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Chicago Humanities Festival
May 6, 2020

Tori Amos Interview in Conversation with Katie Rife

Tori Amos on Resistance


Hi everybody. I'm Alison Cuddy from the Chicago humanities festival and it is my pleasure, my thrill to invite you to today's program with the amazing musician, singer-songwriter, Grammy award-winning musician, and now best-selling author Tori Amos. It's noon, it's ah, you know, midday lunchtime here in Chicago, but I know we've got people from around the world already gathering together, really excited, to have this conversation and hear Tori talk about her new book Resistance: A Songwriter's Story of Hope Change and Courage. And we can all use hope, change, and courage in these moments. So thanks to all of you for being here. I really encourage you to think about getting more involved with the humanities festival. This book really resonates with our mission which is gathering people together. We think that these kinds of conversations and performances that we host throughout the year are not only great cultural experiences, they're a civic good. They are ways to build community. They're ways to build solidarity. So go to Chicago humanities festival to find out more how you can participate, donate, become a member. Find out more about our upcoming programs. We have an event tomorrow at 7 p.m. central with Eric Klinenberg talking about the pandemic and Chicago; both then and now. And then next week we're gonna do a deep dive into Englewood, a community on Chicago's South Side with Tonika Johnson and Asiaha Butler, talking about how the pandemic is affecting their community and how they're rallying to work to get through it. So don't miss those. Please join us for those. You can participate today by supporting Tori by buying a copy of Resistance. And we really encourage you to do that through our partner bookseller, Seminary Co-op. They are a nonprofit, independent bookseller. They're on the south side of Chicago in Hyde Park, an important part of the community. So support Tori, support the Seminary Co-op, get a copy of Resistance.

So I'm very thrilled that the A/V Club is partnering with us on today's program and Katie Rife who's a senior writer with the A/V Club based here in Chicago will be holding the conversation with Tori. So they'll talk and then they're going to take questions from people who submitted some questions in advance. So thanks to all of you who did that, who asked questions and I'm really looking forward to a fantastic conversation. So at this point, let's all give a virtual welcome. Or a virtual thank you rather, to our captioner. No matter where we program, whether it's in a building in Chicago or here in virtual space, we make sure that our programs are accessible. So thanks to our captioner for providing that today. And now let us give our most heartfelt, rock and roll, thrilling welcome to Kati Rife and the amazing Tori Amos.

Katie Rife: Welcome.

Tori Amos: Hi Katie.

KR: It's such an honor to talk to you, Tori. Your book is incredible. I loved... it's a wonderful blend of, you know, lyricism and practicality which I really liked.

TA: Thank you, Katie. That means a lot.

KR: And there is a passage, the basic premise Resistance, it's about creating art in the face of despair and there's a passage in the book which you couldn't have written knowing about COVID but it really struck me as very relevant to what we're going through right now. So I'd like to read it real quick.

"One day we are just taking for granted that we are achieving what we set out to do that day. We are in our routine, not that there can't be challenges, but we get through them. And then a hurricane, a fire, a mass shooting, a terrorist attack. An event forces us to cope with something we have not rehearsed for. I have looked up and out, desperately talking to anyone saying, 'Help. Please help. I am not prepared for what is in front of me.' And sometimes I am met with no answer. A deafening response. No song at all. Not in that moment. We have all been forced to sit with ourselves, feeling not like we are made of star stuff, but feeling overwhelmed. Where is the blueprint for this emotion? Then there are devastating effects that affect not just family and friends, but a whole community, a city, something even greater. Some people use a tragic event to twist the narrative and push their own political agenda. These are the warlords of hate. Others work through a tragedy by figuring out ways to process grief. And we all grieve differently. Some of us shut down. Some of us reach out. Some of us lash out. Some hours of the day convulsed with torrents of shock. In other moments we find ourselves left with a bleak numbness. Collective trauma is its own energy."

TA: Well read, Katie. And Hi everybody. Thank you for being here with us. It's just amazing the support we're all getting right now from you, the community. So thank you. Yeah, what times, Katie.

