Fiona Apple, The Interview
Daytona Beach News   
'97

She was almost cast in a movie, before her break into music.  Her boyfriend was evicted when she and he tried to move in together.  Fiona Apple delves into and laughs about things she doesn't find weird during a cloying interview by Entertainment Writer Doug Elfman:

NJ:  Are you in California?

FIONA:  Yeah, L.A.

NJ:  Are you going to stay out there now that you're rich and famous?

FIONA:  Oh, no (laughs).  No, I think given the choice I would choose New York over L.A.  But I think that it's gonna be a while before I get a place of my own, because I would feel guilty getting a place of my own right now, just seeing that I would be paying for an empty space.

NJ:  Plus, it's so expensive.

FIONA:  Well, that's why I would feel guilty. It's like wasting all that money.  I wouldn't be able to walk down the streets of New York and pass homeless people thinking that I was having this huge empty space that I was paying lots of money for.

NJ:  Well, you could put them up in your off-time, you know.

FIONA: True.

NJ:  Like a time-share kind of thing.

FIONA:  (Chuckle.)

NJ:  Where are you living?

FIONA:  I have no apartment right now.  I've been living out of a suitcase for about two years now.

NJ:  Are you getting tired of that yet? How long are you going to tour with Tidal?

FIONA:  Probably just until the end of the year.  But I'm used to it.  I think I was getting really tired of it, and thinking that I couldn't handle it anymore, a few months back.  But then I kind of got over that hump and said, 'This is just the way that it is.'  I actually tried to get an apartment in New York.  My boyfriend was living in this building, and we were going to move in together in another apartment in the same building, and we kind of just got d..... around by the landlord.  And I ended up getting the apartment, but then they decided that they didn't charge me enough money.  So they ripped up my lease and evicted my boyfriend for some reason.  So we've both been homeless now for awhile, and we've been living out of rental cars and suitcases.

NJ:  Well, couldn't you just say, 'Don't you know who I am?'

FIONA:  (Laughing).  They'd say, 'Yeah, give us . . . 15-thou more.'

NJ:  Do you have a new CD coming out anytime soon.

FIONA:  As soon as I have time to go into a studio, I will.   And I've got plenty of music in my head to be fleshed out, but I just haven't had any time.

NJ:  Have you not found any time during sound checks (to record).

FIONA:  Well, during Lilith Fair, I didn't have any sound checks.  I haven't gotten any sound checks since I did my own live tour, you know, so I only play piano for the amount of time I'm on stage performing.  I don't really have any time to do anything, and I'm not yet at that stage where I have a portable studio on the back of my bus.

NJ:  How was Lilith Fair, by the way?

FIONA: It was fun.  It was like summer camp or something.

NJ:  (Giggling.) Summer camp?

FIONA:  Yeah, because when I'm doing my own show I feel like I'm responsible for how everything goes, but I kind of felt like I was just in a big group of people playing, and it wasn't my responsibility, so I just ran around and had fun.   And the sets were shorter, so I just did the happy songs.

NJ:  So in all these interviews I read, you're always described as a giggler.   What's the deal with that?

FIONA:  Really? I've never read that about myself.

NJ:  You're kidding? I see it everywhere, like, "She's so sullen in her music and yet she giggles."

FIONA:  Well, I'd probably be sullen, like, over the phone, if I didn't get it all out in my songs, but thank God for songwriting.  Now I can be a giggly person in normal life.

NJ:  Right.

FIONA:  I mean (giggling) everybody sees me as completely, completely different.  It's funny.  Actually, I was just thinking about this before I called, because I've been doing a few interviews in a row today, and (during) the first one I did, the guy answered the phone, and I felt like, "OK, this is business," from the get-go, because he was just kind of like, "Uhhhhhhh."   And certain people ask you certain questions ... like, "Oh, so you were called Dog.  Oh, so you were raped.  Oh, so, like, your parents were never together."  Like, then how am I supposed to be giggly?  But if somebody tries to have a conversation (as in the) second interview I had today, the girl was just like, "Hey! Helloo!"  And of course I'm going to react to that.

NJ:  Well, right.  I made a decision early on along this line of thought to not ask you about the same old things.  Every interview is the same thing.  But I was kind of curious, though, if telling journalists your life over and over again is like therapy, or if we're all just driving you nuts.

