Jenny Lewis is awesome. In terms of a career, she's done it all: starred in movies (Troop Beverly Hills!), TV shows (Golden Girls!), created one of the most important records of the aughts (The Postal Service's Give Up), and has a stellar career of her own making (Rilo Kiley). But what makes her awesome is her lipstick. (Yep.)
"I had no idea. This is great, you should try it," Lewis told us about her Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Coral. We declined. Not because we don't want to live in a world where Jenny Lewis shares her lipstick with us, but because coral just isn't our color. But it was super cool of her to offer.
We became fast pals with Lewis, who — because singing/songwriting/acting apparently doesn't keep her busy enough — recently wrote the score for the Elizabeth Olsen/Dakota Fanning movie Very Good Girls. In fact, Lewis actually helped Olsen learn how to play guitar (which Lizzie loves to do, by the way).
Yet, for her latest trick (yes, there is even more), Jenny, along with Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, are reuniting The Postal Service and have just announced a new tour after they play Coachella. Hear about that, and more, in our exclusive Q&A with Lewis, right here!
You’ve basically done everything when it comes to movies and music except for a soundtrack. How was this different? What attracted you to it?
"It’s way more of a collaborative process than I’m used to. Even being in a rock band, you’re dealing with three other people. I’ve been really fortunate over the years; I haven’t had to answer to anyone creatively except myself as a lyricist...and my band. So, having to create something for a director, a story, producers, and their feedback is apart of the process. I really learned a lot. This was my first time composing a score and I think throughout the process I figured it out. By the last week I was like, 'Oh! Now I know how to communicate with people.'"
Which is what happens when you work with a large group of people who are very used to production schedules and particular ways of "business-like" communicating...
"And to have a real job — I play rock and roll, so I sleep ‘til noon. To have to wake up in the morning and be in a room with people, and learning how to assimilate the critique from people who don’t speak the language of music, and then to be able to apply that to the actual work where you’re like, 'Uh, so do you want me to change the chord or do you not like the drums? Can you be specific and tell me what it is that you like.'”
Like, “Well, we want it to be more sad…”
You haven’t done anything in film in years...
"Well, I had a cameo on Gossip Girl two years ago, but that didn’t count and I was terrible. They gave me the weirdest line to say and I made a thousand facial expressions. I blinked a couple of times and the camera luckily panned away from me. I retired when I was...19 or 20? It’s been a while."
So, elephant in the room: The Postal Service is getting back together. Are you involved in that? Are you excited? Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
"Well I don’t want to say too much ‘cause I’m going to let Ben [Gibbard] and Jimmy [Tamborello] talk about it. They’re my good friends and I would be sad if they didn’t ask me to come along. But, I am very excited. Ten years ago when we toured that record, we toured before it came out and for about a month or two after it came out. So, I don’t think we’ve experienced the full impact of how [it was received] — people really love that record."
Unbelievably so. It was era-defining. What about you, though? What’s on your horizon?
"I’m finishing up a solo record that I’ve been working on for a year and a half. I had to start working on the film, so I had to shelve it for a moment, which was actually a positive thing for me because I hit a wall with some of the songs. Working instrumentally on the film was a little break from my own narrative. Now I’m ready to get back to myself."
How was it working back in movies, but without actually acting in them? Did you get to work with the actresses?
"The song that Lizzie Olsen performs [in Very Good Girls], 'Go Ahead,' is a Rilo Kiley song. It’s the first song off the first record. She’s a young songwriter within her first maybe ten or fifteen songs, so [Director] Naomi [Foner] and I thought that would be a really great way to speak to that process.
"Before the film, I worked with Lizzie quite a bit. She would come over to my house and I would play her the songs that I was working on. I wanted her to be around songwriters so she could understand what it was like. We talked a lot about guitar playing. She took guitar lessons from my friend Todd. We did quite a bit of preparation. She really did a lot of work — she didn’t play guitar at all before this. She’s a really good finger-picker now."
Photo: Everett Collection/Rex USA