as a force? And were we seduced into stepping into these stereotypes that really keep us, I think, divided and at each other's throats?' I'm always looking at the right wing and what they're up to."

To combat the right wing, she said, one has to combat its ideology.

"As you well know, their ideology is one monotheistic male authority. So I said, 'Well, OK. What do you need to do to combat this?' Well, it's obvious: You bring on the mother god. Many of them."

So she created "The American Doll Posse," a group of girls -- Santa, Clyde, Isabel and Pip -- who serve as Amos' alter-egos on the album.

Amos talked to LiveDaily about the posse, the role that Greek gods play on the album and how she shares her message with the audience.

How did your European tour go?

It's been fascinating watching it come together and change in the last couple months.

How has it changed?

In the beginning, I knew that bringing the portrait to life was going to be challenging, and I didn't know how the women -- Santa, Clyde, Pip, Isabel -- would react to the audience and I didn't know how the audience would react to them. But I did know it would change things. Once you bring a photograph into 3D, you have no idea how it's going to play up. So it's been a wild ride thus far.

Tell me about the concept behind "American Doll Posse."

The five women are patterned after five of the main characters of the Great Pantheon. I was fascinated by how women so easily step into stereotypes now. I find stereotypes incredibly -- what would you say? -- myopic. Not very complicated. There's a career girl who's usually portrayed as a bitch and pretty dry. Then there's tart who seems to have all kinds of fun -- but not a lot of respect. Then there's the mom. Then there's the girl who's pretty troubled. So I started to think all of these women are being kept from wholeness, and that we should all have facets of all our being. But I did notice it's easy to fall into an image. I was just watching and observing how women can be really [nudged] by an image. So I started to go back to ancient mythology and I started reading. I was really motivated to see how much more involved these complexes were. So that was really the construct of the posse, psychologically.

I think that's interesting, because I can peg each one of my friends as one of those women.

Yes, but you're all those five different women as well. But it would look different in you. Maybe you're more Athena than you are Aphrodite. I don't know you, but it might be easier for you to step into that. Then, if you allowed yourself to really explore, what would your Aphrodite look like? What would your Artemis look like? What would your Persephone look like? What would your Demeter/Dionysus look like? It would be different for every woman. But, because these ancient character types have been watered down to our character type now for women, I find that I just can't step into them because it's nothing like the power that it was pre-Christian -- before the Christians came in and watered down the women and subjugated the goddess. Then it wasn't just so, what would you call it, the Bravo channel. [Laughs] It's just not that simple. These women are much more complicated, and I really enjoy seeing how complicated our ancestors were and I decided to apply that. How would that look if I applied all these character types to the person that I developed as Tori.

How do you bring these characters to life on tour?

Well, you have to make yourself a blank canvas. It's difficult explaining a process. You almost have to see it. It's hard for me to find the words. It's like for me to explain how I play the piano. You step into a live performance space, and you allow these character types to take over. Because I know the myth really well, that's my foundation. You're not just putting the clothes on. You know what Aphrodite does and what she doesn't do. You can't get confused about that. If you have moral judgment then you shouldn't hold her that night. She doesn't contain that. That's not what she's about.

What do you think about the next presidential election?

Well, I think it depends. Who knows what's going to happen, but there's plenty of time for all of us to light fires and make people ask the questions that I think they need to ask to make the right decision for themselves. But if we're distracted, you see, and not looking at how pivotal this time is, then we're playing right into the hands of those who want to make the masses subjugated. I really believe that. So how do you get the masses empowered? It's really simple but complicated at the same time. You're either for the masses being controlled or for the masses being emancipated. The only way to emancipation is to understand what your power is. How can you be empowered and be a powerful woman when you don't even know what it is?

From what I understand, with "Fade to Red and a Piano: The Collection," you ended an era for yourself. Are you going to play any of your older material in concert?

Oh, yeah. It's a long show. It's over two hours. The first act is one of these women who isn't Tori. The second act is Tori. The reason for that is the big back catalog.

Do you still enjoy playing the older material?

Yeah, yeah, of course.

I hear so many musicians say, "If I have to play this song again, I'm going to go crazy."

No, I don't see it like that. I have kind of a big back catalog. So I don't play all the same songs every night. There are a couple that are pretty standard on this tour, but there are not a lot that are standard. But, in a two hour and 20 minute show, if you have only four that are the same and 20 that are different every night, then there are enough that change every night to keep it really fresh. Every night, one of the four that isn't Tori comes out. So that's a different show immediately. If Clyde comes out, that's a different show than Santa, which is a different show than Isabel, which is a different show than Pip. They're totally different. They don't do the same songs, except Pip and Santa have a duet on "Body and Soul," so they cover that. Then Tori comes out and, pretty much, her show changes every night. There's a couple that she'll do because they're her signature songs. Tori's on for about an hour and a half. That's a lot of time for a lot of songs.

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