Friday, September 23, 2005

Fiona Apple article.

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I found this article really interesting - she talks a lot about how much trouble she had releasing her forthcoming album and how much she appreciates all the support she had from fans <3

From Rolling Stone's website:

Fiona Apple is the multiplatinum pop star least likely to appear on an episode of MTV's Cribs. She doesn't have a cell phone. She neither owns nor drives a car. She possesses only two bras, and the one that she's not wearing on this particular August afternoon is lost, she's pretty sure, for good. What's more, for two of the six years since her last album came out, Apple lived in a house whose only furnishings were a few green dog pillows, a twin bed that doubled as a couch, a small TV/VCR that wasn't actually connected to an antenna, and a boombox.

After splitting with director Paul Thomas Anderson in 2001, Apple moved to the artsy Los Angeles beach town of Venice, into a one-story house with a wall of oleander surrounding the perimeter -- "for privacy" -- and a huge yard where her Staffordshire Terrier, Janet, could run around. Her older sister, Amber, lived there for a while, and Apple says the two of them would eat their dinner sitting on the dog pillows. "We had these old step-aerobics kind of boxes that were full of dust, and we used them for tables," she says. "I remember thinking, 'This house is never going to be full and lived in.' Now it's almost cluttered." She eventually bought a couple of couches, but her clothes -- the few she has -- are piled on top of tables because she still hasn't bought a bureau. "Maybe once a year I'll go into a store and grab a bunch of stuff, and I won't try anything on," she continues. "I think I don't like to go shopping for clothes because I have no clothes to wear to go shopping."

When I join Apple -- whose long-awaited third album, Extraordinary Machine, is due out in October -- at an upscale bar and grill in Venice, she is what she calls "dressed." Rather than wearing her usual sweats, she has on a clingy black top that's cinched into a V-neck, an ankle-length black skirt with a bit of ruffle spiraling it and black clogs. Her long waves of blond hair are parted, as usual, straight down the center, and around her neck is a beaded pendant with a hunk of blue quartz in the center that, she admits, she chose because the stone strategically covers a blemish on her chest. Just below her right breast, a safety pin secures her shirt to her bra, "because otherwise it rides up and looks funny." Her skin is sun-kissed, and her once-waifish physique has filled out just enough to give her an unexpected softness and vitality.

It is a difference that, though subtle, implies a greater truth: At 28, Apple is no longer the dangerously sullen teenage chanteuse whose uncommonly sumptuous voice and promise as a song-writer were in danger of being overshadowed by the glowering, post-adolescent angst she exhibited during her famous "this world is bullshit" speech at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. For one thing, Extraordinary Machine (an early version of which leaked on the Internet last spring) easily surpasses that initial promise. It's a daring and decidedly non-commercial album that abounds with hypnotic grooves, vaudevillian spookiness and cabaret piano vamps. Throughout, Apple shows increasing sophistication as a lyricist capable of striking a balance between overstatement and understatement, between whimper and wail. The album is, like Apple herself, grown-up.

"My best friend, Bella, has this memory of me from around the time I was recording my first album," she says. "And this is sad. But it's funny. She used to come over to my dad's house, where I was living at the time, because she was friends with my whole family. She would come up to my room, and I'd be in there vacuuming and crying hysterically at the same time. I used to clean furiously like that. I can't believe I was like that. I'm sure I will always have those kinds of days once every couple of years. Back then, I was like that every day. I guess I just had to go through that time."

Apple no longer sees a therapist, and earlier this year she managed to stop taking the anti-anxiety medication she'd been on for about a decade. Nowadays, she clears her head by going for long walks every morning. During a recent trip to New York, she forced herself to rise at 5 a.m. so she could get a walk in before heading off for the photo shoots that used to routinely make her cry. "I go back and forth, like, 'I'm handling this really well this time, nothing can get to me anymore.' The other day, I was on the verge of tears, and then I was like, 'I cannot break down at a photo shoot. Those days are over!'"

