with Gillian Anderson and HAL
by Sally Stratton
SALLY: Gillian, you have one of the most coveted jobs in the world as Scully in the X-Files, so why have you embarked on another career in the music business?
GILLIAN: Well this isn't an attempt at another career. My um... working on the this album and working with these guys on the single. Is about having fun and it started out that way and it's got to be that way. This is not another career that I'm attempting to pursue. This isn't about me and putting out a single or me saying that I want sing songs or be in the music business. This is... that kind of, Uh, fell into place and in a wonderful, fun and creative way and that's the way it stands.
SALLY: How did you get involved with this project?
GILLIAN: I approached this mostly because of the input of music I was doing for the series for the BBC called Future Fantastic. And um... it was basically my response to the music I was hearing while I was narrating the series. And I had um... you know just kind of mentioned to them that the music was wonderful and that they should put together a compilation album. Uniting all of the artists in some way and the producer said that they might be interested in doing that. Then I expressed some special interests about the title track that was used for the series. There was just something very um... very different about it, very unique, very sexy about it. And it reminded me actually of the song that plays in Basic Instinct. When Sharon Stone is dancing with the woman in the bar that was something very um, just kind of primal about it. And it's not a very primal song it just reminded me of that for some reason.
So I said do you guys that you know you should put out a dance mix to this song cause it's just.. its, its great. And they said well would you be interested in putting down some vocals. And I said well, no because I don't sign and I'm never going to sing. But I might be interested in putting in a voice track some spoken word of some kind. And they well lets see what we can do. And so they approached the music companies and we got some interests from Virgin who were all of a sudden interested in putting together not only a the single of HAL' song Extremis with my voice on track but also to do a CD compilation album of music that was used in the series and addition music that a that Virgin represents. So that's really how it came about and that's how I've approached it. It started out as a creative idea and a lot of fun and we had a lot fun doing it and we had a lot of fun in the recording studio recording it. We had a lot of fun making the video and this is just for a laugh and in a sense and it's not my song it's not about me putting out a single. It's just um..me um..having fun [laughing] and um you know uniting with this great band and using my voice in some way.
SALLY: When and where did you record the single?
GILLIAN: We recorded it , I'm not sure what month we recorded it. It was a few months ago before Christmas, I guess it was Uh, October November or something and we recorded here in Vancouver - At a studio called Mushroom. Which is where Skinny Puppy as done a lot their stuff, actually all of their stuff and so HAL, the band, and the producer, David MacNabb, and his partner, flew up and we sat in the studio for about 9 hours and did the some mixes of the song and fiddled around a bit and had some fun and then chose the right words to put down on track and did it.
SALLY: Who wrote the lyrics?
GILLIAN: The band got together and wrote the lyrics. It was a few pages, of stuff. A few pages of poetic, um.. a poetic diatribe(sp). And so I went through and chose the ones that I thought were the most intriguing and would fit the best with the rhythm of the song. And so that's what we did.
SALLY: Electronic music often has quite a cold and impersonal feel, do you think your voice makes this track warmer and maybe more accessible?
GILLIAN: As far as techno-pop goes, this is one thing that appealed to me about this track. Was that it already was had a warmth to it. That was something... Um, there was just something very human about it in some way. And I think that in that when ever you add vocals to something it kind a ties in a warmth that a human warmth a human quality to it and I tend to have a on track at least, at least this track, my voice is low and kind of smooth and so I guess that would warm it up a bit more then it might be with out it.
SALLY: On the record and in the video you are very sensuous. Is this another character you're playing or is this a side of the real Gillian Anderson?
GILLIAN: Um... It's a definite side of me. I mean I, know a lot of people will see it as being a character and in a sense it is. In that it is a departure from what people are used to seeing me do. But it's more of who I think I am [laughing] in an odd way. Then the character Scully is on the X-Files.
SALLY: Are you and agent Scully a long way from each other in real life?
