viernes, 8 de junio de 2012

"Every Single Night" music video to premiere on Sundance Channel this sunday at 8 p.m.

Directed by Joseph Cahill!!!

In pitchfork there´s also an article were she talks about the new music video and other things:

In a new Pitchfork interviewFiona Apple discussed everything from her love of slideshows to her dying dog and her parents' relationship. But the seven years in between her last album, 2005's Extraordinary Machine, and The Idler Wheel..., out  June 19, was a long time, and she had an endless amount of interesting things to say. Here are even more quotes from our chat that didn't make it into the final piece.
On her forthcoming video for "Every Single Night":
I told [director] Joey [Cahill] just to come up with a bunch of things and just do things to me and put me in situations and surprise me. One thing I wanted to have happen was to be covered in snails. I laid in a bed of soil and they put snails all over me. And then they brought in shit that I would not have asked for. He put a dead squid on my head. 
I used to love to put snails on my arm-- I have a bunch of pictures. I used to put half a watermelon out in my yard overnight and then go out there in the middle of the night and take pictures of them, like macro pictures of the snails sipping the watermelon. I would love to sit there and put them on my arm. I don’t know, it just helped me think. I really like snails a lot.
On pretending her dog is dead:
What first made me think of doing that was this guy who used to come around the old Largo [club in Los Angeles]. He was really sick for a long time and every time you saw him, you thought it was going to be the last time you saw him. Everyone was friends with him. It went on for like two years where I would think that he was dead. But I would see him in the club and he was there again. If he didn't show up I would think, "Maybe he's not dead. Maybe he's just not here tonight."
On feelings:
I'm not religious or anything, but now when I'm sad, I do a lot of kneeling on the ground and thanking whatever. Just for me, to acknowledge something and and make it physical so that it sets in. The thing I will say always is, "Thank you for my problems and I send my love everywhere." I am generalizing-- there are problems that just fuckin' suck and are terrible-- but problems like being sad or having your heart broken aren't any less valuable than happiness is. So when things are really bad, nowadays I recognize the value in it because I know it is going to make me appreciate happiness in the future way more.
On writing, motivation, and Judd Apatow:
I can also be motivated. Judd Apatow, I wrote a song for his movie. I was like, "Give me assignments. I love assignments." His music supervisor Jonathan Karp, who is actually an old friend of mine, said, "Would you ever write a song for a movie?" He was thinking I was gonna say no, but I was like, "Hello yeah, I love it when people give me assignments."
I wish I was one of those people who just sat around and made art. I'll set it up, but I don't know if I will be creative when doing something. But I like making something for somebody [else]. I can move a lot faster, I just don't.
On kickstarting the album writing process:
I think really it was the excitement that I felt when [band mate and producer] Charley [Drayton] and I had that first night and we were playing together. We recorded over period of a year and a half, at least, in two-week periods whenever he had time to come out [to L.A.] I knew that I didn’t want anyone else to know that I was doing it so that I could do it however I wanted. Then once Charlie and I started working together on the album that first night, that was just exciting. For me, there will always be a little bit of a song around. Like men have to shave their faces if they don’t want a beard. It's kind of one of those upkeep things.
On the songs on the album:
"Periphery" could have been on an old album. It was a song that I had tried to do [earlier], but it had just not really worked out. Everything else was written for The Idler Wheel. There were a few things that were written a few years ago. "Valentine" was written a few years ago, "Jonathan" was written when I first started going out with Jonathan [Ames]. I don't remember writing any of it. That's probably just because it happens gradually.
On "Jonathan" and her relationship with Jonathan Ames:
It was comforting to be held by him. It was really just about me thinking that I am not functional enough to be in a relationship, which I still kind of think. He hates it because he has a girlfriend now. I'll be like "What do you guys do?" and he thinks that I'm being like...I just really want to know. Like what does a functional you guys go places, she cooks dinner. You know, seeing all the things actual women do because I don't know what the hell people do with me.
On her comeback:
Now I know that I don't have to go out on stage thinking, "I've got to do this to make it a good show." I just know that you have to go out and be yourself and go out and be honest. I'm really happy that people like it because it means that I don't have to do anything fake. That feeling that you don't have anything to hide-- like you're going to court but you're innocent: "Yeah, I'll answer all your questions." I don't have to worry about hiding anything that's myself.
On sleeplessness and embarrassment:
When I was a kid, I was so constantly making a fool of myself at school. At night, one of the reasons why I didn't want to go to bed was that I had this vision of myself walking through the cafeteria and tripping and falling and everyone laughing, giving them another reason to laugh at me. When I tried to count sheep, I could not get a sheep over the fence. It would trip and fall. I found it funny even then, but now I just think that's hilarious. That hoof just catches on the fence and they trip.

Elle Magazine

A New Album—and Life—for Fiona Apple

With a spare new album showcasing her spectacular musicianship and a long summer tour to back it up, Fiona Apple seems intent on demonstrating the staying power of an enduring star. She opens up about personal demons and talks about her new life.

