Toriphile Jessica has kindly transcribed for us this 1992 Westwood One Radio Interview with Tori. This interview was recorded live at The Coach House San Juan Capistrano California for the Westwood One Radio Network on February 27, 1992.
Interviewer: O-kay. For my ... is Tori Amos for the Westwood One Radio Network on February 27, 1992. um... *whispers* Where to start, where to start! um... So, the one thing I noticed, listening to the album, were a lot of references to fantasy-type things, you know, like mermaids and Sleeping Beauty and white horses and faeries and things like that; has that been a big thing for you, always been into reading fantasy things or...
Tori: Well, faeries are a big thing for me, because I used to talk to them. And, you know, I've said before it kind of all went wrong when I stopped doing that. I'm a big believer in mythology. I think that when you lose the mythology you've completely lost the whole plot of it all. The mythology is like the thread that goes from one generation to the next. It's almost as if that's...that's our memory. And if you lose that ~ I was a big fan of Joseph Campbell and reading his works, and reading different mythologies, Celtic mythology, Native American mythology, Greek mythology, and especially in Celtic mythology, there's faeries everywhere. So I talk a lot about fairy tale images because that reminds you of when you were most open and we were most open when we were kids.
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you feel like you put that aside too quickly with everything happening so quickly with the piano thing, and going to the music school and everything when you were little. I mean, it must have been hard to have a regular, sort of, childhood thing going on; I know you talked a little bit in the bio about the, there was one year you went to junior high and then one year that was playing in the bars at...
Tori: Well, it's true that I had a dual life happening, but I don't think that was as much the problem as...when you're growing up as a kid, having an imagination is not really encouraged. If you really think about it and you go back to, you know, having a crush on John Middleton or whomever it was; that's one that I remember when I was 10. You're not going to show something that isn't thought of as cool by the other morons around you. And most of them have cut out that part of themselves that still imagines, really believes in things, things that aren't 3-dimensional, that you have to touch; if you can't hold it in your hands, if it's not, you know, the Redskins on Sunday afternoon then it isn't relevant. And so I really started buying into that side of things. Not that the Redskins aren't relevant: yeah, they're relevant, but, so is your imagination, so are those things that you can't turn on the television and see it or it's not something you can hold in your hands. So that's when things got, I think really numb for me. When I started going into that magical place, that magical world where you believe in possibilities. You know, you believe in things that are maybe more than just functional: go to school, go to work, have kids, marry, get a job, yeah maybe do a little traveling. That is not my view of having a life. That's not living; that's being dead.
Interviewer: So, you moved first from back east to out here, to Los Angeles, and then now you've ended up in England, but how has that played a part in your songwriting?
Tori: Well, when I first moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast, you know, that was just, like, um...o my... *laughs* ...That was a real experimental phase. Which is completely...necessary. And, I tried many things. On many levels. Some...some I wouldn't, you know, show you *at* *first*, but there's nothing that I've done that hasn't made me what I am today. Why I see things the way I see them is because of every choice I've made. When I moved to London, that was a huge step, when you leave a country; it's a whole new culture. Just because they speak the same language; they're very different people, let me tell you, trust me, folks. I love it over there, but it's a completely- just because they speak the same language; they're much closer to the Europeans, they're much closer to the French, and they will readily admit this, than they are to the Americans, and...we're just very different.
Interviewer: Did you kind of want to get closer to the Celtic...
Tori: Well, I've spent some time in Scotland and I'm really, I really have an incredible love for Scotland. And I have read a lot of the mythology and I've spent some time with the ley lines and going to Avebury and yes, Stonehenge is obviously a big...transmitter; that's really what it was used for, it was an incredible...um...what do you call it, ah, electronics base, if you will, for that time. Power station. But to this day, you see, it's been roped off, and it's been... When you go there it can be a real... It can be a disappointment, because you can't spend time with the stones. And the government has, you know, they've roped it off, they've made it a bit unavailable.
Interviewer: ...was there about 10 years ago and you could still go up. I guess people started putting graffiti...
