Alanis Morissette earned herself a reputation with 1995’s Jagged Little Pill, singing the bitter breakup anthem “You Oughtta Know.” But now the former child actress is about to turn 30, and with age comes a more mature collection, with a much gentler title: So-Called Chaos. Morissette recently chatted with PEOPLE before filming a two-hour special for the Oxygen Network – which included a performance on a double-decker bus – and talked about the changes in her life, including finding a steady love, actor Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder).
So with this new CD, have you heard from any of your old boyfriends?
Some of them I’ve spoken with, some I would like to speak with a little bit more. When Jagged Little Pill came out, a couple of people called. But nowadays I like to check in with someone (before recording). If it’s someone that I’m really close with, I’ll say, “This song is based on our relationship and I want to play this for you.”
How do you think you’ve matured since Jagged Little Pill?
I wrote a song called “This Grudge,” which is on this (new) record and it’s really inspiring me to take that next step of forgiveness. As a young kid I used to forgive people right away and not allow myself to feel the anger or the resentment or the pain. I’ve always felt that forgiveness was a form of denial. But now I’m seeing that I actually have to feel anger first, and then later I can forgive.
And your boyfriend understands all of this?
Ryan is clearly the most courageous person on the planet because he’s so supportive of my expression remaining intact that he says, “If it’s your truth, go for it.” But my level of consideration has gone up a little bit – not entirely – but, a little bit.
What about talking about old lovers in your music?
He gets it more than any man I’ve met. He has this fantastic acerbic kind of humor in the way he writes – he’s a brilliant writer – so we have that in common, that very visceral, urgent expression in our art, writing, music. So he gets it. Does he like the new songs? Are any of them about him?
He’s been so supportive. He’s the first person that I play these songs to when I’m finished. “Knees of My Bees” is about my infatuation with him. I’ve always felt relationships are a three-step process, the first one being infatuation, and the second being where you start fighting and hating each other. I feel like with Ryan I’m in that next third place, which is actually actively healing each other and helping each other out. It feels good.
What makes you two work so well together?
We have the perfect combination of compatibility and incompatibility that makes the relationship very passionate. It’s perfect. I think it’s about stretching each other.
There’s another young Canadian singer out there these days: Avril Lavigne. Are you a fan?
The fact that one is in the public eye and putting themselves out there in whatever way they’re doing it – hats off, and whatever I can do to be there for them, I would do.
You’ve made a lot of changes in your life, it seems.
I think it’s growing up, taking a little bit more responsibility. There’s only so long that I could get away doing the victim-blaming thing. And while I think there is value to me feeling anger or reaction, ultimately my most fulfilling moment and peaceful moment has been when I’ve taken responsibility. It’s fun to bust my own chops.