This is me dressed up,” jokes Fiona Apple, detailing her outfit as we sit in a secluded room off the lobby bar in Manhattan’s SoHo Grand Hotel. “These are vegan boots that I cut the tops off of because they were un­attractive,” she says, raising a beat-up biker boot. “These are old tights that I got from my last round of the last album,” she says, pulling up her black maxiskirt to reveal crocheted burgundy tights, “and this,” she tugs on the arm of her comfy Mr. Rogers–style cardigan, “is a sweater that used to be much larger, but I washed it.”
Singer-songwriter Apple, 34, has always had a style all her own in just about everything she does, including her habit of surfacing with a new album only every five years or so.
Apple, who lives in California, has been holed up in her  hotel room for a week with the flu. She came down with it at the end of a seven-stop mini tour of intimate venues that met with rave reviews and lit up the Internet. She says her New York City support system has taken good care of her, especially her ex-boyfriend, the magician David Blaine, who plied her with lots of healthy soups and juices.
“I’m getting calls from people who I called when I had a fever and was talking in accents,” she says, rolling her eyes at herself. “I’m not the type of person who drunk-dials. I must’ve been crazy.”
Apple’s fourth album, The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more Than Ropes will ever do, is just out (its first single, “Every Single Night,” was released in April), and she’ll be crisscrossing the country on a 27-city tour this summer.
During her exacting and perfectionistic live performances, Apple intermittently jumps up from her piano and stomps erratically around the stage, throwing her limbs about, blurting out amusing or mystifying comments between numbers; in person, she’s sprightly and deli cate. Her features are classic, model-like: a creamy complexion, wide-set crystal-blue eyes, full lips, a slight frame. With her layered rag-doll style of dress and her long hair pinned back from her makeup-free face, she possesses an easy, just-rolled-out-of-bed kind of beauty.
It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since Apple made her loudmouthed entrance at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, where, just 19 years old, she blasted the system that made her a ­superstar with the release of her multiplatinum debut, Tidal, a year prior. “This world is bullshit,” she told her fans from the podium about her shiny new celebrity bubble. “And you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool and what we’re wearing and saying and everything. Go with yourself.
That tirade stirred up even more trouble than Apple had with the controversial video for her biggest single, “Criminal” (about being a bad girl who feels the need to be redeemed), in which, looking underweight and underage, she writhed around in her underwear. The speech was an ­emblematic moment for Apple: Music nerd wins popularity contest and deems it all a sham. Yet she was widely perceived as an unappreciative overnight sensation who’d never had to pay her dues.
“I can understand why I was annoying to people,” Apple says now, wrapping her hands around a steaming mug of chamomile tea. “I was never somebody who grew up going, ‘I really want to be a singer in a band,’ and I never had any ambition ­toward anything, really. And I think I came off as ungrateful because I was."
Apple was born in New York City into a showbiz family; her mother is the singer Diane McAfee, her father the actor Brandon Maggart, and her sister and two half-brothers sing or act or direct profession ally. She gave her demos to a music publicist for whom one of her friends baby sat. The woman passed the tapes on to Andy Slater, now Apple’s manager, and she was signed to Sony Records at age 17.
“I never fought for it, I just kind of thought, I don’t know what else I’m going to do,” she admits with a shrug. “So when anything happened that I didn’t enjoy, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, well, it’s all for my goal,’ because I didn’t have a goal, you know? I wasn’t able to hide my discomfort with what I was doing.”
Apple went on to release two more albums, 1999’s When the Pawn… (the title wasn’t just a couplet but a whole short poem), which almost went platinum, and 2005’s Extraordinary Machine, which only went gold but elicited the same high critical praise and regard for her songwriting and musicianship as her previous efforts.
This time around, she coproduced The Idler Wheel… with multi- instrumentalist and consummate session man Charley Drayton. The duo recorded at various times in 2010 in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, and aside from Sebas tian Steinberg on acoustic bass and Apple’s older sister, cabaret singer Maude Maggart, on backing vocals on one track, the two shared all the musical duties.
The new album marks a striking depar ture from the large-ensemble, often orches tral arrangements that domi nated Apple’s previous albums. She and Drayton agreed to stay unplugged for as long as they could in the recording process. The resulting stark piano ballads with intricate melodies, changing time signatures, and a bluesy or jazzy, even Tom Waits–like feel make an elegant backdrop for Apple’s passionate and committed vocals, which range from cabaret-style formality to what almost sounds like the artist talking to herself. Dodging artfully around each tune are Drayton’s fluttery drumming, nimble-fingered percussion work, and plenty of found sounds of mostly indeterminate origin (one rhythm track is a recording of the two dancing on a truck).
“Fiona’s growing and taking bigger chances, an experience she needed to go through,” says Drayton. “I believe she’s not really aware of the size of her musical gift, which often makes me wonder where she finds her inspiration. Amongst all there is out there these days, we’re not challenged all that much. Fiona does not compromise how she feels, and why should she?”
There are far fewer portions of Angry Young Woman and finger-pointing at Apple’s past lovers—songs like the breakup anthem “Sleep to Dream,” which won her MTV’s Best New Artist award in 1997—on this album than in her earlier work; more songs are about her looking inward and figuring out what makes her tick. “It used to be that everyone else was wrong and I was right,” she says. “Maybe that’s growing up or something, because I absolutely don’t think everyone was so bad to me as I used to think.”
In the loping piano ballad “Left Alone,” she insistently interrogates herself, “How can I ask anyone to love me when all I do is beg to be left alone?” And on “Jonathan,” her tremulously funky tribute to the writer Jonathan Ames, who she says “saved my life” in the course of their five-year relationship, which recently ended, she sings about asking him to take her to Coney Island, adding in the song’s chorus, “I like watching you live.”
Like her music, Apple’s conversation ranges across conflicting emotions, swinging from elation and laugh-out-loud anecdotes to almost tortured confusion. But it seems that she has learned to appreciate her idiosyncrasies, though she says she’s still on medication to make her day-to-day life run more smoothly.
“I had really bad obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Apple recalls. “At its worst, I was compelled to leave my house at three o’clock in the morning and go out in the alley because I just knew that the paper-towel roll I threw in the recycling bin was uncomfortable, like it was lying the wrong way, and I would be down in the garbage.” She grew increasingly frustrated at wasting valuable time when she could be writing songs, and after the last time she rifled through the trash she wrote a reminder to herself on her vintage 1930s chalkboard: “Don’t waste your crazy!”
Lately, Apple prefers to spend her days alone at home in Venice Beach, mainly staying indoors, opting to walk her dog, Janet, either before sunrise or after sunset. “I have no social life or anything like that,” she says. “I used to be really ashamed of it, but now I can just freely say that I don’t ever go anywhere or have people over.”
The one exception is Apple’s visits to Largo, the L.A. nightclub where she spends time with musicians she’s known for years, though even those excur sions can bring on social anxiety. “I still get psychosomatically ill going to Largo, to see my friends, getting in the car,” she says, “and my brother will take so fucking long—because my brother has to drive me everywhere—and I’ll start freaking out, and it won’t stop until I’m ­actually there.”
Apple, who’s thinking about moving back to New York City, says she’s newly single and content with it; she doesn’t see herself ever marrying or having children. But nowadays she takes life in stride. She says she even smiles when she reads criticism of herself because it just reminds her not to take the big, bad world of showbiz all that seriously. “I’ve now lived and seen enough,” she says, “to know that I could go right back on that stage like when I was a kid and say, ‘This world is bullshit, don’t worry about it, just go and do your thing.’ I totally stand by that.”