GILLIAN: Yeah I am a long way from Scully in real life. More and more so all the time I think. I think the closest I got to Scully was when I was pregnant [laughs]. Just because I had so many restrictions about me and she does. She has so many restrictions on a psychical level, the suits and the hair and the straightness. And also with in her work and I'm much more free form much more spontaneous much more, much less skeptical, much more.... [big sigh] crazy [laughs]. I'm just...I'm insane.
SALLY: I don't somehow imagine Scully would ever act crazy or sexy for that matter....
GILLIAN: You talk, it was interesting there was an episode that aired not long ago in the States. Which was a large departure for Scully and not necessarily appropriate to the character what was but it kind of dove into a darker side of the character. But it was interesting in playing it because there was this certain eroticism and sensuality to the situation that she found herself in. But in playing the arousal of the character I had to play it as Scully would play it. As opposed to how Gillian would play it and how and a more sexual character would play it. And that was difficult to.. it wasn't difficult it was just not as rewarding I think to have to pull back. You know to have to um, there is a particular scene that's a tattoo scene that where Scully gets a tattoo. And she's in the process she is in pain but the date that she is on is standing in front of her and staring into her eyes as she's getting it done and it's very potentially sensual scene but I had to play it as Scully would play which is you know [laughs] which is not what I would call erotic any way. So it was um... it was interesting.
SALLY: You Mentioned in passing that you felt more restricted when you were pregnant. Has being a mother really changed you or perhaps tamed you?
GILLIAN: Definitely, Um.. In many many way having a child forced me to grow up. In many areas of my life. And having the responsibility of another human being is wonderful and eye opening and stressful and um.. it really made me think about things. I'd think about my priorities and I'd think about my time and how my time is spent and about what is important to me. And what it is that I that I have to offer and what it is that I want to put out there in the world and how I wont my time to be spent and it's very important for me more than it ever has been in my life. That I.. I'm heard. You know that I, when I say something it's somebody hears what it is I am saying and that I am serious about what I'm talking about. Because I have so little time to myself. That when I, you know when I'm actually into discussion about something or I'm voicing an opinion. I need to be heard.
SALLY: But surely you only have to summon a journalist to your trailer to get your opinions heard...
GILLIAN: There's a difference between being listened to and being heard. So much of what I have said in interviews and in print has been misprinted or misrepresented in some way and that's not the same thing as being heard. When I speak and when I tell the truth about something and when I put forth an honest opinion or a heart felt opinion about something it's important to me that what I say is taken down as verbatim. You know that it's not - very often what will happen in print interviews is I'll be asked a question and I'll go off on the question and I'll start speaking and then in the final print the question won't be printed. So it's as if I started talking about it on my own belishin(sp). And stuff that I would never say or bring up with out having been asked. You know little things like details like that which are frustrating. And I feel like I have been misprestened. In many circumstances.
SALLY: Does the pressure of fame and the attention of the media mean you can't do normal things like walk down the street and go out and buy some bread?
GILLIAN: Well I can walk down the street and buy my bread and everything and I do [small laugh]. But I do find myself closing up a bit. Having some kind of shield around me. Just as a protection, just knowing who's around me and who might approach me at a particular time and your sensors get turned on and I get into a protective mode. Especially if I am around with my daughter.
SALLY: Do you think the press will ever leave you alone?
GILLIAN: Well they have here, I don't know about the British press. If they'll ever give up on me but you got to do what ya got to do. You can't stop living. You just have to know when to I guess when to not care. You know when to known you just have to despite, what ever is said despite what ever is done that you have your life to live and that is what is most important. And that it's not going to effect hopefully how you run your life. And that if it does you can keep moving on.
SALLY: Tell me about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get into acting?
GILLIAN: I was born in Chicago Ill, and both my parents where in school and working. And I guess the story goes, my father was deciding where to go whether to go to the London film school or the whether he was going to go to a film school in California. And he asked my mom, which she would prefer. And she said London. And so in order to save money we moved to Porto Rico which was where my dads family was living at the time. So that they could save money. So that they wouldn't have to work or anything. So we there for about 15 months. They saved money and then we moved to London. And my dad went to the London film school.
