Sebastian Pigott of CBC’s Being Erica
Written by Rose Cora Perry Saturday, 06 February 2010 00:00Sebastian and his triple-threat abilities, evoke a comparable sensation among his growing fanbase.
Meeting “Kai Booker”:
My Tête-à-tête with Torontonian Actor, Rocker, Writer, Sebastian Pigott, of CBC’s Being Erica
by: Rose Cora Perry
DOB: St. Valentine’s Day
Best Friend: His brother Oliver
Debut Album: “Pigottry”
Where to Buy: Available worldwide via CdBaby
Most Influential Tune: “Fields of Gold” - Sting
Biggest Regret: His finale performance on “Canadian Idol”
Best Moment so Far: Filming “Being Erica”
Oddest Obsession: Being pants-less
Couldn’t Live Without: His motorcycle
Who He’d Like to Meet: The King of Munchkins
Upcoming Appearances: “The Bridge” on CTV (late January)
It all started three years ago. I was terribly depressed and in desperate need of a replacement for the loss of my beloved Gilmore Girls. My favourite tv shows, it seems, always inevitably end too soon. At the precise moment that I was beginning to take ill as a result of losing all hope, a light at the end of the tunnel shone through with the emergence of some serious contenders to take its place. Though I was hesitant at first – I was so used to disappointment - I was willing, this time, this one final time, to give something new a chance. Among the shows that caught my eye was CBC’s then unknown drama with a sci-fi twist, Being Erica.
Okay, so maybe the above quasi-suicidal remarks are a bit of a stretch, but the series finale of my aforementioned fav program did leave me wondering what the hell I was going to do every Tuesday night, instead? However, in defense of the writers who decided to give GG the axe, I will say this: they ended it right, yes, you heard me, Lorelai and Luke belonged together. But I digress…
Now a regular staple in my media consumption diet, it was through my dedicated viewership (and willingness to wrap my head around the show’s rather bizarre, yet intriguing premise) that I discovered the talents of my latest interview subject, a Mr. Sebastian Pigott, in the role of Kai Booker. Given my rock’n’roll alter-ego, my fix of Erica amplified upon the introduction of his character, a conflicted rockstar from the future, in the show’s second season.
As Erica’s December 8th finale unfolded and Pigott took centre stage to perform what I later discovered to be one of his own original compositions, I was left wanting more - wanting to know what would come of his character; undoubtedly, in real life, Sebastian and his triple-threat abilities, evoke a comparable sensation among his growing fanbase.
Between auditions, shooting his debut music video, and coordinating touring plans, I had the amazing opportunity to conduct a tête-à-tête with this James Dean lookalike. Aside from his acting, musical, and writing pursuits, he also makes one hell of a good (if not distracting), conversationalist; something that was well-illustrated by the fact that before I even had the chance to get full-swing into interview mode, I found myself engaged in a debate regarding the current state of the music industry. For those of you who venture more on the music biz side of things, I welcome you to read the full transcript soon to be located on my column’s official website www.soyouwannabearockstar.ca, for the rest of you, I’m sure our witty back and forth banter will suffice:
RCP: So, you’re an actor, musician, and a screenplay writer... Which came first and if you could choose only one of these passions for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
SP: Music came first. I was ten years old when my brother and I played our first gig in Portugal. It was at a place called Jimmy’s Bar and we opened for a 50s cover band called The Pink Cadillacs. We got paid 5000 escudos (converts to roughly $40 Canadian).
SP: Yeah, it was Portugal’s traditional currency before the Euro.
RCP: And if you had to choose just one of your pursuits, what would it be and why?
SP: Writing…because you can do it in your underpants. (As the interview went on, I discovered Sebastian seems to have quite the obsession with being pant- less, though I didn’t push for a rationale as to why, as frankly I’m not sure as to how I could phrase such a question in a “politically-correct” manner.)
RCP: (Laughs) Alright then, next question…Who or what inspires you?
SP: Anything really. I don’t know how it works – it just does. What inspires you?
RCP: This interview is about you, not me! But I mean my inspiration comes mostly from a dark place – my anger and my sadness – but I write hard rock. It’s a very emotional experience for me, and I have to be in certain moods to write.
SP: Yeah, that sounds good.
RCP: You can’t steal my answer! Are there certain moods or settings you have to be in in order to write? What sorts of experiences do you draw upon?
SP: My inspiration doesn’t have any reason to it necessarily. You (ie: artists) go through phases, and it comes from different places because as a person, you change all the time. It is sometimes from dark places, happy places, sexual places, angry places - it might be scary what comes, but I don’t really think about it. I just let it come.
RCP: Okay so then, who are your biggest influences: Writing-wise? Acting- wise? And musically?