lunes, 4 de junio de 2012


Fiona Apple's new album is called The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Clean Slate/Epic), and while that might very well be the most elaborate title to emerge from the realm of pop music this year, so too is the music contained therein sprawling and expansive. Produced by Apple and multi-instrumentalist Charley Drayton, The Idler Wheel . . . ripples and flows according to Apple's whim as she embarks on a journey through her various romances and visions, careening from humor to tragedy to poetry within songs and even verses.

Of course, Apple has always been drawn to extremes. She released her debut album, Tidal, in 1996, at the age of 18, her youth belying the artfully jazzy sophistication of her piano work, her hauntingly soulful voice, and her confrontational lyrics. Tidal would go on to sell more than 3 million copies, but not before Apple became ensnared in what would become the first in a complicated web of controversies that have punctuated her career—this one thanks to the voyeuristic Mark Romanek-directed video for "Criminal," in which she is seen writhing around in her underwear at what appears to be a druggy, sexed-up, late-night party in the tricked-out basement of a kid whose parents are both figuratively and literally out of town. The vague illicitness that seemed to be implied by the entire tableau—as quaint as it might seem now—caused an uproar that permeated every level of the media. At the time, a source no less venerable than The New York Times addressed the video's impact in two separate articles, saying Apple resembled "a Lolita-ish suburban party girl" in one, while noting in the other that "some critics said [the video] was nearly pornographic." While receiving Best New Artist honors at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, she delivered what is surely one of the most memorable acceptance speeches of all time. (Search on YouTube for "Fiona Apple" and "This world is bullshit.") And while the full title of The Idler Wheel . . . is long, it is in fact the second-longest title in Apple's discography, ranking behind the 90-word lyrical banner of her sophomore album (google it), which is commonly referred to as When The Pawn . . . and, after its release in 1999, entered Guinness World Records as having the longest title for an album by anyone ever. Even Apple's last album, Extraordinary Machine, was not without its own sideshow story: The record, which was ultimately released in 2005, was originally completed in its initial incarnation with producer Jon Brion in 2003, but Apple was reportedly unsatisfied with the results and set out to rework some of the songs with producers Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew. Nevertheless, the delay in its release—and subsequent leak online of some of the Brion-produced tracks—sparked a rumor that it had been rejected by Apple's label, Epic, inspiring a grassroots "Free Fiona" campaign that drove her more vociferous fans to mail foam apples to executives at Sony BMG, Epic's parent company.

Despite Extraordinary Machine's rocky road into being, the album proved a commercial and critical success, though it would take Apple seven more years to release The Idler Wheel . . . . But if anything, interest in Apple has only seemed to grow in the time between records. Now 34, she is, in many ways, an open book, though depending what page you open to, that book can seem like a confessional diary, a biting satire, or an imagistic fable—sometimes all at once. We spoke recently in Los Angeles.

MATT DIEHL: I recently saw a clip of you being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel, and you said something so funny and telling: "My mind goes to tragedy first."

FIONA APPLE: I think everybody's mind does. That's why we're here—why humans have survived. Our ancestors always thought of the worst thing that could happen, and that's why we're alive.

DIEHL: So you're prepared for the worst.

APPLE: Yes, but I also always start with tragedy because if somebody's going to hurt me, then I want to have gotten there first.

DIEHL: "I'm going to hurt myself first, because I know the punch is coming."

APPLE: Yeah . . . [laughs] There sort of has to be a problem in order to get anywhere. You know, I've always thought that it would be really funny if somebody made a romantic comedy where absolutely everything went well from beginning to end. Every time you thought, "Oh, this is the part where things are going to go wrong," everything would just go great. That would be a novelty. But most of the time you need something to fight against. If something is bothering me, then the only way to get past it is to work through it. I might have actually done the worst thing possible by writing all these songs, because I have to sing them forever, and yell at somebody when I'm not mad at them anymore. Sometimes I've even come around to being on their side, but I still have to sing a song about the whole thing. I'm going to have to spend the rest of my life being angry at ex-boyfriends or whatever . . . Yeah, I was a brat, man. [laughs] But it's okay. When I've been doing shows lately, it's like I've been snapped up into a movie or something. I don't have to try to feel the stuff because I can apply a song from 15 years ago to something that's going on now—which is sometimes a very big warning sign that something is wrong. [laughs] But after a while, the songs kind of become somebody else's poems that you can put your own meaning in.

DIEHL: I've heard you say that your songs always start with a phrase. Was there a phrase that launched the creative process for The Idler Wheel . . . ?

APPLE: Hmm . . . I think the first phrase that I wrote off of for this album was at the beginning of the song "Left Alone." I wanted to use the phrase "moribund slut," which led me to use the phrase "orotund mutt."