Tori: They did; that could've, you know, that could be handled in other ways. You could have people, I'm sure, you know, if you saw somebody taking out a spray can, I think that you could get to them. The ropes are a bit much, but, Avebury is another one; there're so many standing stones in the UK, and in Ireland.
Interviewer: That the tourists don't know about-
Tori: O, yeah. And there's just, there's a whole history that hasn't really been looked into. That's a lot like the Native Americans; there're so many secrets. I was down in Chichen Izta, I was visiting the Mayan ruins and there's just so much that you start realising that they understood that we don't understand. Yeah, we have, you know, refrigerators and automatic washers and stuff. But there're things we don't have. We don't have an understanding of going from adolescence to manhood/womanhood. We don't understand our real purpose as a people. We don't; that's very obvious; it doesn't take a genius to figure that out. And the only reason I'm beginning, just beginning, to understand my purpose is because I'm opening myself up to many ways of thought that's passed through the ages. I mean, you have to read things that visionaries have written to get vision. Yes: I think it can come internally, it can come from within. But I do think believe you're so saturated with such unbelievable small-mindedness and-...o god, just-...it's really Dark Age way of thinking, some of what we've got going on. You know, we really are a bit arrogant in the way we think as a people. What, we're the only civilisation that exists? Planet Earth? What about planet Earth, doesn't it have its own course? Where's it going? It's just gonna hang out with us because we really know what we're doing with it? I mean, that's a bit boring I think.
Interviewer: People are refusing to acknowledge all the knowledge that different cultures have accumulated, and don't realise that it could all be put together. The way that the different religions make it seem somehow separated and not compatible; they don't realise, people are looking at Buddha or people are looking at Jesus; it kind of all comes from the same source...
Tori: Well, I really believe that the way we look at each other, which is a divided planet, is just a reflection of what's going on inside, which is, I know that I have had a real division within from different parts of myself: the bad girl, the good girl, I mean, what is that? What, the prostitute is bad? Wh- wher- who said that?! I find that there're different sides of me; yes, I have a violent side, yes, I have a victim side. I have what I term the virgin side, and I also have the prostitute side. I have many many sides, and there's the male side, the male side of me that feels very inadequate. Then there's that warrior side. You know, they're all sides of myself, and there's the female side that feels very much...inadequate. And then the one of course that thinks she can, you know, move mountains. And it's finding a balance with all these different sides of myself; I kind of invite 'em over for a plate of spaghetti, have 'em all going at the table, and I start seeing that people I pull into my life are also kind of really reflections of what's going in inside of me. And, I haven't acknowledged for many years. I've been a bit self-righteous. It's really easy to say, 'My way's the way.' It comes out of insecurity. And now I'm getting to the point where I'm being able to accept...the coward. That's the hard one to accept. It's hard to accept the abuser. Because that one, you know, we spit on. I've written Me And A Gun. I understand an abusive situation; I've tasted that. I know what it's like to be victimised by somebody that you don't really know, a stranger, if you will. And, the effect that it can have on you because of what you take on, the guilt you take on. But once you work through that, then you have to really look at the incredible harsh judgment that you have on the abuser. It doesn't justify their action, by any means. Nothing justifies somebody taking another person's choices away. Nothing justifies me reaching over and smacking you across the face. Nothing justifies me throwing you against the wall. *Nothing.* However, I've had to look at the part of me that has so much contempt for the abuser. I've really had to look at that. And then that's called forth a part of me that could just go rip somebody's head off. I've made a choice not to abuse people. But, I've found that my hatred for it...is poisonous. That's not the way that I pass through it. That's not the way that I heal myself of it.
Interviewer: Was writing the song part of healing yourself?
Tori: Writing the song has been incredibly healing.
Interviewer: Is it, is that easier for you to write the song and sing it than to talk about- ?
