An interview with Tori was broadcast on Finnish radio station Ylex on Monday, January 12, 2004. I have a transcript of the interview kindly sent in to The Dent by riija!
Thanks to riija who kindly sent in this transcript!
Before the actual interview the Dj introduces Tori, and quickly comments on the high points of her career. Between the questions the Dj translates parts of Tori's answers, and then asks the questions in Finnish, since the actual questions are never heard, we only hear Tori's response to them. I've done my best to translate parts of the Finnish portion also so that at least the questions can be understood. Tori's comments on the other hand are pretty much exact quotes.
Tori Amos looks back with us on her career and tell us what she has to say about some topical issues
[plays Angels in background]
DJ: The singer-songwriter who emerged in the 90's has kept her star high despite the fact that she doesn't have many chart topping hits in her name. She's earned herself the reputation of a true artist instead of that of an entertainer. Her peculiar image has even made her seem scary in some people's eyes. The most important thing however is that Amos is highly talented, intelligent and makes incredible music.
The new album from her is Tales of a Librarian. This isn't your standard greatest hits album because when asked what made her choose the particular songs for the album Tori Amos gives a very -- well toriamossy answer;
TORI: Once I came to the idea with some writer friends of mine that we would have loved to have had a CD from a Roman woman when Rome was at it's zenith and might be sliding into ruin. [laughs] Being an American woman I felt that I had a tiny little parallel story possibly so.. -- ahm -- I just went with the facts of the life of this woman we're talking about, Tori, who is me yes, but as the producer I pulled back and started gathering the facts and pulling in songs that would reflect those facts. Jackie's strength. Going back to 1963 when I was born and 3 months I guess to the day that JFK was shot so I felt like Jackie had to be on. I made other choices, pivotal moments I guess that sort of changed how I saw the world or maybe myself.
DJ: This might still make perfect sense but when your average joe reads Tori's lyrics it has to be admitted that at least at first they aren't easy to decipher. This difficulty in interpretation is not the purpose in itself but the meaning of the words can sometimes get lost because of the lyrical approach Tori has chosen where symbolism and association of ideas roam free
TORI: Partly I think maybe but I also think partly that I've always been drawn to parables and symbolism and word associations. Getting into people's senses, using words more as if it's sensuality than if it's, you know, the definitive meaning of a word. And lets be honest sometimes the mystery goes when things are completely literal. I think journalists need to be literal. I think artists have to paint a picture that people can walk into.
DJ: Many artist say they only write for themselves but are happy if other people enjoy their work as well. Tori also writes for herself but also wants to communicate with the listener and there for also writes for her record buying audience
TORI: There is a side to me as a songwriter that does want to communicate, believe it or not, but still I hold true I guess to writers that inspired me on a lyrical level .. would be more E.E Cummings and [*missed the name*] and Sylvia Plath walking down those roads which sometimes you do have to walk, into the sensual world to really be there with them. Very different I think than sitting down and reading, you know, somebody that's very pointed in what they're saying. So although I am trying to communicate there have been times, different periods as a songwriter when I did walk more into an abstract world. Call it the blue period. [laughs] And I've gone in and out of that I think and sometimes you do when you want to maybe shield yourself a little bit.
DJ: Tori Amos has fought off many of her past ghost through her songs. She's moved to the English country side where she seems to be right at home. The question is what is there to write about now that everything in her life is in it's place.
TORI: Sometimes I think that as a songwriter you walk into a place of
-- ahm- can you write songs because you're a good songwriter or have you just been sorta, kinda spreading your diary and then once people have devoured it you're not a good writer anyway. And they move on. And I kinda pick up the gauntlet here. And have for a while that I think. You write about different experiences and there are other things to write about than, you know, being victimized. Hopefully at 40 you're not victimized anymore or that would be I think a pretty sad story.
DJ: Well at least Tori seems to find plenty of angst from her home country's current state for her new material.
TORI:I think there's a deep sadness that I have for my country. I think Scarlet's Walk was a journey about that -- ahm- and when the native Americans came to me, sort of in different times and a little contingency it was to say to me that the most important thing that they felt certain writers could do right now is to get the masses in America to form a relationship with the land that was separate from the administration, any administration. Because they felt there were some European countries and Asian countries, Middle-Eastern countries that were connected with the soul of the land. That couldn't be broken or penetrated by an administration that could, you know, emotionally blackmail a mass consciousness. So the idea then was to create a character who became scarlet, who was desperately searching for what her country was, who she was. And America became personified in the women that she met across the country, starting of course with a fading porn star, called Amber Waves, who was how we meet America at first. And America shapeshifts as in the native American tradition of shapeshifting, changing form, through the story until in the end the last character we meet is a little baby that gets born and hopefully gets another chance.
[Plays Cornflake girl in the background]
DJ: The name Tori Amos is these days almost a concept, but the name Britney Spears is also one. In the end a comment about the female stars of our time, especially about those in the pop world who make more of an impression with their looks than their music.
TORI: Yea, but it depends on what you want. You've got to be clear on what you want. And some performers want that. And there's a way to achieve that, if you have the right stuff as they say. Then you bring in the people that can help put the right stuff out in a way and package it in a way that has a sizzle to it, you know, that says yum! 'People go yummy! I want this stuff!' If you on the other hand have -- I think people that are sort of married to an instrument and are part of the musician community that's a little bit different because you see, you have a different voice to answer to. And it doesn't mean that the other kind of music is that something I'm being, you know, tough about because I don't think I am. There is a different set of rules and if you don't know that then you're not going to succeed because you have to understand the difference. There is a difference. And what works in one doesn't in the other. Some things cross over but you have to know what it is to be part of a tradition of musicians. And it is about respect for your instrument and for what you do. And people will call you a phony before you even realize you are one.
[Plays the new Cornflake girl]