KR: Yeah well, in the book you talk a lot about your creative process which is sort of the practical aspect that I was talking about. And I was wondering, you know, since, you know, you talked a lot about creativity informed by collective trauma, has anything come back to speak to you since the lockdown started and since the pandemic really picked up speed?

TA: Yes, because who could have imagined? I certainly couldn't have imagined that on New Year's Eve when we were there in Florida, and saying goodbye to 2019, and welcoming 2020 thinking "Oh my goodness" what the future holds here. An election year. And there could be really great change coming for us as a country and for a globe. And then something cataclysmic like this has happened and in my life I've never experienced anything, not quite like this. We've had tragedy before. I talk about it in the book different times, 9/11 being one of them. And yet two weeks later we were touring and we were able to gather together. And when we gather together, the Tori community, there's a real collaboration. There's an exchange that happens. People tell me their stories. They give me information, their intel. They really are the boots on the ground. And so you learn a lot from people's perspectives about what's happening and then it helps me process what's happening. So the idea that the book tour was cancelled, and yes it's amazing to do these things. Having to adapt to this new world that we seem to be in for a while at least. I still miss, I terribly miss, that the meet and greets, the sharing, because that's how I grow. So there's been a bit of grieving, if I'm honest with you, on my part. I've had to grieve not going on the book tour and seeing people and looking them eye to eye. And also we were planning to tour this fall and that's just not gonna happen. So it's mixed with the grieving, though, there's hope that creativity is coming. And that as a songwriter, I need to answer what people are going through at this time.

KR: Something that I hear discussed quite a bit during the COVID era, and I have struggled with myself, is balancing, you know, an opportunity for creative growth with needing space for grieving. How do you navigate? How do you leave space for that in a world that's really focused on productivity?

TA: Well, I'm allowing myself to feel what I'm feeling. But I might take myself away, in a room, so that I'm not bringing everybody down with me. We've a full house here. And so, I think being a full house, it's made me realize that when I'm in the mom role too, and the wife role, that I need to, uh, I need to take my despondency away. And I do step into that once in a while. Just because I'm not sure when we'll tour again. We'll get through it. We will tour. We'll be out there together. But not when I thought we were going to be. So and, there aren't answers when that will happen until there's a vaccine. I don't know. It just seems we we have to be safe and protect each other. So yes, I'm having to find that balance and then push myself at times. Because I work through things mostly through creating. That's how I figure out what I'm feeling. So therefore I have to kind of, yeah, push myself.

KR: Yeah, this is something you talk about in the book. How, you know, if you sit around and wait for the Muses to come, you might wait forever.

TA: That's right. And I think we're all in... Look, we're all in this together and that I think people are having different challenges. And I know somebody who's terribly lonely right now because they're alone. And my husband would give anything to be alone right now. [laughs] He'd trade places with whoever you are. And so I think people work through things differently. We process issues differently. So if you are the type of person that needs to take your space and think things through, then if you have a full house, and you're following the rules, then you don't have that way of processing right now. And then if you're somebody who works things out by sitting down with your friends, I know somebody very well who's like this and I love her dearly. And she just said to me "Look, I normally go and meet my friends and that's how we work things." She has a great friendship circle. And they sit down at each other's houses and share in that way. And I know there are, I know there's Zoom. I know there are other things, but she doesn't feel that it's the same. So I'm hearing a lot of people's different challenges. What it's bringing up for us, this lockdown.

KR: Yeah, that's another thing that struck me in the book. You talk a lot about receiving letters from people and talking with people and you tell a story about carrying letters from Ukraine and Russia in your purse when you were in Turkey. It's something that strikes me. It must take a lot of grace to hold all of those feelings from everyone in yourself at the same time and not become overwhelmed.

TA: Well I don't know. I think it's a huge gift. Getting these letters it um, I don't feel so alone. Because um... and you're being entrusted with somebody's story. So that really, I've been doing for many years now. I think I started getting letters in 1992. I was touring in 1991, but I was opening for for somebody and that kind of ritual hadn't begun to happen yet. But it started to happen and so just, it's been part of um, not just touring, but people will send me letters. Find ways to get me letters and I really, I learn a lot from that process. So I don't see it as overwhelming to hold that energy. Also I guess um, I don't know, maybe there's a grounding that happens. The Muses are very helpful.