I guess initially we were just going to stay for the two year term that he was going to be there. But my parents fell in love with London, and then so we ended up staying for nine years and eventually they bought a flat which we still have. And then we moved to Grand Rapids Michigan, my dad got a job with an old film school buddy. And so we moved. Every other summer we'd go back to England to Haringay(sp), which is where the flat is - and visit. We lived in Grand Rapids, which is where my parents still are. Which was rather benign. For me at least [ahem].
Then I went off to Chicago to go to school to study theater. At the end of that I at kind of a workshop. At the end of the four year term we had to do monologues in front of agents and casting directors and stuff. So I , we traveled to New York to do the monologues. There were some agents in the audience and one of them from an agency called William and Morris, handed me a card and said you know come meet with us. And so the next I put on some flowery vintage dress that was about 10 times to big for me - with a belt around the middle and I went [laughing] in. And they said - I have no idea why but - they said, you know if you move to New York we'll represent you, at least on probation, for a while so.
I went back to Chicago and packed up all my stuff and loaded it on top of my Volkswagen rabbit and drove out to New York. Starting out at about 11 o-clock at night. Which was I determined to go out on this particular day and it took much longer to actually get everything together than I had previously anticipated. And so it was 11 o-clock at night and I was determined to go out [small laugh] and so I left. And just drove, and drove, and drove, slept in the car, and ended up in New York. With out really know where I was going to stay. Ad ended up staying on the floor of some friends for a while. And finding an apartment and subletting and ended up living there for a couple of years and doing some theater. And then moved to Los Angeles, to be closer to somebody - a guy that I had become involved with in a play I was doing. And I ended up selling my return ticket and staying there and auditioning a lot and eventually ending up on unemployment and being out of work for a good year. And then you know, the show [laugh] came along, the x-files kind of... didn't necessarily fall into my lap but it was, you know came to me. And I ran with it.
SALLY: So you've spent a lot of your life on the move, have you settled down now or are you still a roamer?
GILLIAN: When I was younger the moving around was my parents moving around. Then because the age that I was I had to tag along. It's ironic that I have chosen a business where moving around is part and most of the job. Maybe that was preparing me for it in a sense. But I enjoy moving around a lot and I'm always.. I've been going from one place to the next. Just feeling out, what feels most like home. Vancouver is not home - it's a temporary home. I bought a house last year in an attempt to make Vancouver feel more like home. And it does, I'm in the house. I feel like I'm at home [small giggle], but strangely enough even though I swore off Los Angeles many years ago. I swear that I'd never move to Los Angeles, from New York... Um, LA does feel like home. You know I go back to New York a lot and I love New York City. And I feel very good there. But it's very different with a child. And it was as a single non-parent and yeah Los Angles feels like home. And I actually go down there quite a lot and get energized. And come back up here and do the work.
But Vancouver is a very small city, really and I like big cites. I feel better in big cites I feel [sigh] I feel like I belong better in big cities. And it's a beautiful city, but it's also very dark, which adds to the quality, and the gloomiest and the moodiest of the show. But I've realized even though I didn't grow up around a sunlight - like today, the sun came out, and felt completely different then I felt all week without the sun. It just makes such a huge impact on me. I mean it's sad, which is some kind of light disorder and I'm sure that I fall into that category, cause it completely effects how I am in the world.
SALLY: What's a typical day like for you when you are on the X-Files?
GILLIAN: Normally I get up in the morning, and work out for and hour to and hour and half. And try and spend a few minutes here and there with my daughter and then we all jump in the care, come to work, I work on the script on the way to work, and go into hair and make up, get dressed, go to set, work for about 15 hours... 16 hours, 12 to 16 hours, get done, change, work on the script in the car on the way home, work on the script at home, and go to bed, if I'm a little bit early then I spend extra time with my daughter, and then it starts all over again the next morning.
