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Alanis Biography


Please note that some if the information here is very outdated and/or incomplete. Over time I hope I can make it as accurate and up to date as possible.


Personal Information

Full Name - Alanis Nadine Morissette
Date Of Birth - June 1, 1974
Place Of Birth - Ottawa, Canada
Origin Of The Name Alanis - Alanis' father wanted a female version of his name, but did not like the name Alanna. He saw the name Alanis in a Greek newspaper and it stuck.

The Morissette Family

Father - Alan Morissette
Worked as a high school principal

Mother - Georgia Morissette
Hungarian born
Alanis' parents met on a playground as children. Her father reportedly walked up to her mother and told her "I'm going to marry you".

Siblings - Alanis has two brothers, one of which is a twin. The two sing back-up on her debut album Alanis



"No Pressure Over Capuccino", is written about and dedicated to Wade. She mentions him in most of her shows.

Place Of Residence - Alanis spent most of her first eighteen years in Ottawa, Canada. She went to kindergarten in Laar, Germany, where she lived for three years, speaking German fluently. After graduating from high school, she moved briefly to Toronto. She stayed in Toronto for less than a year and eventually moved to Los Angeles, California. The day before the Grammy Awards Alanis moved out of her apartment and placed her belongings in storage. In 1997 she moved into a house in L.A. again which is located near the Ghetty Museum. Aparently her house is very "woody".

Alanis was robbed at gunpoint a few days after moving to Los Angeles, but claims that the experience is part of what makes her love the city so much. She says the "darkness" of the city and its "underlying sense of danger" is what drew her there.

Religious Affiliation - Alanis was raised in a Catholic household and attended church every Sunday. She drew her inspiration to write the song "Forgiven" from her experiences with the church. Although she no longer considers herself a Catholic, she claims to be very interested in the "spiritual aspect of life".

Musical Influences - Alanis' favorite musicians while growing up were ABBA and Annie Lennox. She says that she was inspired to write as honestly as she did on Jagged Little Pill after hearing Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes. "I cried the first time I heard it. That someone could write so openly and honestly opened my eyes to a whole new world. Alanis has been performing a cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" in some of her more recent shows. She even wrote an article in the New York Times about how the song has rekindled her interest in listening to music strictly for the pleasure of it. Seal is also one of her favorites.

Alanis began taking jazz and ballet dance classes at the age of seven.

Alanis was a straight-A student in high school.

A recording of Alanis singing Canada's national anthem was played every morning in her high school.

Album Information

Albums - Alanis has released three full studio albums and an independent single released on her own label.

"Fate Stay With Me" (1987). (Independent label)
Alanis (1991)
Now is the Time (1992)
Jagged Little Pill (1995)
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998)
MTV Unplugged (1999)

Fate Stay With Me - Lamor Records (Alanis' own label)

Limited number printed
Available only on vinyl
Alanis wrote "Fate Stay With Me" when she was 9 years old, but did not record and release it until she was 11.
Lyrics and music written by Alanis

Alanis - MCA Canada

Released in 1991
Sold over 100,000 copies
Out of print
Earned Alanis a Juno Award as Most Promising Female Artist
Produced by Leslie Howe
Released when Alanis was seventeen years old.

Now Is The Time - MCA Canada

Released in 1992
Sold over 50,000 copies
Out of print
Produced by Leslie Howe
Released when Alanis was 18 years old.

Alanis began working with Leslie Howe when she was 13 years old.

Alanis signed with MCA Records when she was 16 years old.

Maverick Records, Alanis' current label, is going to great lengths to take both Alanis and Now is the Time off the market. Not only has the label bought large quantities of the albums held by distributors, but Maverick representatives have been searching music stores all over Canada for copies and buying them at full retail price.

Alanis is not responsible for Maverick Record's attempts to prevent her previous work from reaching the public. She claims to be very proud of her past and welcomes any attempts to locate and listen to Alanis and Now is the Time.

Jagged Little Pill - Maverick Recording Co.

Sold over 27 million copies worldwide
Earned Alanis four Grammy Awards
Produced by Glen Ballard
All lyrics written by Alanis
All music is co-written by Alanis and Glen Ballard
Recorded in Glen Ballard's home studio in Encino, Ca.

The entire album was recorded in about two weeks.

Alanis plays harmonica on "All I Really Want" and "Hand in my Pocket".