DIEHL: There are some really evocative lyrics on this album. Where does the imagery in the title come from

APPLE: For years now, in many of my notebooks, there would always be something about an idler wheel. I like the idea of the idler wheel—it just sits in between things, but it makes such a big difference in the way that the machine is working. That concept has always been something that has interested me, but I didn't really know why. Now I feel like it connects with feeling everything because I've gone through a lot of attacking things in my life—like, "There's a problem here, I have to do something about this," or "I'm not useful unless I'm doing some kind of job." It's to the point where I feel like I'm not really a full human. I used to feel like, "I'm not a functional person because I don't go on lunch dates with friends. I hear about people having dinner parties but I never do that. I'm not really human." But if I were to imagine myself as an idler wheel inside some big mix of gears, then I would be connected to everything. It's not like there's just me and then nothing. This is going to make me sound kind of flaky, but I'm like "Hands Across America" with the moon right now. I feel like I am connected to even the farthest-reaching part of the universe—as is everybody.

DIEHL: And as part of this larger thing, you're both observing and interacting.

APPLE: Mm-hmm . . . I'm like the driver of the screw.

DIEHL: You mentioned the idea of feeling things, which made me think of that line in the song "Valentine": "While you were watching someone else / I stared at you and cut myself."

APPLE: I was a little afraid of putting that line in because I didn't want to make it sound cool, because I don't cut myself . . . I used to be somebody that would cut themselves, and it is about wanting to feel something. But something that I do . . . I mean, this is totally from an actual situation of me watching someone watching someone else being really alive—not quite in the way it seems in the song—but after a while I realize that I've dug holes in my palm with my fingernails. I just tend to do things to myself that I don't realize I'm doing. Sometimes I bite my lip so that it splits and hurts, and yet I can't stop. And sometimes I'd play shows on the last run, I'd scratch my neck while I was singing, and I'd horrified to see these red streaks of blood after. I'd go back after meet-and-greets, and I would look in the mirror and be horrified because there would be, like, just streaks, like I'd gone like this. [mimes scratching her neck]

DIEHL: I think I've actually seen you do that while you were performing.

APPLE: Yeah, I mean, there was a lot of . . . There was a lot of pain going on there, so I think I was really abusing myself. I didn't realize that I was doing it, but I think it was coming from a painful place, and it was very embarrassing when I would go backstage after a meet-and-greet and realize that no one told me that I had, like, these red stripes down my neck. It was like, [in jokey voice] "I wonder why they all think I'm so sad?" [laughs]

DIEHL: I understand why there were six years between When the Pawn . . . and Extraordinary Machine, but now it's been almost seven years since that record came out. Why such a gap between albums?

APPLE: I really don't like making a thing out of, you know, "I'm going to write songs now." [laughs] That's why it takes so long.

DIEHL: I figured that you were just lazy.

APPLE: It kind of is . . . I'm not lazy, but I don't have that spur on my ass that most people have, like, "Oh, god. I have to get something out or else my career will be over!" I don't really care if my career is over.

DIEHL: Well, when you experience the kind of success that you did so early, people kind of wonder if you can—or will—follow a certain path.

APPLE: I get that, yeah, but, you know, I have no idea if this album sounds different, or doesn't fit with the ones from before. I don't have any idea of how either I am really perceived or the music that I make is really perceived. I color it all with my own perception anyway.

DIEHL: There is that line in "Every Single Night" where you actually say, "I just want to feel everything."

APPLE: Yes. It connects to the name of the record, which I have no idea if anybody can make sense of. I don't know if it would make any sense to me.

DIEHL: Well, you say you want to feel something, and then you mention "whipping cords" in the title . . .

APPLE: That relates to me having a problem with the whole "do unto others" thing, and also to the "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" concept. I don't plan on having kids, but I somehow tend to read a lot about parenting and think a lot about parenting—

DIEHL: You don't plan on having kids?

APPLE: No, I've never wanted kids. But I do read about parenting a lot. For some reason it's very interesting to me-I think because I'm just big on self-parenting. But I read this thing in a nautical book about how when ropes get frayed you'd use the whipping cords to fix the ends. The whole thing of the whipping cords is that, if I did have kids, I could either teach them how to stay out of trouble—or how to get out of trouble, which I think is more important. Because no matter how well prepared you are in life, you're gonna fall down a hole, and if you can fix the frayed ends of things, then you're better off.

DIEHL: It might be weird to say this after all this talk about pain and viscera, but as a person you're really funny. Do you think that's something that hasn't fully come through?

APPLE: I'm actually very goofy. I hate this feeling like I'm name-dropping, but Paul Thomas Anderson [the director and Apple's ex-boyfriend] told me that two of the funniest people he knows are me and Daniel Day-Lewis. He was like, "You're both hilarious, but everybody thinks you're awful."

DIEHL: Is The Idler Wheel . . . a relationship album? Or a break-up album? Or a coping album? Strangely, I can't tell.

APPLE: There's this song "Werewolf," which is important for me. I realized I was trying to be friends with somebody who I used to be with but who I didn't get along with. I'm really big on that. I need to be friends with everyone that I've ever had a relationship with.

DIEHL: You even have a song titled "Jonathan," which I'm assuming is named for another ex-boyfriend, the writer Jonathan Ames.

APPLE: Well, we've been broken up for almost two years, and he has another girlfriend. That's why I feel really bad when I'm talking about people. I feel like there are women out there like, "Stop talking about my fucking boyfriend!" Maya Rudolph [Anderson's current partner] is gonna be like, "What the fuck? Can you just leave? Can you not be around anymore?" Insane.

DIEHL: Well, you did call that song "Jonathan." You put it out there.

