Tori & BT In DJ Times
Updated March 1, 1997
Johnson Liu reported the following to the Torinews mailing list about the February 1997 issue of DJ Times:
"There is a very nice interview with BT (Brian Transeau) in a magazine called DJ Times. It describes BT's life as being a male counterpart to Tori (child piano prodigy, went to high school near Tori's high school, went to California, got famous in England, yadayadaya). Anyways, BT describes his meeting Tori as "a lost soul sister". There is a long passage about how Tori's Blue Skies song came into being (Tori says "I can't believe I sang that sh*t...) and how the song has been doing well. It definitely gives some insight into the BT Tori mixes and Blue Skies stuff."
Violet posted an extensive look at this article. complete with quotes, on the Torinews mailing list:
Because I'm a Tori fanatic, I have the requisite copy of "Blue Skies" and therefore know who BT is. And, being the boyfriend of a Tori fanatic, Kim by association also knows who BT is now. Because Kim's goal is to ultimately produce the same genre of music that BT does, he subscribes to a magazine called DJTimes. And because all of the above is true, Kim "forced" me to read the current DJTimes article on BT. :) I know that most of the article probably won't interest the majority of people here, but the part on Tori certainly will, so I've transcribed it for you. It's extremely interesting, especially the part about the lyrics for the song. People have wondered "Did Tori write the lyrics? Did BT? Did they write the song together? Well, you probably never would have guessed the amazing answer. I know *I* wouldn't have.
There is a biographical intro to the piece explaining that Brian grew up in Maryland, was a piano prodigy and composer from the age of four, attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston for a year after graduating high school in 1988, moved to California hoping to get a record deal, was terribly homesick and often traveled back and forth to the D.C. area to hang with friends, during one of these trips home decided along with some friends to start their own label -- Deep Dish Recordings -- indending to put out their own music since no one would listen to them, several of the recordings released by the various friends via the label had amazing underground success, on a trip back to California Brian records "Embracing the Sunshine," upon moving back to D.C. Brian gets noticed by Music Now Records which sells over 2,000 vinyl copies of "Embracing," the record makes its way overseas and takes of in the UK, top UK JD Sasha insists that Brian go to UK to collaborate on music, while there Brian signs on with Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto imprint. Virtually unknown in early 1995, Brian now lives in the boonies in Maryland. He's taken the trance and progressive house world by storm over the past two years, issuing countless remixes and original productions from his Blue House on a Hill studio. The release of his next album -- ESCM -- is planned for spring. In the midst of planning all sorts of upcoming projects with various artists, BT recently re-issued the year-old _Ima_ containing "Blue Skies" with Tori and which is expected to break this new genre of music open.
Here is the Tori portion of the interview:
* * * * * * *
DJ Times: Tori Amos -- how did you two meet, and what led up to you two collaborating on a single?
BT: Tori and I have a lot of mutual friends, and everybody has been like, "you two get on my nerves" and "you two have to hook up" because we remind the mutual friends of each other. Finally, we were introduced by those mutual friends, and it was freaky for me. It was like meeting my lost soul sister. We have so much in common, it's frightening. She and I both moved to L.A. when we were 18 for five years, nobody paid attention to us, she went to England, I did the exact same thing, and signed with the same record label, the only person who would listen to us. Both of our moms are from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We both have tornado fetishes, on and on. She went to my rival high school in Maryland, she's from here -- it's just bugged out! I visualize music, she visualizes music. Anyway, we met, and we did remixes to "Talula" and "Putting the Damage On" and she was like, "Brian, these pieces of music mean so much to me, I want to sing on one of your songs." She was like, "I love the last song on your album ['Divinity']." And I went through a whole thing with her about "Divinity" and that it was originally named "The Yoga of Divine Action," which was a writing by Deepak Chopra -- I explained to her the essence of this writing, and she totally connected with it, and also, too, we were both in this period of entrapment, in need of self liberation, if you know what I mean? We both were feeling trapped and needed a catalyst for transcendence, just a vehicle to get out of ourselves, and talking about this writing of Deepak's and talking about how we were feeling, is what inspired the lyrics to "Blue Skies." Whenever I listen to it, it's like this little girl, it's like somebody in their own kind of personal hell wishing for their personal nirvana.
DJ Times: When she was recording the lyrics over "Divinity" was it intended as being a vocal version of that particular song?
BT: No, it wasn't like Tori saying, "I wanna sing over this, and let me see what I can come up with," and I was like, "I'll take the music out and we'll make something new out of it." That is a cool way of doing things. There's all sorts of different ways of doing things when making music. Like for this one song I did for the new record, we went over to the lake across the street from my house and all the frogs and bullfrogs had a tonal area, something that makes you unconsciously sane in that key. My friend Shane and I went over there and we started with our guitars, and we're playing acoustic guitar and we wrote a whole song, but we didn't realize we wrote it in F-sharp because of the frogs, and we came back and listened to it, and we were like, "something's missing," and then I said, "I got it!" And I went into the closet and grabbed my microphone and portable DAT, and went back to the lake to record the frogs and put it in the track -- just different ways of making music. Doing "Blue Skies," I was like, "give her something that's pre-existing, let her vibe on it, and have her get out what we had talked about, and then me come in and put my feeling in again." Had I written the music for the song before she sung the lyrics, I would have never written the same thing, but she wouldn't have written the same thing either if the two of us just sat down in a room.
DJ Times: How did she go about writing the lyrics?
BT: Tori put the CD on, and sang for 15 minutes over an unreleased version of "Divinity" at a soundcheck for a show, and sent me the DAT without ever even listening to it. There was a note attached that said, "Brian, listen to this," and I took it and took literally every phrase and every breath and cut it into pieces to make a song out of it. She sang the words "blue" and "sky" next to each other one time in the whole thing, and I cut, glued, pasted, and made this thing that ebbed and flowed like a song.
DJ Times: Was the end product anything that Tori had imagined it would be?
BT: I think it was absolutely nothing that she'd expected. In fact, when I sent her the DAT, she called me immediately and was like, "Did I sing this shit?" Then she hung up and called back five minutes later saying, "This shit is bad-ass!" She was tripping out, because [her voice] was so edited up. That's what I'm talking about -- that was a dope-ass performance, but taking technology and manipulating it like clay.
* * * * * * *
In non-Tori portions of the interview, Brian spoke of how his music was immediately embraced by Europe yet how frustrating it is that the US takes so long to accept anything different and new [of course, we as Torifans know that it's certainly not because of us, but because radio and TV executives have the anal-retentive tendency to insist on staying with the tired old "tried and true" formula crap, furiously frustrating most of us who are completely capable of handling something original, thank you very much]. Although not about Tori directly, here's what BT says about music and the way the media treats it (since we as fans of Tori can so much relate to the topic): "People are going like, 'Fuck! Nirvana was great, but let it go!' It has turned into this total corporate bullshit where you've got these handful of people who control what people hear -- it's a very short list of people that control what we hear as Americans on popular-type formats like radio or television. People are starting to feel as if they're cheated and somehow short-changed. They're like, 'Shit! I'm sick of this!' I think of the origins of the scene -- Depeche Mode, Shriekback, The Cure -- people who listen to that are intelligent, thinking, literate people, and I think they're feeling robbed because there's such a surplus of the same band." Bingo.
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