Kate Schellenbach on the return of Luscious Jackson, working on “The Ellen Show” and being out in the ’90s


AE: So, you moved to L.A. and you were a producer for Ellen DeGeneres’ show before, I guess, moving on to Lopez Tonight. Did you ever break out into dance with Ellen in staff meetings or anything?
[Laughs] You know, it’s funny because the whole band were big fans of Ellen in her sitcom days and when we opened for Live at The Greek back in the day, we heard Ellen DeGeneres was going to be in the audience and we were so excited. I remember, this was back when Vivian (the former keyboardist for Luscious Jackson) was in the band and she and I were trying to just find out where Ellen would be. We went looking for her and we were trying to get in to this after-party to try to see her and we were so excited like, “Where is she going to be? Ahh!” And then we turned around and she was right behind us and we were so embarrassed. But she was so nice and we were like, “We’re such big fans of yours,” and she said, “Well I’m a big fan of yours!” And then cut to a bunch of years later and I’m working for her and she actually remembered meeting me, which was really cool.

And then I got to do a monologue with her where I guess I we were having a “bongo-off,” like we were doing dueling bongos. And I think you can find it on YouTube, if you search, “Ellen DeGeneres Bongo Monologue.” So that was really cool — you know, just playing some bongos with Ellen on her show. [Laughs] (Writer’s note: I just watched the Bongo Monologue and not only is it hilarious but Ellen’s dancing has never been so amazing.) She’s a huge music fan so I made her a bunch of mix CDs. So I was a segment producer, like booking celebrities, but I was also able to contribute music for different pieces. So I was able to pick songs and stuff for her too. She’s super musical.


AE: Well, she’s got the moves for it.
[Laughs[ Ha, yeah totally. I'm actually going to start a new job as a senior producer for a new Kathy Griffin talk show. So that's another monkey wrench in the rock 'n roll business. [Laughs] But it’s great. I like having a job. She’s got a great gay following so that’s really fun. It will be an hour-long show on Bravo.

AE: That should be must-see TV.
Yeah, definitely. She’s so funny. I love working with comedians and women, especially.

AE: You’ve always been out and proud and that definitely was a big part for me of having you as someone to look up to. How do you think being out today compares to back when you were first starting to make music? Either with the boys or Luscious Jackson.
By the time Luscious Jackson came around, I don’t think it was much news by then. No one really cared. Now, though, I don’t think anyone really cares. Back with the Boys, when I first met the guys, we were all like 15 or 16, and I don’t think I was really all that in touch with my sexuality at that point. But we grew up in a very liberal New York time and the guys were pro-women and pro-gay, and everyone was totally cool. It was never an issue. Then they kind of went through their MTV Spring Break kind of phase with like, inflatable penises and that kind of stuff. They were total knuckleheads. But deep down that was never who those guys were. And now it’s kind of come full-circle.

I think there was  kind of this time when people would say, “Oh Luscious Jackson —they’re a gay band,” and Jill and Gabby never seemed to care. [Laughs] I do feel like it’s less of an issue now than it was 10 years ago, though, and it wasn’t even a big deal for me 10 years ago.

AE: That’s great! You know, it’s so interesting for me to talk to different musicians with such different backgrounds and hearing about their experiences coming out.
Well I was really lucky to grow up in such a liberal and super open environment. I was never kicked out of the house for being gay. That’s the thing when you tour around and meet people and talk to people — it’s a whole different picture. Even here in L.A., you can go 15 minutes into the suburbs and it’s a whole other world. It’s the same in the majority of the country where kids are being thrown out of their houses. It’s devastating what still goes on.

AE: I saw some ridiculous statistic lately that something like 26% of gay kids are being thrown out of their houses after coming out and 41% of all homeless kids identify as being LGBT. Something gigantic like that.
Yeah it’s pretty awful. It’s a crazy time, too, I mean with the Republicans push-button issues are gay marriage and contraceptives — and it’s like, really? Come on!

AE: Well that’s the only way they can get the poor, religious people to vote for them. If any of those people really paid attention to the money issues, they would realize the Republicans aren’t looking out for their best interests. But they get the religious fanatics on those issues, I’m convinced that that’s the only reason they actually even care about those issues.
It’s frightening. Yeah it’s like, contraceptives are being debated now? What?

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