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August 9, 2017

Tori Amos: "It Was The Gay Community That Gave Me Confidence"

"There was a real bonding that happened in those years of growing up together."

by Christopher Rudolph

Last night, singer-songwriter -- and fairy goddess -- Tori Amos was interviewed by Jillian Mapes in Brooklyn, as part of Pitchfork's "In Sight Out" series.

After Mapes finished talking with Amos the conversation was opened to the room for questions from fans. An audience member asked Amos about her history of songs that speak to the queer community and being an outsider, like "Merman" or "Take to the Sky," and if there were moments from her life that inspired those songs. They also inquired if fans can expect more songs like that from her upcoming album, Native Invader.

"Yes, there are songs on the next record that continue that," Amos replied before explaining her personal history with the LGBT community that began when she played piano as a teenager in Washington, D.C. gay bars.

"I was in a very vulnerable state when I was working in Washington, D.C. and because of my age, and in a way in you're in the belly of the beast, especially in Washington when you're in an adult world and you're 13," she explained to the audience.

"It was the gay community that gave me confidence in how to conduct myself. They would say: "What are you doing? Girl, why are you sitting like that? You've got to hold court, you need to sit like this, shoulders up," Amos said as she acted out how she sat slouched during her break between sets. "'Where's your confidence? Don't you see who you are,'" the gay men would tell her.

Anyone who has been to a Tori Amos concert over the years knows that she has a huge following of devoted LGBT fans, and that was a relationship that started long before she broke out on the scene with her debut solo album, Little Earthquakes, in 1992.

"There was a real bonding that happened in those years of growing up together," she said during the Pitchfork event. "Sharing secrets and hiding feelings because I was in a very religious household, as some of you all were. So certain feelings were judged, so to protect them I hid them. I think it's because I shared, with those men and women, those secrets, that we grew up together so there was that bond."

Amos' 15th studio album, Native Invader, will be released Sept. 8. Watch the video of the conversation below:

The singer-songwriter worked closely with the makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin for her 2001 album, Strange Little Girls, and she wrote a song about him "Taxi Ride," following his death. Watch the trailer below for the new documentary, Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & The Beast In Me airing Sept. 14 on Logo.


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