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Music on the Road

Alanis Morissette reveals herself, again

By Joanne Suh
CNN Entertainment Correspondent

 

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- Fans have done all but sweep her record under the rug, as Alanis Morissette's latest release has hit the Top Ten in nearly 30 countries.

"Under Rug Swept" represents a first for the 27-year-old Canadian. This time, she flew solo -- writing and producing the album on her own after collaborating with powerhouse producer Glen Ballard on her two previous studio efforts, "Jagged Little Pill" (1995) and "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" (1998). The new direction was a bit of a risk: "Jagged," in particular, was a huge smash that sold millions of copies.

Her latest record reflects the seven-time Grammy winner's direct and seemingly stream-of-consciousness songwriting, as she continues to explore personal issues, including past relationships and private insecurities, through her music.

CNN caught up with Morissette in Caracas, Venezuela, where she performed at the Caracas Pop Festival, one of South America's biggest music events.

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Alanis Morissette in her latest video titled "Hands Clean" (May 16)
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CNN: Are you surprised that "Under Rug Swept" has hit No. 1 in the U.S., Europe and other countries?

MORISSETTE: From record to record, I feel like I'm just kinda walking along and things are either ebbing and flowing all around me all the time. So am I happy about it? Absolutely, because I'd love to share my music with as many people as I possibly can. Am I invested in it? No.

CNN: When did you sit down and say it's time to come up with something new?

MORISSETTE: What I usually do is I go through periods of time where I don't write at all. And then when it comes time to write, my intuition will just say, "Now's the time," the dam breaks, and the songs just break themselves. So that was the case this time around, too.

CNN: Talk about the title, "Under Rug Swept."

MORISSETTE: A lot of what I'm writing about on the record, including the song that the title comes from, is my coming to terms with facing truths that I swept under the proverbial rug for a long time and hadn't even faced myself -- which is always the toughest thing to face, a truth alone in a room.

CNN: This album is a first, because you produced it yourself. How did that come about?

MORISSETTE: It was more out of curiosity really. I had written and collaborated and produced with different people over the years. And I produced a song for the "Dogma" soundtrack in London at Abbey Road so I got my first whistle-wetting at that point. And I knew that the next step would be for me to investigate doing it on my own.

CNN: When is the biggest difference with this album, compared to the last couple studio albums?

MORISSETTE: I think it's just a snapshot of right now. As many changes as I've encountered or experienced over the last few years [are] exemplified in the record. And it's tough to have objectivity on this one, but any revelations that I've had or any growths or any thoughts, any sarcasms or cynicisms that I'm experiencing, they're a snapshot on each record. I'll look back on it when I'm 110 and smirk. (smile)

CNN: What inspires you to write songs?

MORISSETTE: Personal experiences. Anger will be a catalyst, any passionate emotion -- whether it's gratitude or joy or confusion or any sort of inspiration of anything -- will result in my at least writing in my journal, which often becomes a song. And if the process is too belabored, I usually stop. So if a song wants to write itself, it'll happen within 30 minutes or so.

CNN: Are you planning to do another 18-month jaunt like last time?

MORISSETTE: No. (laugh) I'll be touring until August or so, and then what I'd like to do ultimately is start writing a book, and every once in awhile just spontaneously going to Asia or Australia or South America or whatever it is. That's the goal.

CNN: Why do you think your music touches so many people around the world?

MORISSETTE: I think music is such a universal language so I know there's so much being communicated through the electric guitars and the instruments, for sure. And then I think people see themselves in me. I show all parts of me unapologetically, as many parts as I can muster up, anyway, for one record. I see them seeing themselves in me and maybe feeling less alone, maybe feeling inspired, maybe feeling repulsed, whatever it is. (laugh)

CNN: Do you feel like an elder statesperson now in the music scene when you have young artists like Michelle Branch citing you as an influence?

MORISSETTE: I feel like I've had a lot of experience certainly. In one moment, I feel definitely like a veteran and the next moment, I feel like a child. So it really depends on when you catch me.

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