SALLY: It's a punishing schedule but it does have it's rewards, for instance you've now won several awards...
GILLIAN: I've been very fortunate over the past couple of years to have received that particular type of recognition for the work that I've been doing. And I'm grateful, you know I mean it took along time for people to relay catch on to the show and separate it from the realm of science fiction. Because it's not and it's a lot of.. there's a lot of drama and there's a lot of dramatic, um.. there's a lot of emotional drama in the show. And there's a lot of work that's done with in that realm so separate from just chasing aliens and bad guys and special effects. And I think people are finally starting to see that there is some acting work being done on the show separate from reacting to monsters and stuff. So it's good to know that it's being respected in that way.
SALLY: Has your association with Sci-Fi TV programs and now futuristic music as well increased your own curiosity about technology and the future?
GILLIAN: Well there as never been a real interest of mine in the future. I mean I'm fascinated by certain aspects of futuristic elements like time travailing is fascinating to me and the whole concept of UFO's is fascinating to me but it's never something that I've studied or been addicted to in anyway. And I think that you know initially, with the BBC series, Future Fantastic, one of the reasons they approached me was because my connection to the show and the futuristic elements with in the show. And the fact the series was about how science fiction of the past it's influences, of science of the future. In terms of... and so therefore the.. the music that they used had elements of furutisticness in it. You know and so consequently the video also, dabbles in elements of the future and the present.
You know it's also.. I think it's on peoples minds. More then ever right now, as we are coming to the ending of the millennium, and as we are potentially moving on and growing and we're being reminded that as a human race is that we're getting older and that we're moving forward and you know in terms of technology today and in terms of science and technology we're just moving faster and faster and faster all the time at such a rapid and some what scary pace that I think that it makes people you know question their future and our future and will be able to control these things that we are creating and will we be able to stay human and real and alive in the mist of robots and the mists of computers and the mists of all this gaintic machines which we fear in some level eventually take us over. So I think that that's on people's minds.
SALLY: It's interesting that the science fiction of the X-Files often seems to reflect the emerging facts of real life. For instance during the recent frenzy about Dolly the sheep I saw an episode all about cloning...
GILLIAN: It's actually been rather uncanny how, particular episodes that were working on and that any given time mirror stuff that's going on in real life. In terms of science and medicine and technology. it's been kind of un canny and I know that also that some of the writers do pay attention to what's going on in the world a the present time and take some ideas from some situations that are presented in the world and run with them much more then you know what would be within the realms of reality. But still they work hand in hand.
SALLY: A lot of the music on this compilation is on the cutting edge of technology as well as fashion, is your own musical taste veering in that direction?
GILLIAN: It has been since I have been working on chosen songs for the compilation. I've realized how much I enjoy that kind of music. You know in listing to FLSO and Prodigy and listening to HAL and to Harold bud(sp) there's a lot of stuff that I really like. But my taste in music is so varied and so disjointed that it's not so based on that kind of ambient techno-pop or what ever you call it I don't even know how you classify this kind of music but um... actually lately I have been listing to a lot of sacred spirits which is also going to be on the album. Which isn't necessarily , I don't think futuristic it's native American with an edge in a sense and you know from classical to blues to Cake [laugh]. I keep talking about this Cake CD but to basic rock to classic rock to just everything.
SALLY: So perhaps you have an alternative future in the music business, picking tracks for more compilation albums...
GILLIAN: Actually that does appeal to me. I mean the putting out a single with my voice on it it's just as far as I see right now it's just a one time thing. And just something that I had fun doing. I love music it's always been a huge part of my life. And I had a huge amount of fun and found a lot of... um, I found that I was feed creatively in a huge way as I was putting together my ideas for the compilation album. And I'd love to do it again. But then again I'd also love to choose music for sound tracks. I love soundtracks. I think that they are so very very important. And necessary to the quality to the final and the quality of the film and so in some way I would I could see myself being involved in that area of music. Again but that would be probably be the extent of it.