FIONA:  Both, because I'm so used to therapy it doesn't make me uncomfortable or anything, and I think that's probably the one service that being in therapy for so long and so early in my life has given me, because I'm used to telling strangers everything about me.

NJ:  Isn't that weird?

FIONA:  No, because I'm so used to it, you know?

NJ:  Yeah, but everybody knows all your private business.

FIONA:  But I have no reason to keep my business private.

NJ:  I'm not criticizing you.  I was just curious.

FIONA:  No, no, no.  I know you're not criticizing me.   If I dissect that idea of privacy — I like privacy. I like people to go away and let me just kind of go in my room for a while, and let me do my thing, and let me think, and let me watch TV.  But in terms of what's going on, you know, I'm not going around depressed and saying, "This is what's going on in my sex life."  I'm somebody who has made a career out of bearing my soul emotionally, so if I'm gonna all of a sudden close up and be like, "No it's none of your business," that's kind of dumb of me, and it's against who I am, because I really am, honestly, for the honesty thing.

NJ:  I'm reading all these interviews, and I get this weird picture of you stomping around, and slamming doors, and scribbling furiously in a book, like Winona Ryder in that movie "Heathers," with a monocle in your eye, or whatever.  Is that right?

FIONA:  I don't know.  Uh, yeah, sometimes it's right.   I can be a lot of different ways, you know.  I'm sure there's a lot of things I could (deny) to you (about myself) ...but that are actually right, and I wouldn't be lying.  I just don't notice it.  For my whole life, I would get into all this s... with my parents and all my family, because I always had a bad mouth, and I always cursed a lot, and I've always been like very "HHAAARRR!" about everything that I talk about, and I don't notice it.  And they would always take offense to things.   You don't know how many fights I would get in with my family about this, because I would express an opinion, and they would take offense to it.  And I would be like, "What are you talking about?  I'm just saying what I'm . . . feeling like."   And they of course would think I'm being hostile, which I of course sound like I'm being hostile.  And now that I kind of can observe myself on television and things, I can see that now, that I kind of come off as a little intense sometimes.  But I don't mean to.  I just really am behind what I say.  So sometimes, I'm sure I slam doors and stomp around, but I'm not a brat.

NJ:  So you sound like you're optimistic and happy and everything, but what if it had turned out that you sucked or something?

FIONA:  What if it had turned out that I sucked?  In what way?  Like, what if it turned out that I tried to make another album and I was like, "Aw, man, this is bad"?

NJ:   Or what if you hadn't been able to get the first one out?

FIONA:  Well, when I decided I was going to do this, I was going to give it one try.  It really happened kind of ridiculously, fairytale-esque, which is really the only way that it could have happened, because I don't have that kind of patience.  And I did not have that kind of self-confidence before to think, "Oh, I'll stick it out and I'll play in clubs for nine years."

NJ:  Well as it turned out — I'm not saying this to (flatter) you or anything — but it turned out you're a genius so far.

FIONA:  (Giggling.) Thank you.

NJ:  What would you be doing right now if it hadn't turned out that way?

FIONA:  I think I would be a really big slacker somewhere.   I mean, honestly.  I've always been of the belief that if I can't do what I want to do that is noble and is for the good of the world, then I'm gonna do what I want to do that is good for me.  (Excitedly) Or, you know what I was going to do?  I was either going to do what I'm doing now, or if it didn't work, I was going to be a slacker for a few years and then somehow figure out how to make a (giggling) lot of money and found some kind of charity organization.  (Giggling).  Because then I remember figuring that, like, I would give myself my life for a while and just, like, indulge for a few years and be a slacker — and then devote myself to others.

NJ:  So you were going to invent the next Rubik's Cube or something (to make a lot of money)?

FIONA:  Yeah (giggling).

NJ:  Well do you have any drawings?  Do you have any ideas for any inventions?

FIONA:  No, no, no.  I had no idea what I was going to do.   It's kind of a scary thought.  I don't know what I'd be doing actually.

NJ:  You and the band and, I guess, your producer, Andy Slater, made some pretty important decisions about letting you sing without any echoes and backups.  And the instruments are even a little odd.  This is a weird coincidence:  You have a drummer named Matt Chamberlain and then you've got this odd (pre-digital sampling) keyboard named a Chamberlain.  It produces a distinct sound.  Are you going to stick to that, and how did y'all come up with that?

