Alanis Morissette reflects on career, 20 years after 'Jagged Little Pill'
Alanis Morissette reacts to winning the Juno Award for most promising female vocalist during a ceremony in Toronto, Sunday, March 29, 1992. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Becker)
Nick Patch, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 12, 2015 7:04AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 12, 2015 8:19AM EDT
TORONTO -- Alanis Morissette made her Junos debut back in 1992, wearing buoyant ringlets, a bejewelled off-the-shoulder dress and the dumbstruck expression of a 17-year-old leaping blindly into the glare of the spotlight.
She was dressed in the disguise of a dance-pop featherweight, which ultimately didn't fit.
But at least the dress did.
"Not unlike most brides around the planet, I put all my stress into what dress I would wear," Morissette recalled with a laugh recently, marvelling at the "absolutely terrifying" event.
"I just remember being really nervous and over the moon about the fact that I held eye contact with Bryan Adams for longer than one millisecond.
"Such was the mindset of a 17-year-old."
The award she was given that night -- most promising female vocalist -- turned out to be prescient. Twenty-three years later, Morissette is being ushered into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame after a distinguished -- and ongoing! -- career that has spanned more than 60 million albums sold, seven Grammys, 12 Junos and karaoke ubiquity.
Days before Morissette was to receive the honour and perform at this weekend's Juno Awards, the 40-year-old chatted with The Canadian Press from her home in Brentwood, Calif.
CP: What does this honour mean to you?
Morissette: Mostly it's just me coming into the arms of Canada. I'm Canadian to the bone. To be honoured by Canadians is precious to me.
CP: When you won that first Juno, did you feel ready for the related expectations?
Morissette: I was ready to dive into the unknown and the scary and the high-stimulating. I didn't have a high amount of self-knowledge at the time so I wasn't aware of how much consideration had to be taken in order to keep my well-being intact.
So I crashed and burned a few times along the way. But I'm still alive, which is a miracle.
CP: It's the 20th anniversary of "Jagged Little Pill" and you're adapting it into a musical. What sort of emotions does that album evoke for you?
Morissette: There's a continuity there that has remained true for two decades straight, which is just social commentary, eating disorder commentary, embracing emotions, flying in the face of what's expected. So many of these themes ... seem timeless in a way, which is lovely.
It's not the kind of record that I would discourage a 15-year-old to listen to. It's quite the opposite.
CP: What sort of expectations did you have for it?
Morissette: The people around me were saying that if it sold 75,000 to 100,000 copies, they would have been chest-bumping. (That was) the best-case scenario.
Frankly, on the heels of many failures have been the most sacred, expressing times of my whole life. In some weird way, I love feeling invisible because I know I can create something that is not fettered by expectation.
CP: You won five Junos in 1996 and in acceptance discussed how an artist's growth occurs in public. Was all the attention a lot to bear?
Morissette: It was. It was a lot of pressure and I hated it. So to take some of the intensity away, I wrote "Uninvited" (for the "City of Angels" soundtrack in 1998). That was really not encouraged by my record company. They wanted me to take all that white hot heat and put it into the follow-up for "Jagged Little Pill."
But I was buckling under that pressure and I didn't want to write. I was super burnt out from touring and had I not succumbed to any of the pressure, who knows, I might have been the artist who writes a record every 10 years.
CP: So you were never infatuated with fame?
Morissette: I was definitely intrigued. I was sold the same bill of goods that the planet has been sold, which is that when you're famous, you're Kumbaya-ing with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp is petting your head while you sit around a fire. (laughs)
So when I entered into that whole celebrity fray, it was actually quite isolating. I swear I walk around with a whiteboard upon which people can project their hatred toward their mother and their former boss and their sister and their ex-girlfriend.
It's a lot to hold.
CP: How did you deal with it?
Morissette: I would isolate myself from feedback. So I wouldn't go into chatrooms. People would say: "Hey, read this article about you." I would need it to be vetted first, because emotional violence in articles or pieces of feedback, I just wasn't interested in.
I just got very, very discerning and judicious about who I would listen to until it was a small group of people who I would take absolute, 100 per cent feedback from. And everyone else, I wasn't really interested. I'm still not interested, frankly.
CP: You told me making your last album (2012's "Havoc and Bright Lights") was "painstaking." Will you make more music?
Morissette: Well right now I'm actually working on a book, which is great. Because the literary world, they're obsessed with credibility. I find as we get older, we become more and more credible, or we're perceived as credible.
(But) I'll write music until I'm dead. And maybe after, who knows! I'll channel through some young, unsuspecting artist.
CP: Do you enjoy the memoir-writing process?
Morissette: The process of writing I hate with all my heart. I hate writing songs. I hate writing books. I hate writing speeches. I just hate it. However, the outcome is so beautiful that I push through.
CP: Not all hall of fame inductees choose to perform. How do you think you'll feel up there?
Morissette: To be honest, any excuse to be around my bandmates -- I just love them so much. I have a four-year-old now (son Ever), so we're not touring at the breakneck speed we used to. This'll be really fun for us.
Facts you oughta know about Alanis Morissette heading into Juno weekend
Alanis Morissette will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at this weekend's Juno Awards in Hamilton.
Here are a few facts you oughta know about the multi-platinum singer-songwriter, who has won 13 Junos and seven Grammy Awards:
June 1, 1974: Morissette and twin sibling Wade (who also became a musician) were born in Ottawa. Morissette took an interest in music, songwriting and performing at an early age. At age 10 she recorded her first song, and in 1986 she joined the cast of the Canadian kids sketch comedy TV series "You Can't Do That on Television."
Early 1990s: Morissette released her debut album, "Alanis," in Canada in 1991. The dance-pop project had the single "Too Hot," which reached the top 20 on the singles chart. The next year she released another album in Canada, "Now is the Time," which had the pop singles "An Emotion Away," "No Apologies" and "(Change Is) Never a Waste of Time."
Late 1990s: After moving to Los Angeles, Morissette got her big breakthrough with the release of her third studio album, 1995's "Jagged Little Pill." It was an alt-rock project of deeply personal hits, including "You Oughta Know," "Hand in My Pocket," "Ironic," "You Learn" and "Head Over Feet." She followed it up with the equally personal but less angsty album "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie," which included the hit "Thank U."
2000-present: Morissette has since released several albums, including "Under Rug Swept," "So-Called Chaos," "Flavors of Entanglement" and "Havoc and Bright Lights." She also had a memorable stint hosting the Junos in a flesh-colored bodysuit and has been inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
Acting: Morissette has acted on screen and onstage several times. In the 1999 comedy film "Dogma" she appeared as God, a role she reprised for a cameo in 2001's "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." Her other acting credits include "Sex and the City," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Vagina Monologues."
Personal life: Morissette was engaged to actor Ryan Reynolds in the 2000s, but they eventually split. In 2010, she married rapper Mario (Souleye) Treadway, the same year they had their son, Ever.