"Documentaire" On French Channel MCM
September 23, 1999

An interview with Tori was shown on a French music channel called MCM on September 23, 1999 on a show called "Documentaire". Toriphile Tracy Streimish has sent me a complete transcript of the interview, which was conducted on August 6, 1999. As Tori was speaking, they would show various footage as music from "to venus and back" played. I am not sure where the footage was from, although it could have been England. Read the interview because it is very good!

[beginning: home made video of the "Bliss" intro focusing on landscape shots]

MCM: Do you feel close to Cornwall, I mean, do you find it like, a great place to be - to work?

Tori: I like being away from... anything about the music business. I think when you're far away, then you don't get seduced, and you can take a walk and clear your mind. You don't start chasing somebody's concept of what frequency should be. And here, I'm able to -- that's so many cobwebs, d'you know.

MCM: When you had to move to London, in the beginning of the 90s for your career, did you immediately agree or, at first did you think: "Maybe I shouldn't go over there." How did that really happen?

Tori: I was just excited. Just to take an adventure. I think it's so great for anybody to try something different. I mean, it's just -- I didn't grow up in Europe. I'd never been to Europe. So I didn't have the same -- you know, I don't have the same horrible memories that sometimes you do when you're a kid, and at school and stuff, so I don't have the same issues with Brit and Britains. I'm not an anglophile, though, because I think living here, you see the strength, but I think
there's a beauty in seeing where a culture doesn't really -- Where they're not so strong, maybe --

[shown: home made video of "Concertina" over a series of landscape shots]

Tori: I'm in the mastering process of the new album, while we're mixing the live album, and mastering is the final frontier at this day. But I'm called an ant fucker, so I'm gonna stay here as long as I can. I'm driving them nuts. I'm driving them crazy. We're like, near the end right now, and we haven't had much sleep in the last few weeks, but I think -- It's a strange feeling, you know, you have these songs, they feel like you're in labor: I've 21, 22 babies. I feel like, you know, a bitch ready to have a litter. And I have them up all hours of the night changing things. The songs haunt me you know, I can't sleep.

MCM: Does it also come from previous experience of recording that -- where you think you didn't have time enough or was it always of the case to change things until the last minute?

Tori: I used to be more intimidated by making that phone call when the artworks all ready to go, the CDs have been pressed, and you go "Call 'em on the phone!" And you know what? You have to weigh this, you have to weigh -- Okay, psychologically, you're playing chess all the time, you have to know -- If I hold up this pressing for this single, for this 1.2 db on this, is it worth it, for what the use of this is? Say it's for -- radio, where they're gonna screw with your music so much anyway because of the compressors and everything, do you see what I'm saying, they're dealing from 1 to 20 db, I'm dealing in 0.2 db, so if you're going into that world, the microscopic world, it's not gonna probably read on K-Rock anyway. You have to know it's sort of like -- it's all gonna be too salty anyway, when you taste it. There isn't that refinement. You know, everything's gonna taste like -- it has a little bit of semen in it. But the thing is, you have to, when you're doing it for the album, when people are gonna take it home, they're taking your babies home! And you want them to fall in love with your babies, or have their own experience with them. The strange thing is, you know, you have song babies, and they come out, wave to you with a passport, and burly boots and say "Fuck off, Mom, I'm going to college!" and that's the hardest thing -- is -- they come out of you, and within 2 months, they're like -- in -- they're in Tower Records, you know!

[shown: home made video of landscape seen from a car to the sound of "Riot Poof"]

MCM: How was it to do a live album with a studio album, do you think it, like, gave you ideas for the studio album, like "Maybe I should try more experimentations because there won't be so much on the live album?" So I could do strange things with my voice like on "Riot

Tori: I don't know if I consciously was thinking that. I think, the engineers that I worked with when I played it for them, they felt like these songs belonged in a world together, they were orbiting each other, and that's why that disc is called "Venus Orbiting" and the
other disc will be called "Venus Live. Still Orbiting".

MCM: Regarding the live album, it must be hard to select the songs, in a way.

Tori: The live album?

MCM: Yes. [note: I think he means the live disc]

Tori: Well, we had a -- Like the FA Cup, we had play-offs with songs, and they would all have a ranking system. So 1 to 4, we went through 120 shows -- and -- 1 being the worst, 4 being the best and -- we didn't have a lot of 4s, just because -- you can't -- you can't -- you can't start -- there. And, if they reached like 2.9, then they got into the semi play-offs, the semi-finals, and so we would play them off against each other, and it really became about a structure. I knew what my bookends were gonna be because that's what the American tour was. I started off with "Precious Things" every night and ended with "Waitress" every night, and I really wanted to keep that continuity. And in between it really depended on -- what moments, what the audience -- where there was this exchange happening between the musicians and the audience. Where there was this love affair. Or a tension. There was just something tangible -- you could taste it off tape.

MCM: So there was no compromise with the record company, to have [note: Tori represses a smile, rolls her eyes and has a nasty grin] -- famous songs or --

Tori: [with a meaningful smile] No -- No no no, no-no.

MCM: Did they try?

Tori: I'd burn the tapes. It's not gonna happen.

[shown: part two of the "Riot Poof" "video"]

Tori: It's unfortunate that I can't understand artists in French, and some Europeans can't understand what, maybe, I'm writing in English because you get -- There's an illusion sometimes that happens with sound, whereas, you know, you think "hardcore" is because it's loud -- And you and I both know that's [rolls her eyes and fakes a yawn]. It's about content. That's where the power is. And a lot of times, you know, the power of the pen -- you don't have to raise your voice. Sometimes you choose to do that and that has an impact, but sometimes, it's just as impactful to whisper.

