An in-depth interview with the singer-songwriter about everything Fetch the Bolt Cutters, recording with Bob Dylan, scrolling Tumblr, and so much more

There is a radical openness to Fiona Apple’s fifth album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters—in its fevered and physical compositions, in the forthright candor of its stories, in its rhythms so tapped into the pulsations of the world around her. And that rare attunement extends to her everyday life.

On a Saturday afternoon in late October, she was at a horse farm in Alabama, playing her ashiko drum in synchronicity with the birds in the sky. She texted over a video of her impromptu performance with commentary: “I drum with the birds in the trees/I know that time is elastic!” she wrote, a play on the lyrics to Fetch the Bolt Cutters opener “I Want You to Love Me.” But Fiona was also illuminating the evermore expansive way she has come to think about her own music 24 years into a singular career: in relation to her natural environment, to animals, open to chance.

Once, during 1999’s “Paper Bag,” she sang slyly of wishing on the illusion of a bird above, of hungering for love that she didn’t believe she deserved. But here was Fiona in 2020, communing with her avian audience in the context of a song where she unequivocally states her desire (“I want somebody to want and I want what I want and I want you”—five wants) for the love she knows she’s earned. All over Fetch the Bolt Cutters, the 43-year-old excavates past traumas—from the callousness of grown men to the cruelty of lunchroom bullies—with the uncontainable sound of growth in process.

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