jueves, 31 de mayo de 2012

SPIN: Fiona Apple's Return

Seven years after we last heard from her, Fiona Apple is back with another idiosyncratically titled, mesmerizing album as emotionally raw and confused and confusing as ever. But now, maybe for the first time, she's okay with all that.

In front of a tangle of abstract sculpture in the corner booth of a deserted restaurant off the lobby of a midtown Manhattan hotel, Fiona Apple is answering questions. It's a rainy day in April and really she's just talking.

She's told me she lives in Los Angeles, but she doesn't leave the house. Apple is 34 years old and doesn't have a driver's license. "I'm noticing now that I'm not feeling shame saying this," she says. "Whereas before I probably would've, like, lied a little bit about it and been like, 'Yeah, you know, I see friends sometimes.' But I really don't." She says when her phone rings with an invitation, she actually says, Oh, fuck! out loud, because then it's like, "I should go do this because if I don't, then that's really stupid. I'm gonna look like a crazy person." Apple says she's thinking about moving back east, but she's waiting for her dog to die first.

She's explained, unprompted, that she made 1996's Tidal, her harrowing, triple-platinum debut, because she was almost 20 and didn't have any friends and she wanted some.

Anyway, she's said all that, and now she's on to her anxiety about performing in front of people, which persists, though less than people imagine it to, to this day. "I used to have to pretend like I'd die if I saw anybody or if I met eyes with anybody in the audience," Apple says, but that's not true anymore, even though she giggles when I remind her that only a few weeks earlier she told an audience in Austin — one of a string of comeback shows in March, all rapturously received — "You're not real." (She does, however, seem comfortable enough around civilians, judging from a scene I witness right before the two of us sit down: Apple rushing up to a deeply perplexed man in a suit and enthusiastically introducing herself, mistaking him for me.)

And now she's telling me about her first psychiatrist, back when she was a kid, who showed her Rorschach blots and administered tests and wrote a two-page report about the whole thing that he and his colleagues gave to her parents. And Apple was furious, even then, about the things other people would write about her, because it was as if the doctors "didn't even see me — like, they got my hair color wrong even."

And she's about to tell me about her relationship with Jonathan Ames, the writer, whom she used to date but doesn't anymore, even though there is a song, "Jonathan," about him on her new record. Then she'll take a little bit more than seven long and not very articulate minutes to explain what the title of that new record, The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do (Epic), actually means.

But before she gets there, I am going to have to interrupt, because it's 2012, and Fiona Apple now has been doing this, trying to explain herself to strangers, for nearly 17 years. She's been a public figure for half her natural life. And she is still impossibly bad at it.

Seven years after we last heard from her, Fiona Apple is back with another idiosyncratically titled, mesmerizing album as emotionally raw and confused and confusing as ever. But now, maybe for the first time, she's okay with all that.

Let's begin with, well, SPIN. November 1997. "The Girl Issue." Fiona Apple's face is on the cover. "She's Been a Bad, Bad Girl," reads the cover line. Photographed by rutting porn auteur Terry Richardson — Apple choking herself, burrowing under some orange-red couch cushions. "Give me sexy, seduce me," Richardson says to her. Apple tells the writer, John Weir: "If you want to see me cry, just come to a photo shoot."

The article is redolent of the '90s. It contains this sentence: "A backstage pass hung from her navel ring." Apple's boyfriend at the time, a 24-year-old named David Blaine, is described as "the downtown New York card-tricks fixture." Apple calls her future Lilith tour-mate Tori Amos "a poster girl for rape," whatever that means. She tells Weir she's "going to help some little girl out there," and then, once that girl is saved by knowing that Fiona is human, and has bunions, "I'm going to die."

Apple ends up being so hurt by the way she's portrayed in the piece that she writes a 90-word poem about the experience and uses it as the title for her platinum second album, When the Pawn…, the length of which briefly lands her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

But she doesn't stop talking to journalists. She doesn't even stop talking to SPIN. "I love her I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude," says Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, in a February 2000 follow-up profile, titled "The Miseducation of Fiona Apple." In between, Apple does a Rolling Stone interview in which she talks about being raped at the age of 12 and gives the writer, Chris Heath, the name and current phone number of the Rollerblading teenage boyfriend who broke her heart and inspired many of the songs that ended up on Tidal.

"I did?!" She's staring at me incredulously.

Yeah. He proceeds to call, and there are quotes from the guy in the feature. And I'm looking at that, and I'm like, "Why would you ever give…"

"Wow. I don't even remember who I gave the number to, whose number it was, or why I would do that."

You just seemed really unguarded. You didn't need to give the journalist the number of that guy, but you did.

"I didn't need to, but it doesn't sound that crazy. Because the only thing that I'd have to be afraid of is whatever that ex-boyfriend would say about me. And if I'm being honest, I don't think I have an ex-boyfriend who would have something mean to say about me. I think that I probably knew that it would be okay."

We talk for a little while about this, the idea that a person in her position might choose to hold back as many details of her personal life as she could. That she spent the first five years of her career speaking her mind in public and being criticized for it. That many people who have sold far fewer records than she has might have figured out ways to be savvy and self-protecting around people who don't necessarily have their best interests at heart.