Tori: Yes. Yeah, yeah. I don't talk about the incident, because I feel like I have in the way that I wanted to. I also don't think about him per se in my- it's about me now. He has his own path. But I think about the part of me You know, you- again, I stress over and over again, 'cause this is a bit of a delicate subject: It doesn't justify that kind of action. Nothing that I'm going to say. But you really start thinking about, what is the cause of something like that and how will it stop? How is it ever going to stop? You know, it passes from parents to child; who grows up, passes it to their children and it just doesn't stop until a generation rises up and says *no.* Before I pass it to my children I have to look at myself, I have to be *really* *fair*. Get all of those shadows out here, get the things in the closet, let's open up the cupboards now. You get all the fundamentalist Christians pointing the finger, you've got to really go, god, what are they running from? You know, they're the ones that have the serious demons inside. That's not, I'm not, I'm not...being unkind when I say that. I say that having been one that- you know, I was never into that *Never.* But it's very easy to...to not look at your own fears. And start screaming bloody murder. It's really easy to say this is...this is horrible. -For instance, the people that wanted to have certain things censored. They wanted Niki censored, Princess Niki masturbating. Now really think, really think about that. Why are they so afraid of their own hand? And their own experience of that? That's what it is; I mean, god, if we're afraid of that - *that's* what's sick, is that we're afraid...of that! We're afraid- that can be a very beautiful thing. And it's self-awareness. People get all, in America people get really antsy about that kind of stuff, which I find *incredibly* hypocritical, when you turn on the soap operas and *what's up*. I mean on one hand we're such a dichotomy as a society because we have this unbelievable violence, UNBELIEVABLE violence! on television, and you know, a bit of skin here and there. And yet we're so prude! Then you go to Europe. Not a lot of violence happening, but you know, they have naked people on television; they are not afraid of the human body. I mean we, let's be fair about this. Europe has *other* things, they've got *other* stuff that they don't look at. Every culture does. Every person does. You know, there's stuff that I won't look at yet cause I'm not, you know really wanting to bring some of those little goodies up, but I'm doing better than I have before. At least I'm not walking around in complete pain, screaming at people just, you know, because they took the cornflakes box that I was going to take off the shelf.
[Please excuse all the missing text in the paragraph below. I had such trouble picking out this much and some of it is simply indecipherable due to the poor recording, quiet voice of the interviewer and background noises: traffic sounds and Tor's breathing. :) ]
Interviewer: ...fear things that they keep in the dark, it's almost worse if they're trying to hide it from kids, you can imagine ... I mean, I grew up Baptist which is...heavy-duty, too. It's funny, I listened to the whole album by myself ... going through, thinking, things were just reminding me of it. I went to Baptist school from kindergarten through 8th grade ... I was picking up these records and thinking, this is really reminding me of, of things and then when I read...that you were Methodist preacher's daughter ~ o! that's why I was picking up on these things ... things they didn't want us to hear about or know about or you know, censored our textbooks, that even music was bad, other than what we sang in the choir in church. But they didn't believe in ... television was evil to watch it or to own one or own a radio...
Tori: Yeah. 'Evil.' Evil is an interesting one. Because I believe that evil is seen most from those that are trying to stamp out evil. And you watch it, you watch it closely. People that say, you know, evil is television, or evil is sex, or evil is this Evil is the denial of that part of you that wants sex and that wants television. Because you see, in the repression in *dragging* that part outside the house - which is the body - putting it outside, stringing it up, *lascerating* it with 'you're bad, you're bad, you're bad;' what do you think you're really creating? What do you think you're creating? I've said this many many times to people and I'm going to bring it up now. um...I don't talk a lot about it in interviews because this is not what my music's about. My music is truly about stripping myself and looking at parts of myself and if they're used as a mirror then, you know, so be it, let 'em be used as that. But I'm going to talk about...the um...anti-choice movement for a minute, which is what I call it. Because pro-life is not what it's about. This is not about 'saving the children,' quote, unquote. And I'll tell you why, it's very simple: You know how many millions of children in the Colombian sewers, everywhere that I've gone in my travels, holding their hands up to be taken home, '*take* *me* *home*.' The AIDS babies in the wards; okay, just kids down the street, we can find them down in the city that have no. place., no home. You know why? Because they're treated like trash, like smelly cabbage. They're thrown out. We