Friday, September 03, 2004


Got up freakishly early today (in magazine writer terms, 7:30am) when Anne Poblador called to ask if we were interested in a phone interview with Renée Olstead, the 15-year-old actress (Still Standing) who's just released her self-titled album. The phone interview was at 9:30am--not much time to prepare!--but I said yes anyway. I put myself back to sleep till 9am, and woke up just in time to greet Renée with a gruff but lovable newly woken voice.

The interview went okay, although her youth definitely shows in the way she answered the questions. Q: So you're a singer and an actress. How do you manage to do both? A: "Well, my schedule's busy, but it's fun!" Her (non-)eloquence aside, her voice on the album--covers of American songbook standards--is astonishingly mature. I really was quite impressed, although I had to bite my tongue before I blurted out the thought running through my head: "I really like your voice now, but can you imagine what it would be like when you've finally gotten a real heartbreak? Wow!" Normally, I would also say that her torch songs would improve after she'd lost her virginity, but this being LA...well.

One of my favorite interviews, but also the one I'm most ashamed of, is the one I did with Jack White of the White Stripes. I didn't know much about them then, and I'd only gotten the disc the night before. I knew they were, like, Big in Europe and America, but this was also before I heard Elephant and fell in love with it. Also, the early schedule (8:30am!) and my late nights meant that I was still groggy when I spoke to Jack. I still have the interview tape, though I'm embarrassed to listen to myself again, drawling like a drunk, eating my words like a retard. And asking questions like, "So, what is the hardest button to button?" Thankfully Jack was game.

I used to think that Tori Amos was my dream interview subject, but that was only until the record label sent over the interview disc of her talking about Scarlet's Walk, and I heard firsthand what all those other interviewers were saying, about her verbal pretzels. And, my, but she does go on and on. So passionately about everything, including places that were her friends who were gay and had AIDS and were betrayed, etc. etc. She sounded like she was on a peyote vision quest.

I think by now you've done more interviews than I have. Tell me about your memorable interviews? And who were you really thrilled to have met or spoken to?

No comments: