Q&A: Sasha Grey on Auto-Tune, Her Band aTelecine, and Her Favorite Sexytime Music
Courtesy VICE Books From Neu Sex
Sasha Grey is one of the most famous porn stars of our generation, and perhaps the first to achieve true crossover success, with starring roles in Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience and HBO's Entourage. You probably know her by name, face, and maybe even vagina (no judgments), but did you know that she's also a music nerd? Be still our hearts.
With a minimal/electronic project called aTelecine and an ever-growing music collection, Grey shows an impressive range for someone so young-and especially for someone involved in the adult industry. She's currently promoting her brand-new photo book, Neü Sex, which documents her recent life in self portraits: From post-coital stupors to silly faces snapped in mirrors, the book is an intimate look at what it's like to be Sasha Grey, as well as what it's like to be her husband, filmmaker Ian Cinnamon, who helped create many of the photos.
This past Monday at the Standard Hotel's Living Room, in a strictly enforced 20-minute time slot squashed between seven other journalists eager to discuss the book, we took advantage of Neü Sex's release to talk with Grey about rock-and-roll, aTelecine, and the pervasive abuse of Auto-Tune. Cinnamon hung out nearby, as he often does.
aTelecine. One of these people is a porn star.
What's going on with your band aTelecine? Am I pronouncing that right?
Oh, my bad. What does that mean?
Telecine is the transfer of film. It's part of film processing. We decided to put an "a" in front of it because there was a Christian band called Telecine, and I didn't want to fight over names.
Are you doing music actively right now? Any plans to perform in the near future?
Oh God, we really want to. We've had some very nice offers in the past to play at some really cool festivals and open for some really cool bands. But I'm focusing on acting right now, so it's kind of difficult to get the band together and come up with an idea of how we would want to present ourselves live. A lot of our work has been done through tape loops, just like kind of splicing mediums, so it's something we wouldn't want to turn into this boring show with tape recorders and laptops.
But we are actively making music in the studio. We're actually working on our next album called The Falcon in the Pod, and it should be out at the end of April. And we'll release another album at the end of May, and another at the end of June. So it's kind of a series.
At some point in the next few months, we'll hopefully have digital downloads. We've only released our music on vinyl and cassette at this point, and our label asked us if we wanted to do downloads 'cause a lot of people requested it. So we said, 'Why don't we remix the tracks, so the people that have the vinyl still have something unique, and the people that are buying the downloads have something different?'
It's hard to get people to purchase music as a physical object these days, no?
Being part of aTelecine has always been a true passion project in that it's the one thing I do that goes out to the public that isn't about getting a return in terms of money. So, that's another reason that has worked into why we haven't played live. It's like, once we start playing live, money gets involved, and there's other people that want to get paid. I don't want it to become a project where we have to please other people, necessarily. I want it to remain what it is. We've been able to do that, at this point. Maybe some point in the future when I have more time, I won't mind that so much. But right now, it's nice to just be able to make music and put it out there, and not have to worry about if you're making a dollar.
That's cool that you have something just for yourself. How did the band come together?
There's four of us now, including myself. It began with myself and Pablo St. Francis, and recently we've added Anthony Djuan and Ian C, and we all contribute in some fashion. It's difficult because we don't all live near each other, but we somehow make it work. It started out in 2006, Pablo and I just began recording music for fun. At some point, we were like, "Why don't we just put this on MySpace?" when MySpace was still the bee's knees. And we put out a few demos. We didn't put my name on it, we just put the band name, and people really responded. We had a few labels that courted us, and then we put my name on the band page and people kinda went nuts. They either loved it or hated it. And we released our first EP with Pendu Sound, A Vigilant Car Park, in 2009.
Do you think there's crossover between the people who are fans of your porn or your acting, and people who like your music?
You know it's interesting, because early in my career I had a lot of fans who weren't even fans of my adult films. They just found me on the Internet and they liked the same music I liked, or they liked the same movies I liked. So there's a different kind of relationship with my fans-those fans of course were attracted to aTelecine. And some of my fans who strictly liked the adult stuff: there's always gonna be fans who support pretty much anything you do, just because they like you, and then there's gonna be fans who are like, "Oh, I'll try it, but I don't know if I'm gonna love it or not." So yeah, there is. That's the case with anybody who puts their work out for the public.
I feel like the kinds of people who enjoy electronic/ambient/minimalist music are sort of shy and nerdy and might not be that into hardcore porn, but maybe I'm wrong?
Oh, you'd be surprised. Sometimes they actually like what some people like to call "the more extreme" side of adult films.
Maybe for some of them, you were the gateway to that?
[monster voice] Yes! Corruption!