have millions of children that need homes. So why don't they give them a home? That's all I have to say about it. That's the root of the issue. This idea of bringing the fetus in, this idea of this, that, and the other thing, theologically speaking, you could get theologian on either side, arguing their point. Why?! It's boring; it's a waste of time! And I'll tell you why it's a waste of time. Because if people would stop judging the women that were doing it, they'd stop judging, and looking at themselves, there would be homes for children. You know, the whole planet has to change. Every movement has things it has to look at. Every movement, including the pro-choice movement. And you know what else this all is, it's the biggest *distraction* there is to the poison in our government. They want us as a country to be divided on it so that it lets them go and completely use us as a people. We have very little freedom in this country; we don't know how we've been sold out. Sold out! We're broke! We don't have much. Let's be fair about it. Let's be really honest. We don't have visionaries that we voted in there, very few. We have nobody that's really willing to be honest about it. So, yes, they want us to be divided on this issue. Because then that gives them the room to keep being deceitful. And isn't it interesting how we bought that big carrot. Because if people don't want to have an abortion, that has to be completely respected. If people want to adopt all those needy children that need homes ~ that's where the work should be done. Let's save the ones that are on the planet. But that's what the issue's about, and women, you know, 'It's our bodies, we can ', you know how I am about that; we've been incubators for thousands of years. That's an incredible threat. But again, you know, women It's such a deep issue, it goes beyond what it looks like on the surface, it always does. But I take it to the root on that one. What is this truly about. Those people have so much energy. It could be used to such a wonderful potential if they would use it. Those people could do such an incredible service! Incredible service. They could really give life to children that are in the sewers, trashed. Worms crawling on them. Nothing. I'm painting a bleak picture, I'm taking you to the furthest steps; there're some that just...you know, are in this country, have no home. That's where the service should be done. I get really tired of this moralistic crap. Because that's about them not looking at themselves.
Interviewer: ...along with what you're saying, all the problems have to start at the individual level...
Tori: All the problems start at the individual level. All of them. The economy goes back to looking at yourself. You know, let's think about it, could you imagine... First of all, the people that run the country, we don't see their faces, we don't know their names; we all know this, you know, it doesn't take a genius to know this. We don't know really who they are. You know, I'm sure there's a list of the 500 Most Powerful Men, maybe there's a women in there somewhere, maybe they, they've let *one* in, eh? Yeah, token... And...I think that if those people had to be stripped down to the basics of who they were this would be a different place. It all goes back to dealing with yourself. Because when you do, your needs change. You don't look at things the same way. You move, you change your life. You call different things to you when you really start looking at yourself. It can be an incredibly painful process, and then you've got to giggle. You've got to have some moments of laughter in it. Or it'll just choke you to death, I mean, enough depression for one day! *laughs* You know! I don't find my record depressing. There're moments of incredible...acknowledgement...of when I've been not true to myself, when I listened to everybody else. But I gotta take responsibility for that. So what, so *what*?! Okay. I'm gonna move on from that.
Interviewer: Yeah, along with that ... she's been everybody else's girl and you should be your own girl and ... when you gonna love me the way I love you...
Tori: Yeah, well, Winter, I think, 'when you gonna love you as much as I do.'
Interviewer: Yeah ... It seems like in a lot of them, it's because you've realised it and now you're coming back around to doing it, to being your own girl and... But you had to go through and a [big] process. It's not depre- there're, people might think, O well, it's depressing, yeah, if they keep *listening*...
Tori: No, I don't see it as depressing at all. It's like looking at your life, you can't look at it as 'O god, I've made so many mistakes.' You've gotta say, Ok, I've had some real interesting highways. Some have had gravel on my road, I haven't had this smooth tar on my road; I've gone through some bridges that have broken a bit and I've had to, you know, pull the car across with a line on it so that it could barely make it across... And, I think that you can't be ashamed of your past. I mean, if we really got down to it, so what if you really were Sven and did have babies on pikes when you were a Viking and terrorising villages; I mean, you know, maybe you're even, now... not into that; you wanna to do something different. What, you're never going to change?
Interviewer: All you would have to be ashamed of is if you didn't learn from those other things, you know, the past...