Her newfound Zen is especially impressive considering how stressful the past few years leading up to Extraordinary Machine's release have been. Beginning in the spring of 2002, she recorded eleven songs with Jon Brion, who also produced When the Pawn . . ., Apple's 1999 album. As the pair neared completion on the tracks, they began to run into problems with her label, Sony BMG. "The record company was sort of like, 'What the heck is this? Where are our singles?'" says Brion. "I sat with them and said, 'There's a huge group of people who have a heartfelt attachment to this person and her music.' They didn't get it. It was shortsighted of them. So things were getting mixed and remixed ad nauseam to make songs that were already idiosyncratic more radio-ready."

Apple says she's still proud of the work she did with Brion but acknowledges that, at that stage, she didn't have a strong vision of what the album should be. In hopes of approaching the songs from a new perspective, Apple gave the demos to producer Mike Elizondo and asked him to play around with them. "She didn't really give me any specific instructions," says Elizondo, who has engineered albums alongside Dr. Dre for Eminem and 50 Cent. "I learned the songs on piano and dissected the chords and Fiona's melody, and then I'd play them over and over until I heard a different drum groove or another way of presenting the song. I wanted to make the songs swing but still be bare-bones and hypnotic."

Apple loved what Elizondo came up with, but when she asked Sony for more money, she says she was told that it would only allow her to record and hand in one song at a time. The label contends that it was a miscommunication -- "We would have put out whatever record Fiona wanted us to put out," says Michele Anthony, Sony Music Label Group's chief operating officer -- but if it was, it was a miscommunication that stuck. "At that point, I did feel like they were going to shelve the album," says Apple. "I didn't want to be in a position where they owned one more thing that I love and then refused to put out. Or even worse, they might tell me how to change something, and not once in my career have I let that happen." One day, she got up her courage, sat down on the steps outside her house and called her manager. "Tell them I'm not going to record anymore," she said. "And don't call me back and ask me if I'm sure, because I know this is the right thing to do." Ultimately, she says, she was prepared to let Extraordinary Machine live solely on the Internet and devote herself to something new, maybe some charity work.

Then last January, Apple was at her mother's Manhattan apartment, spending the afternoon as she'd spent many previous afternoons: wearing her bathrobe and watching Columbo reruns on Bravo. She was, she says, "holed up figuring out what the fuck I was going to do with my life," when her manager called to tell her about a protest being staged by a group of fans operating under the moniker Free Fiona. They had been sending apples to Sony to protest what they perceived as a calculated effort to keep Extraordinary Machine from being released. Apple was stupefied. She hung up, shuffled to the back room of the apartment and said, "Mama, have you heard of these Free Fiona people?" She was laughing at first, but then came the tears. "It was happy crying," she says. "I said, 'Mama, they're so organized and they care so much. They don't even realize I'm sitting here watching Columbo in my bathrobe!'"

Not long thereafter, Sony agreed to let Apple rerecord Machine on her own terms. "I believe them when they tell me that they're very excited about putting out the record," she says. "But I won't kid myself into thinking that's the only reason this is happening. A group of kids did this, and I think they deserve credit. I've also been waiting so fucking long to thank them. I'm so in awe of people who care that much about anything that they organize like that, and I think it has to be known that it actually works. This whole thing gives me a great deal of enthusiasm for not just my job but for the way that life works. Doing things for the right reasons, based on your principles, gets you really far."

It's a realization that echoes Apple's increasing awareness that you don't have to be miserable to be idealistic. "When I was younger . . ." she begins, her eyes searching the room as she indulges in a pause long enough to be slightly awkward. "How do I put this? I had troubles. I don't think I was actually idealistic then. I think I was absolutely wrapped up in being exactly the person who did this and did not do that. I had rules about everything, and I think my reasoning behind a lot of it was a little bit kooky. I was afraid of somebody stopping to love me, and I was afraid of making a fool of myself in public, and I was afraid of being misunderstood -- that was a big one -- and I convinced myself that by living a certain way I was somehow protecting myself. But once all those things happen anyway, and they're terrible, and you're not fine for a while, but then you're fine, you actually come to a place where you like your life. And it makes you go, 'Oh, wow, I'm really kind of proud of myself. I have some good stories, and I look back and I like what I've done with my life. I like the furniture that I've chosen.' When that happens, you can play a little bit more and you can be looser and not worry about falling down so much because you know that, whatever happens, you're going to be OK."



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