KR: Really?

TA: Because when I'm reading these, there's an energy that's similar to, I don't know, being supported. Being supported by the Muse energy. And I'm reading and God, I learned a lot from these letters. And sometimes I don't answer as well as I wish I did. There was one letter I got over a year ago and it was about somebody who'd lost their mother. And I sent this person a message and I'm very sorry that I didn't know what to say. And until I lost my mother, I didn't realize the grief she was going through. I just didn't know. I thought I had empathy and I did, but I just couldn't imagine um, until I lost Mary, and of course Beanie Nancy Shanks, but I just didn't know what that felt like.

KR: Yeah. Yeah, that's the process of developing empathy is something that's lifelong it seems.

TA: Hmm, yeah. Yes because um, we're taught to say things when somebody has died and I realized that those aren't the things that maybe this person needed to hear at the time. Now that I've experienced it, I respond differently.

KR: Yeah.

TA: Because there's a knowing. And um, the grieving process for me with Mary was really, there were some dark days and I write about it in the book pretty openly.

KR: Yeah, very moving. I honestly, I cried. It was very moving pages.

TA: I think that writing, being able to write that, was the turning point in my grief. And also I got close to Mary through writing those. It's almost as if she was there with me.

KR: Yeah.

TA: And so um, once I wrote those, the editor called me and said "Okay the good news and the bad news is, I think you found the voice for the book. And now you need to go rewrite the rest." So that was... that happened.

KR: Great job, here's some homework.

TA: Yeah, he's a good editor.

KR: Well that kind of leads me to one of the questions that was submitted. I'll read that now. It comes from Bryce Jans. Please forgive me Bryce if I said your name wrong. They write, "Hey Tori. How would you compare the writing process for your book to that of writing a song?" Um you already answered part of this. Do you feel like bits and pieces are brought at different times, or do you know sitting down what book you wanted to write?

TA: Well, I had the direction of the book changed. There's no question about it. I started writing it January 2018 I believe and Rakesh had seen me at the Beacon in New York on the 2017 Native Invader tour. And so he said to me, "I think we need to answer what's happening in the country and authoritarianism and your take on that. And this attack on almost everybody that's happening." And so I started from that point of view. And then it started to change and I think if I'm really honest with you, it started to change gradually. And it's different than writing songs because I have the music. And having the music, that's my first language. So that being taken away, all those songs are used as a time machine in the book. Still, not having that music was really at times intimidating. Stare at that blank sheet of paper and, you know, just going to the piano and underscoring, sometimes I'd be underscoring myself saying "Come on. You have to move this forward. Move this pin forward." But a blank piece of paper can be really scary stuff. So, yeah.

KR: Right. It kind of strikes me as you being creatively bilingual then. If you're using the piano then to help you write for the page.

TA: Well the piano is just this amazing creature. She's an amazing being and friend. And isn't catty, doesn't betray. Doesn't make me feel bad that I haven't achieved something that day. It's always a willingness to want to collaborate. When I pass her, she's just ready to go. So sometimes, I'm not ready to go. I'm not ready here. [points at head] And yeah I could sit down and play, but there are times with the songwriting process where I'm researching. Demos that I've made on my little device. In the old days it was a cassette recorder. But I document, even if it's an eight bar phrase. Two bars, it could be anything. I document it and I know the date and there's usually a little note. A little note I write to myself. And so I'm able to go back. So it might be August 6, 2019. It's called something and it says "Check December 12, 2019" and I'm "Compare it with March 5, 2020." And there's a link here. And so it's about then seeing these sprinkles that the Muses might have given and then pulling them together. So that's that process. But that's been going on since I can remember. Where's I had to find, I had to find slightly a different process and I had to find the rhythm, I guess, of writing a book.

KR: Yeah. I have a question actually. This is something that I'm curious about for myself and I hope other people would be too. When you talk about hearing the Muses or different things coming to you and different.. Uh, there's a part in the book where you talk about maybe a photograph or a tarot spread or something like that will give you a seed of a song. How do you develop, is it, how do you develop the listening to that? How do you learn how to tap into that, to listen, to pick up what they're trying to tell you?