APPLE: I did that because Jonathan likes his name to be spoken. He pisses me off in so many ways, but I'm still very close with him. I felt like he deserves to have a song with his name in it. I was staying in an apartment in New York and he was just starting up his show [the HBO series Bored to Death]. I was writing this instrumental thing that I'd started after he had taken me to Coney Island—he takes all of his girlfriends to Coney Island. I was bitchy about it later on, but at the time he gave me this really wonderful day of simple joy and kindness. But after we broke up, I was like, "Am I gonna put this song on the album?" You know, this is going to sound awful, but it's also about practicality. If I ever get a boyfriend again, do I really need to be explaining for the rest of my life why they don't have a song but Jonathan does?

DIEHL: At this point, any boyfriend should assume that he's eventually going to be fodder for a song.

APPLE: At least now they know I'm not just completely blaming the other person. "Werewolf" was really an important song for me because it was admitting, "Yeah, all the anger that I had toward you was justified, and you are an asshole, but I was a great dance partner, and I brought a lot of that out of you."

DIEHL: So you've gone through some stuff in the seven years between albums.

APPLE: [laughs] I've had the most significant growth and craziness happening. I mean, the Jonathan relationship had so many different phases. We were long-distance and everything, so it was, like, a year before I would allow us to be called boyfriend and girlfriend.


APPLE: Because I was all about, "I will never have a boyfriend again." But I have to say that there have been a few other relationships in that time, too.

DIEHL: That are reflected on this album?

APPLE: Well, a couple.

DIEHL: I've always liked that you leave a lot of time between records. Your fans react so passionately whenever new music finally appears.

APPLE: That's become the only reason that I do this now—that I found out that somebody wanted me to be here. I don't need to write songs anymore. I can find other ways of expressing myself. But the "Free Fiona" thing in particular made me feel like I had actually gotten my wish from when I was 17 and got signed. At the time, I very honestly, sweetly, naively thought that I was going to make a record that would make all my friends come out of the world—and "Free Fiona" really made me feel like they did. I had lots of experience with people telling me that they didn't want to be friends with me because I was too sad, which is just the worst thing. [both laugh] But now I'm not sad anymore, and that really made me feel like my friends did come out. I recently met the guy who started that "Free Fiona" thing in Chicago, and he apologized and said, "We know that it wasn't what we thought it was. We thought it was Sony." I had to physically stop myself from getting down on my knees and grabbing his foot. For some reason I wanted to grab his foot and cuddle his shoe or something.

DIEHL: Cuddle it?

APPLE: Yeah, in the middle of this alley. That would be very strange, so I put my arm around him instead. But that whole thing really made me understand why I do this-that someone actually wanted me to be here. That's what has sunk in now that I'm not completely selfish about it all. It used to be that I was really just doing this for myself to get through stuff, and I don't think I really appreciated what it meant to have other people find something in it for themselves, but now it's really rewarding to me.

DIEHL: When you were younger, were you surprised at all by the way that people reacted to you? For example, how did you feel about the response to "Criminal" video when it first came out? Were you prepared for the backlash?

APPLE: I understand why that backlash happened—and I also understood it at the time. I think people could tell that I wasn't comfortable. A lot of that happened because Janeane Garofalo made a big deal out of it, which I actually heard from one of my comedian friends, Margaret Cho. Actually, I do like namedropping. [laughs] But Margaret told me that Janeane Garofalo had a letter that I wrote to her and had it on her wall to remind her that she could hurt people. I don't even remember writing her a letter.

DIEHL: What about your "This world is bullshit!" speech at the MTV Video Music Awards? Did the response to that surprise you?

APPLE: The MTV thing . . . I was not comfortable in that situation, but that was my top moment of self-parenting. No matter if I didn't say it completely right, I said what I wanted to say. That was going from junior high to another junior high. I felt like, "If I can say what's on my mind now, then that'll be the kind of person that I am."

DIEHL: At the time, though, both of those situations seemed like convenient things for the media to obsess about.

APPLE: Oh, that's all it is. There's never any content. They're so annoyed by me, but when you ask them why, you know . . .

DIEHL: I guess the person now who has most recently been the recipient of that kind of media scrutiny is Lana Del Rey.

APPLE: Yeah. I feel so bad for her.

DIEHL: Why do you feel bad for her?

APPLE: I just feel bad for anybody who gets trashed. I haven't heard any of her stuff really, but I saw that first Saturday Night Live performance, and I didn't think that there was anything about that performance that deserved to be trashed. If you gave me a whole movie's worth of all the performances on Saturday Night Live with all of the people that they've had on there, she'd be way down on the list of people that I would trash. I don't remember the song that I saw her sing, but that's all I've seen of her.

DIEHL: So are we going to wait another seven years for another album?

APPLE: I don't know. I'm very lucky that I don't worry about stuff like that. I don't have a plan in life. I know basically I want to move back to the East Coast, but I don't know what I'm going to do. I know I've said it every time, but I don't know if I'm going to make another album. I'm going to do whatever I do, and if I don't do this and can't find something else and lose all of my money and become broke, then I'm going to have some hard times. There will be new people that I'll meet, and I'm to be excited about that. I know that I'll be having new experiences and traveling to places.

