Fiona Apple
MTV (UK)  ∑  February 16, 2000
interviewed by Zane Lowe

ZANE: Itís coming up to four years since Tidal, does it seem like that long?


ZANE: Really?


(Fast As You Can video clip played)

ZANE: When did you call it quits on Tidal? When did you sort of walk away and say, Ďokay the next thing I do, musically, is gonna be for another album í?

FIONA: Umm....I donít remember exactly when the date was, it was after Iíd been on the road for about nineteen months, though.

ZANE: Thatís a long time.

FIONA: And I had to cancel dates that were ahead of me, umm, to do that, so I was gonna be out there for longer and I just started...

ZANE: You were in that slipstream where bands get in, where it just continues and continues and continues and...

FIONA: Yeah, it continues like that because youíll be out there - itís, itíís very common and very convenient, especially, like, for an artist whoís out there for the first time and they wanna do everything right and everything and the record company is just putting them out there.

ZANE: When you reach about three million records theyíre like, ĎWe can get it up to six, I know we can get it up to sixí.

FIONA: Yeah, well thatís the thing with being on the road - you go out there and itís the momentum that keeps, that gets you money, gets everybody money.

(Fast As You Can video clip played)

ZANE: So how long do you spend off, time off, in between albums? In terms of , you know, getting back into the writing process of the album?

FIONA: I spent, like, six or eight months not doing anything, not playing piano. I tend to go through a period of time where I donít play piano at all because I just get really sick of it. Umm...and, you know, the minute you start trying to write songs for the purpose of being on an album, the minute you start forcing that stuff, it wouldíve sucked, so...

ZANE: I wondered whether you, I wondered whether you had spent much time sort of having to actually search for your muse, in that time off?

FIONA: No, no - I think itís so much better to just constantly, consistently gather information that you wanna use at some point and then not pressure yourself at all to do ANY kind of work, if itís creative, because you wonít work.

(Fast As You Can video clip played)

ZANE: More confident this time writing? Than on the last record? It sounds like it to me.

FIONA: (pauses) More relaxed, yeah; more confident? well - more confident...yeah, I was, I was. Now, Iím kind of answering for myself right now, because after Iíve written a new batch of songs, I donít feel very confident as a writer right now because I donít know what the hell I have to write, Ďcuz itíll probably be a long time before I write again...umm...but when I was writing, I felt a LOT more confident as a writer than I did the first time around. The first time around I was, like, sitting there, you know, embarrassingly, like, with a dictionary and thesaurus, like, searching for just the right word that was gonna show everyone that I was intelligent , but not pretentious, but, kinda didnít succeed sometimes, but really was, like, nit-picking at myself - and this time it was just like, say what you mean, mean what you say, you know.

(Fast As You Can video clip played)

ZANE: Youíve been really open about that whole experience, that enormous amount of unwanted attention that you got, umm, revolving around Tidal - obviously, the video for Criminal, umm, the speech which everyone deemed, you know, was so infamous at the MTV awards - I didnít think it was, you know, you were saying anything that was so controversial.

FIONA: No, itís funny, I, I - when you hear it, like, a couple of years later, itís not (shrugs) - I didnít say anything really, I mean - I was just a little inarticulate, if anything, but not even really that. Yeah, no, I mean, but again, these are things that Iíve, like, gotten attention for that Iíve absolutely invited.

ZANE: Do you think, subconsciously, you almost wanted that attention first time around?

FIONA: Oh, yeah! I, no, I completely wanted it and itís only me now that doesnít want the attention for that stuff, you know. Itís only...because, I was...

ZANE: When youíre 20-years-old who doesnít want it? Do you know what I mean?

FIONA: When youíre eighteen, when youíre eighteen and youíre, like, and youíve only really gone to get the album deal so that you can tell everybody in high school that youíve made it, you know.

ZANE: To prove to them.

FIONA: It, it becomes very shallow once you get it and, once it requires your hard work, you resent it and, but I was using it and I was, you know, I was always a child of just speaking and saying everything that was on my mind, but was also very intimidated by a lot of people and was also very, er, tended to not say what was on my mind a lot and was very shy and hated that about myself and so just decided Iím gonna use this opportunity to just say everything that I wanna say and completely quelch any, any, er, shame that I have about anything, or any shyness and I did it, and I did it too much, you know.

ZANE: But then you came back and youíre making another record, which proves the point that it was worth it to do it, do you know what I mean?

FIONA: Yeah, yeah, oh, no, totally.

ZANE: If youíd never made another record again it wouldíve been a tragedy.

FIONA: Yeah, thanks.

ZANE: But, I mean, you know, the funny thing is I know that that inspired the title. The eighteen second long title, which it takes me about eighteen seconds to read it.

FIONA: (laughs) I like that you say eighteen seconds instead of ninety words - thatís good!

ZANE: It is eighteen seconds, I reckon. Iím sure the ironies arenít lost on you that by actually taking, by actually being inspired by that youíve gained more of that attention from people?

FIONA: (laughing) Yeah - itís just so perfect that I canít even be upset by it, you know. Itís just so, itís just so stupidly poetic.

(Fast As You Can video clip played)

ZANE: It sounds like, you know, you had a lot of fun making this record?

FIONA: Yeah, I did, because I, I had...because as much as I talk badly about my first experience, it was the only way it couldíve happened - like, nobody did anything wrong, except for maybe me, but it was the only way it couldíve happened, because I went through all that crap of not putting my two cents in, but at least I went through the process, so that I saw all the things that I COULD contribute to and so, this time around it was like, ĎOkay, this time I want Jon Brion to produce my record, Iím gonna do that, I ím gonna get him to do it and I want this to happen and I want it to be like this and these are the kind of sounds I wanna useí and just made it so much more fun, if you have, if you have a part in, if you, if you...

ZANE: Take responsibility for what youíre doing, basically, yeah...

FIONA: Yeah, taking responsibility for it and, and gaining some control over it is, and having some pride in it, makes it so much more fun.

(Clip of Fast As You Can recorded live for MTV)

ZANE: I watched that MTV performance and I thought it was absolutely stunning given that you just said before we came and rolled that you only had a dayís rehearsal.

FIONA: Thank you.

ZANE: On stage, when you first decided to take your music live, youíd already secured a record deal, youíd already done that part of the job, which is a very unorthodox way of going about it, so, essentially, you had to learn the ropes in front of your audience.

FIONA: Yeah.

ZANE: Which is a unique experience, Iím sure.

FIONA: (nods) Which is unique and which is why Iíve stumbled here and there. I got this so easy. I got it SO easy - I handed out one demo tape and I...

ZANE: Just one?

FIONA: Just one - I had, like...the thing was that I had seventy-eight demo tapes made up in the first batch and I was gonna hand them all out - the first one I handed out, I got signed.

ZANE: Did you have a ceremonial burning of the other seventy-seven demo tapes?

FIONA: Theyíre, like, under my bed at my dadís house someplace or something, I dunno.

ZANE: Could you give me one?...

FIONA: I would, except thereís two songs on there...

ZANE: Ďcuz Iíll be able to get, like, a good thirty quid down at the second hand record store in Camden if you give me one of those, I swear - honestly, thatís my retirement fund right there!

FIONA: (laughing) If somebody....Iím really glad actually that I didnít hand a lot of them out because thereís two songs on it that have never been recorded that are BAD.

ZANE: Oh, get rid of them! They are so gonna come out - itís like having naked pictures of yourself...

FIONA: I know!

ZANE: You know somehow theyíll find a way!

FIONA: (laughing) I know, I know, I know, I know, I know!



many thank yous to our chum, sallytbyml for this transcript!