Tori: Well, yeah, and then you're just completely unconscious, so when I say that you're just numb and you're not even thinking of your past as anything to learn from. The past is an incredible gift. So, what if you were a bully? Okay, so what? So maybe you were an abuser. So, you know, you take responsibility, you look at it, you admit it, you accept that part of yourself, you acknowledge it; you don't run from it, you don't make excuses for it. You do it. And you don't keep wearing it like The Letter A. I'm not, I'm not into that No Scarlet Letters, although they're worn by so many people all the time. It's, we really have an incredible hate for ourselves as a people. That's where it comes from. You don't, you're not going to forgive yourself; we're so hard on ourselves. And then there're the people that choose not to be hard on themselves, but everybody else around them. But it's still, it comes from the same place; they just turn it around. They just, the pendulum swings the other way. And you know, they put other people under their thumb and try and squash them. Squash the baby bird, so to speak, because theirs has been squashed. Or they keep walking in and say, 'Squash me.' They don't say that but it's, you feel like you don't deserve better so you stay in that situation where people just...use you, really treat you, you're their whipping person. But then you have to ask, do I keep giving them the whip to whip me with? So, that's in situations you find with your friends, you know; why does this person keep treating me this way? And it all goes back to just going, where am I at with myself?
Interviewer: Do you feel that people really pick up on these things that you're talking about that is in your music; I mean, it's been out for a while now in England, right, the album?
Interviewer: And when you talk to people have been listening over there, do you think people really get it?
Tori: In the UK, I've found a response that I didn't think I would which was an incredible male population has come forth at the concerts and they write about it and they talk to me about it when I'm after a concert and they talk about their feelings of inadequacy. And their *rage* about it. And then they talk about how listening to the record just made them wanna be alone and look at some things. And give themselves a good cry. Everybody needs a good cry. *Especially* the guys; they need a *serious* good cry. Guys have it very hard, right now. *Very* *hard*. It's a real instable place to be. Because it's been acknowledged finally that women, we have a serious place. And we do, but, we're not gonna get anywhere by not acknowledging that the men do, too. That the environment does, that the anim- you know, everything- We're all a part of this. I'm really big into this one. I mean, you know, you can't just say the cherry pie is great without the crust. Get over it! It's not cherry pie anymore! And...living in London has been...it's, British press really championed this record. And, because they have it's been a window for the rest of the world to be exposed to it, more than it would've been if I hadn't gone there. And they hadn't responded the way they had. So it's been um...it's been... *sighs* ...It's been an incredible few months playing live alone at the piano, where the songs came from. And I've been playing a lot of universities; I've played Manchester, and I've played, that's one of the biggest there. I've done most of, all of 'em there. And, they're real thinkers; they talk about stuff, they yell things out in the concert and we have a little chat. And, they know that they're the future. I want to play to them 'cause they're the future. There's a bit of a numbness, I find, on a lot of campuses. Has been that way for a while. Because it's not about an outward movement; it's an inward movement. But that doesn't mean you have to be, you know, dead. But there is a numbness. People are just starting to stir. And the hot spots, to me; on a university campus, it's always been a place where ideas sprout from. Ideas can take on an incredible life of their own. And my god, we need them to be aware. We need them to take some kind of stand. This is the time now. I really think it's their, if you will...destiny. Nothing just happens. It's all there for a reason. The earth is, I mean, the next 20 years are pretty vital. And they are going to be in the position to turn it around. The ones, the college ones, the ones being born now too, but really the ones coming up. And we need them. We need them to rise up and speak, and express themselves, because they have ideas that are gonna just certainly spin all of our heads around.
Interviewer: Do you feel that's the main part of your following there in England?
Tori: O yeah. O yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah. The main following is coming from the colleges, but that's because they're into poetry, they're into, you know, they just don't want to hear another you know, another, um, I- I gotta- I'm not here to bash anybody else's music, but ~ 'hold me tonight, make it okay' from another girl. 'Cause that's not what we're all about. As people. I guess there're moments from that; I don't know that much, I'm a bit more graphic. But...I find that...I find the college students have been really open to what I'm talking about. Because it's an open place to be. On a campus in the...
Interviewer: You're almost free from the constraints of the real world.
Tori: Well, they're away from the real world. That's why it can be so magical. They're not completely... Every ear gets whispered in. Once you walk off there... It's almost like a womb.