1. Hi Allison! Please introduce yourself to those who might not know you.
Double Virgo, Libra moon, you might recognize me from shows that defined your childhood. For the past few years, I’ve been in the music lane. Starting with guest appearances in local LA bands (including occasional shows with Cherie Currie of the Runaways), jam nights, and now gigging with 3 different acts (Fainting Party, 7Horse, and my solo project) while I prep to record my 3rd album as La Femme Pendu. I can also teach you a mean line dance and provide improvisational theremin if the price is right.
2. How did you get involved with Shira and Gritty In Pink? What does it feel like to be part of building a community for women in music?
Since the spring of last year, I’ve been participating in Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky A-Go-Go. It’s an amazing way to keep one’s chops up; learn songs in a vacuum, no rehearsal, plug in and play with working pros. I got to perform 2 of my favorite St. Vincent songs there last summer, and that’s when I met Shira and learned about her vision for elevating women in music. It’s frustrating that we still need independent systems to fight for equity, and I really admire Shira’s drive. I thought the INPINK network was a brilliant idea, and it’s already brought me exciting opportunities.
3. What moment in your life made you realize you wanted to pursue music? Do you remember your first experience with music?
I’m fortunate that I had an upbringing where music was always around. I grew up in New Orleans where music is everywhere: in the language, the food, the air. And my parents listened to an eclectic array of genres. I saw my first Broadway tour at 5; by the time I started piano lessons at 7 I was already obsessed with Elton John; when I picked up a guitar at 13 I was in my 70’s folk phase; exposure to world cultures opened my ears to sounds that challenged my mind. But first musical experience? It must have been so early and foundational. I seem to recall a bathtub and a cassette player. Could have been Beach Boys, could have been Eartha Kitt. Maybe it was both.
4. Tell us about “La Femme Pendu.” Where did the inspiration to create French Goth music come from?
I knew I needed to create a character or persona through which to filter my ideas; a diary entry as a song cycle was never going to be my album concept (not that there’s anything wrong with it). I’m a circus person, I was watching a lot of horror cinema as I was continuing my French studies and really examining the role of gender in storytelling. I drew a tarot card and the whole thing was just there: write from the intersection of all these things that carbonate me. Later I realized just how much of my own narrative was baked inside of these lyrics about tragic film characters, simply through an extra filter that keeps my life behind the curtain and the character on stage in the spotlight.
5.Who are your musical influences?
Kate Bush, St. Vincent, Patti Smith, Chelsea Wolfe, Serge Gainsbourg, Dr. John, and Tom Waits. I am infinitely attracted to the fiercely individual, to artists who understand that concept and persona are vital.
6. We always hear horror stories from young actors in Hollywood and how hard the industry can be on children. As someone who has been in the business for 20+ years, how have/were you able to navigate Hollywood as a young actress?
I have to credit my good fortune at being surrounded by people who had my best interests at heart; I was lucky in ways that so many are not. But if I can take some small bit of ownership for my survival, it’s that I was hyper-sensitive to objectification from a very young age and knew when to hold a boundary. I lost job opportunities and kept some sanity. It has always been much more important to me to be valued for my knowledge and ability than for the way I look. The former comes from choice, and in my opinion, the latter does not.
7. Tell us about how you made the transition into directing as an actor. Has directing always been something you’ve been interested in?
I needed to be challenged in a new way, and when I tasked myself with being brutally honest I had to admit that I really loved the sitcom format. Big surprise. It’s a musical. I put in my time shadowing experienced directors on the same stages where I cut my teeth and was exhilarated the first time I got to call “action”. There’s an old cliche that goes “But what I really want to do is direct”. I would amend that to say “But what I’d ALSO LOVE to do is direct.”
8. Do you find more freedom in music, directing, or acting?
Absolutely music. That’s where my imagination expands, where I can play the roles and tell the stories I might not be given the chance to in the Hollywood space. Don’t get me wrong, I love the containment of playing a role, or bringing an episode of TV to completion; it’s concrete and measurable in the way that building an album up from nothing is abstract. But I suppose that’s why I’ve never been able to stay in one lane. I crave containment and freedom in equal measure, and the ability to switch between the two when I feel called to.
9. You’re also an Acting Coach, what is it like helping your peers build their skills? What’s the most rewarding thing about being a coach?
In my coaching I feel I get to flex the best of what I have, but in service of someone else’s assignment. It keeps me directing when I have a suggestion for how they can deepen their choices. It keeps me acting, playing opposite them, and giving them the energy to respond to while in performance. And I get to give the encouragement and affirmation that I know performers so badly need because I needed it too. What else does one do with 20 years of experience but use it to help others on their journey?
10. You participated in TuneCore’s “Be The Change” influencer activation. What inspired you to get involved and help amplify their study?
Sadly, first-hand anecdotes don’t often land on folks the way cold hard numbers do. While many strides have been made toward equity in entertainment, we are still hundreds of miles from where we should be. If we don’t talk about it, the problem pervades. So I’m talking about it.
11. What’s one thing you want people to remember you for?
My independent spirit. Additionally, my collection of enamel pins and the way I walk in cowboy boots.
12. What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current profession(s)?
No idea. I’ll take any suggestions you’ve got. Art is a brutal business.
13. Any upcoming projects we can expect from you in the near future?
I’m excited to play my first festival with Gritty this month, the Fairwell Festival in Oregon. I’ve got another show with 7Horse at the Roxy on 8/19, and I’m finally able to share that I’m writing not one but two new albums and will begin recording in the fall. One as La Femme Pendu, and one as something completely different. Lots of new music is on the way in 2024.
14. Final thoughts?
You have to love making art more than you love guarding your fear. Be brave and do the thing.