Sunday July 8, 2012 10:10
Super Links Plus: Fiona Apple Edition
Fiona Apple Tells V That She Reached A Point Where She ‘Could Let Myself Die, That Slow Suicide’ via MTV Newsroom (06/26/12)
I think I did a really smart thing a few months ago. I’m one of those people, one of the many, that has a drink before every show. I just don’t know any different. And I really needed to learn how to not do that. … I thought that having a drink was what took the edge off or made me feel more confident, less self-conscious or whatever. But it turns out to be the other way around. And now I don’t immediately react to myself or judge things that are going on. It doesn’t even occur to me anymore. I think I’ve grown up in that way. I became less inhibited. I don’t care as much about being judged.
About her label Epic hounding her for new material over the last 7 years:
No, they don’t care, because they don’t look at me as someone who’s gonna make a lot of money. So they just forget about me.
Fiona Apple: The Billboard Cover Story (June 18, 2012)-
“Apple rarely leaves her house. The 34-year-old singer/songwriter has turned into a serious homebody since moving to Los Angeles in 2001-housework, as we’ll discuss, is one reason she hasn’t made a record in seven years-and her stay-at-home tendencies have only intensified in recent years.”
“Apple wants to “wait until she’s in the other world to move.” She worries about isolating herself too much, but she also knows that it works for her.”
“It’s the same when I’m on tour, actually,” Apple says. “During the day, I never go out and do anything fun. I stay in the hotel room and I just stay really quiet so then I’m in the mood for being in front of a lot of people a little bit more.”
“Fortunately, though, I also tend to go away during the songs.”
“Seven years wasn’t intentional. It’s just because I’ll finish something and then two years will go by where I don’t touch the piano. I might think of a song and then be like, “I don’t care if I forget it. I don’t want to do that shit. I’m not writing a song.”
“There are many different things I get obsessed with and go around and take pictures of. I’m pretty good, I think, and I enjoy it. And while I’m doing that I’ll also be studying and reading about whatever I’m taking pictures of. I make up courses for myself to take.”
“I like writing words, but music is annoying as hell because there’s always a point in time when I want to kill a song. I know that it’s a good song and stick with it, because if I’ve made any effort on something, then it’s worth it. I don’t have a bunch of songs lying around that I don’t use.”
A New Album And Life For Fiona Apple from Elle (June 7, 2012)-
Apple, who lives in California, has been holed up in her hotel room for a week with the flu. She came down with it at the end of a seven-stop mini tour of intimate venues that met with rave reviews and lit up the Internet. She says her New York City support system has taken good care of her, especially her ex-boyfriend, the magician David Blaine, who plied her with lots of healthy soups and juices.
“I’m getting calls from people who I called when I had a fever and was talking in accents,” she says, rolling her eyes at herself. “I’m not the type of person who drunk-dials. I must’ve been crazy.”
The new album marks a striking departure from the large-ensemble, often orchestral arrangements that dominated Apple’s previous albums. She and Drayton agreed to stay unplugged for as long as they could in the recording process. The resulting stark piano ballads with intricate melodies, changing time signatures, and a bluesy or jazzy, even Tom Waits–like feel make an elegant backdrop for Apple’s passionate and committed vocals, which range from cabaret-style formality to what almost sounds like the artist talking to herself. Dodging artfully around each tune are Drayton’s fluttery drumming, nimble-fingered percussion work, and plenty of found sounds of mostly indeterminate origin (one rhythm track is a recording of the two dancing on a truck).
“Fiona’s growing and taking bigger chances, an experience she needed to go through,” says Drayton. “I believe she’s not really aware of the size of her musical gift, which often makes me wonder where she finds her inspiration. Amongst all there is out there these days, we’re not challenged all that much. Fiona does not compromise how she feels, and why should she?”
There are far fewer portions of Angry Young Woman and finger-pointing at Apple’s past lovers…on this album than in her earlier work; more songs are about her looking inward and figuring out what makes her tick. “It used to be that everyone else was wrong and I was right,” she says. “Maybe that’s growing up or something, because I absolutely don’t think everyone was so bad to me as I used to think.”