"How would I be more savvy right now?" she asks. She's genuinely perplexed. The failing light from the window outside is putting huge shadows around her huge eyes. Her hair is dyed red, and it's brushing her shoulders. She's wearing a camouflage green tank top and a long skirt and boots. And but for the fact that she looks like an adult now, and not a walking indictment of an industry that happily put a scantily dressed teenager on the cover of more magazines than she cares to remember, you could be talking to the same 19-year-old of all those years ago.

"Would I redirect the conversation? Or just talk about" — you can hear the disdainful quotation marks — "the 'new track' coming up? What do you do, except answer the questions honestly? What's the point if you're not going to? What's the point of any of this?"

As it happens, the new track "Every Single Night," the first single from Idler Wheel (which is great, by the way, stripped-down and savage and full of pointillist little stories and jagged, sticky images; it's maybe the best, or at least most complete, thing she's ever done), premieres on the Internet just a few hours before we sit down. Apple has no idea that the song is in the world until I mention it an hour later, when we're saying our goodbyes.

It's almost hard to remember now, in the age of Kanye and Gaga, how fame used to be something we foisted onto our unwilling pop stars. How so many of our idols from the '90s were so deeply uncomfortable with the spotlight. Kurt and Courtney and so on — all these people we basically ruined with our love. Fiona Apple is in many ways the last member of that unhappy elect, someone we brought screaming into platinum sales, who experienced the absolute worst the degenerate record executives and magazine editors were capable of, who was told by Terry Richardson at age 20: Give me sexy, seduce me.

The "Criminal" video, from 1997, is the thing you show children to explain to them why they shouldn't go into the music industry. It's the video that invented American Apparel advertising — Apple, skinny and cringing in her underwear, watching helplessly as her sneering anthem of louche indifference is transformed by Viacom and her label's minions into a plea for help.

That same year, MTV gave her a Video Music Award, which she accepted by saying: "This world is bullshit. And you shouldn't model your life — wait a second — you shouldn't model your life about what you think we think is cool and what we're wearing and what we're saying and everything. Go with yourself." From the stage she told her mother, "I'm so glad we're becoming friends," and then told the audience, "It's just stupid that I'm in this world."

All reasonable sentiments, except for perhaps the last one, but she was widely mocked for expressing them on national television. Three years later, on February 29, 2000, she was playing a show at New York's Roseland Ballroom, something went wrong with the sound, and she stormed off the stage in tears. Even now, 12 years later, she's still living this stuff down — still answering questions about those days. (For the record: "It wasn't fun to have a meltdown and stop a show. I mean, that would make me cringe for years. But I don't want to take it back now, because I sit here and it's funny to me. I'll talk about Roseland forever. I could talk about the speech I made at the Video Music Awards. All the things that would be embarrassing or something, I'm fine with it. I have no shame about any of that stuff. And it delights me to look at that, to be like, 'Look, you thought that was the end of the world." And it's not, it wasn't, it really wasn't, so much so that I have not a bit of cringe in me about these things.")

In the years since, she says, she's grown up — that's kind of what Idler Wheel is about. She hasn't worked much in the past decade. There was 2005's Extraordinary Machine, with its own attendant controversy that boiled down to the swap of one producer, pop maximalist Jon Brion, for another, Dr. Dre confederate Mike Elizondo. While she was sorting that out, and rerecording the LP with Elizondo, fans started a misapprehending "Free Fiona" campaign — they thought her label was delaying the record — that nevertheless shows you how fiercely attached and protective her audience had become, even then. And now, on June 19, she'll release Idler Wheel, only her fourth LP in 16 years, and probably the first of her career to emerge without incident or strife or even much in the way of expectations.

"I sometimes think that I must time-travel and I don't remember it," Apple says, when I ask her what she does with all the time she spends not working. "Like, I must be off climbing a mountain in a parallel universe. I can't remember writing any of the songs that I've written. I don't know what the hell I do with myself. I feel like I'm 100 years old. I can't tell you what I did today. I can't tell you what I did for seven years. I can't tell you. It happens so seamlessly — I'm just floating along and seven years go by."

You can't remember writing any of your songs?

"No, I don't remember writing any of the songs."

According to Apple, the concept behind the title The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do is hard to explain but has to do with the idea of "being still in the middle of everything else but being able to feel everything." The idler wheel is the gear that does no work, drives no shafts. "It doesn't look like it's doing anything, but I feel like it's connected to everything," she says. It's about how she feels inside the machine of her own life and career. It's about how she marks time.

She read about whipping cords, which are used to bind and repair frayed ropes, in "this book about boating that was at my last boyfriend's house." The idea is less about avoiding mistakes than learning how to cope with them. "You're gonna get punched and blown around," she says. She looks over my shoulder into the empty restaurant, tries to figure out how to express what she wants to express. "What's valuable is to know how to make something out of that." Apple has had a lot of years to learn.

She made Idler Wheel over a few scattered months in 2009 and 2010 with her touring drummer, Charley Drayton, producing. According to Apple, her label only found out she was working on a new album when she handed it in early this year. Epic executives asked, in the way that executives do, if she thought the record was really finished — if there wasn't another song, a hit perhaps, still forthcoming. She told them it was finished, that it had to be finished, that the same week she'd finished it she'd broken up with her boyfriend, Jonathan Ames.