Pitchfork article plus new song, "Werewolf"

Illustration by Kareena Zerefos
Tucked in the far corner of a small bar in Manhattan's SoHo Grand Hotel, Fiona Apple talks calmly and candidly about uncomfortable topics, things people are generally inclined to keep to themselves. Like whether or not she wants kids. Or past relationships. Her own dangerous birth. The limits of human empathy. Loneliness. OCD. Death. It's only when her long-time manager Andy Slater peeks in to remind her she has a photo shoot that she seems perturbed.
"I'm fine with all this stuff, until people are mean," she tells me. She continues, explaining her definition of "mean" in the context of an album's press cycle. She recalls a photo shoot for a glossy fashion magazine where she'd initially been instructed to go barefoot, until the photographers noticed her bunions. The shoot had been scheduled to run until eight p.m. "I told them, 'I'll only stay until eight if you show my feet in the magazine so that other girls can see my bunions and not feel bad about theirs,'" she says. "All of a sudden, they didn't need me until eight anymore."
She protests when Slater tells her they need new promotional photos for her upcoming fourth album and first in seven years, The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever doShe says she took some self-portraits for press outlets to use. I'm giddily imagining what might happen if Epic Recordswere to distribute Myspace-style cellphone shots for Fiona Apple. "Magazines need bigger pictures with higher resolutions," Slater gently informs her. "Magazines aren't that big!" Apple snaps back, exasperated.
The Idler Wheel is Apple's barest album, and its homespun instrumentation is gorgeously uneasy; clenched fists, feverish admissions, and nerve-shredding minor chords menace each warm melody. And, at 34, the singer's energy is coiled as tightly around a core of human emotion as it was during her Tidal days in the 1990s. She still seems so tethered to pure feeling that she has nothing left to expend on the practical and logistical concerns of the world around her-- driving a car, using a social media platform, taking a photo for a magazine spread. It's nearly impossible to imagine her checking her email or sorting out a calendar. Perhaps that's why her comeback is so exhilarating-- she's giving listeners a much-needed jolt from desensitizing technology and infinite fragmentation. She's always of the moment because she can't step outside of it.
Pitchfork: There are a lot of allusions to childhood on the new record. You sing, "We're eight years old playing hooky" and "I might need a chaperone." Is that an easy place for you to go?
Fiona Apple: I have a thing with wanting to get back to childhood. Right before I made the album, I would get depressed thinking about when I was a kid. I used to love to make things-- you couldn't drag me away for dinner because I was always writing a story or something.
I've always said I don't want to have kids. But up in my hotel room right now, the books I have with me are parenting books-- I had one about facial expressions and what they mean with babies that I gave to [ex-boyfriend] David Blaine's wife Alizee. This book I have upstairs is called Raising Happiness. I don't want a kid at all, but I do like reverse-engineering myself; managing and parenting myself. 
Pitchfork: Have those books brought you any revelations about your own childhood?
FA: Yeah. I might sound crazy about this but, years ago, my mom told me: "We almost died when you were born. Both of us." Two weeks before I was due, she and my father were fighting on the phone. He was in Boston, and they weren't very happy with each other. She told me: "I was rearranging furniture and I wanted him to be there so he could help me push the couch. I was just so mad, so I pushed it myself and felt something strange. I was kind of in pain for a couple of weeks." Her peritoneum-- which is the film that holds all of your organs together-- had ripped, just a little bit.
I was a Caesarean baby, and the doctor who delivered me later told me, "I opened your mother up, and you were right there. It freaked me out because everything was broken and out-there." I've thought about it a lot-- could this have something to do with the fact that I'm only happy when I'm at home and alone? Maybe I was just freaking out for two weeks before I was born, feeling really insecure. I used to get a shiver if I thought about holding balloons, because I was scared of floating away. Maybe that's ridiculous, but it's something I've thought about while reading these books.
Another thing about kids: Years ago, I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to have any. I wondered if I actually didn't want to, or if I just worried that I wouldn't be able to put their problems in front of mine. So I volunteered at UCLA's occupational therapy ward, where there are lots of kids with autism and OCD and emotional problems. I went there so I could be around a bunch of kids who would say things that hurt my feelings. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could not break down and cry at everything, and that I could just help somebody else. The one thing I really remember was that when we would take them out of the hospital for a walk around campus, they would freak out the most when we were waiting for the elevator. I remember the guy at the elevator said to himself, "Transitions are the hardest." And I said to myself, "Transitions are always the hardest."
Pitchfork: Have you been especially reclusive since you put out Extraordinary Machine seven years ago?
FA: I'd say that I've been reclusive the last 34 years. That was my big thing as a kid, staying home from school. I've trained myself to be psychosomatically sick a lot. To this day, if I go to [L.A. club] Largo-- which is a very comfortable place for me-- I tell my brother, "I have show stomach," which feels like the flu. Anytime I go out, it is just something to deal with, even walking to the grocery store. If I'm supposed to go from one place to another place that isn't that comfortable, I usually don't go.
Pitchfork: Do you go anywhere at all?
FA: I still don't know how to drive. I don't go anywhere, really, except for Largo. My brother drives me. I walk around my neighborhood but I don't go anywhere, nor do I want to. I want to move back to the East Coast. I like Venice, but L.A. is ugly. I would kill myself if I had to look out the window and see some places in L.A. every day.
Pitchfork: What's kept you there for so long?
FA: It's my dog, Janet, who's 13 now. She's pretty sick and she's going to die soon. She had Addison's Disease and it's very dangerous so I don't want to move her; she's never had to ask to go out to pee in Los Angeles because there's always been a backyard and a dog door. This is going to sound morbid, but-- when I'm not with her, I pretend she is already dead. I can't take her on the road and I'm pretty sad about it. She is the most consistent relationship of my life and I will keep her around forever. But I like this idea of pretending that she is dead so that, when she's actually dead, I can pretend she's in another room. Just blur the line. I'm kind of waiting for her to die. 
It's weird not having companionship and not having somebody to talk to. Right now, I have two goldfish in my hotel room. They said, "If you would like companionship, we can bring you a goldfish." I was like, "Bring me a goldfish!" I have two because when I needed the water changed they brought another one. I was like, "Don't take Desmond!"
Pitchfork: You named it Desmond?
FA: I don't know why. The new one doesn't have a name, but Desmond wasn't going anywhere. So now I have two. They're great. They come to the end of the bowl when I put my face there, like they are kissing me.

