Monday, January 1, 2007

Interview: Krysten Ritter

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Most Gold Teeth readers know Krysten Ritter from her scene stealing role as Gia Goodman on Veronica Mars. The talented Brooklyn based actress is currently one of the few bright spots on the now Palladinoless Gilmore Girls. She plays Lucy, Rory's new pal who's right in the thick of one of this season's big dramatic arcs.

Ritter's face will soon be everywhere. Besides Gilmore Girls, she has a recurring role on the CBS sitcom 'Til Death, and is slated to appear on the ABC drama Big Day later this year. She recently scripted a pilot that's in the works and will appear in Margaret, the new film by You Can Count on Me director Kenneth Lonergan. Ritter is also a singer-songwriter and records intimate folk pop songs under the name Ex Vivian. Her debut EP is slated for a mid-2007 release. I caught up with Ritter right before the new year.

Krysten, thanks for talking to us. So, most Gold Teeth readers know you from your work on Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls, but you’re also a model and singer-songwriter. What inspired you to write songs.

Well, I have always been a very musical person. My dad played a 12-string, I got a guitar when I was five. As kids my cousins and I would learn songs and play keyboards. I played the flute and the clarinet in the school band. It wasn’t cool. I’m telling you, there were no “cool kids” in the school band.

My high school boyfriend was a violinist, trombonist and guitarist. I had a pretty well rounded knowledge of music from an early age. I didn’t really start writing my own songs until I was out there traveling around the world alone as a model. My guitar kept me company -- and also out of trouble for the most part. I was a teenager traveling to countries where I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t speak the language. When I was bored or lonely I was playing my guitar His name is Guitarlos.

Do you gig around Brooklyn?

Not at this time I don’t. No. I think that’s part of my charm -- or at least that’s what I tell myself. I have been pressed to play a lot of gigs lately by industry, friends and otherwise, but I keep turning them down. Also, things have been so busy for me in the acting arena, and I also have a writing deadline coming up. I sold my first script this month. So when I have a day off I can’t even fathom the idea of leaving the house.

Are you planning on putting out any records or are you just recording demos and shopping things around right now?

Well, I’m always recording, but yes I am planning to put out an EP in 2007. The thing has already been pushed back once in response to my busy acting career, thank god, but I will be putting it out independently or through an indie label called Sonablast. These things take time, as I’m learning.

What I love about the Internet and the technology that’s available to us today is that you can do everything yourself. I’m all about that. I would much prefer to bypass all the suits and wannabe cooks in the kitchen and just put out something for my fans that’s all me, something that I dig. The idea of that is really appealing to me. Past that, none of the other stuff concerns me.

Some of the Ex Vivian songs remind me of lo-fi PJ Harvey. I have a lot of reverence for bands that record lo-fi, like Guided by Voices and, as previously mentioned, PJ Harvey. For them it’s about the content of the songs, the lyrics and melodies, not the bells and whistles. I’m guessing you feel the same, since you’re music, while melodic, is miles away from the overproduced pop a lot of young starlets are up to these days. Is that why you record lo-fi?

I agree with you on the whole bells and whistles thing, and thank you for comparing me to such badass artists such as PJ Harvey and Guided by Voices. You are being extremely kind.

As for the (gag) young starlets suddenly putting out records that you’re referencing, I can’t and would never compare my self to them. The thing is, I don’t consider myself to be much of a product or even musically commercially viable to mainstream audiences. I’m not an actress who’s trying to have pop stardom as well. I’m just not. I’m not interested in playing songs that these music production teams write and then making a video that’s all, you know, slutty with the girls grinding chairs and licking their fingers, and then broadcasted on TRL for my 10-year-old sister to see. It’s just not what I’m about. I make music and treat it as my art. It’s my thing and no one else’s. And I have that freedom because it’s not the thing that I chose as my career. I make my living as an actress. I don’t have to write songs that the label likes or mainstream audiences for that matter. I have all the freedom in the world. It’s a rare thing and I’m very lucky.

So are these songs pretty much you recording in your bedroom or home studio?

Home studio. I have some fun equipment that I’ve acquired over the years. In addition to that my boyfriend Benji is a real musician. He’ s got everything I could hope for. He’s in a wonderful band called The Red Romance, which was formerly indie royalty Ambulance Ltd. They were just touring with The Killers, and as much as I miss him when he’s gone. when the cat’s away the, um, mouse will play -- with the cat’s toys.