TA: Well, it takes concentration and it's um, you get into a chop wood carry water sort of serving. And you have to listen. I find I have to listen sometimes with all my might because I can, as the scribe, I can mess it up. So I'm trying to not um, mess with it so it can come through. And then I can work with. And it's just a skill of trying to stay out of the way when I know they're coming. And then sometimes they've um, gifted something and then they seem to depart. It feels more like I'm working with it. And it's really an adjustment you feel. It's an energetic adjustment. But I know. I know when I'm writing it and when it's coming from this otherworldly place. I call it the Muses because it makes sense.

KR: Yeah, sure. I mean you can call all kinds of things; intuition, creativity, there's a lot of words you could use.

TA: Yeah, the universe. The force.

KR: [Laughing] Yeah, is that where um, something I would love to I mention, the practical aspects of the book. I really liked how you laid out the different steps of songwriting. Is that kind of where the steps come in? It helps you kind of take this information and work it into a song, or a book, or how does that factor it?

TA: Well, you mean the bit about um, intaking and outputting?

KR: Mm-hmm

TA: Yeah, well so many writers in the last, I don't know, I don't know, maybe year. I've been hearing about when they feel that they're in a rut and look, we can all have have periods of time when we're just not feeling very motivated. That's just to me, part of living. That's natural. That's so natural to me. I don't really see it as being in a rut. I just see it as cyclical. And so that's when I usually take in. When I take in other bits of information or somebody else's work. Whether it's sonic, or whether it's visual, or bit of both. And then that usually helps me as I'm collecting new inspirations. Then all of a sudden I feel drawn to um, working with the piano. Sometimes I have to, I have to do my part. I can't just wait for the lightning bolt to happen. And then [laughs], you can't do that. You have to do your part. And research is a part of that. And there's so many things that do end up in the song graveyard. That don't make it on a record because they just, it's not quite there. And that's okay. I don't see that as demoralizing. I see that it's just part of being a songwriter. I've talked about this with other writers, particularly people who write books, and they'll talk about having many drafts. And just honing it and working through it. And not getting bummed about it but embracing that. And I think that's the key. When you buy into, and I'm sorry if you're offended that I say this, but if you buy into writer's block, then you can become part of it without really wanting to become part of it. I don't buy into that. I don't agree with it. I think that there's like the seasons. There are times when I'm taking information and then there are times when I'm putting it out and that can be all in one day. Or sometimes it's not all in one day.

KR: Yeah, well that leads, it reminds me of another question. Let me read that real quick. This one comes from Holly. She says, "The world has a lot for us to resist right now and I look to your words to find strength of motivation. Personal, political, and environmental challenges are seemingly at a peak. What's your advice to people who feel overwhelmed and like it's all too big to fight? How do we challenge complacency and feeling exhausted and defeated by it all?"

TA: Well there're gonna be those days. I mean, there are days when we all have a little cry. Most of us anyway. And that is natural. We... our whole world is turned upside down right now. And we don't know exactly when things, if they'll go back to the way they were before or if we'll move forward and we'll find new ways of doing things. I think there are a lot of things we don't know. And the not knowing can make us all feel like we just wanna pull the covers up because that's safer under the covers than with your head peeking out. Not knowing. Sort of into an abyss of, eh [shrugs]. So I do I get it. I totally get it. I realize if we knew when we could go and it would be safe and allowed that we can meet and do live concert again, that would be a relief. But there's so many things we don't know, including that. So yeah, um, I do think that writing towards that, sometimes writing about it.

KR: Oh, okay.

TA: I can't get out of bed today, I'm gonna put covers on my head. [laughing] There are many better ways to say that. But it's okay and that might end up in your song graveyard and not on your record, but that's alright. I think there are a lot of things that I work through by writing a little diddy, that no one should ever hear. [laughing] Truly.

KR: Well, I mean I...

TA: I've one for every senetor, almost. Last year, oh yeah. My Lindsey Graham is good.

KR: Oh wow. Are those the, in the book you talk about some, some angry songs that you're like, "Well, let just put that over there."

