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In Memory Of Violet's Husband, Kim Flint
1969 - 2010

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    Tour Status

    Tori is touring in 2017 to support the release of Native Invader. The European legs runs from early September through early October and the North American leg runs from late October to early December. We do not know if additional dates elsewhere will be added.

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    News: Who's Tori Now? (Scotsman, April 8, 2007)

    Posted by woj on Monday, April 09, 2007 | Articles

    “I think one of the better things I did was to play kooky for the Brits because they needed that. In the Nineties there weren’t a lot of American singer-songwriters breaking through here. Brits traditionally do like eccentricity and so I allowed that to flourish, and look, there are a lot of other artists that didn’t have the success that I have.”

    (So the “k” word is all your fault, Great Britain!)

    This article appeared in the April 8th edition of The Scotsman. You can read it on-line or read it below.


    Who’s Tori now?
    CHITRA RAMASWAMY

    TORI AMOS has brought a posse with her and I’m not talking about your average celebrity entourage of bodyguards, chefs, lawyers and yoga instructors. This one-woman, tangerine-haired empire sings, plays, composes and produces all of her own music in a remote 300-year-old cottage in Cornwall and has no need of such aids. Her posse comprises four women called Isabel, Clyde, Pip and Santa. Oh, and they don’t actually exist.

    For American Doll Posse, Amos’s ninth studio album, she has come up with her most intriguing concept yet. That’s saying something for pop’s most famous piano woman who in her 20-year career has classified a greatest hits album according to the Dewey decimal system, grouped her last record into six “gardens”, travelled across the United States as her alter-ego Scarlet on another project, and perhaps most famously appeared on an album cover suckling a pig. She has sold more than 15 million records, maintained an enormous cult following and become one of the few American artists to secure five or more top 10 albums in the States.

    This time round, the 43-year-old mother from North Carolina has gone a step further and invented four women, based on Greek mythology, all of whom sing their own songs on the album. “Husband is so lucky,” Amos says of the sound engineer she married in 1998, who mixes her albums and with whom she has a six-year-old daughter. “To be monogamous and not cheat on his wife and yet have access to five different women. Don’t feel sorry for him.”

    This begs the rather unorthodox question: who is Amos today? Meeting her in a London hotel, I’m looking for clues as to which woman she might be a “container” for, as she describes it. Considering the unusual direction that interviews with Amos are known to take, perhaps it’s not so odd that we begin with such an existential line of questioning.

    “No, I’m not one of them,” she explains patiently. “I’m just the spokeswoman.” In that case she must be Tori Amos. “Ish” is the cryptic answer, made all the more confusing by the fact that she tends to refer to herself in the third person.

    “I’m having to be pretty ferocious with myself in saying, ‘it’s time to become a canvas’,” she says of channelling the four women. “In order to be able to deliver this effectively I have to give each one of them 100%. It takes precision and a lot of discipline to stop my own chatter.”

    These remarks will no doubt contribute to Amos’s reputation for kookiness, matched only by fellow oddball geniuses such as Kate Bush and Bjork. In fact this daughter of a preacher man and part-Cherokee mother is much more level-headed than I had expected. The distinction between the eccentric artist who sings and plays her beloved Bosendorfer piano with the zest of someone communing with spirits and the shrewd businesswoman who, as she puts it, “went to war” with her former record company over ownership of her work is well documented. Actually, the two sides are not so opposed.

    “I think one of the better things I did was to play kooky for the Brits because they needed that,” she says. “In the Nineties there weren’t a lot of American singer-songwriters breaking through here. Brits traditionally do like eccentricity and so I allowed that to flourish, and look, there are a lot of other artists that didn’t have the success that I have.”

    So, her idiosyncrasy was a conscious move? “I didn’t edit it,” she replies. “Sometimes it’s about lazy journalism too, jumping on a soundbite and flogging it to death, like a joke that’s not funny anymore. I think we can all grow out of our nicknames.”

    It was when Amos was last on tour that scraps of songs started demanding to be heard – apparently this is how all music begins for this prodigy who started playing the piano at the age of three and singing in front of her father’s congregation when she was five. What was strange was that the songs seemed to be coming from different sources. “Help me out here,” she ponders. “Which Hindu goddess is it with the arms? Lakshmi? Well, that’s how the songs were coming. It’s not a linear way of thinking. I realised it wasn’t just one narrative from one voice.”

