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.


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

Caroline Sullivan

04, Oct, 2012 @4:54 PM