She'd thought: "I just finished writing an album. I can't write an album about you now, about breaking up." So instead he got a love song, "Jonathan." She tells me, pointing up toward her hotel room, that she'd been on the phone with Ames right before she came downstairs to meet me, and that they're still friends. For a while, she was going to leave the song off the record. She called him and said, "Listen, it's just a practical thing, because if I get another boyfriend, I don't want to have to deal with, 'Who's this Jonathan guy?' I honestly felt like it's just going to be the fight that breaks up my next relationship, and it's not worth it. But then I was like, 'Ah, fuck it.'"

"Jonathan" is one of only two unequivocal love songs on Idler Wheel. The other, "Anything We Want," might be the most romantic song Apple has ever written. "I looked like a neon zebra shaking rain off her stripes," she chants, or rather growls, intoning the lyrics as much as she is singing them. "And the rivulets had you riveted to the places I wanted you to kiss me." It's a very Fiona Apple metaphor, delicate and weird and somehow heartbreaking, and a welcome moment of relief in an album that's mostly about figuring out ways to let go of old loves and old lives.

"I stand no chance of growing up," she sings on "Valentine." But Idler Wheel is the most grown-up album she's ever made. According to Drayton, there isn't a single electric instrument on it: The entire recording is acoustic. You can hear Apple's newfound clarity, her resignation, her paradoxical optimism. "Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key," she sings on "Werewolf." And a couple times, as on "Daredevil" or "Regret," she screams, a full-body scream, over almost as soon as it begins. It is the sound of one world ending and another one right behind it, beginning again.

One advantage, she says, to making four albums in 16 years is that they become like autobiography, each record dividing one phase of life from the next. She says she hated working on Tidal. She spent those sessions doing crosswords under the piano in the Sony building in Manhattan. "I felt ridiculous being in a studio with real musicians, and I felt like everybody hated me. Everybody did hate me."

When the Pawn…, her second album, went better. "I was more in control, and I felt like I could do what I wanted to do, which is probably a good influence of Paul [Thomas Anderson, director of Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood], who I was with then, because he is — in the best way — cocky. And I think that rubbed off on me. Like 'Yeah, of course I can do whatever I want."

Extraordinary Machine was cool, but she regrets the way she shoved Jon Brion off the project, though they're still friends, and he's apparently never mentioned it.

And then there's Idler Wheel. "This one I love, even though there's a lot of pain that I went through during the making of it. I feel very sure of myself. Not that I'm so great, but that I'm right. Nobody can tell me that my song isn't done," she says.

She looks up at the writer in front of her.

"Whatever I read in the paper, if somebody says that I'm crazy now? I'm not going to believe it just because they say it."


By Tyler Coates May 31, 2012

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” So goes the oft-quoted line from William Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun. Time is circular, and our relationship with our own personal histories is ever changing. This is a concept with which the enigmatic Fiona Apple is deeply familiar. The 34-year-old singer-songwriter is about to release her fourth album—the first in seven years—aptly titled The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do. The spinning wheel of time cranks back and forth for Apple, who continues to re-examine her past while trying to keep up with the present. Like most artists, however, Apple finds that her fans cherish the past more than she does.

In 2000, a 16-year-old fan named Bill Magee approached Apple after a show in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania with a request: he told her he was a member of his high school’s gay-straight alliance and hoped that Apple could write a few words of support. “[I] was much more interested in interacting with a celebrity than building an alliance between gays and straights,” he admitted on his blog 12 years later where he posted a scanned image of the letter he received less than a week after requesting her response. Apple wrote: “All I know is I want my friends to be good people, and when my friends fall in love, I want them to fall in love with other good people. How can you go wrong with two people in love? If a good boy loves a good girl, good. If a good boy loves another good boy, good. And if a good girl loves the goodness in good boys and good girls, then all you have is more goodness, and goodness has nothing to do with sexual orientation.”

“My brother was the one who told me about it,” Apple tells me just weeks after Magee posted the letter on his Tumblr, which was then picked up by various sites like Jezebel and Pitchfork. “I was like, ‘A letter I wrote to someone when I was 22 has made its way online?’ That’s the scariest thing I could possibly hear in my life. And the subject matter was so important—I know how I’ve always felt so I knew it wasn’t going to be a bad letter, but I was like, ‘What did I say?!’”

The letter’s sudden popularity online is indicative of how much has changed since Apple released her debut album, Tidal, in 1996. For starters, she was then a 19-year-old singer-songwriter signed to a major record label and churning out emotional and dark odes at a time when her contemporaries were singing bubblegum-pop love songs. She made headlines after appearing in the video for “Criminal.” Shot in a seedy apartment, the video featured a scantily clad and emaciated Apple, sparking criticisms of the exploitive quality of the images (and suggesting that she had an eating disorder). In 1997, when accepting her award for Best New Artist at the MTV Video Music Awards, Apple infamously shouted into the microphone, “This world is bullshit, and you shouldn’t model your life on what we think is cool, and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying.” While the speech was replayed and parodied on TV for years following, Apple was lucky enough to have said those words before the days of blogging and YouTube; had she given the speech 15 years later, it may have turned into a career-damaging viral video and sparked a few thousand snarky tweets.
She also has the luxury of being a successful artist who doesn’t need to promote herself online. “They want me to tweet now, but I don’t,” Apple tells me ofher label reps. “It doesn’t feel natural to me. But I do find it actually more interesting to see people posting ridiculously mundane shit. I like to hear about what people had for breakfast or what they did all day. It’s interesting because I don’t know how other people live.”

