Exclusive 1998 Interview
from the MUEN VAULT
(MUEN) SO, WHY THE NAME TORI?
(Tori Amos) I was at a bar with one of my girlfriends and we were discussing names, when her boyfriend suddenly said that I looked like a 'Tori' (a pine tree native to the West Coast). I instantly agreed and so from that moment on I've been known as Tori, except to my parents, who still know me as Myra Ellen.
(MUEN) WHY THE NEED TO DISPOSE OF MYRA?
(Tori Amos) Because it's awful!! There's no flow to it at all.
(MUEN) TELL US ABOUT YOUR EARLY EXPERIENCES AT THE PEABODY CONSERVATORY IN BALTIMORE.
(Tori Amos) I was never meant to be a concert pianist. My gift was composing music and they'd have a completely different way of thinking. I just didn't want to do what was expected of me. I always ended up disagreeing with all the people who told me to play things a certain way. I always thought that my reasoning was clear and that I always made more sense than they did. They would say that it was because that was the way it had been played since the beginning and that's the way he'd have wanted it to be played. At that point there's no room for experimentation for an artist to develop themselves, so I just figured that this was making me sick!
(MUEN) SO WHERE DO THE NUNS FIT IN?
(Tori Amos) At the age of eleven I was studying the piano under a Catholic nun who was half blind and deaf and would always fall asleep during the lessons! Then, one day my father asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him that I wanted to play piano, but my way. So, we immediately left the house and he took me down to Georgetown, DC, where he got me a job playing the piano in a gay bar! It was my first musical workshop experience and I toured all the clubs in the circuit and gained my experience that way.
(MUEN) YOUR SONGS SOUND SO PERSONAL SOMETIMES.
(Tori Amos) My songs have always been reflective of what is going on in my life at a particular time. A lot of changes have taken place in the last few years: lovers, collaborators and close friends, but I had to be on my knees before I could be absolutely honest - before I could find my own fire. I can only write from my own experiences and things slip in from all sorts of places, but I have to feel it first.
(MUEN) HOW DO YOU REACT TO ALL THE BAD PRESS?
(Tori Amos) I don't see myself as weird, just honest. That's the way I am. I find truth endlessly interesting, but some things can be very scathing. So when they're hateful I go 'Wait a minute, did I not finish a blow-job for that guy?' or 'Did I leave my retainer on it?' Just what did I do to hurt him, 'cause sometimes it's so personal. It's not my ability. I mean, I know sometimes my shows aren't as strong one night as another, but I know what my ability is. I mean to be honest with you, I was playing when most of these guys were still peeing in their beds.
(MUEN) WHAT'S THIS ABOUT AN INSPIRATIONAL TROLL THAT LIVES IN YOU?
(Tori Amos) It shows some days and doesn't others, especially as a songwriter. You can't will it to you, although you'd like to think you can. A lot of my inspirations come in dribbles, so I might just get a portion of a song that I have to store in my head. Sometimes it doesn't come back for months!
Interview by Russell A. Trunk