Pitchfork: At this point, you're 34 and onstage you're singing some very intense songs you wrote when you were a teenager or in your early 20s. Do they still resonate with you?
FA: It occurred to me when I was making this album that I fucked myself by writing all those songs when I was angry and hurt. Now, in order to live, I must rehash these memories all the time. Once the song starts, it's as though you have gotten drunk and you can't help it. The room just starts spinning. But you wake up later and you're fine; when I come out of the song, I'm out of it.  
Pitchfork: How has it been singing live in front of your fans again? Being in the audience, I've been amazed by how emotional the crowds are.
FA: Now, at my lowest moments, I think of people who come to shows. I still get very sad and sometimes I feel like I have no friends, but when that happens now, I'll think of people whose names or faces I don't know-- they're my friends and they love me. I've got them. It really does save me. I still feel awkward, but that's the one thing I can grab onto at my lowest points.
I think I'm better at live shows than I used to be because I'm way more comfortable with the uncomfortable pauses between songs. Now, rather than trying to talk or do a costume change, I'll use those moments for myself. I listen to what other people are playing, or just rest, or dance, even though I don't know how to. I'm very happy that I don't get embarrassed onstage as much anymore. But I do in real life, a lot.
Pitchfork: What do you get embarrassed about?
FA: Oh, everything I do and say, really. For many years, I was a really heavy drinker, but people don't know about that because I'm by myself all the time. Recently, I didn't drink for eight or nine months, and I learned that alcohol was quadrupling the embarrassing moments-- those moments when you're drunk and you say something you remember the next morning and feel embarrassed about. I'll have a drink now, though.
Recently, I did a Watkins Family Hour show at Largo and I was getting ready to do a song. I was looking forward to getting out the emotion, it was very serious. And I didn't realize that the wonderful Paul F. Tompkins would be hosting and doing comedy between songs. He came up and started to try to joke around with me, and I said, "I don't do that," which sounds so bitchy. But it just came out. I meant to say, "I don't know how to do that and I didn't know we were going to be funny." And that just hurt for weeks because I felt rude. It doesn't sound like much, but I felt so embarrassed.
Pitchfork: I often think about something you said in an interview years ago: "Everything that happens to me, I experience it really intensely. I feel it very deeply." You've spoken a lot about honoring a spectrum of feelings. Do you still feel that way or have you hardened at all?
FA: I have gone back and forth and I have saved myself from the hardening. There is a song on the new album, "Left Alone", where I say, "I don't cry when I'm sad anymore." There was a period of time when I was not feeling things. It was terrible. Sometimes it's good to grow a tough hide-- for press stuff, maybe. But when I hear people say that they won't get a dog because they had one when they were a kid and it died, or that they don't want to fall in love because it hurts too much, I'm like, "fuck you."
I really believe in completely being naive and having high hopes when meeting someone new. I can kind of re-do my stupidity or my naivete. It pisses me off to think that we're conditioned to push away bad feelings and to think that anything that's uncomfortable is something to be avoided. When things are really bad nowadays, I recognize the value in it because it's me filling my quota-- it's going to make my joy more intense later.
The worst pain in the world is shame. I spend a lot of time trying to not do anything bad to anyone, but you can't live your life and not hurt people. Pretty recently, I did something that I'm really not proud of, and it shocked me. I thought, "I'm a really fucking bad person." But I realized that something good came out of it because now I have to be a lot less judgmental of others. Everything can make you a more compassionate person if you use it that way.

Pitchfork: What was the catalyst for this record? Was it an internal thing where you needed catharsis, or was there someone urging you?
FA: No one was urging me. Other people might be angry that their record company didn't give a shit about whether they had a record out, but I am very happy Epic didn't because that would have just made me go away and not want to do any of it. If people were like, "You gotta come out with something," it'd be like telling me to take a shit. Even if you tell me to, I can't.
Pitchfork: So what you're saying is that your music is shit. 
FA: That's my metaphor for the day. This is the stuff that I really needed to get out, this is the excrement of my life, the excrement I was trying to exorcise out of me.
I'll admit that there's one song on the album that I wrote in a rush because someone made fun of me for not writing. One of my friends said to me, "Oh yeah, of course you aren't writing." So I was like, "The next time you see me, I'm gonna have a new song." I wrote "Criminal" in 45 minutes when everyone else went to lunch because I had to have a hit. I can force myself to do the work, but only if someone is right up behind me.
Pitchfork: There's a lot of unorthodox instrumentation on this new album-- quirky percussion, sampling. What took you in that direction?
FA: On the first night of recording with [producer/percussionist] Charley [Drayton], we walked by this bottle-making factory. The door was open and you could hear a machine running. We both had our recorders with us and we agreed that the sound would be good for the song "Jonathan". Juan, the guy working the night shift at the factory, let us walk through and record the sound of the machine.
That was the moment where I said, "Oh, we're not making demos-- this is going to be it. Me and Charley are going to make a record right now." And then it just got fun. On "Anything We Want", I've been playing this stupid pipe thing live, but that sound was actually me at my desk with a pair of scissors, a tin full of burnt-cedar sashays, and a plastic cup. I was hitting everything with scissors and the cedar was flying all over the place.
I've been in the business for so long, and my favorite thing is drums. I have a very, very big memory-- and I don't have many big memories-- of going to see the movie Tap, with Gregory Hines. During one scene, he's in jail, and there's some water dripping down, and he starts tap dancing. I just like that feeling of: "I'm in charge, I can do whatever I want." 