While Apple is hardly a recluse, she’s made few public appearances in the seven years since the release of her third album, Extraordinary Machine. The excitement following the announcement by Epic Records of the late-June release of The Idler Wheel speaks to the loyalty of her fan base. (And as for that long-winded title, it’s a callback to the much-maligned 90-word title of her acclaimed sophomore effort, universally shortened to When the Pawn...) The Idler Wheel does not deviate from the familiar sounds of Apple’s earlier records; the songs are still layered with complex instrumentation, and her reverberant voice still takes center stage in each tune. The album was produced nearly in secret over the last few years—a surprising move from an established artist with the resources of a major label at her disposal. But Apple explains that her experience with the label system is what allowed her to feel free to work on her own. “It was very casual, and I wasn’t fully admitting that I was making an album,” she says. “I got to use the time in the studio to inspire me to finish other things rather than feel like I was finishing homework to hand in. It wasn’t a lot of pressure. And the record company didn’t know I was doing it, so nobody was looking over my shoulder.”

Most might take that mentality as a reaction to the restrictions of her record label, especially after the drama surrounding the release of Extraordinary Machine. After collaborating with Jon Brion (who produced When the Pawn) to create an early version of the third album in 2002, Apple then decided to rework all but two of the songs with producer Mike Elizondo. The original version of the album leaked online, and Brion suggested in interviews that Apple’s label had rejected the demo and forced her to rerecord the songs (a claim that Apple later denied). Still, it incited an uproar among her fans. An online-based movement called Free Fiona organized demonstrations outside of the Sony headquarters in New York, and protestors sent apples to the label’s executives. The final version of the album was released in 2005 and received positive reviews and earned Apple a Grammy nomination. “I ran into the guy who started Free Fiona after a show in Chicago,” she tells me. “He apologized to me! They didn’t get the story quite right, but they did help me get my album out. I felt so bad that he had spent all this time thinking I was pissed at him—I had a physical urge to get down on the floor and kiss his shoes!”

It’s an intense reaction (she admits she didn’t bow to her fan because “it would be weird if I did that”), but Apple is still a very intense person. Dressed in a flowing skirt paired with several layers of spaghetti-strapped tank tops that reveal her slender frame (which seems healthier than in her early days, giving the impression that she must spend most of her downtime on a yoga mat), Apple fidgets in her seat during our conversation, often giving off an infectious giggle. But she is surprisingly comfortable to talk to, not much like the somber young woman who sang of heartbreak and disappointment. “I don’t think I’ll ever have an idea of what I look like to the rest of the world,” she replies when I ask if she ever worries that her lyrics, which are sometimes in stark contrast to the up-tempo, progressive sounds of her songs’ instrumentations, give off the wrong impression of her personality. “It’s all your own perception. I could easily be concerned with how I’m taken and then have all the good stuff filtered through to me and choose to believe that. For the rest of my life it’d be the truth for me, but not the whole truth.”
Born Fiona Apple McAfee Maggart in New York City to Brandon Maggart and Diane McAfee, Apple’s musical destiny was settled at birth. The McAfee-Maggarts are, while not reaching Barrymore-level name recognition, an entertainment family; Apple’s father was nominated for a Tony for his performance in the Broadway musical Applause, both her mother and sister are singers, and her half-brothers work in the film industry—one an actor and the other a director. She’s a third-generation performer, as her grandmother was a dancer in musical revues and her grandfather a Big Band-era musician. While Apple’s auspicious introduction to the pop world had critics calling her a prodigy, she crafted her early songs as a cathartic necessity. (“Sullen Girl” from Tidal, in particular, is about her rape at the age of 12.) “Over the years it’s transferred more into a craft,” she says. “I use myself as material because that’s what I’ve got. But these days I write less than half of my songs to get myself through things. I have to find other things to be meaningful— otherwise I’d just be miserable all the time.”

Her songs are still extremely autobiographical, which is perhaps their charm. Following in the footsteps of other singer-songwriters, especially women who emerged in the early ’90s and expressed their emotions in particularly vulnerable ways, Apple’s openness has always had an empowering appeal. Her songs seem to suggest that feeling a variety of emotions—sadness, glee, despair, insanity—is not only normal, but, like those self-reflective musicians before her, she also gives permission to her listeners to feel the same way.

Even for Apple, her older songs are relics of another time, and she now makes them applicable to her life in the present. “They all kind of become poems after a while,” she says. “You can take your own meaning out of them. It’s been a very long time [since my first albums], and I can apply those songs to other situations that are more current in my life.” She admits she has changed greatly since she started writing songs in her late teenage years, especially when it comes to how she portrays herself. “I don’t feel comfortable singing the songs that I wrote. I used to blame other people and not take responsibility. I thought I was a total victim trying to look strong.”