    The album cover sees Amos in all five guises, as the glamour puss and the sophisticate, the siren and the sylph, one character holding a vintage camera, another (and this is Amos as herself) a chicken. In this multi-media project, all the women have their own blogs – each one updated by Amos, of course – and on her upcoming tour, she will appear as a different character each night, depending on what her mood dictates.

    “We’ve been getting all the girls’ outfits ready for the tour,” she says. “I’m jealous of Santa’s wardrobe. It’s very glamorous, very feminine, and she’s a bit of a showgirl. She’s not afraid of being a sexual woman.”

    Asked to sum up each archetype on American Doll Posse in a word she runs through them, pausing at great length for thought and closing her eyes for so long that I’m not sure whether I’ve lost her completely. Isabel is “neutrality”, Clyde “introspective”, Pip “secrets”, Santa “romantic” and Tori? “Testosterone,” she immediately replies, with a knowing smile.

    She’s referring to the so-called other side of Amos – the kick-ass businesswoman who is renowned for overseeing every last detail in her Cornwall studio and who, early on in her career, threatened to burn her master tapes when her former record company wanted to bring in their own producer. She split with them five years ago, on her own terms, switching to Sony/Epic, where she now “goes underground” when making an album, handing over the finished product when she’s happy with it. When I ask her whether she has more freedom now that she has been in the business so long, she replies pointedly: “I take that freedom”.

    “They don’t like the idea that a woman can produce,” she says of the music industry. “Look at how few women are producing their own work. It’s about controlling the money. The record company can’t phone up my producer and say, ‘hey, can you rein her in?’ They have to call me. And to get the master tapes? They have to phone Husband. I refuse to be the commodity of a management company.”

    This leads to a discussion about her lifelong feminism, explored once more on American Doll Posse in songs such as ‘Girl Disappearing’, one of the album’s best tracks which has Clyde trilling “In my own war/Blood in the cherry zone/ when they/Pit woman against feminist” against a background of soaring strings and plaintive piano. The feminist thread runs all the way back to her breakthrough hit ‘Cornflake Girl’ in 1994, which was inspired by an Alice Walker story about female circumcision. When Amos was raped at gunpoint by a fan to whom she had given a lift home, she wrote the song ‘Me And A Gun’ about it. She has never been afraid of putting herself into her music and addressing inequality and violence against women. There is a bravery about Amos, in person as well as in her music and it’s a lot to do with the fact that she doesn’t care what other people think of her, which is also what makes her peculiar at times.

    Her latest album is about resisting the division of women into virgins or whores. “I can’t imagine how I could make more of a feminist statement than by showing how I’ve applied this to my life in order to be free from the patriarchy,” she says. “Men have tried to divide and conquer for a long time. If women would just refuse to play that game and instead say no, a male authority is not how it’s going to be here, here and here.” She points at her head, her heart and her groin.

    Fans of Amos’s more grungy, mainstream sound will lap up the new album with its muscular, electric guitars on tracks such as her first single ‘Big Wheel’. She particularly wants to reach young women with this record. “I’m trying to get their hips moving,” she says. “I’m trying to get them out of loathing their bodies.”

    On some of the songs, Amos seems angrier than she has for some time, especially compared with the stripped-back, hushed melodies of her last album, The Beekeeper. On the opening track ‘Yo George’, in the guise of Isabel she wails, “Is this just the Madness of King George/ Yo George/Well you have the whole Nation? On all fours”. Singing in other women’s tongues seems to have allowed her to exorcise some demons.

    Now that she is in her 40s, Amos is feeling at her best. “I’m waking up feeling sexy, which has never happened before,” she says. “My 30s were tough because at that stage in your career you’re no longer the ingenue. There are others coming up and the little green monster comes out. You can’t be a classic car in your 30s.”

    Soon she will board a train home to Cornwall, “a place that paranoia has a hard time reaching. There’s nowhere like it in the world.” She seems blissfully happy with “Husband” and says that her daughter will accompany them on her upcoming tour. Amos is not so thrilled, however, that her daughter has begun to show an interest in music.

    “Maybe this sounds really hypocritical and selfish but when you can have music just for yourself it’s the most wonderful love affair and it will never let you down,” she says. “But when it becomes an empire you have to work really hard not to lose that love.” For a moment Amos seems genuinely downcast at the prospect of continuing to fight a battle she has been locked in for years. “There have been some dark days when I just thought that this was it. The fighting could get so ugly and it just didn’t seem worth it.” Then she brightens. “I would speak to my mother and she would say, ‘Come on Tori, where’s your tomahawk?’”

    American Doll Posse is released on May 1. Tori Amos plays T in the Park in July.