Tori Amos un­re­pen­tant princess

Pride Life Magazine - - Front Page -

There’s no get­ting away from Tori Amos. While other artists lan­guish for decades be­tween al­bums and only do shows once ev­ery 35 years or so (no names, no shames), Tori has been busy do­ing a mu­si­cal for the Na­tional The­atre, a se­ries of com­po­si­tions based on clas­si­cal mu­sic, an or­ches­tral re­work­ing of her ex­ist­ing songs, a new tour, an al­bum that harks back to the early days of her ca­reer… And all this in the last five years!

Sit­ting in a base­ment stu­dio on a warm sunny London day with just a scrap of blue vis­i­ble if you peer up, Tori Amos doesn’t look any­thing like the 50-year age tag she’s been hav­ing trou­ble ac­cept­ing.

In skinny blue jeans, a grey sweater, her hair bright ginger and pen­cil straight and with some geek-chic glasses on, she looks vi­brant, beau­ti­ful, clever and cool. She looks, in fact, ex­actly like the Tori Amos, that strange sex­ual be­ing we first met in 1992 when the al­bum Lit­tle Earth­quakes changed ev­ery­thing.

Four­teen al­bums later with that Na­tional The­atre mu­si­cal un­der her belt and her own char­ity for those who have been the vic­tims of rape or sex­ual abuse (RAINN), Tori shows no sign of let­ting up the pace. Mar­ried to English sound en­gi­neer, Mark Haw­ley, for the last 16 years with a 13-year-old daugh­ter Tash who has started ap­pear­ing on her records, Tori splits her time be­tween Corn­wall and Florida and is cur­rently tour­ing her new al­bum.

Sit down a minute, woman!

So, the sin­gle Trou­ble’s Lament. Is that a good in­di­ca­tion of what’s on the Un­re­pen­tant Geraldines al­bum?

Not re­ally. Ev­ery song is in­di­vid­ual. That one has a lot of in­stru­men­ta­tion to it. There are all kinds of songs on the record. Some are pi­ano-based, some are blues-based, each one is its own paint­ing.

It seems almost like a re­turn to your early work… Is that fair to say? Be­cause you’ve been do­ing some ex­per­i­ments lately, haven’t you?

Yes, I think that’s fair to say. And yes, I’ve been part of The Light Princess team [her mu­si­cal at the Na­tional The­atre]. And what an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence writ­ing with [writer] Sa­muel Adam­son! Sam and I were watch­ing mu­si­cals for years, all sorts of mu­si­cals to try and un­der­stand the struc­ture, be­cause we wanted to make a proper mu­si­cal the­atre score, not a pop mu­sic type of score. And Night of Hunters [the clas­si­cal mu­sic project] re­ally fed that. Mar­i­anne El­liott was the di­rec­tor: she di­rected Cu­ri­ous In­ci­dent and War Horse and we wanted to por­tray a fairy­tale world, but a fem­i­nist fairy­tale and we didn’t want it to feel like it was dumbed down for a com­mer­cial mar­ket.

So, what is The Light Princess about?

It was very much our vi­sion to re­ally in­ves­ti­gate teenagers and their fa­thers. I think a lot of fairy­tales rely on the evil step­mother and I wanted to ex­plore a story where there were very pow­er­ful men and fa­thers. And how one was mis­guided and how the other re­ally did want to con­trol both his sons: if you dis­ap­point the fa­ther be­cause he wants you to be a cer­tain way, does he take his love away? Mean­ing that love is con­di­tional. There were a lot of gay men who have been very sup­port­ive of this mu­si­cal to the point where it’s given us the en­ergy to make the cast record­ing. I’m pro­duc­ing it, go­ing to the stu­dio this week­end.

You’re very pro­lific: there’s never long be­tween projects.

I re­ally think about visual artists who would paint hun­dreds and hun­dreds of paint­ings in their lifetime. They were com­mit­ted to paint­ing

whether their paint­ings got ac­knowl­edged or not, they had to com­mit their lives to be­ing painters. More than the idea of be­ing celebri­ties, you’re fo­cused on the work not the con­se­quences of no­to­ri­ety. You never stop. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an in­put/out­put pe­riod where you travel and you keep build­ing your pal­ette.

Your voice sounds ex­actly the same as it used to… How come it’s not aged?

Well, you’re very kind. I don’t smoke and I think that’s been key. I’ve been work­ing with it and pay­ing at­ten­tion to the ef­fects when I push it in a cer­tain way. I’ve been work­ing on tonal­ity. In the old days, singing over a band or an orches­tra, it’s very dif­fer­ent from when I’m singing in a stu­dio. The idea dur­ing the record­ing was to try and not over-sing the track.

We know you have lots of gay male fans who are very in­tense about you but do you have les­bian fans?

I do but it’s a dif­fer­ent re­la­tion­ship. I sing a lot about de­sir­ing men so men and I, we can talk about that. When I’m talk­ing about what I’m try­ing to fig­ure out, what I’m go­ing through my­self as a woman, I think the les­bian au­di­ence can ap­ply it to the part­ner they’re with. Het­ero­sex­ual men and les­bians seem to have some­thing quite in common. I have a les­bian tour man­ager and she’s fan­tas­tic. She’ll come in and say, “Chicks just drive you crazy!” [laughs] She’s re­ally funny like that.

You say you write about what you go through. Was reach­ing 50 an is­sue for you or did you just breeze through?

I didn’t breeze through. I think once the birth­day came, I’d had some good ad­vice by then but at 49, you be­gin to think about peo­ple that you cared about who aren’t around any­more and mor­tal­ity be­comes some­thing real. My mum’s 84 and we were talk­ing about it and how in your 30s you can keep push­ing cer­tain re­al­i­ties away but at a cer­tain point you have to come to terms with the fact that we are only be­ing given this gift for so long and it does start to speed up, it does start to go very fast. A friend on The Light Princess was en­cour­ag­ing me to ex­pand my think­ing and burst that cul­tural pro­jec­tion that can be put out there that you’re not vi­tal any­more as you get older. I was try­ing to smash that an­ti­quated idea.

And yet older peo­ple have more to say than the younger peo­ple the me­dia fawn over…

You’re ab­so­lutely right. I would say to you, there aren’t as many front-line record con­tracts be­ing given to women 50 and up on the song­writer side as there are to men. We see men age­ing in a dif­fer­ent way. But my daugh­ter who’s 13 looked at me and said, “You’ve got to get your head around this, Mum, be­cause if you don’t fig­ure this out then what am I go­ing to look for­ward to? Go rock!”

You have to carve your own path out and your own goals. It’s about how you see your rel­e­vance. You have to push your­self to keep rel­e­vant and be open and not get caught up in how you’ve done things in the past. You have to al­low your­self to ex­plore.

Un­re­pen­tant Geraldines by Tori Amos is out now

“There were a lot of gay men who have been very sup­port­ive of The Light Princess mu­si­cal to the point where it’s given us the en­ergy to make the cast record­ing”

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