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Music Interview

Alanis Morissette interview: "I'll be making records until I'm dead"

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Alanis Morissette

In over 20 years, we've seen Alanis Morissette morph from angsty teen, to social commentator, to a woman broken by love.

Returning after a four-year break which saw her marry and become a mother, it's no surprise that her eighth opus Havoc and Bright Lights finds her in a happier and carefree headspace.

Digital Spy called up the singer to talk about the record, today's crop of female singers and to find out whether she ever plans to pack it all in.

Hello Alanis, how is your week going?
"It's going well thanks! It's the morning over here in America so I'm just relaxing at home. It's great doing phone interviews as I get to wear my sweat pants, but I'd prefer if we were doing this face to face!"

A lot of people seem to be enjoying your new single 'Guardian'; are you pleased with the response to it?
"Everyone around me seems really happy with how the song is performing so I'm only gauging around that! When the team is bouncing up and down that can only mean good things. It's a very compassionate anthem which I think is the best kind of energy to put out there at the moment. An exaltative chorus is one I feel like sharing right about now!"

It's quite a change from 2008's Flavours of Entanglement...
"I was in the middle of love addiction which is not a pleasant experience! I was basically sobbing through the entire thing. It's part of being human I guess! My main objective with every album is to capture a moment in time, which usually makes the whole process very relaxing. I only discover in retrospect when looking back at the songs how my life is going!"

Judging from Havoc and Bright Lights it sounds like things are going pretty well at the moment?
"Getting married and starting a family has been a lifelong goal and one that I have persevered through different paths up to it! I'm glad I stuck with it."

The imagery accompanying the album is very angelic and calm; are you calm at the moment?
"I like that, it's like I'm the celestial haggard mother! It's a combination of everything - there were hormones coursing through my veins during that shoot. For me, it was about finding the bandwidth for the 17 hats that I wear, which I don't think is an uncommon thing among new mums. Basically I'm sleeping a lot less and started a love affair with coffee!"

There's still a few feisty songs on the record, particularly 'Celebrity'. Can you explain?
"It's a commentary on the bill of goods that is sold to us all about what fame can afford or yield. I was told it would raise my self-esteem and create profound friendships, whereas all it actually did was increase my self-doubt. Fame as an end in itself is pretty hollow, but you can instead use it as a means to an end - to offer commentary in an entertaining and palatable way. I'm now in my late 30s and realise that being in the public eye is a beautiful responsibility and I'm happy to take it on!"

The album feels like it was inspired by your previous records; would you agree?
"This record definitely feels like an integration of parts of my previous records. As a kid I was listening to Aretha Franklin, Etta James and hip-hop as well as music my parents were listening to like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. Obviously I live for big pop choruses as well, so the whole thing feels like a bit of an arrival point."

Alanis Morissette


What song are you most proud of on the record?
"'Woman Down' is one of my new favourites to perform. It's about that whole question of misogyny, patriarchy and chauvinism and slowly getting to the point where us alpha women are no longer burned at the stake. Nowadays we are in fact championed for being leaders!"

'Edge of Evolution' is pretty brilliant as well...
"Thank you! I was actually strongly advised by certain suit-wearing types not to put that song on the record, but I'm glad I did. They were afraid of the "lofty content". I was like, 'What are you talking about? I'm all about lofty content!'"

You're famous for your extensive vocabulary; are you still learning new words?
"Oh yeah, but I still have the odd malapropism here and there! It's only when I read certain lyrics back that I think, 'Where did that come from?' that I realise how hilarious some of them are. One of my favourites is a song called 'Knees of my Bees' on a previous album. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that but I still love it."

Decent vocabulary is a bit of a lost art on today's charts...
"Ya think?! I call those tracks 'entertainment songs', like most of the songs from the '80s. I'm pleased to say I think we're getting back into the commentary era, similar to the '90s. Thank Christ... it's not a moment too soon! I was dying over here."

Solo female artists are dominating the charts at the moment; how does it compare to when you broke into the industry?
"I'm excited about there being more of a sisterhood these days. Back in the '90s there was a lot of hate - the women I looked up to as artists were dissing me! It's not so patriarchal these days - there's more love and a lot less hate!"

Would you be satisfied if this was the last Alanis Morissette album?
"I'll be writing records until I'm dead, whether people like it or not! I can't not write, if I don't then I get really depressed. I'll keep going, I promise!"

Alanis Morissette's Havoc and Bright Lights is out now. Watch the 'Guardian' music video below:

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