In the loping piano ballad “Left Alone,” she insistently interrogates herself, “How can I ask anyone to love me when all I do is beg to be left alone?”
But it seems that she has learned to appreciate her idiosyncrasies, though she says she’s still on medication to make her day-to-day life run more smoothly.
“I had really bad obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Apple recalls. “At its worst, I was compelled to leave my house at three o’clock in the morning and go out in the alley because I just knew that the paper-towel roll I threw in the recycling bin was uncomfortable, like it was lying the wrong way, and I would be down in the garbage.” She grew increasingly frustrated at wasting valuable time when she could be writing songs, and after the last time she rifled through the trash she wrote a reminder to herself on her vintage 1930s chalkboard: “Don’t waste your crazy!”
Lately, Apple prefers to spend her days alone at home in Venice Beach, mainly staying indoors, opting to walk her dog, Janet, either before sunrise or after sunset. “I have no social life or anything like that,” she says. “I used to be really ashamed of it, but now I can just freely say that I don’t ever go anywhere or have people over.”
The one exception is Apple’s visits to Largo, the L.A. nightclub where she spends time with musicians she’s known for years, though even those excursions can bring on social anxiety. “I still get psychosomatically ill going to Largo, to see my friends, getting in the car,” she says, “and my brother will take so fucking long—because my brother has to drive me everywhere—and I’ll start freaking out, and it won’t stop until I’m actually there.”
Apple, who’s thinking about moving back to New York City, says she’s newly single and content with it; she doesn’t see herself ever marrying or having children.
Fiona Apple’s Return: Idle No More from Spin (May 31 2012)-
She’s told me she lives in Los Angeles, but she doesn’t leave the house. Apple is 34 years old and doesn’t have a driver’s license. “I’m noticing now that I’m not feeling shame saying this,” she says. “Whereas before I probably would’ve, like, lied a little bit about it and been like, ‘Yeah, you know, I see friends sometimes.’ But I really don’t.”
(She does, however, seem comfortable enough around civilians, judging from a scene I witness right before the two of us sit down: Apple rushing up to a deeply perplexed man in a suit and enthusiastically introducing herself, mistaking him for me.)
And now she’s telling me about her first psychiatrist, back when she was a kid…And Apple was furious, even then, about the things other people would write about her, because it was as if the doctors “didn’t even see me — like, they got my hair color wrong even.”
…it’s 2012, and Fiona Apple now has been doing this, trying to explain herself to strangers, for nearly 17 years. She’s been a public figure for half her natural life. And she is still impossibly bad at it.
We talk for a little while about this, the idea that a person in her position might choose to hold back as many details of her personal life as she could. That she spent the first five years of her career speaking her mind in public and being criticized for it. That many people who have sold far fewer records than she has might have figured out ways to be savvy and self-protecting around people who don’t necessarily have their best interests at heart.
“How would I be more savvy right now?” she asks. She’s genuinely perplexed.
…What do you do, except answer the questions honestly? What’s the point if you’re not going to? What’s the point of any of this?”
All the things that would be embarrassing or something, I’m fine with it. I have no shame about any of that stuff. And it delights me to look at that, to be like, ‘Look, you thought that was the end of the world.” And it’s not, it wasn’t, it really wasn’t, so much so that I have not a bit of cringe in me about these things.”
“I sometimes think that I must time-travel and I don’t remember it,” …I can’t remember writing any of the songs that I’ve written. I don’t know what the hell I do with myself…I can’t tell you what I did today. I can’t tell you what I did for seven years. I can’t tell you. It happens so seamlessly — I’m just floating along and seven years go by.”
According to Apple, the concept behind the title The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do is hard to explain but has to do with the idea of “being still in the middle of everything else but being able to feel everything.” The idler wheel is the gear that does no work, drives no shafts. “It doesn’t look like it’s doing anything, but I feel like it’s connected to everything,” she says. It’s about how she feels inside the machine of her own life and career. It’s about how she marks time.
She read about whipping cords, which are used to bind and repair frayed ropes, in “this book about boating that was at my last boyfriend’s house.” The idea is less about avoiding mistakes than learning how to cope with them. “You’re gonna get punched and blown around,” she says. She looks over my shoulder into the empty restaurant, tries to figure out how to express what she wants to express. “What’s valuable is to know how to make something out of that.”