And she is much harder on herself in the songs on The Idler Wheel than she ever was before. Sure, she admitted to being “careless with a delicate man” in “Criminal,” arguably her most famous song, and in When the Pawn’s “Mistake” she sang, “Do I wanna do right, of course but / Do I really wanna feel I’m forced to / Answer you, hell no.” On The Idler Wheel, Apple examines her own solitude and neuroses as well as their effect on her relationships with others. “I can love the same man, in the same bed, in the same city,” she sings on “Left Alone,” “But not in the same room, it’s a pity.” On “Jonathan,” a somber love song layered with robotic, mechanical sounds that’s presumably about her ex-boyfriend, author and Bored to Death creator Jonathan Ames, she urges, “Don’t make me explain / Just tolerate my little fist / Tugging at your forest-chest / I don’t want to talk about anything.”
But performing, as a central requirement of her career, still takes precedence. “Some nights I’m very, very nervous, and some nights I’m not at all,” she tells me. “I think, ‘This is ridiculous. I’m not a person who does a show, I’m a person who should be on a couch watching TV.’ But then it’s like I get knocked into another state of consciousness, and then I’m left behind, and the person that’s doing the show is there and there’s nothing else in the world existing other than the note she’s singing. It’s such a joy to do, but I forget about it until I’m on the stage.”

Apple has lived in los Angeles since Tidal’s release in 1996, although she admits that she’s “not an L.A. girl.” “I was supposed to stay in New York,” she tells me. “I remember being 17 and asking if I could record in New York. How did I end up here? It’s 15 years later... How did that happen?” Apple doesn’t seem to process time like other people. When I ask when she began recording The Idler Wheel and when she knew it was ready, she has a complicated answer. “It must have started in 2008. Or 2009. I don’t know! I have no idea. It’s weird to think that there was 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.” Her big blue eyes suddenly look to her right as she furrows her brow. “Where’ve I been? What was I doing? What was that year about?”

Maybe the solitary nature of living in L.A. contributes to her aloof tendencies. “I’m not a social creature,” she says, “I don’t go to parties all the time because I’d probably just wonder why I’m there in the first place.” Her preference for being alone may also stem from the kind of personal criticisms that people tend to throw at female musicians. “I’ve gotten so used to being misunderstood. Nobody’s ever really said anything bad about my music, but when I’ve had albums come out there are always people making fun of me. ‘Oh, she’s back?’” She didn’t even expect the comments (mostly online) when the full title of The Idler Wheel was announced. “I didn’t stop to think that anyone would call it ridiculous, but people did. I thought, ‘Ahhh. My old friends.’ I’m not sure what’s ridiculous about it, but that’s what they’ve got to say.”

I cautiously mention the infamous acceptance speech from the VMAs, a moment early in her career that defined the public persona of Fiona Apple as an angry, ungracious woman. “I’ve never been ashamed of that,” she replies immediately. It was the first moment, she says, in which she felt like she could speak up—to break free from the shyness that defined her childhood and early teenage years. “I genuinely, naïvely thought that I was going to put out a record and that was going to make me have friends. I expected to give it to people and they would understand me; no one would say to me, ‘We don’t want to be your friend because you’re too intense or too sad all the time.’” It wasn’t necessarily the case.

“Do you still think the world is bullshit?” I ask when we talk about the VMAs. She laughs. “It’s not the world!” she exclaims. “Of course people think that ‘the world’ is the whole world. I felt that I had finally gotten into the popular crowd, and I thought, ‘Is this what I’ve been doing this for?’ I felt like I was back in the cafeteria in high school and still couldn’t speak up for myself.”

These days, Apple spends more time focusing on her own art rather than the reactions to it. With age has come calm and decreasing desire to pay attention to her detractors. “I’ve decided it takes too much energy to try to avoid it,” she tells me, brushing aside her freshly dyed crimson hair. “I’m not going to hide from the world.” 


miércoles, 30 de mayo de 2012

BlackBook Magazine

In our upcoming June/July issue, Fiona Apple opens up about her career and her new album The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do, which drops June 19. We can barely wait to share with you our profile of the enigmatic singer-songwriter, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the full piece. In the meantime, check out some of the interesting bits that didn't make it into the issue!

On writing the songs that make up The Idler Wheel:
I've never been a big re-writer or eraser. I don't tend to write things down until they are what is in my head. With this album, I didn't question that came out of my brain or mouth. I just decided to spit everything out and accept as it was and not go back and change anything. I don't really remember writing the songs. I don't remember them being at an in-between stage. I remember the beginning and I remember them being done.

On keeping up with the blogosphere:
There’s one person’s LiveJournal that I’ve read for the past few years. It’s really two people—they’re a couple and they live in Boston and they foster pit bulls. For some reason I clung onto them five or six years ago. I don’t know how I found them, but I check in on both of them all the time. I sent the guy a book he was saying he wanted. I hoped he'd write on his blog, "A mysterious stranger sent me the book I wanted," but he never did.

