Interview with Brandi Carlile


AE: The video for “Heaven” from that is four minutes of pure comedy. What’s the story there?
BC: (Laughing) That’s one of my best friends from high school, Nicole Hohn. I just think she’s equally beautiful, charming and absolutely disgusting. She’s always doing this funny act where she’s this ’80s disgusting, cheesy straight person thing that she does.

I wanted to have her try and pull that off in the video and she did such an amazing thing in the video. Our lighting guy, Mario Marchio, played her love interest. Just the close-up lipstick shot and the paper airplane and the dancing and hair flips — she’s famous for her hair flips. It’s so gross, right?

AE: You recently also premiered the video for the second single from Give Up the Ghost, "That Year," which is about a friend’s suicide. Why did you pick that for your second single?
BC: I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I think it’s a good song. People like the melodies and the beat and they kind of stand on their own. I just thought it was a good choice. The label was a big part of making that choice. I was really impressed with Columbia for making that choice; I think it’s a brave choice for a major label. I mean, you get a major label and they so often want to hear an up-tempo single and Columbia is like, “No, we think this is the best song regardless of its tempo and radio format.”

AE: With your Looking Out Foundation, you’re one of the founders of the Seattle-based violence prevention initiative Fight the Fear campaign — your single “Let Go” serves as a fundraiser to help. What prompted your involvement?
BC: When this crime happened in Seattle, it really shook our community: the women’s community, the gay community; we all thought it was a gender-based crime and it just sent this shockwave of fear throughout the community. That kind of fear wasn’t productive; it was sort of debilitating.

So some of us got together with the surviving partner of the crime and with this woman-owned self-defense organization, Seattle Kajukenbo, and Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu, and the police department, we were able to construct a curriculum of self-defense that kind of flipped the switch in women that they have the right to defend themselves and that they are worth fighting for. What prompted my involvement in Fight the Fear was fear and the urge to fight it.

AE: What do you think of the battle for marriage equality right now? Any plans to get involved with any of those charities?
BC: I think that if the right one came along, that I would love to get involved with it. It’s something I really believe in and I’m behind that fight 100 percent. I was playing this show in San Antonio, Texas, the other night, in this amazing redneck bar with peanut shells on the floor and I was singing “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” by Bob Dylan and somebody in the audience held up a Legalize Gay T-shirt and it made me smile. Like I said, it’s a great time to be alive. There are a lot of great, peaceful battles happening right now and the kindest work can be done from the middle of the road.

AE: Has your “coming out” interview with the L.A. Times impacted your career?
BC: Not at all. I haven’t noticed any difference. The people that paved the way for artists like me did a really, really good job. It’s an honor and a privilege to follow in those footsteps.

AE: With all the touring you’re doing now, have you found time to write and work on another album?
BC: I just started writing again. I’ve been doing a lot of singing and I’m just getting ready to head to Europe. The EP took a little while to record … the symphony tour is going to take some writing, too.

AE: You’ve crossed a few of your big career dreams off your list this year. Do you have any new dreams going forward?
BC: Just to be able have people still show up for our shows — that’s still shocking to me.

AE: Lastly, what do you do when you’re not touring?
BC: I hang out with my family and with my band. I try and get out and do the local things if I can, and fishing season opens up soon and I’ll start doing that. And I’m going to Disneyland tomorrow before the show.

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