Fiona Apple Talks Tragedy, Children, And Her New Album With ‘Interview’ Magazine


Last week, Trent posted about the release of Fiona Apple’s latest album (The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do), and  I couldn’t have been happier clicking that live stream link. Recently, Interview Magazine caught up with the singer/songwriter and Fiona had plenty of interesting things to share about her artistic process, former life as a “brat,” and plans for the future. Check out excerpts from the interview and beautiful photos of the artist inside.

Matt Diehl with Fiona Apple for Interview Magazine:

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

PPLE: 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?

Read the rest of the interview here.

I was so excited to see this, partly because Interview Magazine has been known to do some stunning stuff with their photos. So I was a bit disappointed with these shots, although Fiona Apple still looks beautiful. I just think it might have been interesting to see a different side of her, if only for artsy purposes.

And how hilarious is it that she dated Jonathan Ames? I had NO idea! Bored To Death was one of my fave shows for quite some time; the idea of them as a couple kinda makes perfect sense to me. So does the “moribund slut” image, for whatever reason :) Gotta love this woman.

Check out Trent’s post to see the video for Fiona’s first single, Every Single Night. It involves beautiful words, amazing images, and an octopus hat. Enjoy!



  • Janaegal

    Going to see her in September! Can’t wait!

  • I’m officially hating on you right now, Janaegal! Lol, that’s awesome. Enjoy!

  • MM

    I found this Fiona interview way more insightful than the Interview piece:

    I highly recommend it. I’m still sort of blown away by it and I read it last week. The photos are beautiful too.

    She’s amazing.

    • MM, thanks for the link. I’m reading it now!

  • Dave

    New album is GREAT! Have you guys seen the new video for “Every Single Night”? If you haven’t you should definitely check it out!

    • Dave, I agree (about the album). I officially own a copy and it has been on repeat for the better part of the day.

  • PixiesBassline

    Oooohhhh!!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE those boots she has on!!!!

  • PixiesBassline, agreed! Although, I think it’s the tights that are working those boots, lol.