We have ways of making you talk
UNCUT magazine ∑ 
March 2000

  by Gene Poole

She is the pouty-lipped princess of kooky, self-lacerating, jazz-tinged trip pop. The New York-born 22-year-old has sold three million copies of her 1996 debut, Tidal, and her second album, When The Pawn, is released in Britain this month.

UNCUT: The full title of your new album title is a 90-word poem written in response to a hostile magazine interview. Crikey. Was revenge your only motive for this record-breaking act of strangeness?

FIONA: Well. I guess I wanted to say ĎFuck you' to having a title for the album because I didn't write a movie. Itís not like thereís one title, thereí s a title for each of the songs. Plus the first album cover I had no control over, they had this picture of me that was all airbrushed, so for this one I said there will be a picture of me - except there will be words over it. It was a kind of a personal thing.

UNCUT: You became famous very quickly at the age of 19. Did this have disadvantages as well as benefits?

FIONA: I feel very lucky on one hand, because I read about bands that play for nine years in clubs waiting for some A&R guy to come and recognise them. I didnít have to do that, but at a certain point Iíve realised that you doní t ever escape from paying your dues. Youíre either going to be playing in clubs for nine years or stepping on your own words for a couple of years. And I just happen to have gotten the latter.

UNCUT: Promoting your debut album, you talked a lot about being raped when you were 12. Do you regret that now?

FIONA: I really hardly mentioned it. It started in Italy. They asked me something about a song and I didnít want to feel like I had to hide it. This was the first time It happened and I had this huge decision to make right then and there: am I going to say this? They asked me about a song on the first album which was about the rape, and I didn't want to lie about it. But itís not on my mind as much any more. and it was on my mind then.

UNCUT: You angered Courtney Love by appearing in your underwear in the "Criminal" video. But how different was that from Courtneyís own semi-nude reclaiming of female sexual stereotypes?

FIONA: The difference is I didnít feel comfortable. Actually, after that video came out. Courtney came up to me at a party and said, 'Me and Billy Corgan want to tell you that we think youíre very talented but youíre going in the wrong direction. You donít need to be put in your underwear,' And I said, ĎFucking bitch, youíre in your underwear, tooí. But the reality was she wanted to do it, she felt comfortable doing it and I wasnít. And you can see that in the video. Its not sexy. itís disturbing.

UNCUT: A lot of your songs sound like sly put-downs to ex-boyfriends. Have you ever ruined a relationship purely to get a good song?

FIONA: I wouldnít put it past myself to subconsciously screw up something or start a fight. but I donít think so. If I look back now, everything that I thought was screwed up really was screwed up. I also use the me/you relationship format for these songs because itís the most direct way to send that message, but a lot of times its not even about ex-boyfriends. There are just a lot of similarities in my relationships with boyfriends or parents or just people around me.

UNCUT: Your current boyfriend is Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson. Have you seen his new movie, Magnolia?

FIONA: Seven times. Itís wonderful. Itís three hours long. There are a lot of long movies out now but this is one that really deserves to be three hours.

UNCUT: Do you feel any kinship with Britney Spears?

FIONA: No, I just feel really bad because Iím sure she's doing much more work than she should be doing.  ActuaIIy, I donít feel too bad because she obviously wants that kind of stardom. But Britney Spears ainít hurting anybody, Sheís not hurting me.

UNCUT:Ever been on Prozac?

FIONA: Oh, Iíve probably been on them all. I read magazines with lists of medications and Iím like: been on that, been on that, been on that. And Iíve found that the side-effects of those things are much more distracting than any mood disorder. I realised the best cure for any slight depression is to go through the gauntlet of all those medications so you can have the nightmares and night sweats and awful side-effects and then go off them and say: 'Wow! Iím only depressed!í Ha, ha, ha!

UNCUT: Have you tried St Johnís Wort?

FIONA: Yeah, I think I tried that during the time I was doing all the other stuff. Itís the kind of thing you need to really commit to over a long time. but I was somebody who would take a St Johns Wort and go (looks at watch) OK, nothing's happening! Ha, ha!

UNCUT: Do you see a link between self-hatred and success?

FIONA: Definitely, because the greatest motivator is anger and revenge and wanting to prove yourself, that gives you the drive to make it. It takes you killing yourself to actually get to that place. And unless you have some kind of self-hatred youíre not going to put yourself through that.

UNCUT: Are you planning a long career in music?

FIONA: I have no idea. Iím just going to see how this goes, how much it pisses me off. And if it does then Iíll quit, But that's a real big problem - I don't wanna do this but what else can I do?

(thank you to sallytbyml for typing it!)