CULTURE

Life conspiring for her to become a true musician

She’s a tormented figure and it’s conveyed by her music. Tori Amos, who turns 40 on August 22, wants to forget about her childhood years, spent with her father, a Methodist priest. This period in her life included religious pressure, sexual abuse inflicted by a family friend, and, later on, participation in a failed rock band during the 80s, when Amos was deep in depression. She prefers to remember the turnaround events, like «Little Earthquakes,» her debut album, which brought about radical change in the musician’s life. She married Mark Hawley, an English sound engineer, gave birth to a daughter, and has since divided her time between the UK and the USA. Amos is a founding member of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the USA’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. The artist, who has received nine Grammy nominations, will be in Athens to perform on July 18 at the newly introduced Fly Beeyond festival, a three-day event. Amos will share the bill with Air and James on the second night. Kathimerini caught up with her prior to her Greek appearance. What brings you to Greece, and, moreover, with Air and James? What would you have done if you didn’t like the musical match-up? I’ve wanted to play in your country for quite a while. The timing’s perfect, almost as if I’ve had to wait all these years and get to today. As for the musical match-up, I don’t like judging others. Trivial things don’t concern me. As a musician, you’re simply part of a community. If there’s a type of music or an artist I don’t like to listen to, I prefer to keep that for myself. But I’m open to listening. I’m not like those bitchy stars who have an opinion about everything. I don’t laugh when I see somebody take a tumble. I get upset when a colleague decides to abandon the ring. Are you commenting on the basis of experience? I’ve been performing since the age of 13… I know very well what to expect and what can make a show good or bad. The worst thing of all? When the audience doesn’t take off or get carried away by the notes. The worst thing for me is when I feel that a member of the audience is in danger. And lots of controversial festivals take place every year. It’s the moment when a black cloud covers everything. What I’m interested in when I’m up there on stage is to make the audience feel safe. After all, my concerts deal with feeling. I don’t aim to make listeners express their power or break out in a violent way. Music can carry you away. But I don’t tolerate violence. If needed, I’ll remove the bastard myself. You’ve got to be alert at all times. Because you’re on the stage to do your work. You want to make them feel safe, especially the women. You work hard. From when you were born, almost. From the age of 4 you were memorizing Mozart scores. Do you consider yourself a child prodigy? No, no, not at all. I’ve played piano since I was two-and-a-half. It’s one of those things that just happens, and you can’t explain it. You can’t escape from what you were born with. I was born with a talent for music, as cliched as that may sound. And I don’t want to burn it or throw it away. I want to develop it and may it take me wherever. What were the things you sacrificed as a child? Music was my life from a very early age, whether I liked it or not. I didn’t go to the Caribbean with my friends when I was 18. I worked six days a week and played at weddings and funerals. My father dragged me along wherever he went. He paid me less money than what we would have paid a stranger, but 20 dollars at the time – and we’re talking about 1973 -was a lot of money. But I’m not complaining. My entire life conspired to make me a musician. I don’t know how to do anything else. I didn’t live the childhood years being experienced by Natasha, my daughter. She has lots of friends. I had just one. I have one single gift. Nothing else. I can’t cook or spoil husbands. I’m a catastrophe there. But she knows how to do so many things. She can play games on the computer, paint, sing, surf… Do you have any regrets? I play music for everybody. What else could I ask for as a musician? I write music and practice every day. It’s like breathing. If I get lazy, I know what the consequences will be. My daughter often says to me, «Poor mother, you never played like the other children did,» and I don’t get upset because I play with her now rather than just sit around like other mothers. I’m now learning how to play. And it’s fun. To what extent is your music autobiographical? I can’t write if I haven’t experienced something. The character of a heroine in a song can be kind of different in real life, but few people realize this. Even my friends miss the meaning. I’m glad about this because I frequently write about them and they think that I’m making music about my own life. What songs do you sing to your daughter? There are two songs: «Gold Dust» and «Ribbons Undone.» When my life’s ended and she’s a mother or grandmother, I want these songs to live on eternally. From generation to generation. It’s the moment when she’ll know that she’s not alone. Fly Beeyond Festival, Olympic Stadium’s Agora. Tuesday, July 17: Avril Lavigne, the Rasmus; Wednesday, July 18: James, Air, Tori Amos; Thursday, July 19: Pink, Sugababes.