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
|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?
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