Including thoughts on her new music video, writing for Judd Apatow, being "not functional enough to be in a relationship," and much more
In a new Pitchfork interview, Fiona Apple discussed everything from her love of slideshows to her dying dog and her parents' relationship. But the seven years in between her last album, 2005's Extraordinary Machine, and The Idler Wheel..., out June 19, was a long time, and she had an endless amount of interesting things to say. Here are even more quotes from our chat that didn't make it into the final piece.
On her forthcoming video for "Every Single Night":
I told [director] Joey [Cahill] just to come up with a bunch of things and just do things to me and put me in situations and surprise me. One thing I wanted to have happen was to be covered in snails. I laid in a bed of soil and they put snails all over me. And then they brought in shit that I would not have asked for. He put a dead squid on my head.
I used to love to put snails on my arm-- I have a bunch of pictures. I used to put half a watermelon out in my yard overnight and then go out there in the middle of the night and take pictures of them, like macro pictures of the snails sipping the watermelon. I would love to sit there and put them on my arm. I don’t know, it just helped me think. I really like snails a lot.
On pretending her dog is dead:
What first made me think of doing that was this guy who used to come around the old Largo [club in Los Angeles]. He was really sick for a long time and every time you saw him, you thought it was going to be the last time you saw him. Everyone was friends with him. It went on for like two years where I would think that he was dead. But I would see him in the club and he was there again. If he didn't show up I would think, "Maybe he's not dead. Maybe he's just not here tonight."
I'm not religious or anything, but now when I'm sad, I do a lot of kneeling on the ground and thanking whatever. Just for me, to acknowledge something and and make it physical so that it sets in. The thing I will say always is, "Thank you for my problems and I send my love everywhere." I am generalizing-- there are problems that just fuckin' suck and are terrible-- but problems like being sad or having your heart broken aren't any less valuable than happiness is. So when things are really bad, nowadays I recognize the value in it because I know it is going to make me appreciate happiness in the future way more.
On writing, motivation, and Judd Apatow:
I can also be motivated. Judd Apatow, I wrote a song for his movie. I was like, "Give me assignments. I love assignments." His music supervisor Jonathan Karp, who is actually an old friend of mine, said, "Would you ever write a song for a movie?" He was thinking I was gonna say no, but I was like, "Hello yeah, I love it when people give me assignments."
I wish I was one of those people who just sat around and made art. I'll set it up, but I don't know if I will be creative when doing something. But I like making something for somebody [else]. I can move a lot faster, I just don't.
On kickstarting the album writing process:
I think really it was the excitement that I felt when [band mate and producer] Charley [Drayton] and I had that first night and we were playing together. We recorded over period of a year and a half, at least, in two-week periods whenever he had time to come out [to L.A.] I knew that I didn’t want anyone else to know that I was doing it so that I could do it however I wanted. Then once Charlie and I started working together on the album that first night, that was just exciting. For me, there will always be a little bit of a song around. Like men have to shave their faces if they don’t want a beard. It's kind of one of those upkeep things.
On the songs on the album:
"Periphery" could have been on an old album. It was a song that I had tried to do [earlier], but it had just not really worked out. Everything else was written for The Idler Wheel. There were a few things that were written a few years ago. "Valentine" was written a few years ago, "Jonathan" was written when I first started going out with Jonathan [Ames]. I don't remember writing any of it. That's probably just because it happens gradually.
On "Jonathan" and her relationship with Jonathan Ames:
It was comforting to be held by him. It was really just about me thinking that I am not functional enough to be in a relationship, which I still kind of think. He hates it because he has a girlfriend now. I'll be like "What do you guys do?" and he thinks that I'm being like...I just really want to know. Like what does a functional girlfriend...like you guys go places, she cooks dinner. You know, seeing all the things actual women do because I don't know what the hell people do with me.
On her comeback:
Now I know that I don't have to go out on stage thinking, "I've got to do this to make it a good show." I just know that you have to go out and be yourself and go out and be honest. I'm really happy that people like it because it means that I don't have to do anything fake. That feeling that you don't have anything to hide-- like you're going to court but you're innocent: "Yeah, I'll answer all your questions." I don't have to worry about hiding anything that's myself.
On sleeplessness and embarrassment:
When I was a kid, I was so constantly making a fool of myself at school. At night, one of the reasons why I didn't want to go to bed was that I had this vision of myself walking through the cafeteria and tripping and falling and everyone laughing, giving them another reason to laugh at me. When I tried to count sheep, I could not get a sheep over the fence. It would trip and fall. I found it funny even then, but now I just think that's hilarious. That hoof just catches on the fence and they trip.