On Lana Del Rey and "trollgaze":
How can you live like that though? I don’t know anything about Lana Del Rey except that she’s been slammed a lot, and I feel bad for anyone who has that happen to them. Is she was sitting in a room and saying, "As long as I make money, you can make me out to be this way?" I can’t see that happening, but if it does I don’t understand it. I mean, yeah, I don’t think it matters much to the people that are making the money behind the artists if they’re liked or remembered or anything as long as it’s their terms as the president of such-and-such record company. They want [theirartists] to have a lot of attention. If it’s bad attention, it’s bad attention, but as long as they make money, it’s good attention.

NY Times article (with 2 new pictures)

FIONA APPLE was angry. Very angry. “Angry, angry, angry,” as she put it during a long, unguarded conversation on a Friday afternoon in SoHo. About a year and a half ago, after she had completed the album she’ll release on June 19 — a collection of stripped-down, percussive songs that’s as passionate, smart and cutting as anything she’s done — Ms. Apple got so angry that she started walking up and down a hill near her home in Venice, Calif.

The album was in music-business limbo. Ms. Apple was delaying it until her label, Epic Records, found a new president. She had not made a new album since 2005 and didn’t want her work to be mishandled amid corporate disarray. And she was in deep personal turmoil. “I just spiraled downward, and everything looked bad,” she said.

She started to climb that hill for eight hours a day, day after day, until she could barely walk, until she was limping, and then until she could not walk at all. Her knees required months of therapy. “Something about that was a rite of passage,” she said. “I think it’s really healthy to lose things or to give things up for a while, to deprive yourself of certain things. It’s always a good learning experience, because I felt like it really was like, ‘I must learn to walk again.’ I had to walk out all that stuff, and I knew it was stupid, and I kept on walking.”

Solitude, mood swings, compulsive actions, catharsis and regeneration: it’s the kind of story Ms. Apple often told about herself in conversation. They are also at the core of the songs that have made her pop’s emblem of trauma, neurosis, seething resentment and self-laceration. Ms. Apple writes metaphor-laden outpourings set to music that pulls rock, show tunes, classical piano and jazz into her own realm of brooding and bravado.

She has spoken openly about being raped as a 12-year-old, about her obsessive-compulsive disorder, about heavy drinking, about public meltdowns and private insecurities. Now, she insists, she is finding a little perspective. “I’m a very stressed-out person, a lot, because still everything is so important,” she said. “I have to give everything, my everything, and that’s exhausting, and how the hell am I going to do that for the rest of my life? But I’m going to have to figure out how.”

Ms. Apple braced herself for mockery when she revealed the title of her new album: “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 far shorter than the 90-word title of her 1999 album, which begins, “When the Pawn.”) Soon enough she was reading online about “ ‘Fiona Apple’s ridiculous new album title,’ ” she said. “Of course you’re going to say ridiculous. Because that’s what you do with me, right?”

She added, “I put out another long title because that’s what the title’s supposed to be.”

Ms. Apple had been reading children’s books about how machines work. “All that stuff is so good for metaphors for life,” she said. The album title, she said, refers to the role of the idler wheel in an engine, which does not propel directly but is connected to everything. Whipping cord is used to repair fraying ropes on a ship. “If you’re going to use the rope — if you’re going to live — it’s going to get frayed,” she said.

At the SoHo Grand Hotel the management opened up a bar-lounge that’s usually closed in the afternoons for a private interview with Ms. Apple. (It was followed, weeks later, by a two-and-a-half-hour phone call from her home in California.) In SoHo she was colorful, wearing a textured lavender dress and tights with rainbows and flowers. The broad shoulders of a green Steve Madden jacket helped fill out her gaunt figure; she said giving up heavy drinking and adopting a gluten-free diet had made her weight drop sharply. In anticipation of the photo session scheduled after the interview Ms. Apple was cradling a painted wooden dog: a portrait by the artist Patrick Bucklew of her 13-year-old pit bull mix, Janet, a stray she rescued.

At 34 Ms. Apple no longer looks like the teenager she was when she released her 1996 debut album, “Tidal.” The video for its hit single “Criminal” presented her as a sulky, troubled vamp with a grown-up’s torchy voice. The song won her a Grammy Award. When she won an MTV Video Music Award for best new artist, she gave a speech earnestly denouncing pop glamour. “Tidal” went on to sell three million copies, and the two albums that followed it, in 1999 and 2005, have each topped half a million in sales.

Ms. Apple has a grown woman’s face now. Her pale blue eyes have grown even more prominent and striking. Yet she speaks with the voluble ups and downs — pensive, breathlessly eager, giggly — of a young girl. While she often looked away or inward, she strove to hide nothing.

Her songs have built Ms. Apple an audience that follows her intently, with both admiration and concern. It is one she often meets with eyes closed. When she’s onstage her way of opening up to fans is to sing as if she were alone. “You’re imaginary! You’re not real!” she told the audience in March at the South by Southwest Music Festival, her first re-emergence with new songs, performing a riveting, raw-nerved set. “Usually I just try to pretend I’m by myself, because I think that gives the best show,” she said in the interview. “I would rather watch somebody actually going through something.”

In 2007, in her previous concerts outside Los Angeles, Ms. Apple joined the bluegrass-rooted band Nickel Creek for part of its farewell tour, mixing her songs and theirs. “She was on a constant emotional roller coaster whenever she was singing her own songs,” said the group’s mandolinist, Chris Thile, who now leads Punch Brothers. “She casts a spell over not just the audience but herself and whoever she’s playing music with. And it’s very difficult to break that spell.”