SP: Musically, certainly my brother, Hendrix since I was little, The Beatles, old blues like Muddy waters, Robert Pete Williams, Howling Wolf, Queen, Chili Peppers, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Funk and Reggae.
RCP: Do you find that you favour one genre more than others?
SP: Genre doesn’t really mean anything. I just generally like “good” music. There’s shit, and than stuff that’s awesome. I like what’s good.
RCP: What about acting-wise? Who are your influences there?
P: I like Kevin Bacon, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman, Matt Damon, and Edward Norton. In terms of females, Meryl Streep, and Bettie Davis, but Judy Dench is the best of all of them.
RCP: And then finally, writing-wise?
SP: Raymond Chandler.
RCP: Ah… you like noir detective fiction do you? I’m more of an Agatha Christie fan myself.
SP: Oh, she’s good too.
RCP: Hey you can’t keep stealing my influences! Who else do you like?
SP: (Laughs) Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson, but these are just the people I like, I don’t necessarily try to be like them. I’m a professional actor and singer, and I’ve got a screenplay sold. I’ve written some plays and stuff, but writing is something that I keep more personal. I don’t think about it too much - just kinda do it - and if it’s no good, and no one likes it, I don’t really care. It’s nice to have one thing that I don’t have to worry about - as a result, I’m probably the best at it, and I’m becoming more confident in it.
RCP: Confident? How do you mean?
SP: Well, in the sense that it doesn’t have to be “precious” which is making me a better collaborator.
RCP: Why writing then? Why do you keep it more private than your other
SP: Part of it being more personal has to do with… I don’t know… only in that I like to write whatever I want and it serves me really well not to listen to anyone – this serves you well as an artist in any capacity, but unfortunately, as someone who makes acting my profession, more than the other, I have to make compromises as I’m not the boss.
Writing - I mean, even if I were working for money it’s not something I’m as invested in as a professional, I’m more of an artist. Part of that is because you don’t make as much money, and so it’s more important to be good artist. Hopefully one day, as an actor, I’ll get to the point where I can command a bit of artistic authority – for now I haven’t earned that yet.
RCP: Fair enough. Alright. Moving on. Considering that the vast majority of tv programming, these days, tends to revolve around the reality tv show genre, I'm sure you'd agree that Being Erica ranks as one of the more unique viewing experiences. If, and when you have time for tv viewing, I’m wondering what are the sorts of programs you typically enjoy watching?
SP: Reality shows are not my thing, but I can see why people like them. I mean documentaries and cinema vérité (a fancy word for looking at people do stuff) is really the best acting there is. Reality tv is watching people pretend to do stuff, and put on fake personas for tv. I like to watch mostly crap like comedies. It’s a long term commitment to sit and watch a movie. I enjoy Seinfeld, The Simpsons, King of the Hill - but not Family Guy.
RCP: And why’s that?
SP: I just don’t think it’s good.
RCP: Okay then. (Laughs) I understand that you recently wrote and sold a screenplay that is a modern take on the Western genre. I’m wondering if you could tell me a bit about its premise and when we can expect it to be broadcast?
SP: Yeah, it’s based on Sergio Leone’s “The Good, Bad and Ugly.”
RCP: The Clint Eastwood movie?
SP: Yeah, I’m playing with the plot, and bringing in different elements. It’s about three generations of two families, and a deep vendetta between them.
RCP: Sounds like Romeo & Juliet. (It was at this precise moment that I began to recite the prologue to my favourite Shakespearean work in my head: “Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean...” But my soliloquy was “rudely” interrupted when Sebastian started to get defensive. What he did not realize at the time was that I was actually ushering him a compliment for his utilization of a plot troupe from arguably the greatest writer of the English language.)
SP: Not quite (Slight grimace)…It starts off with a hideous act of violence that is passed down from father to son, symbolized in buried gold, and it comes down to a shootout.
RCP: And will you be acting in the film yourself?
SP: Yes, I’m playing Sam Bird Jr.
RCP: Sam Burt? Like as in Burt Reynolds?
SP: (Laughs) No Bird. B-I-R-D.
RCP: My apologies – it’s hard to make things out over the phone sometimes. Anyhow (said awkwardly), my next question may be somewhat of a sensitive topic, so if it offends you, by all means you don’t have to answer it.
SP: Okay (uttered with a sense of curiousity and perhaps even slight fear).
RCP: What I’m wondering is if you’ve ever experienced what I like to call the, “Ashley Simpson syndrome?” What I mean by that is that although in countless interviews you have expressed admiration for your older brother Oliver, I wonder have the comparisons with him, with him being labeled the “more accomplished performer”, ever caused you to feel a sense of resentment or like you were “living in the shadow of someone else’s dream”?