TA: Yeah, we'll put that over there. But um, you know there might be some, some shakers on the new record. I think that, that uh, some of our leaders have a lot to answer for. And during this time where people are going through so much, the question is, who are the leaders that are trying to help the public and who are the ones that aren't? That are really just trying to score points. And so, I think that they might get a song. Oh yeah. Why not? Why not? If you're called, if you're called to write about something and you feel passionate about it then I say, yes. Cuz I'd love to hear that from all of you, what you're passionate about.

KR: Well it reminds me, this is a bit of a variation on a theme that we've been talking about throughout, but I wanted to make sure to get a Misty May Furdono question in. "How has COVID-19 changed the meaning of resistance?" You know, the title of the book and the basic concept for you.

TA: Well it is resisting the idea of giving up. And when I say giving up, I'm talking about the little things. Giving up resilience. Giving up the passion to hold leaders accountable. We have to, in this, remember that there is a democracy at stake in my opinion. And in other people's opinion too. And what does that mean? Well that's why we have our minds and our emotions. These are powerful things. They're really powerful. And no, we're not gathering together to voice what we're feeling at this time, but there are other ways to voice it. And I think that we really have to remember who we are. We're here to, I think, step into questions of, what kind of world do we want? What is this pandemic teaching us? What kind of world do we want to live in? And what kind of leaders do we want to have? It's real questions. And so I think that this, this lockdown, yes it is making some of us sit with ourselves. [laughing] And in husband's case, sit with all of us. I think he'd rather be on a Buddhist retreat. [inaudible] And you have, you're there, you're in the situation you find yourself in and there's an opportunity. There's absolutely an opportunity to learn and grow and create and really feel this. And these feelings are enormous. I mean we've been under global house arrest. If you've been following the rules, we have. There's just no two ways about it. So, and what does them mean? What does that feel like? What does that bring up in you? What issues are coming up for you? This is gold. This emotional gold. It really is. It's, I know you're saying I can hear somebody somewhere and it might be, [laughing] it might be out there. "Well some people can't, you know, pay their house payments with thoughts." No. And some people are going through very very very hard times right now. There's no question about it. But, we have our minds, we have our emotions, we have our spirituality, and we have our physicality. So it's how we utilize all that, in this time. And we can do it. We can get through this. But we have to be resilient.

KR: Well it reminds me of another passage from the book where you were speaking about people in Russia and how you say literally they use art to cling to life. Like memorizing passages of novels or songs. That sort of things.

TA: Yes that's right. They armed themselves with art. And they find ways, it's almost as if whether it's poetry or passages from a novel or songs or a visual or a ballet. Things that they etch in their chakra field that they surround themselves with in order to combat technological warfare which they were trying to warn me about. And they understand on a level that Westerners just didn't understand until possibly recently. And even still, I don't know if we realize how good certain people are at grooming other people to agree to their philosophy and their ideology. How they divide somebody from a thought. They told me, they said "Tori, all of you can be groomed and not even know." And I went, "Really?" He said, "Absolutely." You don't even know why you're not going to vote. But you're so worked up that you're just not going to do it. Or you're gonna vote over here which will give the vote to over there. So you're not really thinking about how this is playing out. So that was intriguing to me. Getting those letters, speaking with them on the 2014 tour.

KR: Yeah, it's almost like art as like psychic self-defense.

TA: That's right.

KR: You know, it's a shield you build around yourself.

TA: That's right. That's right. Yeah I believe that.

KR: Yeah well, another thing that I really admire in this book on a slightly different note is, if you're in a place where you feel defended and strong enough to deal with it, you talk about failure in your life in the book. And that I think is really honest and upfront because a lot of people don't want to talk about that stuff. They kind of just want to sweep it under the rug. What has failure taught you?

