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Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette

She was a star in her native Canada at fourteen, is responsible for one of the best selling albums of all time and has even played God (In Kevin Smith’s Dogma). TotalMusic-Online's Andy Basire cornered Alanis Morissette on the eve of her last album release So Called Chaos to talk anger, happiness, transparency and production

Chances are, if you have an opinion either way on the subject, you will fall into one of three camps regarding Alanis Morissette. Camp one being ‘she’s a mardy mare who should shut the fuck up (generally a male view and more often than not attached to additional thoughtful insights about how a good shag would help her no end). Camp two ‘she’s a hippy nutter and as mad as a bag of otters, or camp three ‘she’s a very talented singer songwriter who survived early stardom relatively intact (unlike say, oh I don’t know… Michael Jackson?) who pushed all the right buttons for a hell of a lot of people – male and female – on the multi-million selling Jagged Little Pill and has since continued to create clever, thought provoking, often viscerally exciting music

In fact she’s actually an amalgam of the last two opinions, and now she’s ditched the ‘peering through a tent-flap’ hair style (explained thus “I'm a sucker for my next challenge and definitely my next challenge was to see how I could survive without my security blanket”), revealing more of her face, she is quite stunningly attractive, if incredibly tiny. Also, given the lofty peaks to which she has ascended and the fact she’s spent most of her life in the spotlight, she is absolutely charming and very, very smart, if prone to the odd crazy utterance, like the following when asked about growing up in public, "I actually think it was my purpose in life to do that, so other people can define themselves, be inspired by or comforted by my experiences” or when quizzed about her painfully personal lyrics “I think that I’m here to hearten and whether I do that by sharing experiences that are difficult, or my revelations, or hopes, I’m here, to send the message that our human condition and all the colours it embraces are all ok”

Alanis Morissette So far so much psychobabble, but there’s far more to Alanis Morissette than hippy sound-bites and Brit embarrassing U.S. Therapy-speak and if we’re going to get any ‘closure’ here we need to dig a bit deeper, thankfully Ms Morissette seems willing to oblige. “That’s what interviews are good for,” she smiles radiantly, “I know that my life is constantly judged on the ten songs on an album, I totally get that.”

OK, let’s start with why you think people have such extreme reactions to her? "I guess that's because I sold twenty eight million records,” she laughs. “So some people got excited by that and some people got pissed off. I also do say things in ways that seem to bug people,” she chuckles – in fact she laughs a great deal – “but also inspire people so… Who I am has always seems to provoke some sort of response, so it makes sense to me that my songs would as well, my tendency is to be self-enquiring.” Pushed further about the raw personal nature of some of her lyrics she admits she’s “much happier being transparent,” but given that she sees her work as a series of snapshots in time, surely even she can’t look back at some of her less worthy moments without wincing (to stretch the ‘snapshot’ analogy somewhat, would you happily exhibit your old photo albums so the world could judge your hideous past fashion faux pas?).

“Sure there’s some things that I might not feel totally...” she begins, and then pauses and frowns. “To think that there’s some parts of me I’m happy to share and others that I’m not, that sort of implies that some parts of me that are bad, and shameful, and my goal is to be whole, so if I’m actually going to walk my talk, that means I have to be willing to share my vulnerable side as well as my empowered side, my pathetic side and my on-fire side. I don’t think I’m doing anyone a service by just saying here’s the shiny happy great part of me."

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