During a summer tour with her musical duo She & Him, Zooey Deschanel has performed songs about tortured love and broken hearts. Since she wrote the songs with her partner, M. Ward, and she’s recently gone through a divorce herself, she’s obviously using her musical career to purge some emotions, right?
Wrong, says Deschanel.
That is not what I do, Deschanel said.
I think that lovelorn is a more interesting emotion; I tend to be interested in that emotion more than I tend to be interested in the emotion of happy content love, so my big influences have always been a lot of different things, said the singer-actress, who is taking a break from her hit sitcom New Girl to focus on She & Him, which recently released its fourth album, Volume 3, in the spring.
Deschanel says she doesn’t draw from her personal life when she creates and instead relies on her own healthy imagination.
It is the same thing for when people ask me, when I act, am I drawing from my own experience? Well no, I would run out of experiences really fast, she said. I find things that are interesting, moving, maybe people I know or their emotions or movies or other songs, even just a thought or a feeling. Not that there is anything wrong with confessional song writing, there are plenty of people that do that I admire. I think it is great it just isn’t how I do things.
Deschannel talked more about her inspirations, her acting career and She & Him in a recent phone interview with The Associated Press.
Q. How do you find the time to write music?
A. When I was first really writing music I was doing lots of movies and I would be on location and then I would take a guitar and maybe a little keyboard along with me. I would write in my trailer at lunch. A lot of the times I would write in the middle of the night or on weekends and then I would make demos and I would be working on my demos at work. I never really had a process that was contingent upon certain conditions.
Q. Is it important for you to be able to merge singing and acting, with Jess bursting into song in New Girl, and singing the theme tune?
A. You know what’s funny? I think I have only done that in like three episodes. The theme song, that was (show creator) Liz Merriweather’s idea. I wrote the chorus production and the melody but I didn’t write the lyrics to that. I find writing melodies much easier than writing lyrics. Lyrics are the hardest. But with New Girl, I am a producer on the show and I wanted the theme song to be a certain way, I am picky about theme songs. I got involved in the writing of it.
Q. Do you think that New Girl has increased the exposure of She & Him?
A. I don’t know. There was actually a certain point where I did movies but I was doing a lot more music and there was a certain point where a lot of people didn’t know I was an actor and only knew She & Him, and there were certain countries where I know they know She & Him more than they know me. So that is always interesting to hear. I think I always notice, I don’t really know until I go out on tour with it this time. I know that you would always get the people that would come to a She & Him show because they like my movies or something but however somebody comes to it I don’t really mind.
Q. How much of your personality shines through when you’re onstage?
A. Part of why I like having my buddies onstage with me is that I don’t have some stage persona that I employ. I can’t do that, it gives me the shivers if I think about it, a fake stage persona. It is just not me. So part of the thing about having your friends on stage, that and all of the people that we tour with is that you can be yourself and play music and have a good time, and people will have a good time with you.
Q. How was it directing the video for your latest single, I Could Have Been Your Girl?
A. It was really fun. I have always wanted to direct so I thought I might as well do it now. But then it was right after I’d wrapped New Girl and so I had to throw myself head first into it, but it was such a rewarding experience and I worked with such great people on the video.
Q. Is directing something you would be interested in pursuing?
A. Yes, that is sort of where I hope to go. It is just an extension of a lot of other things that I love to do. It is a lot of decision making and collaborating and curating of ideas and I really, really adored it so I would love to do more.