[shown: video of "Josephine" made of pieces of other Tori videos, note: different from "Professional Widow"]

MCM: You're said to be a young prodigy on piano. I read that you were 2 years and a half when you began. I don't know if it's true.

Tori: That's what my Mom says.

MCM: Do you remember the first time you touched a piano?

Tori: I just remember being little and knowing that this huge big black thing was my friend, and -- it was an upright piano, really junkie, one of those big huge tall ones, and I had to get phone books and stuff to be able to sit at the chair. Then we also had this other stool that rolled up, so you could get really, really tall. Somebody would help me up and I'd sit. I just knew that was my friend. When I was really influenced, was probably when I was five, because I started going to the Peabody Conservatory then, so I was hearing a lot of classical music, and I was also -- that was the 60's, that was like, 1968, so -- that time has pretty imprinted on my mind, all my little antenna were open, and I'd hear the Doors but my father thought he was, like, the Devil. And then, my brother was almost 10 years older, so he would bring in records, and I got exposed to stuff that -- you know, being five I never, like, played with dolls or anything, that was never my scene. I was into records. I thought Robert Plant should marry me when I was eight. You know, I was kind of out of my mind.

MCM: When you were in high school, you were playing gigs at the same time. In your head, was it like a double life, like the student girl and the one going on stage, or was it just for you a very normal thing to do?

Tori: I don't think I'd call it "normal". Because there was a real -- there was a wonderful amount of freedom about coming home from school and changing and living a fantasy. A fantasy of being able to be, you know, emotional and passionate with older people. And so -- I think what got hard was, you know, I'd sit at the piano bar and people would be talking to me about their problems, you know, congressmen would be there with their mistresses and also it's this stuff because this was in Washington, DC. So there was all that kind of secretive life style going on that you're privy to, and then you go back to school and people don't think that I had senators around the piano bar with their mistresses and I'm getting yelled at by science teacher the next day, it's just the weirdest thing.

MCM: At this time, when you were 16-17, did you have career plans, career ideas on how to make it into music? I guess it was already the only option for you, to work in music.

Tori: I'd been sending my tapes out for a long long time. And I'm really fortunate in a way, I guess, that I was rejected so many times, because it made me really decide why I was making music. And you know, you do it for all sorts of reasons, let's be honest. First it's because it's your passion, but then you realize that it's a way to get asked out by a cute guy, and then, you know, it goes on from there. And so after I sent my tape out like, to everybody and their grandmother, then
I would get all these rejection letters back and it would say, you know, "This girl and a piano thing is dead." It's been -- "The last of it was Carol King and she's still doing good work but we're not interested in signing anything like that." You gotta remember we're moving into the times of --

MCM: Electronic machines --

Tori: Yeah, the whole thing.

MCM: The 80's.

Tori: Yeah.

[shown: "Glory Of The 80's" "video" made with pictures of various 80's videos]

Tori: Well, the 80s -- that was just a time where LA was a great place to be on the bottom of a food chain, because there was a real Underground at the time. And a lot of bands got their start coming out there. There was a real club life. There was an exchange going on between musicians, that was very exciting. And LA wasn't so PC then. I mean, I'll tell you no lie. During that Live Aid' thing, you know, that big Live Aid
thing', there would be people that I know making that phone call when they would see that little baby, that little starving baby, that you know obviously would touch their heart, but at the same time, you know [mimes someone sniffing cocaine] they'd be just, d'you know, waiting on the phone it'd be like [mimes someone holding a phone receiver in one hand and sniffing cocaine with the other] you started to see that they would first go and give $50 and then they decide "No, no, no, $25 - we're running out!" And that was what that time was about. And I kind of -- I love the paradoxes of things, cause they're always living together, they're always circling and now, LA, for me, it holds those memories. I don't buy into the commercial radio, you know, they can suck my dick. I am not seduced by that anymore. There was a time. And I think, I was really humbled by something my grandfather, who's part Cherokee, told me. And he's been -- [note: bells ring in the distance. Tori seems moved by this coincidence. She smiles, closes her eyes and points at the window] Chimes are ringing! This is cute. I feel him sometimes. He always comes and visits me. And he said to me "You cannot seperate yourself from your creation. Ever." Whatever you create, if that's manipulativeness, if that's disrespect for somebody else, you're not seperate from what you've done to that person. They're written like, on your tapestry. They're part of your weave.

[shown: home made video of "1,000 Oceans" with images of......the ocean] :-)

Tori: The success would be -- Is to get people that come to the show to really understand what power is. And power is that we all have access to our own well. And we all have access to this spiritual world if we want that. And nobody can take that from you. There is value in everybody's gift. No matter how hard it is to find or how strange it is. And I think that's what my grandfather was trying to teach me, that the teachings that were passed down to him, the teachings were really
about -- freedom of the soul. And you can dabble in this and dabble in that and play with material things, and see what they do, and see what decadence is, and you chase the dark, and you chase the light, but in the end you have to have freedom of the soul.

MCM: What is the nicest thing you'd like someone to tell you once they've listened to "To Venus and Back"? What is the thing that could make you think: "Yes, it worked."?

Tori: If they get a good bottle of wine and have a great shag, I guess. [shrugs]

[ending: home made video of the "Bliss" outro focusing on tree shots]

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