Spotlight on Alanis Morissette
The singer-songwriter talks about the inspiration behind her new album, ''Flavors of Entanglement''
It’s gotta be at least a hundred degrees on the runways of the Burbank airport, but in a rehearsal studio across the street, Alanis Morissette wants the AC turned off. She’ll admit to being a ”massively sensitive” creature — in case that wasn’t apparent from the open-wound stylings of her blockbuster U.S. debut, 1995’s Jagged Little Pill — and the dry draft is making her cough. But as she preps to promote her seventh record, Flavors of Entanglement, the 33-year-old Ottawa native is finally looking out for No. 1. ”Self-care,” Morissette calls this new directive, and it’s hard to imagine anyone begrudging her that.
For most of the former child star’s two-decade career, Morissette says she’s used a ”counterphobic” personality to deal with the world. ”Anything I was afraid of, I was like, I’ll DO IT! So I was freaking out all the time. Now I’m better at going, ‘Okay, what do you need?”’ She’s hyperorganized; enjoys delegating; works best with ”emotional adults.” And ever since demolishing an ex who may or may not have been Dave Coulier on Jagged‘s most incendiary track, ”You Oughta Know,” Morissette has laid bare her stream of evolved consciousness in songs as tongue-twisting as they are gut-wrenching. ”I think the two most inspiring life forces are anger and joy,” she says. ”I could write six zillion songs about those two forces alone.”
Given that 2007 saw the disassembling of her relationship with fiancé Ryan Reynolds, we’ll let you guess which force fuels Flavors. ”Depression is right at the bottom,” Morissette explains of her emotional scale, ”and in order to get out of it, you have to get a little pissed.” Though no longer the dervish who stormed mid-’90s radio, the protagonist of this techno-infused new album is clearly intent upon clawing her way upward. Still, it’s impossible to hear songs on Flavors like ”Torch” (”These are the days of raw despondence”) and not think, Good gravy, can this chick catch a break already?
”On a certain spiritual level, I feel like everyone’s exactly where they need to be,” she says, reflecting on the breakup. Indeed, Morissette reads as content, and her wall-shaking belly laugh comes early and often. So it’s fitting that the Flavors sessions led to the funniest thing she’s done in years (in public, at least): a melodramatic minor-key video interpretation of the Black Eyed Peas’ ”My Humps” that surfaced on YouTube last spring. ”I was in the studio with Guy Sigsworth [who co-wrote and produced Flavors] and he said, ‘What horse of the apocalypse is coming in today, Alanis?’ I turned around and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could just write a simple song that had no blood, no sweat, no tears? A song like ‘My Humps’ would be good.”’ Her version has been viewed over 13 million times — just slightly fewer views than copies of Jagged sold in the U.S. And so goes the world these days.
The cold reality, of course, is that there’s little chance Flavors will come near Jagged‘s sales, but Morissette is unconcerned.
”Create art. Have to share it,” she summarizes. ”It doesn’t matter to me that no one’s buying records.” Never one to limit herself, she’ll also be sharing a long-gestating ”scrapbooky thing” she plans to publish, and playing the lead in the film adaptation of Radio Free Albemuth, the Philip K. Dick novel about a woman who infiltrates the music industry to overthrow the government.
In the meantime, she will tour Europe and North America, and since she’s the kind of gal who believes the heart-healing process doesn’t begin without a new relationship, you’ll all be glad to know she’s seeing someone — even though you may never find out who. ”Public romance? I’m going to be avoiding that in the future,” Morissette laughs. ”I think the only time I’ll talk about any guy I’m with will be when I’m married with six kids. ‘That guy who’s with me all the time? Yeah. He’s my husband.”’ At which point, one expects, songs of joy will commence.