Flameworthy Backstage With Shania Twain

Shania Twain surprised viewers of the CMT Flameworthy 2003 Video Music Awards when she invited Alison Krauss & Union Station to sing “Forever and For Always” with her. She also edged out stiff competition (like fellow winners Toby Keith and Martina McBride ) to win the concept video of the year for “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” Following her victory, Twain went backstage to talk to the media about her performance, her album and her upcoming tour.

Your performance was a special treat for us, playing with Alison Krauss & Union Station. Tell us how that came about.
It was a special treat for me, too. This was one of the songs I wrote on guitar. So much of my music, I write on guitar and I write very organically. As a team, our music ends up becoming more produced. Between Mutt and I, we meet somewhere in the middle and then I end up with very commercial records — which I love. I think especially for my concert touring, it makes it a lot more fun.

But I just have always had this dream to bring things down a little bit, [to be] more minimalistic. I thought of Alison, and I thought this would be the perfect song to do that with, and they would be the perfect group to do it with. So I asked them and I was really glad that they accepted. I think it probably does the song more justice than anything else we’ve done with it, really. I really like it broken down like that.

Is there any chance you might delve into acoustic music on an album-length basis?
It’s very possible. I would be indulging myself if I were to do that. I would love to do an entire album of acoustic music. That would be beautiful. I would love it. It’s my favorite music to sing. Yeah, I could see myself doing an album like that sometime in the future. Sure, why not?

When can we expect you to tour?
I’ll start touring at the end of September and more than likely I’ll be starting either in Canada or the States, but I’ll be in the States by October for sure this year. That’s the plan.

How much input do you have for the concepts of your videos?
I’m very involved with all my videos. This particular video, I didn’t come up with the futuristic idea, but of course I set the whole mood for the look and the video, which I wanted to be very rock ‘n’ roll, and all that sort of thing. When I started to describe my ideas visually to [director] Paul Boyd, he came up with “Let’s do something futuristic and animated,” so it was a collaboration on this one. But I led the direction. I always do with my videos. I think it’s because I write all my songs, and I already have a visual idea way in advance.

You took so much time off before you came out with this album. Was there a little bit of apprehension when this album was released?
No. There was much more stress on me the last time because I had my first diamond album [for shipments of 10 million copies] with The Woman in Me, and the next album was the test: “Is she going to be able to do this again? And if she doesn’t do it again, she’ll probably go away like everybody else.” So, when the next album did triple-that, I really did feel as though I achieved something that even I may never achieve again. I was very relaxed and comfortable with that and very happy to say that I’ve gone way beyond my own personal goals in this industry. Whatever happens from here, I’ll just feel very extremely fortunate. That pressure is off, more than anything.

Although you could receive two credits for selling a copy of Up!, which is a double-album, I heard you are choosing to be only credited for one. Is there truth to that?
Yes, there is truth to that because I just don’t think it’s justified. It’s a technical thing. I technically can claim two, but it’s not … true. I mean, it’s technically true, but it wouldn’t be true. That would be some kind of trickery or something. I’m not interested in that. I don’t want to be accused of doing anything like that. I wouldn’t even want that. … No gimmicks.

Even the packaging of this album is not a gimmick, the color thing. This is a whole homegrown idea. If anything, the label was saying to me, “How are we going to market this?” Because it was such a crazy idea, having all these different styles of music. I just wanted to give more. I wanted to give more choice. I wanted to portray all the different sides of me. I’m not trying to be anything I’m not. It’s all very true to what I am. I enjoyed experimenting, but I’m not interested in the gimmick of the whole number game.

Has motherhood changed your attitude toward your songs or your music?
No, funnily enough, motherhood has not changed me as a career person or the way I see things artistically at all. It’s funny. (pauses) I wouldn’t say directly, but indirectly, of course it has to, because it changes you so much emotionally. … You change entirely. But directly, no. I wouldn’t say that I sit around going, “OK, well, I better take a different direction.” Nothing like that. I think it’s more of an indirect thing.

You’ve won lots of awards. How important is a fan-voted award like this?
Because I make my music for the fans and not the industry, it means the most to me. It’s the most rewarding when the fans respond that way. It’s the most honest award you can get.

This is your first Flameworthy show to attend. What do you think?
I think it’s really great. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere. I like the location. The hallways are big and we can actually mingle and see other artists. I like the fact there’s a real audience there. I’m closer somehow to this audience. It’s an arena so it’s more similar to what we do when we’re playing in concert. So I’m pretty comfortable here. I’m enjoying it.