Now you're a writer. Tell us about your new script, it's a TV pilot, yes? Will you be starring in it?

No, I will not be starring in it. I have a few writing projects kicking around and with this particular project I am working completely on the other side of things. I’m learning a lot, which is all you can hope to get out of any experience. It’s a tough biz, and TV pilots are especially tough. The fact that I have gotten this far with one of my own ideas at my age is unreal. Who knows what will happen next, but I don’t plan on stopping or giving up.

Besides Gilmore Girls, what else can we expect to see you in come 2007?

Hopefully a lot. It’s impossible to say at this second, it’s the holiday. Pilot season is coming up. That's the busiest time of the year for us young actors trying to catch a break. I got about a billion scripts sent to me to read over the holiday break. Hopefully something sticks. I can use this opportunity to plug (The CBS sitcom) Til Death. My episodes just started airing this week and I have more. Oh, I keep forgetting about this. I play Ellen Ruppert in Big Day on ABC. They talk about this character in nearly every episode, and you will finally see me in a cameo in and a possible recurring role in an upcoming episode.

Back to music, I know a lot of Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls fans are also fans of quality pop music. Those shows are packed with great music that rarely gets played on TV. Were you aware of that coming into these shows?

I love that about both shows. When I first started on Veronica Mars I had been listening to Tegan and Sera a bit. I bought if for my sis and ended up loving it myself. I thought 'This would be so great on the Veronica Mars soundtrack.' Sure enough it was on it. My obsession with (Veronica Mars creator) Rob Thomas started at that very minute. What he’s doing with the show and the soundtrack makes me very happy. Exposing kids to cool tunes they aren’t hearing on the radio, even his references in the show to things like The Big Lebowski, you know? I love it.

So, any chance we'll get to see you singing on Gilmore Girls, maybe with Grant Lee Phillips on the streets of Stars Hollow, or on any other TV show?

Nah. Probably not (laughs).

What's been in your vinyl, CD or MP3 player lately? What do you like about these records?

Oooooh. The Concrete Blondes have been in permaneant rotation. The Rolling Stones are on right now. Creedence Clearwater -- I seriously can’t get enough. David Bowie, Roxy Music, Velvet Underground, Mazzy Starr, Fiona Apple, The Band, The Smiths, Interpol, The Kings of Leon, Joy Division, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Red Romance, Sleepy Jackson, Johnny Cash, Eugene, Gillian Welch, Inouk, The Strokes, Leonard Cohen. You know, the usual.

What's the latest with your modeling career? Will we see any spreads or ads soon?

Oh, I’m not a model anymore. That’s a full-time job. I was a model for about 5 years and it was awesome, but now I don’t really do it. I have a lot of friends in fashion and I’m still connected to the industry, so if someone I know asks me to model for their line or mag, or if there’s a special request, I do it. I will be doing the ad campaign for a new indie line called Arcane Empire, which is a clothing and shoe line. It’s sort of in the same vein as Tara Subkoff’s Imitation of Christ or Jane Mayle. I’m also with the celebrity division of Elite. I’m so not a celebrity, but that’s what it’s called. If you see me in a spread of a campaign it will be as me the actress. Now I’m a non-model. Also I will be in Jane in March, so make sure to check it out.

Ok, last question. I'm sure you know that by appearing on beloved cult shows like VM and GG you've probably hooked a nice number of obsessive fans who'll follow your career for years. How do you feel about that?

It makes me very happy. I love my fans. I could be having a really crappy day and then get a letter from a fan or a message on MySpace from someone who likes the tunes and it always makes my day. I hope I can continue doing things that people enjoy.

Stream Krysten's songs here.


Giarules said...

Every interview I read with her makes me love her even more. She seems so rad and so cool and I really love her music!

Anonymous said...

I think it's cool when celebs are so fan freindly.

pilgrimsoul said...

Neat! So cool you got to talk to her.

Anonymous said...

She makes her family proud

Anonymous said...

This girl is the real deal. I happened to catch her on the CW morning show in Decemeber. I was surprised how NON LUCY LIKE she was. She is so cool and smart and very down to earth.

This is a good interview! Good questions and good answers!

great job Gold Teeth

Anonymous said...

Krysten is so amazing. And her taste in music is great. does anyone know if the eugene she mentioned is the eugene from eugene & the 1914. they're friends on myspace so i assume so. ????

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