transcripted by me, please credit taylormomsenblog.blogspot.com if copy somewhere, thanks
THE PRETTY RECKLESS’ LEAD SINGER IS FINALLY PURSUING HER BIGGEST PASSION.
Ahead of our interview with singer and actress Taylor Momsen, Wonderland are struck down with the now traditional winter illness – flu. Regardless, we get tanked up on Nurofen and Lemsip and are somewhat relieved to find Momsen herself is a little ‘out of it’ when we settle down to talk. But it’s nothing to do with the reported ‘wild child’ antics of the 17 year old that she is a little dazed, she is just tired and only recently woken up. “It was nothing exciting last night,” she declares shaking herself awake. “But I didn’t exactly get to bed early.”
Finding herself back on set for the fourth season of Gossip Girl, Momsen is keeping herself fully occupied following her week-days filming – sacrificing sleep as a result – by taking her rock band, The Pretty Reckless, on the roas to entertain her fans all over North America at weekends. In fact, with her busy schedule, Wonderland has had to reschedule our interview three times before finally managing to get some time with the star before she plays in Baltimore one Sunday in October.
“I want to make music for the rest of my life,” she says with passion when we ask if there is a preference between being an actress and a musician. “I’ve been writing songs since I was fice and music’s always been a part of my life and still is. It’s self expression compared to a job.”
Born in Missuouri in 1993, Momsen has clocked up an impressive CV to date with film roles including a foray into the Spy Kids franchise, featuring in Jim Carrey’s The Grinch, becoming a household name courtesy of the hugely popular Gossip Girl and has fronted campaigns for New Look in the UK and, more recently, as the face of Madonna’s Material Girl line – becoming instrumental in the label’s launch.
“Madonna was awesome,” she says of being the face of Material Girl. “You’re representing a brand when you do something like New Look or [Material Girl] so you’re not just a model, you’re a name, a face someone knows as opposed to just a model. So there is a level that they want me to be comfortable with what I’m doing and that I represent the brand as myself along with representing the brand with how they want it to be viewed. So there is usually a compromise and a collaborative process but when I do a campaign it usually has something to do with me in some way. I worked very closely with [Madonna] and Lola [Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes – also a key member of the Material Girl brand] on set. Lola and I styled all the looks together and Madonna took some of the photos.”
But as Momsen herself states (admittedly with lots of gratitude), these previous ventures are regarded by her as ‘jobs’ (she describes the Gossip Girl set as being “a work environment. People think of it that way – we’re all doing a job”) and her position at the front of a band allows her to present herselt for who she really is and music gives her a new platform to express helself. The apparent re-invention of herself as the lead of The Pretty Reckless, Momsen professes as being her true identity, declaring she sported heavy eye make-up long before she was the fresh faced Jenny Humphrey that most associate her with.
“There’s not many female-fronted rock bands,” she states, rebuffing a comparison to Courtney Love and Hole as a mere coincidence. “The influences that went into [the record] were all male-fronted rock bands – my idols and the people I look up to are mostly male. I grew up on the Beatles with my dad. He had a big record collection and I listened to a lot of the classic records growing up – The Who and Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin – and the kind of classics. The Beatles were the first band I ever heard. I’m a fan to this day. We’ve done some work on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus [a non-profit orfanization that acts as a travelling recording studio allowing school students to learn about the industry – Momsen recently participated, singing vocals as high school students played instruments on a recording of All You Need Is Love] I’ve been promised I’ll get to meet Yoko Ono one day.”
Despite the lack of similar female artists, an appreciation for Ms Ono and the confession that she idolises many male musicians, Momsen shys away from being called an idol herself.
“I didn’t want to be a role model,” she says modestly. “I’ve said that before – it’s just how people look at you. I think it’s important that the best role model anyone can be is yo just be themselves – that’s the coolest thing you can be – and not give a shit what anyone else would say about you because it really doesn’t matter.”
These sentiments are echoed when we point out that some people seem intent on taking her down – notably notorious celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. “Oh he says mean stuff about everyone!” Momsen laughs. “Does he ever say anything nive about anyone ever? It’s his job. I don’t know why people take it seriously. People realise when they read tabloid stuff or a website like perezhilton, they [the journalists] get paid to takl trash about you and put you down. It they were talking nice about you they wouldn’t have a very popular site. Insults are more entertaining to read than compliments!”
As a reluctant role model, what advice would Taylor Momsen have to anyone else wanting to achieve their dreams? “Everyone’s always going to talk shit, no matter who you are so as long as you stay true to yourself then that’s the coolest thing in the world. That’s the only thing I would preach. Don’t be anything like me!” she declares. “Just be yourself.”
The Pretty Reckless new single Just Tonight is released on November 9th from the album Light me Up, out now under Interscope/Das.