Tori Amos on mental health: “I get out of certain situations by writing myself out of hell”

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The ‘Cornflake Girl’ icon explains to Granthshala how pandemic, Cornwall, self-worth and brave new voices shaped her upcoming 16th album ‘Ocean to Ocean’.

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Tori Amos has spoken Granthshala About how creating the new album ‘Ocean to Ocean’ helped him “write the hell out of himself” about the mental health issues caused by the pandemic.

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Announced earlier today (September 20), Amos’ 16th album ‘Ocean to Ocean’ is a record that helped the classically trained artist break out of a “mentally difficult place”. The ‘cornflake girl’ icon hidden in Cornwall during the UK’s third COVID lockdown is, it was written, inspired by a fierce and at times imaginative spirit. “I swam off the Cornish coast of England to New York state, even for just a day,” she sings on ‘Swim to New York State’ for a long time.

talking to GranthshalaIn , Amos described the sense of loss she felt when the pandemic thwarted her ability to perform live, and revealed how Rock Bottom eventually fueled some of her most provocative songwriting.


Hello Tori. When did you start writing this album?

tori amos: “I was writing a very different album that was supposed to be out before the US election last year. Because of the pandemic, I had to plan not one North American tour, but two – and that’s never happened in my career. Then this The third lockdown came in January and it became clear to me that the songs I was writing before the election were no longer resonating with me. So I threw them all out and started all over again. songs were [before] I didn’t have the necessary energy at that time to get out of my despair. The third lockdown really took me to a tough place mentally. “

Was writing this song therapeutic for you?

“Yes. In my life, I’ve found the only way to get myself out of some kind of mental health [issue] have to write myself out of it – whether it be with [my 1992 debut album] ‘Small earthquakes’ or [2002’s] ‘Scarlet Walk’. When I’m in that place, I can’t get out of it. I have to find tools or sound elixir to get out of that place. Here’s a line from a song I put in 2005 [‘Barons of Suburbia’] that goes “I’m drinking a potion to counter your poison,“And that’s exactly what happens. I find myself writing the hell out of certain situations.”

Did something in particular about the third lockdown put you in this difficult position mentally?

“No, I think maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. For those of us who live to play live music, it’s our lifeblood. It’s not a job—it’s a privilege. It’s so far.” It’s the longest time I went without playing live and I think it had something to do with it. But I wasn’t analyzing all the myriad situations that were going on [at the time] because I had [my husband and daughter] Mark and Tash around and I didn’t want to be destructive. But at first I didn’t have the energy to create.”

tori amos
Tori Amos. credit: Santiago Felipe / Getty Images.

So how did you find a way out of it?

“I had to sit down with myself and accept where I was. I started reading all kinds of things – written before the pandemic, about people traveling in nature, about people with great travel experience All things – and that was the beginning. And then the songs started coming in because I started inventing where I was. I’m not someone who’s dealt with depression in my life: not that I know anyway It’s not part of my story.”

The album has a really interesting range of electronic sounds as well as your signature piano. At what point did you realize what the songs wanted in terms of production?


“Well, they wanted it from the beginning. ‘Metal Water Wood’ is the first song I wrote for the record. Once that song came out, it was like, ‘Okay, this is the palette we’re with. going to work and I have to be ready to be open’. It was as if the song was teaching me as one of the lyrics of the song says: “he knew me as fire“And I’ve worked with fire a lot in my life—whether it’s [the line] “just say yes, you little arsonist” From [my 1998 album] ‘From Choirgirl Hotel’. I’m always burning something or the other and I feel like there’s a side to me that’s the covert arsonist. When I say so, I’m talking emotionally, not about physically destroying anything.

“Devil’s Bane” sounds like a song only Tori Amos could write. where did it come from?

“I am the daughter of a minister so this kind of imagination is in my DNA. I understand how someone can come under their control with someone charismatic, not necessarily religious. During this past 18 months, someone was [I knew] Those who were made to think that they are not the wonderful people they are. And [for me] It turned itself into a story about how you can almost lose yourself and your self-worth if you need someone’s validation.

“It took a lot of courage to walk away from that situation, and not everyone is willing to do that, but this person had the courage. I would say we’ve all been there at some point. I couldn’t write about it If I hadn’t experienced it myself. I’m intoxicated by that devil’s curse, my friend, so I figured it out. And by then, I had some energy again and my pencil was sharpening, so the song would come. Gaya.”

Did it take a while to write a song like ‘Detective’, which has playful surreal imagery and almost laughs?

“Yeah, I had to work in that direction. It’s me coming out of a really dark place and being able to deal with bad dreams knowing they’re benevolent. [I’m exploring the idea that] From Cornwall to London, as far as Aberdeen and as far as Dublin, there are creatures with good intentions on these islands trying to help and protect those who cannot sleep because of their night terrors. It was almost a week when Tash was having all these nightmares, and so I was inspired to write something that made him laugh. “

Lorde said in July that she no longer wanted to interpret his lyrics. As an artist and songwriter, can you relate?

“Yeah, well, I can understand where she’s coming from. [REM frontman] Michael Stipe was always very much coming from that place. Michael will never talk about any of his songs [in interviews]. It’s an artist’s choice and of course I get it. But sometimes I have a conversation with a reporter and it’s not explaining what a song is, but giving you a tasting menu around it, so you can understand what might have inspired or inspired the song. Is.

“I guess there are songs for people to do what they want. So last week, Mastering Once [of the album] Done, I sent these songs over with a nice bottle of tequila and realized they were going to make connections with people who were out of my hands. If people get what they’re about, that’s great. Sometimes people will come up to me and tell me that one of my songs has a meaning to them that I never thought of. But do you know what? This is valid as well.”

Tori Amos releases ‘Ocean to Ocean’ on 29 October through Decca Records, ahead of a UK and European tour in February and March.

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