In a traditional understanding of power, Tori Amos says there are two kinds of people: Those with authority, and those with money.
“But that doesn’t mean that’s the kind of power that I’m attracted to,” says the famed feminist American singer/songwriter, now London-based.
Though she says it took her many years to reach the realization the ability to earn and exert control over another doesn’t posit power, Amos explores her redefinition on her latest album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin.
“Abnormal,” in this sense, refers not to Amos’ escalated inclination toward sin, but how her attraction is uncharacteristic as a result of the discovery that sin need not be defined by the power structures that have historically deemed incompatible sexuality and spirituality.
“Those are almost words sort of like ketchup and mustard,” she says, “Let’s take it to erotica.”
The difficulty of integrating erotica into their lives is a constant recurring theme Amos says she’s noticed in women from cultures around the world as she travels more and listens to their stories.
“They have a hard time equating anything in their life with the concept of what would be an aphrodisiac,” she says, “I’m not saying they don’t find (pleasure) in their life, but they just feel as if this raw passion cannot be accessed if you’re going to walk a spiritual path or step into some kind of motherhood.”
Such submission to the power of a spiritual authority is but a microcosm of the greater social effects of power Amos sees, which she says are shattering due to the shifting of power’s popular notions.
“If it goes in change, then there are going to be a lot of unsuccessful people around the world because, for such a long time, it’s been if you’re a provider or what you can manifest as far as the physical world goes — being able to get a property and get a job and all that type of stuff,” she says, “There are a lot of people who are losing all kinds of things, like their jobs.”
But it’s amidst significant loss that Amos has found what the real definition of power is. And measured by her own interpretation, it’s an ability she’s long possessed — Creation.
“I’ve seen people who are able to create out of destruction. They’re able to survive in a world when everything is changing,” she says. “Those kinds of people, with the ability to survive turbulent times … that’s power.”
Tori Amos plays
• Toronto: Massey Hall on Monday night.