BY Matthew Breen
November 10 2009 4:30 PM ET
Are you particularly experimental when you’re recording?
the sonic side, my interest in [experimentation] has grown over the
years. I think before, when I was only a singer-songwriter, you think
of the musicians as backup surrounding you and your songs. After a
while of doing this, if you’re still passionate about making music,
maybe you think, If [the] composer is really energized by these
amazing musicians, why don’t I compose things that aren’t always just
around the piano player?
I realized that [my] records have
not centered on the piano for a while. I think that if they would have,
I wouldn’t have the career that I have. I wouldn’t have grown as a
composer. I will do a record [again] where the piano is the center, but
I needed to grow as a composer, because at a certain point my
structures started becoming repetitive. And I recognize this. So I
started to infiltrate my brain with George Martin arrangements, all the
Beatles records, and others… all kinds of records from all kinds of
times. I always thought of myself as a composer first, never a pianist.
I mean, I’m good, I’m OK. And so I didn’t just want to write piano
music, I wanted to write compositions for the musicians where Jon
[Evans, bass player] and Matt [Chamberlain, drummer] and John Philip
[flute, strings] would turn around and say “Wow.”
Sort of like an
architect with these plans to build the World Trade Center. You’re
stepping out of your safe zone when you’re not just building beautiful
houses. You say no. You build these places that have many rooms
that interconnect, and as a composer, I began to see, OK, I’ve been
building planets, then you build solar systems, and then you want to
build a galaxy. And it has to interweave with each other. That’s what a
double album is, it’s building a sonic galaxy, and if you don’t
appreciate that form, then there’s no way you can analyze what it is.
Some people will say, “Well, I don’t like novels that are longer than
200 pages.” Well then, if you’re given a 500-page novel, you shouldn’t
even read it. Because I studied the double-album form now for about,
intensely, for four years, it’s been burning in my soul. Abbey Road -- it
was one of the most important records of my life. It’s why I fought the
professors at the Peabody [Conservatory of Music, where Amos studied as
a child]. So yes, the arrangements, the production, the composition,
all of that, in a double-album form, has been my goal my whole life. To
write a double album that I can turn around and say, yeah, that’s
right. This might sound crazy, but next project that I do -- I might do
something else. I might do a different form.
Well, I can tell you off the record, but you can't write it. You promise?
Doug Morris [Universal Music Group CEO and chairman] whispers this
thing to me -- meaning behind closed doors. He says, “Tori, I’ve always
wanted you to do this.” And I said, “And how do you see it?” And he
says, “I don’t want you to do it in a way that all the other artists do
it. We have enough of those. We have ones that do it very, very
traditionally, we have ones that do an R&B read, but we want you to
think about using your background, and growing up with this music, and
doing a spin on it. A Christmas record.”
been writing like a demon on the road. I’ve been on this promotion tour
since March. I’ve been writing like a demon, but I’ve been writing it
since I was a little girl. Little girl, in church.
you were prepping for the summer tour you were also recording the
seasonal album? You had simultaneous setups, one for rehearsal and
one for recording the seasonal album in your home studio?
[We had] live rehearsal with big old tents in case it rains every day,
but you know, so rehearsals are out in this raw countryside mother
earth. You’re in the middle of -- I mean, there’s not a city for 20
minutes away. They’re tiny little villages. There are no streetlights.
You’re in the middle of farm country. There are cows and farmers
everywhere and you have all this gear -- hundreds of boxes of gear. And
all my crew guys filtrating north Cornwall to rehearse for the tour,
and we have the studio set up and we go in, so we have everything. Full
keyboard setups ready to roll. Two of 'em, two of everything.