The album's producer, Glen Ballard, is also known for his work with acts ranging from Michael Jackson to Wilson Phillips. He is also working with Aerosmith. Alanis speaks of Glen often and has referred to him as both her "spiritual brother" and "best friend".

The title, Jagged Little Pill, is actually a lyric from "You Learn". The "jagged little pill" symbolizes difficult life experiences that eventually teach us a valuable lesson. "Jagged Little Pill is a lyric in 'You Learn'. A lot of the premises that I write about on this record have to do with certain parts of my past and a lot of times when I'm immersed in something really difficult I don't realize that there is a lesson in there somewhere. It's only in retrospect that I'll realize why I went through it. So the lyric following it is just 'swallow it down, what a jagged little pill, it feels so good swimming in your stomach'. So, there is some sort of payoff and it might not be right away."

In the song "All I Really Want", Alanis compares herself to a woman named "Estella". This is a reference to the character Estella in Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations. Estella has a tendency to use the men in her life and be used by them at the same time, hence the lyric "I'm like Estella. I like to reel it in and then spit it out. I'm frustrated by your apathy." As Alanis put it, "Estella has man troubles to say the least."

In the song "Not the Doctor", Alanis warns her lover to "mind the empty bottle with the holes along the bottom". The bottle is used to represent the self esteem of a clingy lover. No matter how much she tries to build him up, he knocks himself down again, leading to a no-win situation. Similarly, no matter how often you fill a bottle with holes in it, it will inevitably empty itself. Alanis says that its not only written to past boyfriends, but to herself as well. "At the same time that I'm writing it to someone else, I'm writing it to myself in a round about way."

Jagged Little Pill Singles

You Oughta Know
Hand in My Pocket
You Learn
Head Over Feet
All I Really Want

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie

All lyrics written by Alanis
All music is co-written by Alanis and Glen Ballard
Following is a review of the album by Alanis:

The album title: in the past when i felt infatuated with someone i wanted to pass through that phase if not skip over it entirely because i felt out of control and overwhelmed...relationships equated confusion and pain to me...upon realizing why relationships exist and understanding myself more, i can now enjoy the heart-palpitating phase of infatuation once again...

The songs:

Front row: a stream of consciousness recounting of three separate conversations with people or situations that inspired me in some way. the chorus allows me to express how privileged i feel to be able to be intimate with these people to provide an environment for them in which they can feel safe...where i can see all parts of them without judgment.

Thank u: first song written with glen for the record...after having stopped for what felt like the first time in my life and experiencing a deep stillness, i was left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, inspiration and compassion...it felt natural for this to be the first song release as it encapsulates the heart-space from which all the songs on this record sprung.

Are you still mad: on jagged little pill i viscerally reacted to certain people/situations that resulted in a cathartic release...on this song i allow myself the emotional reaction (which i think is important) while also taking responsibility for my role in the relationships which resulted in a sense of closure that had not been realized by my simply reacting or solely pointing the finger.

Baba: my direct experiences with spiritual materialism within certain communities (particularly in the west), and the idealism of eastern/exotic spiritual practices...sensing the dissonance between the competition, elitism and judgment within some of these culturally adopted rituals/gods and compassion itself.

Sympathetic character: i needed to get to the root of why i was so afraid of conflict and being around anger. we live in a society that sees rage as something that is to be repressed or something that is explosive and destructive...we aren't taught how to express our rage, having it be heard and released in a non-destructive way. this song was my recounting my fears of having spent a lot of time around people who couldn't contain (their rage). the writing of this song enabled me to see anger as natural and understand it even more than i had before.

That i would be good: i was meditating in my closet and i asked myself "what do you want?"

The couch: this song was written following a conversation i had with my dad regarding his life story. i was able to see him for who he was (outside of his role as my father) for what felt like the first time. it was very healing for both of us.

Can't not: this song was written in 1995 after i had started touring for jagged little pill and it reflects some of what my mindset was at the time. it was originally being recorded as a b-side but once it was recalled i wanted it on the record.

UR: a brief and retrospective look at my "career" in chronological order. the first verse being about when i was 10 years old. the second verse being about my mid teens. and the third verse being about the time right after the jagged little pill tour. parts of the choruses are other people's perspective and parts are mine.

