One ‘Excruciating’ Night With Quentin Tarantino Led Fiona Apple to Quit Cocaine

Fiona Apple came into fame in the nineties as just a teenager with the drop of her single, “Criminal,” and its controversial music video. Now, the songstress is 42 and about to release her first album since 2012. In anticipation of its release, Apple allowed Pulitzer prize winner, Emily Nussbaum, to do an intimate expose of her life as it stands now for a piece in The New Yorker. Nussbaum spent a week in Apple’s Venice Beach home, watching and interviewing the singer who gave some more insight into her process for the album as well as her past drug use and how she overcame it.

Fiona Apple struggled with addiction

Fiona Apple singing, seated
Fiona Apple | Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Apple was never overt in talking about drug use in the past, but in the years after her teen rise to stardom, her appearance grew more gaunt, and rumors began to spread. “Heroin chic” was the aesthetic of the era, dominating the look of many musicians, models, and actors, and Apple was no exception to that trend.

While she never corroborated rumors that she used heroin, she has now opened up about her past drug use. It seems most of it took place during her relationship with director Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights), who is now married to former SNL star, Maya Rudolph. 

Nussbaum wrote: “But, as Apple remembers it, the romance [with Anderson] was painful and chaotic. They snorted cocaine and gobbled Ecstasy. Apple drank, heavily.” She later added, “Apple doesn’t consider herself an alcoholic, but for years she drank vodka alone, every night, until she passed out.”

Perhaps the unhealthy nature of their relationship is why Apple sometimes refers to her former boyfriend as “Parent Teacher Association” when she needs to talk about their relationship now. 

What prompted Fiona Apple to quit her drug use?

Apple quit alcohol a year ago, and cocaine years before she that after “one excruciating night” at director Quentin Tarantino‘s house with Anderson. True to Apple’s poetic nature, the few direct quotes from her in the New Yorker piece are a little vague. She joked: “Every addict should just get locked in a private movie theatre with Q.T. and P.T.A. on coke, and they’ll never want to do it again.” There was no further elaboration, although it’s unclear if that is by Apple’s own omission, or Nussbaum’s.

In an earlier interview with Vulture from 2019, Apple also discussed her use of medication (for her mental health issues) and marijuana: “I was on way too much medication for a while. Now I’m on way less medication. But pot helps me. Alcohol helped me for a while, but I don’t drink anymore. Now it’s just pot, pot, pot.” 

Fiona Apple’s new album Fetch the Bold Cutters is coming soon

Apple is a new, more healthy, more hopeful era of her life now. As part of a Q&A video for her fans on Tumblr, she responded to a question about the time she was heard repeating, “There’s no hope for women,” during a photoshoot with Spin magazine. She explained that she was a kid at the time and doesn’t feel like that anymore, saying: “It’s not that way. It’s especially not that way now… We’re gonna be fine. There’s always hope for women. We are hope. We are the hope in the world.”

Her new album came along much like her others, in its own time and has been in the works since 2012. The date has gotten pushed back a few times. This time, the album is fully under Apple’s control has been recorded in her home, with the collaboration of other singers and musicians all chosen by Apple.

The songs on the album focus on a lot on rhythm and Apple’s band used a variety of odd objects to make percussion sounds such as baked seed pods and oil cans full of dirt. A focus on rhythm and the sound of found objects is nothing new for Apple, who has struggled with OCD since childhood, leading her to develop rhythmic rituals with things such as dry leaves.

A recent video released on YouTube has announced that the digital release is set for April 17 of this year.