Tori Discusses Boys For Pele For Upside Down #7
Mentions "Cooling" and "To the Fair Motor Maids of Japan"
Added June 23, 1997
Toriphile Johanna sent me the following interviews below that appeared in the Upside Down Newsletter #7 early in 1996. I never had a chance to read these interesting interviews until recently. I was especially surprised to see Tori mention the song Cooling. It did not make it on the Boys For Pele album, but Tori sang this gorgeous composition during a very special and historic concert in Miami Florida on October 23, 1996. In the interview below, Tori said that she was saving Cooling for a film! (One could guess that it might show up on the upcoming Great Expectations soundtrack, but I personally doubt it.) However, at the Miami concert she said it would appear on her next album. So when will we get this lovely song on CD?! I was also surprised to hear about another song she has written with the fascinating title To the Fair Motor Maids of Japan.
The album is called Boys for Pele. Pele is the volcano goddess in Hawaii, it's either that or the soccer player, right? I'm just trying to translate it, but it's pretty bitchin' what's coming through. I sit and listen, and think this tone and rhythm makes me feel free, or makes me not want to be a victim, or makes me look at things. That's all I can do as a musician. Some people are gonna vibrate with that, feel like, "hey, I know this code," or they'll go to somebody who's playing in the same town that night and vibrate with them. I do believe that music has a coding that nothing else has. That's why there are so many different styles of music. It's so exciting because so many people are carrying a similar message, but just different vibration. Nobody's right or wrong, it's just a different frequency. That's all, but all of it reminds you that there is a lot to be reminded of.
Anyway, let me get on with the details of this album. The guest artists on the album are: The London Sinfonia, The Black Dykes Mills Band (miners who became a brass band), these are like the real guys, not just some horn section. Then, Manu Katche (drummer), George Porter Jr., Steve Caton, Beenie (Nancy Shanks), she sang on Crucify, oh, all sorts of people. As far as instruments, we have: Marshalls, Leslies, Harpsichords, Harmonium work, Clavichord, we have the "real cats," the 15th fucking century people. No pops stars here... I've already done that.
We are not recording in analogue this time. We went digital, and I'm absolutely pleased with the outcome. Remember one thing, not everybody has the engineers that I've got to work with. I mean you can do it right, or screw it up. It's been such a discovery for me every day with what they come up with. I produced it, but the thing is, and let's be real fair here, I produced it, but to have my live front-of-house guys, Mark and Marcel working on it too. I couldn't have done it without them. And they are going on tour with me again.
Anyway, this record goes into relationships, archetypes even, Lucifer, Jesus, etc., et al. Relationships with your brother's friends, relationships with your brother, your father, relationships with that boy you had a crush on the first time, even the first time relationship with the guy that you were seeing last night. It's the boy record. Boys for Pele. Some of it was a bit of an eye-opener for me, it came down to these men that have come into my life, the one's I've run into anyway. They made me see that I had to find my own passion, not steal theirs, and this is what this record is to me.
Boys is not a short album. I've had many different types of relationships with men in my life. A relationship does not mean sex. It can be any person you've ever known, friend, lover, brother, mother, but this album is mostly about the men I've come in contact with. So there are still songs negotiating for position. Some are gonna switch because as the mixes are going down, I'm pulling my hair out. I'm going, this is like Upside Down, how can I not have this on the album. It's the same scenario of everybody's humming this, wanting to hear this one, but if I don't have this one on, I'm gonna kick myself. One of those situations.
There are loads of songs that won't be on the album. I've cut 35 tracks, and it's been a bit brutal. But, it's become fairly obvious to me what this album is and isn't. It's coming down between two songs to complete the album song order. The guys even have bets on it in the studio, meaning which one will make it. Mark wants one, the Dutch guys want another, and I'm the one who has to decide. Mark has fought for a B-side to get on the record, and it's pretty serious. I'm saving yet another for a film, because I think it will work better elsewhere. Her name is Cooling, and she isn't gonna be heard right now.
There's another A-side called, To the Fair Motor Maids of Japan. That one I scratched until I'm ready to release it, but it was to be on the album. So what's happened now is, there are two songs, both B-sides, that have shoved these other ones out of the way. I don't think I can have both of them on the record because then I'll have more than 14 tracks, plus the ins and outs, meaning the shorts songs, which equal 18 songs. That makes the album 72-73 minutes long, and I'm pushin' the limit. The song order that I have now is reading for me. Some novels are very long, but it's the story now. I'm kinda clear on what the story is. There are parts of the story where I kinda cock my head and go, "Fuck, I don't know what that means, but that's OK." It'll keep me busy when I'm touring. I can figure it out then, or tomorrow, or whenever.
In many ways, I'm just starting to understand this album. What it really means to my own personal growth. The songs are tools that our from my mind, and sometimes I might not even catch the personal meaning of what I am writing. The information's coming through and I'm recognizing it like, "Oh yeah, I felt that way. Oh yeah, I actually do feel this way, oh yeah, but wait a minute, there are parts of this that I don't recognize." So there's a mixture of knowing and not knowing. Some things reflect an experience I had six months ago, or that's just how I felt when this or that happened. But then you go, "Wait a minute, this part right here, what's that?" So there are layers to it again, and at the same time, it's really personal.