I was hoping: the choruses in this song are about my having been excited with the newly discovered opportunity that i saw--the relationship i was in--and what it was providing for the both of us. i had never understood the healing quality of safety and intimacy, or the consciousness that was required of me to be in that kind of relationship until that point. the verses are my recounting three separate conversations/experiences.

One: i was safe enough with this person to show him parts of myself that i needed to express in order to change them. i hadn't been able to do so in the past because those parts of myself would have been judged. in being judged i would not have been able to move through them. i also explore and understand the concept of our interconnectedness.

Would not come: revelations based on what happened in the past three years in particular. fame, money, "status"...constantly feeling that i had to look outside of myself to see who i was and to feel bliss. having to "achieve," run, grasp or "become" something other than what i was in order to be worthy/accepted. putting it down on paper made me realize the disservice i was doing to my true self and how transparent and unfulfilling it can be to put all my happiness in the hands of external brass rings.

Unsent: this song started with my writing the first verse and realizing that there were many more people with whom i hadn't had closure...romantic, platonic and professional relationships. some of the names are nicknames, some of them are variations on their names and some of them are their real names...i talked to some of the people that inspired the verses and came to realize that this song encouraged me to connect with these people directly and not rely on songwriting as a way of my avoiding direct/difficult contact.

So pure: both the expression of anger and the expression of joy have been equally vulnerable for me at different times in my life. i allowed myself to be inspired and infatuated with this person who is unapologetically and exuberantly themself.

Joining you: my reaching out to a friend who was questioning his own suffering by my saying that who we are within can manifest itself externally rather than allowing society's illusions to define who we are.

Heart of the house: my tribute to my mother and to femininity in general. i thought in order to function in what i saw as a patriarchal society i had to adopt masculine qualities in order to be treated with the respect i deserved. in doing so i was unwittingly being chauvinistic myself and further confirming the lack of integrating both the feminine and masculine qualities in all of us. upon finding the gray area i naturally wanted to honor my relationship with my mother and with femininity itself.

Your congratulations: feeling for so long that i had to compromise/downplay my power, intelligence or talent in order not to threaten and lose the affection of those that i loved. there being this underlying belief that somehow both people couldn't share the power, that one person had to win and that the other had to "lose." my wanting for it to have been possible for both people to "win." with being in the public eye since i was young, those that were close to me often felt as though i was being inundated with praise from so many people that they themselves (the people i was closest to) wouldn't acknowledge what i was doing.

The pressure question: i see every recording i've done as a snapshot of that time in my life. i feel fulfilled when i feel the songs were inspired and representative of myself in the moment. in taking the valuable time off that i did, it allowed me the freedom to write from a place of love and inspiration (even if it was about pain or confusion) rather than a place of impatience or fear. i consider my records to be "successful" the moment they're finished and i had/have no expectations for them.

Music Videos

You Oughta Know - directed by Nick Egan Shows Alanis' transformation from a crying girl in a prom dress to an angry young woman in leather pants and boots

Hand In My Pocket - directed by Mark Kohr Alanis is a chauffeur in a small-town parade. She says the song is about her day-to-day observations, so the video depicts someone casually observing the people around her. She says she likes the idea of a video that does not focus entirely on her.

Ironic - directed by Stephane Sednaoui Features four different Alanis' riding in the same car. The different characters represent the different aspects of Alanis' personality. Alanis' favorite character is the one sitting in the front passenger seat. She says it reminds her of someone's older sister. There is also another video of Ironic featuring Stephane Sednaoui's daughter in the role of Alanis.

You Learn - directed by Liz Friedlander Follows a bedreaded Alanis on a not-so-average day in New York City. In the video, she causes a car crash, rides a horse, kisses a stranger, jumps off a bridge, plays basketball, and boxes. Each experience offers a lesson . . . "You live, you learn".

Head Over Feet - directed by Alanis Morissette This video was shot at Alanis house. It shows Alanis in front of a very dark background, her lips badly synchronised with the music. At one point she doesn't open her mouth at all while you can hear her singing. It's all a big joke, at some stage she is cracking up laughing and from that point on she's constantly grinning at the camera. There are two versions, one with her laughing and one without.

"Can't Not" Tour Information and Band Info

Alanis' "Can't Not" tour began in the fall of 1995 and it ended in the fall of 1996.

