Born c. 1978 in New York, NY; daughter of an actor (father) and a multi-talented mother. Addresses: Record company--Epic Records, 2100 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404 Phone: (310) 449-2746 Fax: (310) 449-2848.

Confident of her own creative abilities and sure of her originality as a female solo pop artist, singer-pianist Fiona Apple began her career young and powerfully. Her bluesy-pop sound of naked emotion was unique in a developing field of mid-nineties female artists. Continually compared to Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette, Apple's wise-for-her-years maturity maintained her composure as an artist. She explained to an Associated Press journalist that "I realized over the years that you develop as a human being, you develop your personality, and people get to know you and you make your own name. I think that experience has prepared me for this, because otherwise I might be sitting here going, `I'm not Alanis Morrisette's little sister.'" Apple smoothly launched into the vanguard of contemporary pop at age 19 with the release of her first album, Tidal. The sultry, soulful voice showcased on Tidal pushed the release to outstanding commercial success. Continuing her career, Apple moved through aggravations that accompany life, success of her music, complications of youth, and strove to live with honesty. She continued her career by accepting the aggravations that accompany life and striving to understand the success and complications of youth.

Apple grew up in New York, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, as the daughter of an artistic set of parents. Her father was an actor and her mother a multi-talented woman--singer, dancer, nutritionist, fitness trainer, and cook. Apple began playing piano at eight years old. As for singing, she explained in her recording label (Epic Records) biography that it seems as if she has always sung. She revealed, "I'd come home from school and hang up my keys on a key chain that was right beside my mirror. I would look in the mirror and realize I was singing. I sang all the time." Growing up to the sounds of jazz standards influenced Apple's style, as some connoisseurs recognized reflections of legends such as Nina Simone, Carole King, and Billie Holiday.

Concepts for songs were forged amidst tremendous conflict during Apple's early years at home. She began her expressive exercises by leaving household fights and writing letters about her feelings. She described her reactions in the Fiona Online biography, "I resorted to not participating in any fighting. I used to leave the room and write a letter that would make my point." In addition to being born into tumultuous family dynamics, Apple has admitted to sexual abuse as a pre-teen and found relief through pushing her traumatic defilement by talking about it. In an interview with Jane Stevenson of the Toronto Sun she said, "I remember hesitating and thinking this is probably going to ruin me ... I just didn't want to keep it a secret." Apple fell into turmoil without an escape except her mind. Like many artists, she survived the amazing frustration and pain of her life situation by creating. Piano scores and emotional letters were the outlets which later became her lifeline.

Apple moved from New York to Los Angeles when she was 16. She wanted to spend time with her father, finish her high school education, and make a demo. She planned to record lots of copies and distribute them widely. However, similar to many of the experiences which Apple had been thrust into over her short life, her entrance into the pop music scene was sudden, almost as if she had no choice in the matter. She traveled to New York to visit friends over the Christmas holidays. A three-song demo tape was given to a friend who was baby-sitting for a music industry executive. The friend passed the demo along to the exec, who then played it for a holiday party guest, producer and manager Andrew Slater. Slater contacted Apple soon thereafter and they worked together for more than four years.

Tidal, the debut album, was released in July of 1996 on Clean Slate/Work/Epic. Apple ignored reviews because she didn't want to gauge herself by anything she was hearing or reading. A statement from Fiona Apple Online explained her philosophy about art, "The way I feel about music--any song, any style--is that there is no right and wrong, only true and false. If the music and lyrics are conceived out of honesty and if the production of the song goes along with its original message, then what has been expressed is art regardless of what anyone's opinion is of it. So things are a lot simpler if you just tell the truth." Even though the album name was drawn from how life's experiences ebb and flow like the ocean tides, Tidal hit like a tsunami, blasting onto the pop scene. The popularity of "Shadowboxer'" received heavy videoplay on MTV and VH1 and landed Tidal on the Top 40 albums chart. "Sleep to Dream," and "Criminal," were the other primary components of the wave which hit the United States. The album went gold within six months and triple platinum within three years.

The instant success surprised the young singer. Despite playing the piano from her early years and writing songs about many of her personal experiences, Apple had yet to perform her expressions. Boldly taking the next step as a musician, she vowed in the Fiona Apple Online biography, "I'll be nervous, but what else can I do? I won't go backwards." She met that challenge by doing her first gig in Paris, appearing on Saturday Night Live guest spots, touring with Chris Isaak, exciting crowds as a headlining act on the 1997 Lilith Fair tour, and entertaining sold-out audiences with concert hall performances. Apple spoke to Alan Light of Spin magazine about her confidence on stage and her performance style. She expressed that she strived to be authentic while on stage: "I feel totally in control when I'm singing the songs. As soon as I'm not, I don't know how to act. But I would rather not be contrived, even if it makes me look better."

Apple's success soon placed her in yet more disturbing situations. After winning the 1997 MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist In A Video for "Sleep to Dream," she turned infamous by blasting the music industry while accepting the award. After quoting Maya Angelou about how humans can create opportunities, she took her opportunity and decried, to everyone watching, "this world is bullsh**," and that everybody knew that to be true. In an interview posted on Fiona Apple Online, she explained her anger displayed while accepting the award. She felt there was too much manipulation of Nineties' youth through fabricated music star images. She explained that people should think for themselves and not model their lives on what pop stars tell them is cool. "Go with yourself," she instructed. She went on to win other awards, including the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and the 1998 MTV VMA for Best Cinematography in her "Criminal" video. However, making the video was another experience of violation for Apple. Saying that she regretted doing the video, she revealed her frustration, "what f***in' bullsh** did I really win that night. I won ... because it was controversial. I won for being in my underwear on MTV. That made me so ashamed of myself." She said the videographers were telling how beautiful she looked during filming, but afterward, she just felt stupid. Obviously, Apple was tired of the exploitation and humiliation that had repeatedly occurred in her life.

Angst-ridden Apple sought to further clarify her thoughts on her sophomore album which was released in late 1999. Responding in frustration to a November 1997 article about herself in Spin magazine, she wrote a poem which she began reciting onstage during the Tidal tour. Following her own advice to the youth of the day, Apple went with herself and chose the 90-word prose as the title of her 1999 release. The longest album title ever, When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What he Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing `Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights And if You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land And if You fall It Won't Matter, `Cuz You'll Know That You're Right, was a collection of songs uncovering the angst about the selfish, greedy, self-serving, and voracious part of the world she has experienced. The sound of the second album was more upbeat and rocked a little harder than her debut. Rob Sheffield, from Rolling Stone,described Apple's music as a spiritual sister to Korn and Limp Bizkit. Apple found success in expressing that part of human experience which has been used, hurt, abused, pushed to anger, manipulated, and confused as evidenced by her second album hitting gold status in two months. Sheffield further wrote that she had a promising future: "[When the Pawn...] makes you hope that she'll find a way to use her talent as a connection to the world ... she's an artist who deserves a shot at growing up."

by Nathan Sweet

Fiona Apple's Career

Started playing piano at eight years of age; released debut album, Tidal, Clean/Slate/Epic, 1996, at age 18; released When The Pawn..., Clean/Slate/Epic, 1999.

Fiona Apple's Awards

Triple platinum status for Tidal, 1996; MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist In A Video for "Sleep to Dream," 1997; Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, 1998; MTV VMA for Best Cinematography in "Criminal" video, 1998.

Famous Works

Further Reading



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