Sasha Grey Talks "Entourage," Black Metal, Her Book and atelecine
Mon, 20 Dec 2010 07:58:05
Sasha Grey has become an inescapable presence in pop culture.
However, her chief inspirations remain firmly entrenched in the underground. Whether she's praising avant garde filmmakers or listing off her favorite black metal bands, Grey's palette is decidedly distinct. She's able to balance those dark influences with a wicked sense of humor and a uniquely elegant charisma that leads to unforgettable screen performances. The Girlfriend Experience saw Grey slink into true darkness, while a high profile stint on Entourage (TV Series) etched her place in the zeitgeist as a proponent of all things indie. Then there's here band aTelecine…
A heavy metal aesthetic and goth industrial stomp cavalcade into what aTelecine does. However, the band stands out as an evolving sonic collective, constantly morphing with the natural whims of its members. That's what makes the music so intriguing and intellectually invasive.
Grey will also release her first book, Neü Sex in 2011. It's another personal and poignant look at Grey's world, and it's bound to turn heads.
Sasha Grey sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author for an exclusive interview about making music, acting on Entourage, her next film project, favorite black metal bands, making her literary debut, aTelecine and so much more.
Video of this interview coming soon!
Do acting and music come from the same creative place for you? Or are they different thought processes?
It's like a brainstorming chart. You draw three circles and each circle connects a little bit, but then there's that circle in the middle completely on its own. I feel like there are times when music can heavily influence decisions you want to make as an actor. You might listen to something for inspiration or to get in a certain mood. Then, there are times when I might listen to a certain piece of music over and over again while I'm writing a screenplay. When I'm creating music in my band aTelecine, it's completely different from that; it's a really cathartic experience. I've been really fortunate to work with band members who will work around my schedule. The band is something that we've never really done for profit whatsoever. We don't schedule traditional time in the studio or anything like that. We're really free and open-minded about how we record and what that process is. I feel like sometimes creating music and becoming this different character can both be a cathartic and intense experience. We go through a myriad of emotions but, at the same time, they're completely different.
Do you feel like the art you create is based on hybrids of various influences?
Yes and no. It's interesting because our first aTelecine EP [AVigillant Carpark] was just noodling [Laughs]. It's a bunch of stuff that we recorded over the course of two and a half years, and we never even intended to be a band or release anything. The way it all came about was really bizarre. We just did it for fun. We put up a MySpace page a couple years ago, and we didn't put my name on it. People really dug it, and I thought, "Okay, what's going to happen when we do put my name on it?" Once we did that, we started getting offers from cool, little indie labels to put out an EP. We eventually went with Pendu Sound out of Brooklyn. It's a great partnership. The first EP has hints of that, and you hear it more in the first two full-length albums like A Casette Tape Culture.
How important is rhythm to acting?
I shot a film called I Melt With You this summer. It was directed by Mark Pellington, who actually has made a ton of music videos. During a party scene, there's a group of roughly ten people. For the entire night, Mark played The Cure. It was the same song over and over again. It was a really bizarre experience because we were shooting from 8pm until 7:30am. You get into this rhythm, and you can't stop. Towards the end of the night, some people were falling asleep in between takes. I just kept dancing. I was like, "If I sit down, I'll fall asleep now." I couldn't do that because when I'm out, I'm out. It definitely created an intense vibe, and there really was a rhythm with a group that large.
Which artists really shaped you?
There are people who heavily influenced me that you would never hear in aTelecine's music like Jimi Hendrix. That's been my number one obsession since I was a kid. Then there are artists like Black Flag and Ice Cube. They know what they want and they're not afraid to go out and get it. It's more about the ideology and fearlessness that has inspired me and our band members rather than sound. I feel like a lot of that influence comes through in the attitude and power of what we're doing. When you go to listen to our album, it's not necessarily loud. We're not screaming—at least not yet. We haven't really shaped our sound necessarily either. As far as our sound goes, I'd have to say people like Throbbing Gristle, Squarepusher, LUSTMORD, Kraftwerk, and Aphex Twin. Acts such as those are always playing with music and the very idea of music. They challenge the status quo to the point where people might say, "This isn't music?" However, what is music? It's like Coil said, "When you think of music, you think of Coil." They challenge us to never stay in one place, and I like that.
Is there some early Ministry in there too? Perhaps "Every Day Is Halloween" era Al Jourgensen?
For sure! [Laughs] That's one I definitely left out. Their first two albums are the best. You know a lot of people don't like the early stuff, but I actually like it.
What heavy metal are you into?
Oh God....Slayer, Judas Priest, Agalloch, Black Sabbath…I listen to a lot of black metal too. I just copped a Burzum album on vinyl a month ago on vinyl. I still haven't listened to it though. I came out of a record store in San Francisco with two huge boxes of vinyl [Laughs]. Some were used and some were new. I haven't even gone through it all yet. I don't remember half the shit I bought. I had to separate it from my vinyl that's actually in order and put it at the bottom so I know I'll listen to it at least once before I start filing it away.
When's your black metal record coming?
We're always playing with our sound, so it's not too far off [Laughs].
Are you going to come out in corpse paint?
I've already done that [Laughs]. Well, it wasn't really corpse paint; it was paint.
What's your next movie?
I'm shooting a film with director Frankie Latina. Danny Trejo is in it, but there's no title. It'll be shot in Columbia very soon. I've been training with my new personal trainer Gunnar Peterson. He's been kicking my ass! It's been a hell of a ride so far. It's going to be a great film. I'm going to be a badass in it, which is pretty cool.
In Entourage, was it important for you to showcase certain facets of your own personality?
The show is only 27-minutes, so it has to be incredibly tight. What's on the page is what you have to do. There's very little room for improv. Each time I got the next week's script, I would try to put as much as I could into it. The first few weeks of being on set and before I started shooting, they really wanted a huge part of my personality to be in there. When Adrian [Grenier] were getting to know each other, I said, "Hey, let's go see this Antonioni double feature." He was like, "Oh, I'm going out of town." However, he told the writer that, and they put that in the show. They changed it to Jean-Luc Godard because my fans know I love Godard. There were things like that. Bits and pieces nod to Steven Soderbergh and Lee Demarbe who I filmed Smash Cut with. They're really good at that. At the same time, it is a different character. There's also this weird, messy relationship we're dealing with. I don't think I necessarily borrowed from anybody because they were already borrowing from Charlie Sheen and Ginger Lynn's relationship. It was actually nice not being so free. Everything I've done has been so loose and this was completely different.
How'd you go about creating your book, Neü Sex?
It's more of a photography book. There's a short essay in there. It's been three years in the making. I take a photo every time I'm on set, and I try to do a "before" and "after" photo. It became this collage of photos from the past four years of my life, whether they were self portraits, documentary-style, or fine art. It's incredibly personal because it documents my life from the age of 18 to 21. It was an intense process. In terms of the essay, it was tough not to write a mini-biography of sorts especially because you're dealing with all of these photos that are incredibly personal. I tried to keep my essay short in the book. We split up the essay so people can enjoy it slowly as they flip through the photos.
Have you heard Sasha's music? Are you excited for her book?
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