“The Idler Wheel” is counting on the devotion of Ms. Apple’s fans. Before she appeared at South by Southwest her manager, Andy Slater, said he told Epic Records: “ ‘I want you to do nothing.’ I said: ‘Don’t make any posters. Don’t make any cards. Don’t put out a single. Just don’t say anything. Let her play the show. It’s been a few years. Let kids go to the show, film the thing, put it on their blogs, and you don’t need to do anything.’ ” Almost immediately after her set amateur video clips were on YouTube.

Ms. Apple’s new songs are proudly skeletal. “I wanted to make everything as stark as possible, so you could hear everything,” she said. While her previous albums have relied on studio bands and orchestral arrangements, “The Idler Wheel” is almost entirely a collaboration between Ms. Apple and the percussionist Charley Drayton. “I felt we could take the same risk with sound as the songs were taking,” Mr. Drayton said by e-mail.

The album’s minimal personnel reflects Ms. Apple’s isolation. By her account, she spends nearly all of her time alone. Her occasional hangout has been the Los Angeles club Largo, where many collaborators — including her past producer Jon Brion and members of Nickel Creek — perform regularly, and she has sometimes been coaxed to sit in. “The only place I go is Largo, and I’m not exaggerating,” she said. “I walk my dog at dawn because I don’t like people to be around.”

Ms. Apple and Mr. Drayton produced the new album together, making music largely from her piano and other keyboards, his drums and sounds they collected. At the apartment of one of Ms. Apple’s ex-boyfriends, the magician David Blaine, “we threw pebbles down his garbage chute,” she said. “We threw a big huge water bottle down the spiral staircase. We hit the big water tank he uses to drown in.” Elsewhere Ms. Apple recorded the machinery at a plastic bottle factory and the screams of children playing.

Yet the whimsicality of the recording belies songs in which Ms. Apple wars with her lovers and, often, herself. “Every Single Night” starts the album with the plink of a celeste and a lilting vocal, but Ms. Apple soon declares, “Every single night’s a fight with my brain” and makes a proclamation: “I just want to feel everything.” In “Daredevil,” after percussive thigh slapping introduces a track full of brisk cross-rhythms, she sings, “I don’t feel anything until I smash it up,” adding, “Don’t let me ruin me.” She wrote that song, she said, when “I was crying out to somebody who didn’t quite get the message.”

On these songs, she said: “I really let everything just get spit out. I would not second guess anything.” At times her lyrics anticipated her life. “There were songs I would write about breaking up with somebody before I broke up with them, months and months before I broke up with them,” she said. “And I’d go back to that song, and now it makes sense why I wrote that.” A restlessly dissonant new song, “Jonathan,” was named for the author Jonathan Ames, from whom she only recently parted ways; she calls him “a great, great guy.” When she wrote the piano part, she said, she told him the music — switching between “doomy” and “happy” — was like his personality, and he immediately asked, “Is my name in it?”

In Ms. Apple’s new songs she is no longer a self-righteous victim. “A lot of my earlier songs are blaming other people and never thinking that I ever did anything wrong, because I was always trying to be completely loyal and honest and pure,” she said. “It’s so nice to come to a place where you can see how you absolutely enabled all these things to happen. It makes you stop being angry at people. It makes you start being more empathetic.”

Ms. Apple has been reading about neural pathways in the brain. “What fires together wires together. If you keep on having these negative thoughts or being angry all the time, then that area of your brain is going to get stronger,” she said.

So she’s trying to “feel everything” from a different angle. “Even when now there have been times that I’ve just felt so, so bad,” she said, “I can take myself out of it for a moment and go: ‘You watch, you’ve felt this way before, you’re going to feel great again. And then you’re going to feel terrible again, and then you’re going to feel great again.’ And when you’re feeling this way, at least know that there’s value in it — just as much value in your suffering as in your pleasure.”

And onstage lately she has been opening her eyes now and then to let her brain take in the upturned faces, the singalongs and the shouts of “I love you!” “I used to never want to say ‘I love you’ back, because I don’t want to say that unless I mean it,” she said.

But her reaction has been changing. “I was told so many times when I was a kid, ‘I can’t be friends with you, you’re too intense, you’re too sad all the time.’ I really thought that when I made the first album that everyone would understand me, all the people who weren’t my friends would become my friends. It didn’t turn out that way then, but now I do feel like those people are my friends. And so when they say, ‘I love you,’ I don’t care who they are. I love them back.”

She smiled. “If I have one success in my relationship history it’s with the people who listen to my music,” she said. “I think that they’ll be there with me forever, and I’ll be there with them forever. And I’m totally satisfied with that.” 

martes, 15 de mayo de 2012

W magazine, June 2012

Fiona Apple in W magazine.