FIONA:  I remember through the whole thing, I couldn't say things like, "Take the hi-fi, whatever, blah-blah-blah," and I still can't say that kind of stuff.  It's kind of hard for me to do the studio speak.  So I remember just saying a lot during the recording of the album, like, "I just want it to be very bare.  I want it to be raw.  I want it to be low and heavy."   I just remember saying things like that, and Andy would go, "OK, well then," and he'd translate it into the whole studio-speak thing and add in his own little ideas and everything.  We didn't have a theme, or we didn't say, "This is the sound that we want."  It was just that I kept on wanting the same kind of thing happening.  And he kept on understanding.

NJ:  Did y'all just have these things lying around, the Chamberlain and the Vibraphone (a xylophone-like instrument).

FIONA:  I had never heard of a Chamberlain.  We made the demo for "Shadowboxer" — which is actually what is on the album — and that's when I was first introduced to the Chamberlain and Patrick Warren, who played it.   We were just at this studio, and (Slater) was like, "Well you know I've got this friend, and he plays this instrument called a Chamberlain.  It's really cool.   You want to hear it?  It's great."  And I went, "OK," and he called up Patrick, and Patrick came down and started playing it, and I was like, "That's so cool!"  And we just kind of used it for the rest of the time.

NJ:  Are you gonna stick to the single voice and (the current make-up of the band), or do you know yet?

FIONA:  I don't know yet.  I'm not really about planning what the sound is going to be like, cause I didn't do that the first time and it worked for me.  I'm ready to go into a studio right now, but I don't really have all the songs written completely.  But that's the way I want it to be.  I don't want it to be completely planned out.  I think it's a lot better if you can just go in and improvise a little bit and see what happens, because I think that's when the best things happen.  So I'm not going to really, like, try to decide the way that I want to sound.  I don't think that I will have lots of harmonies and stuff, and doubling (my) voice and stuff like that, because I'm just not really into that sound.  But as far as the music goes, I really don't know where it's gonna go.

NJ:  By the way, I read that your dad was in this Showtime series, "Brothers."  I'm pretty sure I used to watch that.  Was that the one with one straight brother and one gay brother?

FIONA:  Yeah, my dad was the one with the beard, the stupid homophobe guy.

NJ:  I guess he's not really like that, I suppose.

FIONA:  No (laughing).

NJ:  That was a good show.  Did he let you watch that when you were a kid?

FIONA:  Oh, I went to work with him constantly.

NJ:  So you didn't want to turn out to be like ...

FIONA: ... an actress?

NJ:  Yeah.

FIONA:  No. I took acting classes for a while, and some guy wanted to be my manager and sent me on auditions and stuff, but I never took head shots or anything like that.  I actually almost got this lead in this movie once, but I didn't want to, you know.  It was weird.  It was a while back.

NJ:  What was it called?

FIONA:  Oh, I don't even want to reveal it.  It was just a weird experience, because I went in and they took a Polaroid of me, and my dad said, "OK, this is your first audition," and I didn't even ask to go on the audition.   I had just been going to acting classes for fun, and the acting teacher had said, "I set up this audition for you."  It was like after school, and I went, and my dad said, "You're going to feel really s...... You're gonna feel like they rejected you, and they're gonna say 'Thank you' after five minutes, and they're not gonna say anything else.'  'And I ended up staying in there for two hours, and they were all like, "We're gonna make you a star!"  And they took Polaroids of me, and then it just kind of fell through, which turned out to be for the best.

NJ:  (Giggling).  You never know.  You could still probably maneuver your way through a movie, like Madonna.

FIONA:  (Giggling.) Right.

NJ:  A couple of different influences you've talked about — I was interested in if you've ever met Maya Angelou.

FIONA:  No, I haven't.  I really don't have a need to meet her.  Growing up on my dad's show and stuff — and he would do (other) shows and Broadway shows — I'd meet lots of actors, and I never really wanted to meet them, people that I knew as being famous.  And I think that's kind of contributed to how I feel about this now.  I can very easily separate the work and the person.  I don't need her to be my best friend.  And I don't really even need her to like me.   It would be wonderful and everything, and I know actually that she does, because I'm friends with Winona Ryder, who did a movie with her, and they've spoken about me.   But I don't need to, you know.  Actually, she was in New York signing books, downtown when I was there, and I went down there, but I didn't wait in the line.  I just wanted to wait till she got there so I could look at her, because she's just so, she's got power coming out of her pores.  Maybe when I was 10, I might have seen her in a bookstore, and I was so shocked that I ran.  fin