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    Alanis Morissette: 'Jagged' edge
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

It was all the way back in 1995 when Alanis Morissette released her classic album Jagged Little Pill. Leaving her earlier teen pop roots behind, this strong-willed record explored Morissette's angrier side while expanding her following to the masses.

Although the commercial successes of subsequent music have been up and down, her artistic integrity has remained constant, earning her 12 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards. Havoc and Bright Lights is her eighth studio album, and it keeps right in line with her previous personal lyrics and powerful vocals, beginning with the first single "Guardian."

With Morisette heading to Chicago soon, Windy City Times spoke with her at the beginning of her tour.

Windy City Times: Hi, Alanis.

Alanis Morissette: How are you doing?

WCT: Good. I have been listening to the new album Havoc and Bright Lights. What does it represent in your personal life?

Read more story below....

AM: I think it speaks to how much braver I am to delve into a deeper intimacy in my relationships with my son, my husband—even to the point where I'd be ready to get married. Intimacy was always terrifying for me. So, yes, it's a relationship record even more so than before.

WCT: I read that you wrote a ton of songs with Guy Sigsworth, who produced your previous album, Flavors of Entanglement, and Joe Chiccarelli.

AM: Yes; I wrote 31 songs with Guy, and we made a makeshift studio in my living room here at our house, because Ever, my son, was just born; he was about five and a half months old and I was dying to write. I am very committed to the attachment stage of development going as well as possible, so we built a studio in the house. Guy came over from London, and we just wrote in some fits and starts over the period of that year.

I listened to a lot of hip-hop as a kid, so I like the blend of both sonic styles and genres. So Guy working with Joe wound up being the perfect blend, because Guy's a savant—he's a genius—and he brought that magical technological aspect. Then Joe Chiccarelli came in and brought his really modern sound. He's so meticulous and very respective in that sense. So both of them working together wound up creating this record, and it was my fantasy record.

WCT: What are you doing with the extra songs from the experience?

AM: Some of them are extras in Japan and Europe, and "Jekyll and Hyde," I think, was the extra bonus song for the iTunes release, and a movie perhaps here and there. Sometimes I'll sit on a song for five years and then, as was the case with "Every Mother Counts," I gave a song called "Magical Child" to Christy Turlington for her charity. I gave a song to David Lynch that I had been sitting on for five years that I adored, that I hadn't shared but was dying to. So I'll be sitting on some of these songs for a while, but I hope they all see the light of day at some point.

WCT: Speaking of movies, has acting influenced your music?

AM: I actually think portraying another character is way more terrifying for me, for what might be obvious reasons. I think it just feels more like I'm on edge when I'm portraying someone in Shakespeare or I'm doing a character on Weeds; I feel like I'm more responsible to the director and I'm more responsible to the big picture of the team putting on the show.

WCT: Was there a role that was easier for you?

AM: Please don't interpret this the wrong way, but portraying God in Dogma was really easy. It was easy because Kevin Smith just said to me, "Oh, just do whatever you think God is." Well, God definitely has to have a sense of humor, has to be whimsical, very present, very filled with wonder and awe, and very sweet. Improv is awesome for me, and whenever there's self-deprecating humor in the play I'm very happy.

WCT: Why do most of the songs have one-word titles on Havoc?

AM: I have no idea—maybe brevity, simplicity, and get to the point, girl! It actually wound up working quite well. I would have been happy to have them be more than one word but it worked out to be that way.

WCT: In the past, you have written about men who have done you wrong. But a song like "Woman Down" feels like you are speaking on behalf of all women who have been wronged. What has changed for you?

AM: Well, "Woman Down" is one of my favorite songs because there really is, for me anyway, no better time to be alive as a woman than 2012. The days of old were such that women were owned, were property and were less than; [they] are over. We went through the women's movement, which was an important movement; we became empowered, but in an individualistic, autonomous kind of way. Neither style nor approach afforded any kind of connection or intimacy.

Now we're slowly segueing into this gorgeous era where we're empowered but we also have the knowledge that interdependence can afford this connection within and connection with other people, so the women's movement is moving in such a much better way. So I have to comment on that in my music.

WCT: A song that I love, like "Woman Down," just goes hand in hand with your LGBT following.

AM: Thanks. Well, in keeping with what I just said a second ago, I think the divine feminine is emerging back into her rightful seat, for lack of a better term, so this means the divine feminine within men and women—regardless of what our lifestyles are and our sexual preferences are or whatever choices we make—it's the divine feminine that has been squelched in the past and outright abused, shamed and ridiculed.

It's just such a gorgeous part of humanity and of life and of spirit. So for this feminine part to re-emerge portends for a very positive change in politics in our day-to-day choices. So, for me, it's less about women—although it quite obviously shows up more in women because of the feminine—but it's more about the feminine that is arising within human beings in general. So that's really the movement, as I see it.

WCT: What will your live show be like? Are there songs that you never want to play live again?

AM: The cringe factor is very nonexistent. Basically, by the end of the show I just feel really neutral because we run the whole gamut of every emotion known to humankind for me with the songs from the last 17 years. We changed the set list a lot because we have the luxury of being able to do that. My bandmates and I want to keep our own selves on our toes—tons of songs from Havoc and Bright Lights, and we do a little bit of an acoustic set near the end of the show. We did the first show last night, and it really rendered it super-intimate and more than just a wall of guitars.

WCT: Is it hard for you to tap into past songs like "You Oughta Know" and "Ironic," now that your life is different?

AM: It's actually not hard. I think that the anger—all of these emotions —are just part of the human condition so my husband can attest to the fact that I still have anger and that I'm feisty and fiery. It just shows up in different ways.

I think, if anything, I'm less reactive and less irresponsible in that way. But the emotions themselves still move through me at a really accelerated rate. It's now more that I can corral it and I'm more responsible for that huge life force moving through me. I think anger and joy are two of the biggest life forces that can move mountains and worlds, so I just have to be careful with it. I use songs like "You Oughta Know" to channel the rage that I might have. If I'm going through something particularly challenging I look forward to singing those songs at night because I can move that energy.

WCT: Is it a big concert production?

AM: I don't know if it's big but it's emotional, colorful and sweaty with lots of glitter.

WCT: Your fans are looking forward to you coming to Chicago.

AM: Yes, I can't wait.

WCT: It will be a blast. See you at the concert.

AM: Yes, I will see you there. Thank you.

Don't miss the "Guardian Angel Tour" as it arrives in town Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Riviera Theater, 4746 N. Racine Ave. For more on Morissette, visit www.alanis.com .

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