Music: Tori Amos Returns

Tori Amos remains one of the most authentic and creative artists around, and she doesn't disappoint with her new CD, "American Doll Posse." For her ninth CD—a "concept" album, so stay with us here—Amos looked to the proverbial female archetype (and Greek mythology) and created the characters Pip, Clyde, Santa, Isabel and Tori to represent different aspects of women that have been repressed.  (Each even has her own blog on Amos's Web site and receives vocal credits on the album.)  They're all Amos, of course, and whether you think of her as the rebel prodigy, warrior mother or poetic high priestess fighting the patriarchy, her innate musical sensibilities, along with her complex perceptions, have always left her a force to be reckoned with.  Amos phoned in to Jac Chebatoris before the singer's world tour kicks off in Rome on May 28. Excerpts:

Are you feeling the strain already from all the promotion?
I'm doing about 15 interviews a day so there are days. When people ask me, "What's the hardest part about what you do, is it the touring?" I'll say, oh no. No, no, no. I just wish every journalist would have to sit for eight to 10 hours a day and be asked questions, because I think it would be good for that side of it.   At the same token, coming up with questions that get someone to talk and reveal something that's worth listening to is hard. So I understand the other side.

You've earned the reputation as the hardest-working woman in music, and looking ahead to your tour schedule, that still seems to be the case—you're playing Bratislava. Who plays Bratislava?!
Yeah, it is a bit crazy. That's why I started this physical regime about a year and a half ago, just as the songs were coming.

Well you look amazing. Do you even drink your beloved Chardonnay anymore?
Red. Only red. No, I live a very European lifestyle. It's about finding a balance in the day of food—I don't make food the center of my life, but I have a lot of respect for it. We always have a good lunch and a good dinner. The main thing, I don't do extremes. I've been playing a lot and you get your endorphins up, and I've been working out.

What do you do? Are you yoga? Pilates?
It's a little embarrassing.

Well, the first thing is legitimate. I row. I'm on the rower.  And then, I go into the steam and sauna and lock the door and I put on music and I dance my ass off! But I'm a terrible dancer! Terrible.

I know I'm terrible, but that's my point—I do it for the enjoyment of it and the music gets me going so that I get my heart rate up and I really sweat.

What kind of music?
It depends on my mood. Sometimes you have to just get in there with Aretha or Chaka or sometimes, you know, it's the Sex Pistols. From Aretha to the Sex Pistols—whatever it takes.

You've got a whole compound in Cornwall, with your studio.
When you come down the dirt lane, we're in the middle of the agricultural section, so you would never know when you come down the lane into our little world. The studio is in an over-300-year-old barn, and when you walk in, it's NASA! It's kind of this paradox of being part of the land, and it's incredibly grounding, and it's far away from the paranoia of the music capitals of the world.

How important has that been for you?
As long as you have a discipline, then you're all right, but the other thing is there aren't a lot of distractions. When we get up in the morning, we're in that studio—you work hard days—you don't waltz in in the afternoon and get distracted and go out to dinner and come back to the studio. So while you have these musicians flown in, you're working a hard day. But it's exhilarating.

You sound really exhilarated and just happy.
It's funny you say this to me, but my mother had said to me, "This is your time, so allow yourself to live it every day. In [our] early 40s—that was the most magical time that your father and I had because we were old enough to know what not to do but young enough to still do it!" I wish in a way I could freeze time. And I told that to my 6-year-old. I said, "'Tash, I wish I could freeze time because right now it's just so great having you as a kid." And she said, "Yes, I know, Mummy, it would be good for you because you would never get older, but it wouldn't be good for me."

How is your daughter?
She's getting her cases packed. She'll be on the road, with her governess.

Does she have a British accent?
Oh yeah. All the way.

Is she taking after her mama yet, playing piano?
She is a film buff, and she's been listening to the scores. She's got a keyboard and she'll come out and just start playing the theme from the movies, and then she'll start changing them if she thinks, "This would be better if it were this." So Mark [Amos's husband] and I have been studying her, and we were both hoping she'd be interested in computers, because we know what the music industry's about!

Are you still in touch with that "warrior-mom" side, and how did that affect coming to this record with the different archetypes of women you present?
Maybe it was getting into my early 40s and realizing the complexity of women—not just one woman, but most women that I've had the opportunity to meet around the world, are much more involved than their boyfriends have any idea. That's just sort of our secret—that's what we've been carrying from generation to generation. I think that we have our imaginings and I think we have our stories and we don't necessarily act on them, but I think that there is a very rich, internal life.  Husband will look at me and say, "Don't apply this to me because I want to watch my racing. If I'm not making music in the studio, then I want to shag my wife and that's it."

Join the Discussion