Friday, 30 December 2011

"They shudder at the thought of becoming bitter or cynical"

Nearly everyone in Brownstein’s life counseled her against starting a TV show and a band in the same year. But Brownstein now describes the decision to pursue both as “the most sane thing I’ve done in a long time.” “Portlandia” and Wild Flag are complementary, in a yin-yang way: rigid and rowdy; scripted and free. When performing music onstage, Brownstein says, the rules don’t exist. “All the parts of ourselves that need to be contained or put in check or regulated in our day-to-day lives all fall by the wayside. You can go to places that are dark or even dangerous or bizarre and hopefully find a little grace.” 
When Brownstein plays music, there is nothing ironic about her. The first time that we sat down to talk, at a restaurant in Portland’s loft-filled Pearl District, she said, “I’ve never understood people who play up the artifice of music. Music, for me, was like a tidal wave. It took me outside of anything I’d ever done.” She had been an isolated teen-ager, and punk was “a salvation,” she said. “You can never underestimate that moment of somebody explaining your life to you, something you thought was inexplicable, through music. That was the way out of loneliness.”
Armisen and Brownstein are fascinated by how couples interact—the shared references and gestures that mark intimacy—and since they often play couples on “Portlandia” they have been able to channel their outsiders’ observations into characterizations. “I get to play at connecting with people,” Brownstein says. “Because in every scene we’re in a different relationship, it’s like I’m learning how to have relationships from the show.” She has let go of some of her squeamishness about nuzzly couples: “When you’re embodying the person, you’re not judging.”
Armisen and Brownstein text each other every night before bed. Brownstein says of their friendship, “Sometimes I think it’s the most successful love affair either of us will ever have.” Both claim that it wouldn’t work if they were romantically involved. “It would be colder, because we’ve both treated our romantic relationships in a cold way,” Armisen says. “Carrie and I are more romantic than any other romantic relationship I’ve ever had—that sense of anticipation about seeing the other person, the secret bond. But things don’t become obligatory. I’m not thinking, I’m doing this because you’re my girlfriend; I’m just thinking, I love Carrie.” 

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