SP: No, not really, he’s played a lot more shows and has sung longer than me. He’s a brilliant singer/songwriter, and I’d be a fool to say I was more accomplished musically – it’s incorrect, but I’m a more accomplished actor so…
RCP: Well that’s fair then. Okay, so what has been your best experience in the Canadian entertainment biz thus far? Your worst experience? And are there any regrets you wish you could go back in time to erase?
SP: My worst regret occurred towards the end of Idol (Sebastian had a six-week stint on last season’s Canadian Idol making it to Top Eight placement). I wasn’t performing as well. I didn’t have my head in it anymore ’cause my brother wasn’t there anymore. I wish I could’ve maybe been a bit more of a professional back then, but you can’t expect perfection of yourself all the time.
RCP: And your best experience?
SP: Doing the show (Being Erica). I got to do everything – my brother and I wrote a, well, a few songs together, and I got to act on a regular basis for four and half months.
RCP: Speaking of Being Erica, I understand that “Alien Like You” was one of the first full-on songwriting collaborations you completed with your brother Oliver. What was it like developing your debut album with him? How did the songwriting process typically go? Any spats you’d like to divulge?
SP: Was it really?
RCP: (Laughs) Well according to a recent interview I read on you, it was.
SP: I guess it was then. That song (“Alien Like You”) we wrote specifically for the show – it’s not on the album. I mainly wrote the verse melody, the verse words, and then he mainly wrote the chorus and chorus words – there was a lot of crossover, of course.
RCP: And in regards to your album, Pigottry? What was the songwriting process like for that?
SP: I wrote three songs, he wrote five, we covered one, and I sang one of his. (For those interested, the cover is of “Dark Horse”, originally popularized by Amanda Marshall in the 90s, and performed by Pigott on Canadian Idol). The rest of them we just kinda played instruments on each other’s stuff.
RCP: Cool. Sounds like a fairly even effort then. I look forward to hearing more of your stuff. Okay, I just have one more question for you and it’s based on one of my favourite episodes of Being Erica: If you had a complete do-over day where nothing would stick, what would you do?
SP: Well, I wouldn’t want to end up in prison… not too early anyways.
RCP:(I then proceeded to tell Sebastian embarrassingly that I watched an episode of MythBusters that instructed people how to get out of jail based on using an acidic substance to burn through the metal bars…After realizing what a bizarre digression I made, I apologized, and further probed him to get back on topic.) Seriously, what would you do though? Nothing sticks. You can do whatever you want.
SP: I’d take my pants off…that’s it.
RCP: What’s with your obsession with taking off your pants? (See his above comment in regards to why he prefers writing.) That’s it? You’d just take your pants off?
SP: Well, I’d probably eat anything I wanted. I don’t know how to answer that - get really drunk I’m sure, but I’ve been doing that for well – never mind I abstain from this question.
RCP: You abstain?
SP: Yes, I abstain. (Laughs)
RCP: (Laughs) Okay, well then is there anything else you’d like to say or plug?
SP: Yeah, our music video for, “Rich Man” will be released to Much in the new year (Official release party is on Feb 14th, 2010 at Toronto’s Rancho Relaxo) – so everyone, please send requests for them to play it lots and lots. I also have “The Bridge” coming up on CTV - I’m playing a bad guy, everyone should look out for that, episode three, I think.
RCP: Well thank you for the interview Sebastian. It’s been thoroughly entertaining and I sincerely wish you the best of luck with everything.SP: No, thank you!
Though Sebastian repeatedly claimed, throughout our discussion, to be a “wholesome” gent (his words, not mine), and even went so far as to detail for me his present attire to prove said point (which I know for certain consisted of a derby hat…pants optional), his character (or characters, if you will), in my books, remains largely up for debate. But that my friends, is not necessarily a bad thing… After all, as any good actor I’m sure would concur, it is the workings of mystery and suspense that largely keep audiences glued to the screen (or in his case, screen, stage, and written word!).
Make sure you keep an eye out for Sebastian’s upcoming appearance on The Bridge, and be sure to catch one of his live performances with his bro on their upcoming spring tour. To learn more about Sebastian Pigott and his plethora of accomplishments, check out his official website located at www.sebastianpigott.com
Photographer: Pamela Detlor of thethoughtvox.com
About the Writer
Rose Cora Perry is the former frontwoman of Canadian hard rock bands ANTI-HERO and HER, the creator of the highly successful music industry advice/insight column, "So You Wanna be in a Rock Band?", as well as the sole owner and operator of HER Records, a management company in which she offers marketing, promotion, publicity, tour booking, and artist development services.
A dedicated promoter of D.I.Y. ethics, and an avid supporter of independent musicians, for more information on Rose Cora Perry, please visit her official website located at: http://www.rosecoraperry.com