Self-Portrait: Tori Amos | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Self-Portrait: Tori Amos

Serious Sandwiches

Sep 07, 2017 Issue #61 - Grizzly Bear Photography by Tori Amos Bookmark and Share

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We asked Tori Amos to take a self-portrait. We also asked her to write a list of personal thingsinteresting facts that fans may perhaps not know about her.

The singer/songwriter/pianist/composer grew up in Maryland, the daughter of a Methodist minister, and was something of a child prodigy, taking to music at an early age. By age three she was composing her own songs on the piano and at only five she became the youngest person to be admitted to the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University, which she attended until she was 11. At age 21 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music after being signed by Atlantic Records. While her initial synth-pop band Y Kant Tori Read (jokingly named because Amos has trouble sight reading music) didn’t take off, after some time as a backup vocalist her debut solo album, 1992’s Little Earthquakes, quickly garnered her a devoted fanbase, thanks in part to singles “Silent All These Years,” “China,” “Winter,” and “Crucify.” Mainstream success continued with 1993’s Under the Pink and 1996’s Boys for Pele. Over the years she’s written her autobiography, co-wrote a musical based on the Scottish fairy tale The Light Princess, and had her songs adapted into the graphic novel collection Comic Book Tattoo. Now Amos is releasing her 15th studio album, Native Invader, via Decca Records. It’s an album that in part looks at nature, as well as humanity’s destruction of the environment.

Read on as Amos talks about her childhood sports obsession, her lack of direction, the important craft of sandwich making, the beach where she made one of her iconic videos, and more.

1. Around about the age of between 9 and 11 years old, I became obsessed with college basketball. Although born in North Carolina and all my mom’s family being Tar Heels, my loyalty was to the Terps (Maryland Terrapins). Extensive notes were kept on the games and the decisions the coaches made, particularly decisions my 9-year-old self questioned. After writing a strongly worded letter to Lefty Driesell, coach of the Terps, suggesting he quit, my mother sat me down and suggested that perhaps this obsession for the Terps to win was having a destructive impact on my mood.

2. The grade I would be given for “Sense of Direction” would, well, be a fail. When playing a show in Germany on my first world tour, at the end of the show before the encores, I walked off the stage. Usually, this is a chance to towel off, grab a quick sip of water, lippy up, and probably tell the crew you are changing the set list. On this particular occasion however, I had opened the red velvet curtains only to walk into a brick wall. Mortified, and realizing this would change the energy of the show, I pulled the curtains closed hoping my red shoes would blend into the red curtain and counted to 50. This relied on the crew using telepathy and not blowing my cover.

3. Sandwich making is serious stuff. Toasted is a must. Firstly, the quality of ingredients changes the outcome. Then, of course, the combinations of flavors with which type of bread can make all the difference. It’s no use pushing a condiment on someone that is not keen. So knowing a person’s tastes and having options means that I might be making several different types of sandwiches, but as long as I see those happy faces it’s all worth it.

4. Books are a passion of Tash, my daughter and mine. She’s a member of OwlCrate and honestly when it comes in the post I am as excited to see what is in the box as she is. One of our favorite things to do is find a good book store in whatever city we are. We can spend hours in a book department, hours.

5. The video where “China” was made in 1992 was a place called Millook, not far from Bude, North Cornwall [in England]. Little did I know that I would marry someone who would go to Bude on holiday as a young lad for many years. We did not meet until a couple of years after the video was made. Many years later, when he showed me the place where he wanted the recording studio to be, we took a drive and ended up at this little beach. Déjà vu grabbed me by the hand as I realized I had been here several years before making “China” and he explained to me he would walk on this very beach as a young boy on holiday.

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Summer 2017 Issue (July/August/September 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

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