MEET FIONA APPLE, THE TOUGH-TALKING, MAN-BAITING, MONEY-MAKING, PANTY-BARING, POWER-PLAYING ... WAIF
ARENA (UK) magazine · March 2000
by Brantley Bardin
This is an annoying, vexing article/interview. Starting with the
above title. Who hasn't moved on? Clearly some media
players. The bitch is back? Are they talking about a Meredith
Brook's song? ;) Seriously, can't we just grow up ARENA?]
Pretentious? Yes. Self-indulgent? Maybe. Say what you like about Fiona Apple 's music, but you've got to love a star who steps out of a gleaming black limo in Hollywood looking not like a pop star at all, but like.., well, a little match girl.
Fiona is actually one half of LA's newest power couple, the other being her boyfriend of two years Paul Thomas Anderson, director of Boogie Nights and Magnolia. She's been a US media darling since 1996, having recovered from a wretched childhood (therapy at 11, viciously raped at 12) to record Tidal, a super-confessional, astonishingly mature debut album. She was called a 'precocious wunderkind', but her record sold only moderately well that is, until she appeared wet and panty-clad in the Calvin Klein-goes-kiddie-porn video of Criminal. There was a backlash, but the sex thing worked: the album went triple-platinum worldwide, and, in late 1997, Fiona suddenly found herself on stage accepting an MTV best new artist award. And then she opened her mouth. 'This world is bullshit,' she proclaimed. 'And you shouldn't model your life about what you think we think is cool.' Of the fall-out, she later said, 'I went from being "tragic waif ethereal victim" to being "brat bitch loose cannon".'
Well, buckle up, 'cause the bitch is back. First the good news: she's just made a new record that outdoes her last in every way, with lines like 'It won't be long till you'll be lying limp in your own hand' and intense, bravura vocals. And now the bad news: she's opened herself up to whole new plateaus of ridicule by giving her opus a 90-word title. Yup, 90. It's a poem she wrote after an unflattering piece appeared in Spin magazine, the first words are 'When The Pawn', and the rest is far too long to repeat here.
Dressed in rumpled black trousers, a navy blue sweatshirt and hiding her big baby-blue eyes behind a tangled mass of hair, today the little waif is clutching herself while attempting to do the thing she hates most - explain herself...
ARENA: Great album, Fiona,
though it did take a while. Last summer someone tried to explain that fact
to me by saying, and I quote, 'Well, she's smoking so much pot she can't
finish the record.'
A: OK. I was just...
A: Which is your God-given right. But is it true that Pawn's full title is now officially The Guinness Book of World Records' longest album title in history? F: I don't know, but if it is, then I should be telling everybody that that' s the reason I did it. [Laughs]
A: And then maybe you
wouldn't get made fun of so often. Because, you know, Fiona, people think
you're terribly serious.
A: Ah, the 'Fiona
controversies'. Let's begin with how you put on panties and became a
A: Well, it did seem to
work that way. Which was odd since you once made a big point of telling me
how you'd been so damaged by glam celebrity images that you wanted to be
photographed 'as ugly as possible'.
A: And it won you the 1997
MTV award and pop notoriety with your 'This world is shit' acceptance
speech. Do you regret that?
A: Agreed. So tell me about
your boyfriend, Paul. Despite your album lyrics, is the real-life Fiona
trusting men more?
A: You'll hate this, but,
with both Pawn and Magnolia out, you two are the reigning Hollywood 'It'
couple. How much of an LA Party Girl has it made you?
A: Still, you've gone from
total obscurity to becoming one of the rich and famous. Tell us something
wise about overnight success.
A: How do you think you paid
A: Is kinda getting trashed
easier for you to handle now?
A: And what do you do about