June 2012
Fiona Apple’s long anticipated fourth album, The Idler Wheel…, is due out June 19, but her fans are already going nuts for the quirky new tracks she’s been performing at shows all across the U.S. Earlier this spring, during her concert at the Bowery Ballroom in her native New York, the diminutive 34-year-old singer-songwriter could barely pause between songs without someone in the packed crowd screaming, “We love you, Fiona!” or “Welcome back, Fiona!” Notoriously introverted onstage, Apple meekly replied, “Thank you for wanting me back,” provoking another avalanche of applause.
Despite all this fuss and frenzy, Apple’s comeback is being complicated by an unexpected flu. It’s had her holed up for four days in her room at the Soho Grand Hotel, and when she finally comes down to the lounge in combat boots, a floor-length black skirt, and a camisole that reveals sinewy arms, she looks exhausted. But if you’ve ever assumed, based on her past behavior, that Apple is a willful brat, think again. Even when sick, she’s sweet, with the scattershot earnestness of, say, a weirdly intense 8-year-old prodigy. And she’s funny. “Whole stretches of time have passed in a fugue state,” she rasps of her recent viral incarceration. “For a while, my ex-boyfriend [the magician] David Blaine was bringing me soup from Souen,” a nearby macrobiotic restaurant. “But then both he and my brother Brandon, who travels with me, had to leave town. And I don’t take care of myself very well.” She also misses her beloved pit bull, Janet, back home in Venice, California.
Still, the flu’s but a blip in what’s shaping up to be a very good year. Ever since she debuted in 1996, at 19, with Tidal and its smoldering hit single “Criminal,” Apple’s had an adoring fan base of dark-witted girls and the boys who fall for them. She cemented that base further with 1999’s When the Pawn..., one of the most musically daring, critically acclaimed albums of that decade, and again with 2005’s Extraordinary Machine—a record that was delayed due to creative differences between Apple and her label until her fans mounted a “Free Fiona” campaign, which essentially expedited the album’s release. The lengthy intervals between records only seem to stoke her acolytes’ appetites. Apple, however, wouldn’t be Apple if she weren’t freaked out by the new love vibes. “It’s really disconcerting,” she says. “Because all that good stuff is just setting you up to fail. But then I’ll be on a message board and scroll down to the comments, and somebody will write, ‘Ugh, she looks like a meth addict, I wouldn’t fuck her with a 10-foot pole.’ And then,” she adds, laughing, “I’ll be relieved.”In some ways, her defensive stance is justified. In her youth, she earned, along with the adoration, ample jeers. There she was in the “Criminal” video writhing in her underwear like a malnourished postgrunge Lolita. Then came the infamous 1997 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech, in which she told viewers, “This world”—meaning the music industry—“is bullshit, and you shouldn’t model your life [around] what you think that we think is cool.” (Some called her courageous; others called her an ingrate.) She capped her rep for being difficult at a Manhattan show in 2000 when, after extensive sound problems, she simply walked off the stage and refused to play. Looking back, she says she isn’t ashamed of her past adolescent behavior. “If I was sullen, it was because I had a hard time putting on that showbiz smile.”
As for the new album, with the exception of the dreamily romantic “Anything We Want,” you won’t find much of a smile—showbiz or otherwise. Recorded with no professional producer, it’s arguably Apple’s most stripped-down, avant-garde work yet, full of harsh, homemade percussion (in one track, she is stomping on the hood of a truck, and in another she plays a kind of triangle she made out of old bathroom pipes); her trademark atonal piano; and familiarly self-recriminating lyrics like “How can I ask anyone to love me/When all I do is beg to be left alone.”
“I have this thing where I think I’m writing a love song, but then later I realize it’s kind of twisted,” she says, laughing. One song, “Jonathan,” is about Jonathan Ames, the novelist and creator of the late HBO series Bored to Death, whom she dated from 2007 until about a year and a half ago. Why’d they break up? “Because we’re both weirdos?” is all she’ll offer, though she mentions they’re still good friends. But Apple, currently single, says that, despite her lyrics, she doesn’t believe she’s hopelessly unlovable. “I have moments of supreme confidence,” she insists. “If I’m in a romantic relationship, whatever hate I have for myself goes out the window. I beat up on myself, but I’m not somebody who’s uptight in bed.”
For now, though, she seems semi-comfortable as the oddball loner she’s grown up to be. On most days, she doesn’t talk to anyone but Brandon—and her pit bull. “I have a lot of one-way conversations with her in strange accents while she follows me around the house,” she says, then suddenly slips into a Russian accent. “Like, Vhen you going to get a degree, make yourself useful? You can’t keep bringing boys back here, okay? You’re a slut.” In other words, Apple may be having a comeback, but she’s as bracingly weird as ever. “One of the younger guys in my band said to me the other day, totally sincerely, ‘You’re going to be one of those cat ladies,’ which I’d be fine with. But, hey, next year could look completely different. I have no expectations of anything but change

jueves, 10 de mayo de 2012

Preorder "the idler wheel" deluxe and standard via itunes or amazon.

This is a picture of what "The idler wheel..." contains in his deluxe edition: Lyrics, sketches, personal photograhps, fiona´s drawings....also it will include a dvd of videos from SXSW (performing, "Fast as you can", "A mistake", "Every single night", "Anything we want", "Sleep to dream") and a bonus track on the album "Largo". I supossed that track is the song she made for Largo club 2 o 3 years ago. Would be nice to hear a studio version of that.
You can pre-order the album, and also you can buy "Every single night" via itunes.