She says she hated working on Tidal. She spent those sessions doing crosswords under the piano in the Sony building in Manhattan. “I felt ridiculous being in a studio with real musicians, and I felt like everybody hated me. Everybody did hate me.”
The ‘Extraordinary’ Truth from Entertainment Weekly (09/30/05)-
“She took walks, she read plays, and she watched movies. But mostly Apple just sat in silence out on her lawn. ”You can call it a very long-drawn-out day-to-day meditation,” she says. ”I went through a period where I had a razor blade and was carving things out of wood. I would just do that all day, sitting there and thinking.”
Girl Trouble from Spin (November 1997)- (I transcribed it, it’s a photocopy)
Suddenly she walks up and says “Are people ever mean to you?”
She later tells me that she likes to act all freaky and possessed around reporters so they won’t ask the same dumb questions, like “How does such a big voice come out of such a tiny girl?” and “I heard you were raped, what was that like?”
Fiona Apple is a rock star, and before she has fully become a person, she has become a persona. It’s taking her time to decide which part of her is the image, and which is real.
…Apple started psychotherapy when she was 12…
…she wrote the lyrics for Never Is a Promise when she was 15…
(on Criminal) “I decided if I was going to be exploited, then I would do the exploiting myself.”
(was dating magician David Blaine)-”David and I are both completely fucked-up”…”We’re the most fucked-up people I know.”
“…it’s not about a ‘a place you go.” Making music, I mean. It’s about a place you get out of. I’m underwater most of the time, and music is like a tube to the surface that I can breathe through. It’s my air hole up to the world. If I didn’t have the music I’d be under water, dead.”
Fiona Apple was raised Fiona Maggart-Apple is from her grandmother, her dad’s mom.
When she was a little girl at St. Hilda’s School, she went through a phase where her sister Amber was teh Queen and she was the Dog, and lots of her classmates were mean to her. She calls this period Dog Time.
Once, at Amanda Wheaton’s tenth birthday party, some guys made ten-dollar bets with one another to ask her to dance, so they could reject her when she said yes…She got mad and poured a bucket of cold water on them.
(her mother)-”There’s Fiona, my candle-burning vampire child, who stays up all night long and gets phone message from Marilyn Manson, every mother’s dream”
Then suddenly she’s talking about when she was raped… (the day before Thanksgiving, 1989, 12 years old)
…I started kind of hallucinating…
Afterwards…(she) “took this self-defense course, 25 hours of it, five hours a day for five days”
“I know I’m going to die young…I’m going to cut another album and I’m going to do good things, help people, and then I’m going to die.”
I remember her saying that the guy who raped her was much weaker than she was. “How much strength does it take to hurt a little girl?” she asked. “How much strength does it take for the girl to get over it? Which one of them do you think is stronger?” She is strong enough to admit she’s a mess…”It’s impossible for me to be happy; psychologically and chemically impossible, so I’m going to help some little girl out there. I’m going to let her know that I have stretch marks on my ass, and bunions, that I don’t have my shit together. I want to give that girl some hope. I want her to know that she doesn’t have to have her shit together. She doesn’t. It’s okay if she doesn’t. I’m going to prove that, and then I’m going to die.”
You may also enjoy: (on missemmamm.com)
Fiona Apple Discography Playlist-which includes 15 of my favorite Apple tracks. Hot Knife and Periphery from her new album are included as I particularly dig them.
Official Fiona Apple Site
Official Fiona Apple Facebook
Fiona Apple on Soundcloud
Fiona Apple on Ticketmaster-yes, she’s touring!
a ton of photos of Fiona Apple on Brooklyn Vegan
Fiona Apple tags on my tumblr
NOTE: Normally for a Super Links post I would include much shorter parts of the interviews. I find this impossible to do with Fiona Apple. Her music has deeply touched my life for the past 7 years and I feel a real kinship with her. Though I’ve never been raped, I have serious issues with people like she does. So I just couldn’t go bare bones with this.