TA: Well jeez. Failure, that was the key for me. And it isn't the key for everyone. But it was the key from me to, for my reckoning. What is my intention as an artist? What can I not abide? And I got to the point of, I couldn't abide being disingenuous anymore with my art. And I just had to really come to terms with that because I had bought in to the idea of commercial music and what that meant and filling a slot. And so the record industry would have slots for people. And some people would refuse to become part of that and stick to their artistry and the doors would open for them and that worked. But I betrayed my vision because I just, I just was getting rejected a lot and so, with my demos. And finally I said, okay I'll write what I think is commercial. And that was, that was not, that wasn't really the path that empowered me. So I had to make that decision and it was through not having success where I said, I'm not going through that again. If people don't want to listen to what I'm doing, if I feel like I've stayed true to the Muses that I serve and to the message that I want to put out there, then if nobody's there, I can wake up in the morning and not be disgusted with myself. And that was the pact.

KR: Yeah, and that being so much more important than being famous or anything like that. You know?

TA: Yeah, but I had to get there, Katie. I did it, because fame and the thought of what it is, what it really is, is different than what I thought it was. And you have to make your peace with it and understand the double edged sword that it can be. The seductiveness of it. And the acceptance, this kind of acknowledgment when you really have to say to yourself, No. I need to do work that I respect and if it doesn't get acknowledgement, does that mean it's worthless? So it was really about, what do you value? What's your intention? And there are some people, and I have no qualms against this. Um, not all are guys either, but a lot of them are. Where it's just, and I can't do the accent, where "I want fast cars, cute Birds". And you go, "Okay. Put it out there, honey." That's what you want. No judgement. But it just, [laughs] cute Birds and fast cars didn't work for me. Wanting that, it just didn't work for me, yeah.

KR: And that also, I mean, we're talking about a lot of lifelong processes here. You know? Developing empathy, understanding yourself. Those are things I know that when I was in my early 20s, I didn't understand myself in the same way I do now. You know?

TA: That's really tricky. How did you, how did you understand yourself? How did you find that?

KR: I fell on my face a lot. [laughs]

TA: Aww. [air hugs]

KR: You know? You have to fail to know what works and what doesn't sometimes, I think.

TA: Yeah. I think that's right. And I also think sometimes, we're back to slots, that whether it's in your friendship circle or your family or your school or whatever. Even if it's not with your friends, but with your associates. And sometimes we kind of, what do you call it, dilute ourselves down or turn a part of the volume of another side of our personality up to kind of make the group, to have your place in the group. And well, that usually doesn't work out so well because that's not how you find out who you really are and what feels good in your skin. And I think it's finding all those things. And that's a journey. That's really a journey.

KR: Yeah, absolutely. It reminds me, I'm gonna work in another question here. This is um, something that I know a lot of people struggle with when they're women. This is a question about women supporting women and when you're younger, sometimes you don't necessarily understand the value of it. You can fall to what I call Smurfette syndrome sometimes.

TA: Oh, I like that. Smurfette.

KR: So this question is, okay it's from Jennifer "As women we talk about how to stand up to bullying men, but sometimes in the process we tear other women down. To fix that, what's one important thing you believe women can do to support each other?"

TA: Huge question, huge. Because I think, Katie too though, we have to talk about harem mentality. And I think we need to talk about opportunities. So I can only speak from my own experience. And in the 90s, in the alternative side of music, if they were playing two women at some alternative stations, they were playing one too many.

KR: Sure.

TA: So do you see the dynamic that gets set up? I can talk about it now on reflection because I can see it now. But you're, as an industry, not just the record labels but the radio stations themselves, the advertisers who... I mean I gotta say, there's this country music station Tash had me listening to around Christmas time because we loved singing our heads off with the windows rolled down in the truck and high-heeled boots, or whatever, to country music. In Florida. I don't know. It's just a reaction to Florida Man, I think.

KR: I'm from Ohio. I get it. [laughs]

TA: And so um, Tash looked at me and said, "Mom, they hardly play any women!" I said, "Ah, I know that one. I know that one." And what happens is that a culture can develop just, let's test drive this thought, Katie. A culture can develop, unfortunately, where they get you to believe there's only a room for a couple. And then the problem is, is when you realize that, say let's cut to now, to 2020. That you're being told by people in the industry that not as many women of a certain age in the alternative side are getting record contracts as men. And so I asked somebody about this in the industry within the last couple years and they said to me, "Well T, it's really about supply and demand." I said, "That's a cop-out." That's an absolute cop-out because people don't know that they wanted yet. They don't realize that they want wisdom and experience if they're not being shown it and given the choice to have it. So, I guess what I want to say is that we have to understand that we need to create opportunities for more women. and I'm saying this to myself. It's very, it's difficult when you're in a culture that sets them up against each other and then we have to break down those concepts and refuse to become a part of it. But it's very, it was very tricky in the 90s to to get through that because the reality was they might be playing two women and sixty men. So that's the reality. That was the reality.

