Tori Amos on ‘secret songs’ and SA

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to toriamos1.jpg . Tori Amos

Tori Amos really surprised me with this statement when I phoned her in England: “It’s good to hear your voice.”

Um, this was from an artist who was voted by Rolling Stone as one of the best live performers of all time. Unsure as to why she said it (it was a colleague who interviewed her ahead of her last SA tour) and thinking that perhaps she had me confused with someone else, I murmured a bashful “thank you” and dived straight into the interview.

She will be performing in Joburg and Cape Town as part of her extensive world tour which will also include Dublin, Moscow, Warsaw and Amsterdam. After performing in South Africa she will tour major cities across the US. The tour is in support of her 14th studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines. The album is set for release locally on May 12.

“I am currently in Cornwall, recording the album,” she answered.

“It’s the first record I have done in a few years without an orchestra. I have written the songs over a few years and explored different styles of music. For the past few years I have worked with masses of people.

“With this album I wrote the songs in secret. It’s not a diary of my life, as that wouldn’t make sense. It’s sort of snapshots of my life.”

She says she is inspired by an old drawing of a repentant Magdalena: “She was looking up at the Virgin Mary and I just fell in love with it. Each song is a story with its own sound. They are not necessarily connected. The subject matter ranges, as it took a long time to write this record. I learnt a lot from this project and enjoyed the freedom, which is great.

“I had to unzip my skin and sometimes it hurt me. Then I would record another and it became okay again. I write a lot on the road and have travelled a lot over a few years.”

This is the second time she will be performing in South Africa, so what was it like before?

“I enjoyed it. When I was a little girl the civil rights movement happened. My father marched with Martin Luther King. I remember as a child a lot of creativity happened after that, particularly with film. There seems to be an opportunity for South Africans to collaborate. There is a ripeness for a lot of creativity.”

And finally, with the new tour, what can fans expect?

“I approach gigs by who is in the audience. We are all in your living room. The show changes every night and because I am playing alone I can make those changes.”

• Tori Amos plays Montecasino’s Teatro on June 26 and 27. She then moves to Cape Town International Convention Centre on June 29 and 30. Book at Computicket.

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