Watching Grammy winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile interview Emmy Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) earlier this month at SXSW was like watching two fans gush over each other in front of a packed auditorium. These are two artists who have immense respect and adoration for each other, and they came together on this stage after having collaborated on the music video for Carlile’s “Party of One” music video. Fresh from willing multiple Grammy’s, Carlile spoke to Moss about playing a punk rocker struggling with addiction in the upcoming film Her Smell, which screened at SXSW,
In the 50 minute chat, which has recently been released in full, the pair revealed they met on Ellen as mutual fans, and that mutual respect continued on stage, with Moss telling Carlile, “What you do is really hard”, to with Carlile replied, “What you do is impossible!”
They were also asked some questions from the audience. Among the highlights, was “How long is the walk from Trump’s America to Gilead?”, to which Moss replied, “I hope it’s a long walk, there are other countries that are a lot closer, or already there. In comparison we are farther. I’ve spoken to Margaret Atwood about this, and she’s answered “we’re not there but you can not close your eyes.” She’s talked about freedom or press, speech and the right to protest. The moment you take away people’s right to protest, you’re in trouble. There’s a scene in season one where protester’s are opened fire on. It is based on history. A cyclical history.”
Carlile agreed, saying “it needs to be thought about on a global scale, not just compared to the US… its about the oppression of women globally.”
They were also asked, “What mightn’t the men in the room not understand the experience of being a actress or a musician? Moss said this, “a man is allowed to be a rock star, as a parent, but if a women does it it’s irresponsible.” And Carlile talked about how beer coolers had been replaced by places to change diapers, as they have up to 6 kids on the road between her and her band. Carlile went on to talk about how she has used her motherhood to enrich her music through songs like “The Mother”.
Moss was also asked to reflect on her time on The West Wing, and working with that incredible cast, “I was 17 to 23 when I was on that show. There were all these theatre actors from NY, who had been in the business forever… I learnt so much from them. Martin sheen in particular. They were so kind, and generous… they taught me that it doesn’t matter how big the show gets, that doesn’t change. You’re lucky to be there.”
On taking the role on The Handmaid’s Tale, Moss remarked “thank god I said yes”; she wasn’t sure at first how they would do it, but after reading the script, she had anxiety that someone else would take the role before she did.
They spoke about the influence of Courtney Love on her character in Her Smell, “obviously (she was) such a huge part of the era”; but she said it was Kurt who served as inspiration, as much as Love. “They were part of this generation and his movement. It was no more her than it was Cobain or Axl Rose…” She also talked about how this came into play in her costumes, saying “I’m always trying to add more (to my makeup)… darker circles under the eyes, worse skin… the rougher I can look the more fun it is.”
The pair were also asked their favourite Country songs. Carlile mentioned “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker, saying, “She’s punk rock, she’s had those moments and come through them… experienced sobriety in a real soulful way.” Moss revealed she “wanted to be a country singer when I was 11″ and that she “was a huge Judd’s fan.”
We also learned that Brandi Carlile doesn’t believe in demos because she doesn’t believe you can recapture the “rock and roll moment” and that her advice to aspiring musicians is simply “If anyone wants to hear your voice, you’re winning!”.
You can witness it all here:
Video provided by SXSW; Photo by Larry Heath.