KR: Yeah, and like you said, that was one too many, right?

TA: Yeah, that was one too many. So, I think now we're beginning to have conversations that we haven't had before in the last couple years. And they're really important conversations about opportunities and supporting each other. Realizing that no one can be you if you're really doing you. I can't be Katie. Only Katie can be Katie and only Tori can be Tori. And that's that's what we need to support. The idea that you're soaring and opportunities are coming to you doesn't mean that I have to fail. But what what I am saying is, there were a lot of female artists that were worthy, that were good, that weren't getting any play and were getting dropped after two records because it was bloody brutal. It was brutal. And it was a boys club and there were women that were complicit in it and supported this kind of thinking. And advertisers because a lot of advertisers would say, well we don't want that message getting played. Especially if they're anti-choice and you know you've got a feminist there. Come on. All that's going on. So we have to be aware, now that we have the internet, we have to be aware that we can support more artists. And if you ask yourself, well whatever happened to so-and-so back in the 90s or back in the noughties? Well I've been saying this. Don't just assume that they ran off with a gazillionaire and didn't want to make music again. They probably had the opportunity taken away from them because they might have upset somebody. Cuz that's how the bloody business works.

KR: Yeah well, that also, so our last audience question that we got was from, let's see. It's from Kimberly in Memphis

TA: Hi Kimberly. [waves]

KR: And Kimberly asks, you know, talking about now and these new opportunities we have, "What advice do you have for teenagers who are finding their authentic voice as songwriters entering into this new world. How can they contribute to resistance in these times?"

TA: Wow. Well, it is about finding your voice and sometimes I found one thing. This might feel good to you or not, and trust yourself obviously, but when I wanted to try on different potential sides to myself or personalities that I didn't know I had because I... I didn't know, I discovered myth when I was in high school. Mythology. I think it was Edith Hamilton, one of her books. And that was the beginning. That was the tipping point where I started to read about mythology and other myths. And finally I did a record called American Doll Posse that was trying on the different goddesses that were in the Greek myth. So trying on those energies and then writing songs for them and [laughs] dressing like them. And I found sides to myself I didn't even know I had because I had decided what I was going to be and what I was not going to be. And then that didn't work out so well after a while because I realized, well I had judged that this type of woman was not respectable or this type of woman, you see? So I really needed to let the myths um, to kind of invade and to work with them. And I began to find that all of the women in Greek myth, there's a side to all of them that lives here. And different percentages. That's really what I began to discover. It wasn't just one. It wasn't just one that I gravitated toward. And some, again, less than others. But it was a good exercise to really push that artist. Who am I as an artist question out there and allow it to percolate and not be just, I don't know, this is all I am as an artist and I'm not going to put my foot in the danger pool. Because I do think you have to experiment. It's fun to do that. You could always come back out of that pool.

KR: You know, I mean you chuckled a little bit, but playing dress-up can be part of it. You know? Trying on different styles and hair and stuff like that?

TA: And why not? Exactly. Exactly. Why not?

KR: Yeah, well I that's all the questions that I have for you. I'm so happy that we got to talk. This is so insightful.

TA: Well Katie, I've really enjoyed this. And I hope when I'm touring again, please come. Come back and see me. We'll have a cup of tea.

KR: Oh, I'd love that.

TA: Big hugs [air hugs] Real hugs. And I just want to say big hugs to everybody listening. These aren't easy times and you're loved and your questions are amazing. If we didn't answer them it's not because we didn't want to. It's just the time. So thank you and big love. [touches heart]

KR: Love to you too. Thank you so much for all the inspiration and the music over the years. And please check out Tori's book. It's amazing.

TA: Thanks guys. Thank you Katie. [waves]

[transcribed by Matthew Jon]

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