Tori Amos: 'Once the wig was on, I allowed the character to take over. I think my husband quite liked it'

The singer on trying not to embarrass her teenage daughter, dressing up for virtual book signings – and sending her father a picture of the 90s album cover where she breastfeeds a piglet

The concept of my [2007] album American Doll Posse was to personify five archetypes of Greek mythology. This is the outfit I wore as SanaTORIum – Santa for short. She was embodying Aphrodite, which I found the most challenging of all five. My stylist Karen Binns and I worked through the concept that each woman has different percentages of these archetypes living in them. Some identify more with HisTORIcal, for instance, who was [embodying] Artemis, or CliTORIdes, being Persephone. This look was the hardest for me because, as a person, I just don’t hold this energy as well as some of the others. It was really important that the message was correct and that there was a groundedness to it.

It was a challenge to photograph five women in the time we would usually have to shoot one, and each character had her own rack of clothes. Looking at this black dress, I was really shying away from it. Unless I’m performing, I would never wear something like this, even in a club, but I had met the designer, Hussein Chalayan, and felt really safe with him. He is a very spiritual being, and I felt he was the right one to help me do this. Once the wig was on and the makeup was adjusted, I started to allow the character to slip in and take over. I think my husband quite liked it.

When I became a mother in 2000, it changed everything for me. I started really thinking very deeply about my image, [including] some of the things that I had done before, like breastfeeding a pig on [the artwork for 1996 album] Boys for Pele – although that was also my Christmas card to my reverend father. It was a statement about accepting the non-kosher back to the Christian fold, instead of Christians judging people so harshly.

My personal style is … nothing that would make my teenage daughter uncomfortable. That is always on my mind. I am more conservative when I’m in my songwriter self than when I’m out performing. I have a home in Cornwall, but I have part of my life in America because my family is there. When I go to Florida, where my dad still lives, I’m pushing more of a London look than the Floridians. During the lockdown, I have been doing virtual book signings – but I’m terrible at doing my own hair so I’ve decided to just wig up, like the girls from American Doll Posse.

Contributor

As told to Leah Harper

The GuardianTramp

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Tori Amos | Pop review

Hammersmith Apollo, London
An introspective affair, wholly focused on the enigmatic woman and her piano, writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

15, Sep, 2009 @11:57 AM

Tori Amos – review
In this celebration of her career, Amos tunnelled into each song with the intensity of someone singing it for the first time, writes Caroline Sullivan

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04, Oct, 2012 @4:54 PM