Late Thursday night, Fiona Apple dropped her album Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Fiona was trending on Twitter for much of Friday as amazing review after amazing review came in. Pitchfork awarded FTBC a rare perfect score – the last album to have received a perfect score was Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in 2010 (arguably Kanye’s best album tbh). It doesn’t hurt Fiona at all that she dropped the album at truly the perfect moment in pop culture: during a quarantine lockdown, where everyone has the time to listen, absorb and just focus on the music. She also chose a moment where she doesn’t have to do performances on talk shows, she doesn’t have to have a tour plan, and she doesn’t have to be on magazine covers. She’s just FaceTime-ing friendly journalists from the comfort of her Venice Beach home and chatting about the album.
After 20-plus years in the music industry, the world came around to Fiona. And for the first time in her career, she’s able to talk about her music and her mental health through the prism of sobriety and free of the heavier prescription drugs she was on. It’s actually a joy to read her thoughts. As her album was universally applauded, Vulture published another excellent long-read with Fiona – you can read the full piece here.
Learning how to jam with a band: “It’s funny I’ve never been able to jam with people. I wish there was a better word for jamming. I’ve always been too shy to try, which is not a good way to be. If you grow up and you’re praised a lot for being special, rather than for making an effort, you end up later on in life being afraid. I would get into situations — and I have to watch myself still — where I don’t even want to try because if I don’t end up being special, then I don’t value my own effort as much as I should.
The change in her voice: “I think I’ve stopped trying to be a singer, actually. I have fun with my voice, but I’m not trying to make it pretty all the time. I’m not trying to convince anybody I’m a singer. It just turned out to be another instrument.
On her past relationships: “I had a boyfriend, Jamie, who helped me set up the recording. He’s still my friend. I am [friends with my exes]. I just heard from Jamie today, and I heard from Jonathan [Ames] two days ago. My ex-husband, Lionel Deluy, is a very good friend of mine too. He’s lovely. I was married very briefly to Lionel. Twenty-something. I don’t know. It was very brief.
Her relationship with women: “One thing I think I didn’t look at enough, when it comes to myself, is why I ever participated in a flirtation or even started a physical relationship with someone, when I knew they had a girlfriend. I think about it now, and both times I was privately in awe of the other woman — so was I trying to somehow put myself in the same category with her? Was I intimidated by them and I used the easiest avenue to assert my equal worth? Was I really asserting that I am only worth being a secret or that I believed deep down that it is somehow more exciting to be a secret? In both cases, I felt a boost in my ego at first. But I’ve never stopped being disgusted by the memories, and I wonder if that’s because I never apologized to the women. Maybe I tried to, but the women understandably made themselves unavailable to me. I am so sorry for my selfishness, but that’s not enough. I have to understand it, and I don’t yet.
Why she released her album early: “This early-release thing was great because I thought, I’m not going to have to do all the press that I don’t want to do, all this stuff that was making me drag my feet. TV appearances, radio stuff, photo shoots. I don’t have to do all that stuff. And the record’s done. There are people who are alone at home or people who are not alone, who are at home with abusive partners or with people they just can’t stand. Maybe they need to put on some headphones as an excuse to get away from those people, and maybe the music can help them get out their feelings inside that they want to scream at these people. So it just seemed very logical to me to put it [the album] out early.
What happens when the lockdown is over: “It’s not like I’m going to go out and have a party. That’s not really me, but a little more, yeah. When I was a kid, all I wanted was to go out and do things and be with my friends. And since I wasn’t invited or because I was told I was too intense to be friends with, I learned to make that my comfort place… You might as well just stay down there and make a home because it’s safer here. At least this way, I don’t have to feel the way down all the time. It’s no way to live. So I guess the message in the whole record is just: Fetch the f–king bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation you’re in, whatever it is that you don’t like. Even if you can’t do it physically.
I love that she KNEW that people were ready for her music at this very moment and she wanted to give people a little quarantine gift. That’s basically it. She couldn’t have planned this sh-t better, let’s be honest. She talks a lot – with her signature striking honesty – about her sobriety, getting off prescriptions, and how she feels clear-headed and happy for the first time in a long time. And isn’t this perfect??
— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) April 17, 2020
Photos courtesy of Getty.