SALLY: I hear the X-Files creator Chris Carter is planning an X-Files movie, perhaps that'll be your chance to get into soundtracks. Is the film definitely going to happen?
GILLIAN: Um, It seems to be progressing in that way. It seems like there is going to be one. I know that Chris is working incredibly hard to finish the script. There making plans to do it so it ;looks like it is going to happen.
SALLY: Do you find the prospect of making this movie daunting?
GILLIAN: No, I mean it's... each episode that we shot it's a mini movie anyway. I think it's a natural progression. And I think it could be vastly popular because of that. It doesn't scare me it's because, you know we've been doing the show for now four seasons and we know the characters so well and we know the life and the world of the x-files it seems like the easiest choice to make. You know doing a completely different feature a completely different project it would be much more scary then this is.
SALLY: There's a lot of speculation about the future of X-Files on TV, are you already looking to your future career beyond the show?
GILLIAN: Uh, very much so. Things have shifted a bit for me over the past little while and terms of the opportunity to do other projects and so for some time now I've been looking at other things and if for some reason the feature does not go I will do something else. But it is definitely something I have been planning and plotting and looking very closely at for some time now. I'm dying [laugh] to take some steps in that direction.
SALLY: Do you worry about being typecast?
GILLIAN: I've been very fortunate in that from the beginning very few scripts that have come my way have even been remotely like Scully. For what ever reason, people have not seem to have type cast me in that way and that's been a wonderful and I'm doing now a couple projects little projects next month. And neither of the characters are remotely like Scully at all and so that's both terrifying and wonderful at the same time to have that opportunity to do something completely different. One is a Southside Chicago girl it's a film that um called Hellcab. That takes place.. the entire thing takes place in a taxi cab. And different actors from all of them from Chicago are doing cameos in it and characters here and there. And so it's kind a rough southside girl. And the other is um.. u,... I don't even know how to describe it with out saying she is an alcoholic [laughs] a weathered, been around the block not middle aged but older woman.
SALLY: And back to the small screen, just recently Scully and Mulder starred in an episode of The Simpsons, that must have been fun...
GILLIAN: We did that like to and a half years ago and it only aired recently so it was very odd because of the separation of time between the time we actually did it. It didn't feel like it was new it was almost like Oh my God it's finally airing what did we do anyway you know so I think by then we'd actually kind of separated ourselves from it in a strange way . But it was still delightful to see and it was very funny I especially liked the little bit with Leonard Nimoy's sitting behind the desk I that that was particularly funny. And it was fun but I love doing voice overs and I love using my voice and I words and I love, um.. I just love the feeling of being in a sound booth and that particular quality of hearing your voice come back not that I like to hear my self talk because most of the time [laugh] you know if you get me in a room I'm the last person that will be talking. But it's just something about being in a sound studio all on your own and there is something very intimate about having the head phones on or the cans as you call them and just being in the quite space and when you're not talking there is a particular level of quiet particular resins to the air about you and it's just something really neat about it
SALLY: Which brings us back to your voice on 'Extremis' because you can hear every breath you take, it's a very intimate-sounding performance...
GILLIAN: Well it is and what's interesting is that while I was doing the... the Uh, can't even call them vocals. While I was doing the words for the song if you hear snoring that's my dog in the back ground it's not anything else [laughing] While I was doing the words for this song they were structure in a particular way that I need to use um... to get the maximum use out of my breathe as possible in order to be to say the next little bit with in the rhythm of the song and so I kept on having to breathe in between each one and breathe pretty heavily to get my voice back up and the breathe sended up recorded as well and sounding so good on the tracks that we ended up using them it was actually a technology mechanism for myself to have enough breathe and it ended up sounding quite full and sexy in the end cause e it was this breathe nature to it and we ended up using it.
Transcript appears courtesy of Virgin Records & HAL.