We shot the cover for the album in Louisiana, Cajun country. I also recorded some there: gospel, choir, saxophone, a little bit more brass, and more with George and Caton, just to finish up. We were there for three weeks total, shooting photos and recording. I sprained my ankle during shooting. It was hilarious. Hilarious as in I roll as a crocodile with your left wrist, and in your right hand you have brie cheese going, "Hang on a minute." Delusions of grandeur. I'm OK, I mean I'm better than OK. My ankle's just like that of a 60 year old woman, but that's all right. I'm wearin' Nike's everywhere I go now. I'm hanging in there as far as my health the music is propelling me.
All of my albums are dear to my heart. They all come to visit, and I'm changed because of every song that comes through, even the ones that maybe aren't the most popular or whatever. They all have an effect on me, and this album is obviously having it's effect on me. It's about a new subject matter that I haven't really gone into before. Hopefully two years from now, I'll be saying the same thing to you about something else.
For right now, I'm at a crossroads with anger, joy, passion, men and myself. and how my relations with men have been such a mirror of what I'm dealing with at this time. Things you pull to you in a sense, your opposite or twin, one or the other. Sometimes I get confused on which is which, but it comes back to that thing of boys are great. Just when you are confused, and you think you're really confused, they walk into your life. The great thing about all of this is, drama is so minuscule compared to where you end up. Then it's about when your knees land on the ground, you then finally see what those worms are doing. Worms not being men, you just see what's really going on.
Oh God, is this what I'm up to? I love worms, and I'm a cute little red-headed worm just going, "so what's what I've got him doing," hmm, and that's what he's go me doing, what a gift. Sometimes it's a bit of an ouch gift, but this whole 'happily ever after' phrase is really, really boring. 'Happily,' as in, we're after what we're after. Once we see what we're after and almost get it. That could be one issue that some boy has brought up to me, once I start to think and go, "huh?, thanks for palling with me, thanks for showing me or thanks for doing fuck all," and I shoot myself.
Whatever it is, it's a charge, a current, it's chemistry. It's the thing that ignites very much like electricity. I'm learning a big thing here, which is, it's not personal. When you get involved with somebody, it's not that they aren't worthy of your love, or that they are. It's that they reflect something to you, and you to them. That's why there's a charge. It's not that they're not exciting, they're just not striking your current or my current. That doesn't mean that they're not striking someone else's.
Sometimes we get drawn to things where the other person is not responding to our current. A lot of times they don't want to have to look at that side of themselves, or they can't find that side of themselves. Very interesting. I'm just finally getting to the stager where it's not personal, But, when there is some kind of response in a way, and there's communication, even if it's confusion communication, it can create a desire. That can screw with your head.
There are overlapping currents, things I've been hiding from me. Things that maybe have been going on my whole life that really kept me from being free. I just hadn't freed myself from them because I didn't know what I know now. You just go, "God, he's wonderful and it's just not our time," or "Wow, what a being," and then you just have to wave good-bye. That's the theme of this album, the reflection that boys have given me. Which brings me back to finding my own passion and not wanting to steal theirs. Boys for Pele is the lessons that have brought me to my own fire, the goddess of creation and destructions. That's what the album is about.
To me this is a trilogy: Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, and Boys for Pele it's a trilogy child. It could all go horribly wrong. I could pick up the sitar and make my sitar record and there you go. And write only about ketchup, fair enough, right?
What I did for the Talula single was scat, recording over the original vocals. I was in Holland to do tele with my guys, specifically with Marcel, and Rob. Mark was working on setting things up for the tour. The Dutch just came to hang. This all actually started in London. BT and I were having dinner and he was telling me about these people who chase tornados and all this stuff about the Internet, which I don't understand. Why would someone go on there just to make up lies about me? I don't get it, it sounds like a sport, I mean feed the Christians to the lions, or like, gladiators where one of them has to die, it's nuts.
All I know is BT was telling me about a page, a web, or something, where everyone talks about chasing tornados. Real people who jump in their Jeeps, cars, or on bicycles, and start racing toward these tornados with video cameras. I just started singing, "He's chasing tornados, I'm just waiting calmly, he's chasing her." We were with a guy named Spence from Perfecto Records too. BT said, "What the hell was that?," and I said, it's the new opening line for the Talula Tornado mix. We both looked down at our plates, BT looked at me and said, "screw the spaghetti, lets record." So we smuggle a bottle of wine out of the restaurant, rush to a black cab, and go studio hunting. We show up at EastWest. I knock on the door and we say, "It's us," and the security guard asks "Is it OK" and I say, "Of course it's fucking OK," he was nice to us then. So we are working off the label's phone trying to find a studio. We're not having any luck, then Spence remembers a friend that has an old studio in his house, near Ladbrooke Grove. So we call him, race down in another cab, it's one or two in the morning by then. I do a scratch vocal so I can remember it, and take it with me. It sounded like shit but it wasn't supposed to sound like anything, it was only reference. I knew I was going to have to do it again, but I was leaving the country the next day to go to Spain. Anyway, when I got to Holland, I tried to record it again but I only had seven minutes and it still sounded like shit. So I said, "Come on Marcel, I've gotta go back in the studio, make it work, I have to do it right."
So I went to Germany, then back to Holland for another TV show. After dinner that night, ten or eleven o'clock, Marcel and I went to a studio about 40 minutes out of Amsterdam, and sang the Tornado mix over Talula. I didn't even have the CD, I had to borrow a copy of Pele from someone, and sang to it. The DAT was about 15 or 20 minutes of me just scatting over the album track. I rushed that to BT in London, and so he's using it for the 20 minute dance mix. Just adding to it what I made up, and the part about chasing tornados.
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