“I can’t stop it,” an ebullient Tori Amos whispers over a phone line somewhere on the outskirts of the road. “The muse walks in and grabs me by the throat, and demands, ‘Pay attention!’—it could be in the middle of a movie or a nice evening with the husband, where I might be getting somewhere.” Snickering playfully, she hesitates, exhales ardently, and simply confides, “Creation is in control.”
Amos, who once told the Chicago Tribune that her life was overrun by these “beings,” which she dubbed her songs, that come “in and out like fragments” is never one to ignore their meaning, birthing, and eventual nurturing unto bold statements that liberate her from an entertainment industry usurped by focus-grouped robotics.
“Creation is always there,” she continues, as if desperate to get the word out. “It’s always there for any of us that just want to surrender to it. If you can admit that it’s just not you who’s doing the creating, then it’s there for us all the time.”
Embarking on her first world tour as an independent artist, (she signed a joint venture with Universal Republic Records late last year) with family in tow, (aforementioned husband, Mark, and daughter, Natashya) Amos, who turns 46 this August, has released her 10th studio record, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, a tour de force of disparate musical styles furiously expressing sinister notions of sexual emancipation and spiritual fisticuffs. The tour, the artist blissfully admits is something between Lounge Lizard and Fire & Brimstone, swings through the NY/NJ area this week with an edge some may expect from the enigmatic pianist cum myth-buster, but this time with perhaps something decidedly deeper.
The show is a reflection of Amos’ newfound escape from the corporate music industry with healthy backslaps at all things oppressive, as is the balls-out theme broached in her newest razor sharp collection of songs and throughout our candid discussion.
Abnormally Attracted To Sin is replete with strong mythic metaphors; this idea of defining evil or specifically iniquity, which I know has informed your past work—but could you talk about the subjective defining of Sin as a theme in these new songs?
Well, once I realized, once I really thought about how clever the early fathers of the Christian church had been, because as I’ve traveled the one thing that comes up all the time with women is the segregation of the sexual and spiritual. Women can step into these different energies, but rarely are they together, and in order to get off or get excited and feel sexy, a lot of them have to step into the cliché of porno, instead of being in control and allowing the moment to take over them. Women will say, ‘Well, I’m liberated, I can do whatever I want with my body,’ but in order to get off a lot of them have to pervert what could be a spiritual man. What’s sexier than touching your twin flame?
But it’s kind of been put in a holy space, so that women turn to what I would say is perversion and negativity in order to get off. And I think that this is all connected to sin, and the definition that was programmed and passed down by the early church fathers. So you couldn’t win; if you step into the bad girl you’re never going to achieve transformation, just orgasm. And if you’re spiritual, you’re not going to get transformation either, because you’re disconnected from the body.
I’m reminded of an interview you did a few years ago on the subject of the subjugation of women in the early church while I was researching a book on the historical Jesus. I was in Israel visiting the town of Magdala, which was the town of the New Testament’s Mary of Magdala, later translated as Mary Magdalene, often seen as a woman of ill repute and wrongly depicted in church parlance as a prostitute. In actuality, she was a mainstay in the early Christian movement, or the Jesus Movement, which I call it in the book, and conspicuous in its absence is not one church or plaque or remembrance in the birth town of this Mary Magdalene. This, I think, speaks to that subjugation of women, not only spiritually and sexually, but also literally and historically.
Yes, and later once the movement was taken over by what became the Catholic Church, then, as you well know, Jesus’ message was merely a jumping off point for their own message. And their message became shame, that the body wasn’t holy, it was dirty. The truth is I always felt Mary Magdalene was telling us about integration and that she was a prophet. And if you and I go back to the great goddess culture of these women, they were whole. A lot of these women from ancient Egypt…
The symbol of Isis?
Yeah, they were complete beings. They weren’t just only sexual or only spiritual. Women haven’t had a template. It’s not as if we’ve been taught, in the West particularly, throughout the Christian world, how to be whole and complete women. You’re taught to pick different aspects of this. And this is why so many respected women go out and have these affairs and start dancing on the street or on a poll (laughs), because they haven’t been able to figure out how to liberate the passionate self. And this is why the title of the record is so important, because it really asks you to define; ‘What are you attracted to?’ And once you start knowing what you’re attracted to, until you really can look at what it is, and just talking to women, some of them are appalled and shocked at what they’re attracted to. Some of them have been attracted to men that don’t respect them at all. My God! So then, don’t you see? You have to go into your programming and you really have to reconstruct your main core outward.