Pitchfork: What about the sound of children screaming on "Werewolf"-- it seems to come out of nowhere.
FA: I wrote that song while staying at my mother's apartment up in Harlem. Whenever there's a TV, I put on [Turner Classic Movies]-- I always have it on, while I sleep, whatever. I was recording myself doing the song for the first time, and a battle broke out in the movie that was playing. People were shooting and screaming. I liked it, but I couldn't use it from the movie, so I spent literally the next year trying to recreate that sound. I went to San Francisco for Halloween and I was hanging out in trollies recording people screaming. I would walk past a bunch of drunk people and be like: "Hey, scream!" But it would always sound wrong and stupid.
But on the first morning we were planning to record, I had just gotten out of the shower and I heard all these kids screaming-- there's an elementary school across from my house in L.A. I was like, "Oh shit, that's it." I threw on whatever was right there-- which I didn't realize at the time was a pair of pants that I was going to throw away because the ass was split-- and I ran out, half-clothed, carrying my recording thing. I was standing there looking like a crazy person, watching these kids. They were jumping with balloons between their legs, trying to make them pop. In the actual song, we had to take out all the balloon pops because they sounded like gunshots. But it was so perfect.
P: Can you talk about the meaning of the new album's title: The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do? It's no When the Pawn... but it's still a mouthful.
FA: I came up with it in a total rush. After having stayed up all night on deadline, it just came to me right after the sun rose. I didn't realize people would be like, "Oh shit, another poem." It just came out to be what it was-- sorry.
If you think about it, the driver of the screw has one job and he is always trying to change things. But the idler wheel is there and has this great effect on what the gears do; the idler wheel knows the machine much better than just this one thing that's performing this one task.
For the second line, I had read about whipping cords in a nautical book that my last boyfriend had. I read that when ropes get frayed at sea, you can repair the frayed ends of the ropes with whipping cords that are very strong. This goes right back to the parenting thing-- if I had a kid, and I had a choice between teaching somebody how to avoid trouble, or teaching them how to get out of it, I'd teach them how to get out of it.
Pitchfork: You've never used a boyfriend's name before, but you have one song called "Jonathan" on this album. I assume that's about Jonathan Ames.
FA: Yeah, because he's a good guy. I did it because-- and I'm saying this in the most affectionate way-- he loves attention. I had come to New York for three months to write and to take a visual perception class at the New School. I was at the piano and I started writing a musical piece that reminded me of Jonathan because he is so extreme in some ways. He is just so hilariously quiet on a day-to-day basis, but when he's on stage or excited with a group of people, he's just embarrassingly bombastic. So I was like, "Hey, I'm writing this music and it reminds me of you," and he was like, "Does it have my name in it?" I thought, "I'll do that for him." But then we broke up.
One day he took me to Coney Island, where he takes all his girls. We were on the subway and-- he didn't know it at the time because we had just met-- but I had been thinking about dying a lot. I would never kill myself, but you can kind of let yourself die. But I had this good day with Jonathan; he is a very understanding person. Very non-judgemental, very kind. You can say anything or do anything and he's never going to snap at you. If I was being an asshole and he called me out on it, I would start smiling like, "Good! I am being an asshole." The song is a testament to the power of Jonathan Ames' kindness.
Pitchfork: I'm curious about your relationship with the internet. It's really hard to picture you even going on a computer.
FA: Lately, I can spend a lot of time on the internet as a substitute for TV. This is part of the reason why I'm not a good girlfriend-- you can't sit down with me and watch a movie. I hate being strapped down to stay with something. So when I watch TV, and TCM isn't on, I just switch channels and look at all the information about everything. The internet is perfect for that, which is why I didn't really want to get a computer in the first place. I thought, "If I have a computer and know about this whole Google thing, I am not going to be able to sit still for a second; I'm going to think about something and then have to look it up." I have never bought myself a computer or a phone, but guys in my life have bought them for me, for whatever reason. So now I have them.
Pitchfork: What do you do when you're online?
FA: I like slideshows. The New York Times has slideshows, and that's where I might start. Then I'll look at anything, crap. Even red carpet shit where I don't even know who any of the people are. Recently, I was looking at a "most fashionable" slideshow for some sort of kids' awards show. I did not know who any of the people were, but they were a big deal.
P: Are there any contemporary artists right now whose career you are following or whose music you are listening to?
FA: I just don't really listen to music. I'm probably missing out, but I don't want to know what everybody else is doing. Nobody is strong enough to not be influenced. And I don't mean influenced by copying-- I'd be influenced because I wouldn't want to do what someone else is doing. I want to be able to do whatever I feel like doing and not worry about anything. Even when I was a kid, the only contemporary artist I listened to was Cyndi Lauper. Everything else was Harry Belafonte and Carmen Miranda.
Pitchfork: With your comeback and the outpouring of excitement over Idler Wheel, fan camps have become territorial-- arguments over who's liked you longer or more genuinely. Are you aware of the mainstream vs. indie divide in contemporary music?
FA: I don't even know how to register that concept. How do you fight about that? That sounds like the Munchkins are fighting with the Lemon Drops about who gets to go on the candy bridge. It's imaginary. Why can't I be myself? I'll get so pissy when people describe music like, "It's like this meets this." Fucking hate that shit.
When I came in from Paris recently, for some reason the guy from customs wanted to know what kind of music I wrote. I was like, "I really want to please you so you don't keep me here, but I have no answer to that." I don't want to be one of those people who claim to hate labels, but it's true. I even feel that we've got it all wrong with the whole gay/straight thing. There is a spectrum. Everybody is completely different. Some people are way over on this side of the spectrum, some are on the other side, and some are crossed in certain ways. John is John. Joey is Joey.
Pitchfork: Maybe that's why you still resonate with people so much. Everything's become so over-classified, but you genuinely seem to exist outside of it all.
FA: I will take that as a compliment and I will be proud. Categories are gibberish to me. I understand-- it helps people organize their thoughts. But you can't go too far with it.
LISTEN TO "WEREWOLF" HERE: (it´s amazing!)