Alanis' Band - Alanis' touring band consist of four men: Taylor Hawkins, Nick Lashley, Jesse Tobias, and Chris Chaney

Taylor Hawkins - Drummer/ percussionist
Formerly of Mother Tongue, left Alanis' band after the tour to join the Foo Fighters

Nick Lashley - Guitarist
Only married member of the band

Jessie Tobias - Guitarist
Formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sings back-up in concert

Chris Chaney - Bassist

Alanis has said that if they weren't involved professionally that she would definitely have dated the men in her band," except for Nick, he's married". Her band currently consists only of Nick Lashley and Chris Chaney.

Alanis plays harmonica and guitar in concert.

Opening Acts - Alanis' opening acts were Radiohead, Imperial Drag, K's Choice, Loud Lucy, Our Lady Peace and Frente.

Loud Lucy - Touring to Promote their debut album "Breathe"

Signed on DGC Records

Rumor has it that Alanis was dating Loud Lucy's lead singer, Christian Lane.

New Songs - Alanis has several unreleased songs that she performs in concert.

"King of Intimidation" - about sexism in the world

"Death of Cinderella" - appears to be about Alanis herself

"Can't Not" - about the pressures Alanis faces as a result of her new found fame. In concert, Alanis introduces the song by saying "This song is a response to some of the questions that have been posed to me over the last while."

"No Pressure Over Cappucino" - written about and dedicated to Alanis' twin brother, Wade

"I Don't Know (Weekends)" - performed less often than the rest



"A Year Like This One"

"Pray For Peace"

Lyrics to these songs can be found in the lyrics section.

Covers of Alanis' Songs

An L.A.-based punk band, 10,000 Mona Lisas included a cover of "You Oughta Know" as a hidden track on their debut album.

Weird Al Yankovich performs a spoof of "You Oughta Know" as part of a medeley of alternative rock songs on his most recent album.

Debbie Gibson performed a cover of "You Oughta Know" during a radio interview.

Better Than Ezra has covered "You Oughta Know" in concert as well.

Honors and Distinctions

1990 - Juno Award as Most Promising Female Artist

1995 - Club Act of the Year

1996 - Four Grammy Awards
Album of the Year
Best Rock Album
Best Rock Song
Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female - "You Oughta Know"

1996 - Three Juno Awards
Best Rock Album
Best Rock Song
Album of the Year

1996 - The NARA has said that Jagged Little Pill will surpass the sales record set by Mariah Carey as the top selling debut album by a female.

Jagged Little Pill reached number one on the Billboard charts and seemed to have a permanent place in the top five.

Jagged Little Pill reached the top of the charts in Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and other countries as well.

How To Contact Alanis

Alanis Morissette
14724 Ventura Blvd., Suite 410
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

You can also send her an email from her official site at http://www.alanis.com

Alanis On The Net

Alanis has given several on-line interviews to date, three of which can be found in the Interview section.

Online Interviews
9-13-95 = German IRC Chat
2-5-96 = America On-line Chat
2-20-96 = Pathfinder IRC

There are several IRC Alanis rooms, two of them are #alanis and #alanismorissette on the undernet.
Alanis has put up an official homepage which can be found here.

Alanis Morissette Fan Clubs and Mailing Lists

Alanis Fan Club
P.O. Box 8873
Redbank, NJ 07701

For the AMML mailing list please refer to the links section. I run a mailing list too :)

Alanis Morissette: The Actress

Few people know that Alanis was a professional actress before she released her first single. At the age of 11, Alanis starred on Nickelodeon's "You Can't Do That On Television". While on the show, Alanis received a steady stream of hate mail from the show's female fans. She was often cast as the girlfriend of the show's male leads which made her the target of intense jealousy.

Alanis used the money she earned on "You Can't Do That On Television" to fund the recording and release of her first single, "Fate Stay With Me".

In 1991, Alanis appeared in the movie "Just One of the Girls". She acts as well as sings in the film.

She is starring in the movie "Dogma", the fourth major release of cult director Kevin Smith. She plays God in this movie. You can read about the movie at Kevin Smith's homepage (link in the links section). She also had a cameo appearance as God in the Kevin Smith movie "Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back".

Alanis In The Press

Although Alanis has received a substantial amount of press coverage, she seldom grants interviews. She is fearful of media overexposure and therefore shuns the press.

Alanis was the target of criticism after the 1995 Grammy Awards for insulting the media. Before the ceremony, she all but ignored the Canadian media, granting interviews primarily to American reporters. After the show, she did not participate in the traditional question/answer and photo session most winners partake in backstage.