The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
An excellent interview with Tori appeared in the November 7, 2002 edition of The Daily Telegraph in Sydney Australia. Thanks to Lucy for sending it to me.
Amos proudly walks the walk
Life is rarely normal when you are Tori Amos. We've been invited into her country home in England to discuss her latest album, Scarlet's Walk. But before we can, Amos has laid out a series of photos, taken across America, which help explain her album's lyrical theme.
"She'd want you to see the pictures when you hear the songs," Amos says. Amos hasn't moved into third person, rather she's referring to Scarlet -- of Scarlet's Walk.
But no one is quite sure whether Scarlet is a person, whether it's Amos, whether she is based on Amos, or whether she's, er, a drop of blood.
"Sometimes Scarlet is a girl," Amos says in a hushed, barely audible voice.
"Sometimes it becomes the land or a drop of blood. It weaves. Scarlet is a thread and I'm following that thread, as Tori, but sometimes Scarlet takes over."
She pauses after the explanation.
"It's a little like Sybil. But I've always loved that movie."
While some Amos clones have surfaced in the past year (hello, Danielle Spencer), none is quite as delightfully bonkers as the original.
Scarlet's Walk, her "sonic novel", chronicles a US road trip, an experience she feels has become a lost art.
"They call the country between the coasts 'flyover country' now. People just say, 'How long does it take me to get where I need to go?' instead of, 'I really need to see who's out there, I need to open myself up to a different way of seeing things'."
The lyrics also draw on her mother's memories of growing up in the Cherokee culture.
"I wrote this record because I was told to by the ancestors," Amos says. "The songs kind of barraged me. And in wanting to tell the tale that is current, I had to go back hundreds of years."
It also includes some postSeptember 11 musings; Amos was in New York at the time.
"You can love a land and not love what its leaders are doing with it," she says. "They're separate.
"In real life it seemed to me when the Twins went down, the masks began to come down.
"There was a brief period when, besides all the nationalism, there were people asking questions that hadn't been asked in that way."
Each song on Scarlet's Walk is linked. There was so much to tell, and so many pictures and maps to explain the story that, for everything that didn't fit, Amos has set up Scarlet's Web on www.toriamos.com
"Whether they're sonic stories or inkandpaper stories, sometimes with the characters it's hard to know who's leading who," Amos says.
She cites her song Taxi Ride as an example. The line "just another dead fag" was written when a friend contracted HIV. She thought he was going to die but he didn't.
Amos now believes the song was meant to be for another friend who did die, makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin.
Aucoin had heard the song and was very moved by it.
"I had just recorded it before he died. It's so odd. He'd say, 'Who are you writing this about?'
"And while it was inspired by a different event in the end, it was about him. It goes back to threads, this strange tapestry."
Then there's the track I Can't See New York. "That's when Scarlet becomes a drop of blood," Amos says.
"The plane leaves from Boston and never arrives.
"My character picks up Scarlet and leaves New York City, which I, as Tori, did. She hitches a ride with Mrs Jesus, which I felt was a good way to get out."
Amos lights up when talking about her two year old daughter, Natashya.
She now tours only if her daughter is along for the ride, and has written several songs for Natashya's ears only.
"It's like a light that's been switched on," Amos says. "Her coming has made me look at and question the decisions that are being made now.
"The world is so small. We're going to leave this to them. Each generation gets their time. We're having ours. This is where it's time for us to be present.
"It's not time for us to sit up and stare at the moon and wonder 'who am I, how do I feel?'.
"That was in my 20s. I did that -- I sat in bushes and talked to the plants.
"But now, what's going to be left to them is being decided, not just by the leaders. And that power must be understood. We're making decisions about how this earth is going to be carved up.
"More than anything I hope Scarlet's Walk gets people to ask their own questions about how they see things.
"There's not a lot of information in the States about those things."
Scarlet's Walk is out now.
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