The Caged Writer Sings
Contributing editor Chris Heath on shadowboxing with Fiona
Rolling Stone    '98

[interview with Chris Heath, writer of RS Fiona article "The Caged Bird Sings"]


So you actually saw Fiona eat.  Were you surprised?

(Laughs) Not at all ... As soon as you see her, you don't think 'there's a really skinny person.'  You just think she's a small 20-year-old.  If you never went to America and you just bought magazines, she looks like everyone is supposed to look.   I suppose if you live in Japan, you think everyone in America looks like Fiona.

Do you find her attractive?

On the record?

Um ... yeah!

I would never answer that question about someone I interviewed.  It's too weird.   You can't possibly think about that when you're interviewing someone -- male or female -- because if the answer was ever going to be yes, then you would have to so far put that out of your mind to have the right kind of attitude to do the interview.

Let me rephrase: Do you understand her appeal?

Sure.  I think partly what people find attractive about her is that she's very intense and strange looking, which I think is a much more interesting concept than the blonde, uberbabe kind of thing. 

Did you find her to be the brat bitch loose cannon that she described herself as?

Not at all.  The one thing it's almost impossible to bring over without tediously laboring the point is what kind of [pleasant] company she can be most of the time.   She's funny and sort of goofy.  Once we got to know each other, we spent most of the time taking the piss out of each other!  I worry that some people are gonna walk away [after reading the piece] thinking 'Whoa, she's really intense all the time.'   She wasn't intense all the time -- that would be her prerogative -- but it gets a little bit boring.

Did you try the un-turkey sandwiches?

I wasn't offered the un-turkey.  It seemed a little bit forced to ask.  It's always an interesting etiquette problem for a journalist, of whether -- if you're not vegetarian or in this case vegan -- what you eat when you are with them.  On one hand, it just seems rude to eat meat in front of someone who's a vegetarian.  On the other hand, it seems a bit kind of craven not to eat what you would normally eat.  So it was quite important to me that she knew I wasn't vegetarian just as a manner's thing.   Having said that, she immediately encouraged me to eat the chicken.  Of course, then I ate the falafel.

How do you rate her stability compared to everyone else you've interviewed?

I think, to a degree, she's obviously had some bad stuff happen to her and she has quite an intense, sensitive sensibility.  The big difference with her is she has this need to talk about it more.  When people are judging how stable they think she is, they should bear in mind how much they might think she's not stable simply because she's honest about stuff that most people would hide from them.  I don't just mean famous people, I mean their friends or whoever.  If people sat down in a room with five of their friends and really told them some of the s--- they get up to, by the end of that evening, I don't think Fiona Apple would seem that weird.  I mean, I'm certainly not about to do it for myself!  fin