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October 29, 2021
Tori Amos: Why does the singer speak to trees?
by Oliver Adey
The US singer Tori Amos is back with her new album "Ocean to Ocean". In an interview, she reveals why she speaks to trees.
The thoroughbred musician has been on stage since Tori Amos (58, "Cornflake Girl") was 13 years old. The US singer describes the lockdowns without concerts and live music as her "own private hell". Your Lockdown album "Ocean to Ocean", which will be released on October 29th, is about losses. Amos' mother died in 2019. The singer scattered her ashes under a tree house in Florida. She couldn't travel there during the corona pandemic. In an interview with the news agency spot on news, she reveals why Tori Amos therefore speaks to trees. The singer, who was a victim of sexual violence as a young woman, also gives advice to those affected.
The album "Ocean to Ocean" was made during the third lockdown in Great Britain. How were you at that time?
Tori Amos: There were several factors influencing me at the time: The fact that it was the third lockdown, not the first or the second, but the third. It was the first time that I had to cancel a tour. So live music was off the table. I have never been able to play live music for so long in my life. And then the madness that took place in the US after the presidential election, the reaction to it and the division. Then came the insurrection and the treacherous reaction of some of our elected rulers who were ready to burn democracy to the core. I think I hit a wall. That was my state of mind.
During the lockdown in Cornwall, you were surrounded by your husband, Mark, and your daughter, Tash, and their boyfriend. What role does your family play in your life?
Amos: My family is everything to me. We are a team. We pulled together in the first lockdown. I would say we all pulled ourselves together. We talked and exchanged ideas, we ate together, we really stuck together. Oliver, Tash's friend, played tracks and showed us music that Mark and I hadn't heard before. It was a great experience.
In "Speaking with Trees" you sing about hiding your mother's ashes under a tree house in Florida. Do you find solace in visiting this place?
Amos: I do, but I haven't been there for 18 months. So I had to find a way to conjure up this place without being able to go there. So I was drawn outside to the trees. I trusted that there was some kind of ancient knowledge that the trees had wisdom. I was interested in how they communicate with each other. Believe it or not, I found that really comforting. By listening to the trees, I began to feel my mother's presence.
You have been the spokesperson for RAINN, the US-wide free hotline for victims of sexual violence, for more than 25 years. What has changed over the years? Has the situation improved for women and children?
Amos: There are now networks and offices that you can turn to in the USA and in England. I am sure that they also exist in Germany. What has improved is the fact that you can call, write an email, or get in touch through social media. You can speak to someone there who is trained in the field of sexual assault and is able to give advice. This is especially difficult for minors. During the lockdown, some were trapped in an apartment with the perpetrator and felt that they could not reach anyone. So after the lockdowns, there was a flood of calls. It's just heartbreaking to see that there has been so much abuse, including domestic violence, in the past 18 months.
You yourself were a survivor of sexual violence many years ago. What is your most important advice to those affected?
Amos: To get professional help when you are ready and able to do so. That was a turning point for me. If you are unable to do this, then I find it very important to speak to people who have themselves experienced assaults. They can then become a kind of mentor. Because if you talk to people who have not yet walked this path, then they may not be giving you the advice that will really take you to the next step in the healing process.
You performed in a club when you were 13 years old. How do you look back on your beginnings? What would you have liked to say to your younger self?
Amos: I would like to say: You are really blessed to have the opportunity to make music in front of people at such a young age. By learning other people's songs and performing them, you are learning something that will be part of your entire life, part of your entire artistic process. It will make you a better songwriter too. You have to be open to different types of music, different structures and genres. And even if you are not good at it, accept it. Try it. See what happens. That's what I would say to my younger self.
Next year you will be going on a European tour. How much are you looking forward to giving concerts in front of an audience again after all this time?
Amos: I'm very happy. I miss the interaction. To hear from people how they relate to my songs, what they have learned, what they have discovered. It's such an adventure for me to hear how people treat the songs and what the songs mean to them.
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