Awards

Fiona Apple Blasts Grammys Over Dr. Luke Nomination & More in New Interview

Fiona Apple
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Chris Cornell Estate

Fiona Apple performs onstage during I Am The Highway: A Tribute To Chris Cornell at The Forum on Jan. 16, 2019 in Inglewood, Calif.

Apple, who has three nominations this year, supports Kesha and ousted Grammy chief Deborah Dugan. She has harsh words for Dr. Luke, a Grammy nominee this year.

In a wide-ranging interview with the U.K. paper The Guardian, Fiona Apple expressed serious misgivings about the Grammy Awards.

Apple brought the subject up when the conversation turned to female artists, such as Taylor Swift and Britney Spears, who have to fight for autonomy.

The mention of Swift, whose Folklore is up for album of the year, made Apple think of the Grammys -- but not because Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters was passed over for an album of the year nomination (despite being the year’s best-reviewed album, according to Metacritic.com, the review aggregation site).

Instead, Apple was said she glad she wasn’t nominated in that category so all the Swifties wouldn’t turn on her.

“As much as the Swifties terrify me, I respect their power for doing good for her! I was so terrified that I was going to be nominated for album of the year along with Taylor Swift, I’m so relieved [I’m not] because I didn’t wanna get bullied!" Apple said.

She continued, “Also, I’m bringing up the Grammys and that’s really something that I shouldn’t be doing, but really, Dr. Luke is nominated [under the pseudonym Tyson Trax]? They had [Kesha] up there singing ‘Praying’ [a song about her alleged experiences of abuse by Dr. Luke, which he denies] and now they’re gonna go: ‘Oh but it’s Tyson Trax!’

“I’m waiting to hear more about what Deborah Dugan [former Recording Academy president/CEO, who was put on leave on Jan. 16 and later fired] has to say [about the culture at the Recording Academy] because that all reeks to me," Apple said. "When you hire somebody and they raise questions and then they get fired? There’s a lot of things that she brought up that make it so that I can’t vet that situation and I don’t really wanna go there and support it.”

Under the pseudonym Tyson Trax, Dr. Luke is nominated for record of the year for producing Doja Cat’s “Say So,” a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s his first Grammy nomination in seven years.

Kesha’s “Praying” was nominated for best pop solo performance three years ago. Kesha performed the song on the Jan. 28, 2018 telecast, joined by five other high-profile women (Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha) in what was presented as a show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement.

Apple has three Grammy nominations this year for the first time since her debut year. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is up for best alternative music album, while its standout track “Shameika” is nominated for best rock performance and best rock song. In her debut year, 1997, Apple won best female rock vocal performance for “Criminal” and was nominated for best new artist and best rock song (also for “Criminal”).

For the first time in Grammy history, all of the nominees for best rock performance are by female solo artists or female-led groups. Apple is competing with Phoebe Bridgers (“Kyoto”), Brittany Howard (“Stay High”), Grace Potter (“Daylight”), the sister trio Haim (“The Steps”) and Big Thief, fronted by Adrianne Lenker (“Not”).

Interviewer Laura Snapes asked Apple about that in The Guardian interview. “I immediately had this feeling: I wish I was in a room with these ladies and we could celebrate," Apple replied. "I felt really nice for a second. Every week I send a selfie to Simon, who runs the Tumblr site on me. I thought, for that week’s selfie, I’m gonna make a T-shirt with everybody’s names in little hearts: Phoebe, Brittany, Danielle, Este, Alana [Haim], Adrianne, Grace. But then I threw it away. I felt like this is exactly what they want me to do: It’s better now! I got nominated! And it’s all women this year and the Grammys are great!"

Apple continued, “I keep going back to them putting Kesha on stage like, ‘We believe you” – and I believe her – then [three] years later, f--king Tyson Trax. Not to go back to that word, but it’s bulls--t. The feeling of wanting to celebrate with these women was genuine. But I should have that feeling anyway. I don’t know if anybody who’s nominated can help having the thought: ‘What would I do If I won?’ My vision was that I would just get up there with a sledgehammer and I wouldn’t say anything, I would take the Grammy and smash it into enough pieces to share and I would invite all the ladies up. My second thought was I wonder if I can get all these ladies to boycott this s--t because of Dr. Luke.”

The Recording Academy had not responded to requests for comment about Apple's remarks at the time of publication.

Apple, 43, has a history of speaking her mind at and around award shows. At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, where she won the Moonman for best new artist in a video, she gave an acceptance speech that was both praised and mocked for years.

She said, in part: “I’m not going to do this like everybody else does it…I’m going to use this opportunity the way that I want to use it. So what I want to say is everybody out there that’s watching this world, this world is bulls--t. And you shouldn’t model your life [after] what you think we think is cool and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself. Go with yourself.”

That came up in The Guardian interview too: “That [speech] was a huge moment in my life that I will never, ever regret, and that I have never regretted, no matter how embarrassed I might have been by it at a certain point. I knew it was one of those moments where you have to be a really good parent to yourself and go: 'This is a time you can get out there and just say it, you have to because if you don’t do it now you set a precedent for yourself at these things. You shut up your entire life at school, you took all this sh** and you were quiet, look how it made you feel. You’re at this thing right now, this magnified high school class and now you got a chance to go up and say something? Don’t be shy. No matter how it comes out, just let it come out.’ So I’m really glad that I did that and I think that that set me on a good path."

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