Tori Amos brings spellbinding songs and captivating commentary into The Current studio

Tori Amos
Tori Amos performing live in The Current studio. (MPR / Nate Ryan)
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Tori Amos performs in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • Tori Amos performs in The Current studio (full session + interview) 28:29
  • Tori Amos - Baker Baker (Live on The Current) 03:27
  • Tori Amos - Reindeer King (Live on The Current) 06:11
  • Tori Amos - Breakaway (Live on The Current) 04:47

When Tori Amos first began writing her latest album, Native Invader, she originally was going to explore her family roots. But then events in the wider world and in her personal life began to inform her feelings and therefore her music. "It became a sonic tsunami, really," Amos says. "The songs came hurtling at me very quickly."

Tori Amos stopped at The Current to record a session with Brian Oake and Jill Riley just as Amos's North American tour was beginning with a show at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium in St. Paul.

During the session, Tori Amos provided spellbinding songs and captivating commentary in her conversation with Oake and Riley.

Interview Highlights

On why she chose to perform 'Baker Baker' (off her 1994 album, Under the Pink) when she visited The Current:

"The funny thing is when I got in the car, Izzy, who was driving us, who's been driving me when I've been coming to town for years, … he had these beautiful caramel rolls from Highland Café in St. Paul. That's where 'Baker Baker' came from."

On the state of the music industry in 1994 compared to now:

"There were a lot of exciting bands and artists at the time that were being nurtured by the labels. There was sort of a break in the commercial push; that's always going to be there, but if you study the landscape of that time, there was a real burst of writing from again, like I said, bands and solo artists. That was an exciting time to be making music and playing music. I guess it wasn't such a push for the commercial writers being pushed on the artists; I'm not having a go at the commercial artists but a lot of times, the labels, I think, are nurturing entertainers who look very good — and they do — and they dance well, and they're entertainers. And that is a skill set. But they're not necessarily writers. And so, then they pull in the writers to write the songs that set the pop industry where it is. So you don't have as many singer-songwriters or singer-songwriting bands getting signed as I feel there were when that Seattle movement was happening in 1994."

"The labels don't know there's a need for it [now]. So when there's a demand from the public when they say, 'OK, we love our pop artists, but we need a little meat on our bones for content,' then the labels might start nurturing that."

On how the songs that became the album Native Invader took shape:

"I went to the Smoky Mountains to trace my mother's father's people. They were part Eastern Cherokee Nation and part European immigrant. And so, yes, there are flavors of that on the record, but it really changed once I was in Florida for the election. Many, many weeks after I was there, and a lot was going on, of course — people falling out with each other, friends falling out, as we all know that story — but that story started to influence the record. And then my mother had a stroke, so she was under attack, and the correlation was that Lady Liberty seemed to be under attack, and therefore, the record started to — it became a sonic tsunami, really. The songs came hurtling at me very quickly."

On what she draws from Carl Sagan and Frank Zappa:

"With all the painful discussion and how words have been used with the idea of immigration, when you think about all our European ancestors who were immigrants, very recently, when you look at the history of Europe and the history of the world, and so hearing Carl Sagan say, 'We're all made of star stuff' really was a moment that stopped me in my tracks and completely made sense. A human way of looking at where we're all really from. And it was a beautiful thought because it made me realize that the separation and segregation of humans from each other, that's not where he was. And so, he's such a way-shower, and boy oh boy, wouldn't it be great if he were here? And if Frank Zappa were here and they could do something together? I heard Frank Zappa speaking, and they reminded me very much of each other as far as consciousness and concerns. They were being expressed differently, but I was first drawn into Zappa because of the interviews. … some of his genius [music] work is very complex for me to take in. So I'm having to really sit with it and learn it because he was such a masterful musician."

On the effect of the #metoo social-media campaign:

"RAINN, the organization of Rape Abuse and Incent National Network, told us that the level of calling has been the most that it has had in a very long time, and so I think it's having a huge impact across the board in all areas of work. Men are talking about this as well; some men have also been attacked at work and sometimes it's subtle and in such a way that they believe no one will believe them also. So I think it's about joining forces and making sure we make a change. This is a watershed moment, if we want it to be. It could somehow lose steam in about nine months' time, or it could just be, 'You know what? We need to put protocols in place.' And we'll have some pervs — there are always going to be pervs, men and women, that will be powerful and in powerful positions — but there will be consequences if they act on that inappropriate predatorial behavior. And that's what we have to put in place are the protocols. You can't change what's in someone's mind, but what you can put in place is there are consequences if someone acts on those."

Editor's note: Tori Amos encourages anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault or sexual harrassment to contact RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE or by visiting www.rainn.org.

Use the audio player above to listen to the complete in-studio session with Tori Amos.

Songs Performed


"Baker Baker"
"Reindeer King"
"Breakaway"
The first song is from Tori Amos's 1994 album, Under the Pink, avaialbe on Atlantic Records; the second and third songs are from Amos's 2017 album, Native Invader, released on Decca Records.

Hosted by Brian Oake and Jill Riley
Produced by Anna Reed
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Marcel van Limbeek
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Resources


Tori Amos - offiical site

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  • Tori Amos and Jill Riley
    Tori Amos and Jill Riley in The Current studio. (Anna Reed | MPR)

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