Actress Felicia Day found fame on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but its her hugely popular web series The Guild that has earned her a cult following. Proudly geeky and full of genuine enthusiasm, she doesn’t hold back in her Guest DJ set -- sharing the first song that made her feel cool, the track she turns to for dramatic roles and her own chart-topping hit. The Guild’s season four finale airs on October 5.
For more: www.watchtheguild.com
1. When In Rome - The Promise
2. The Jayhawks - All The Right Reasons
3. The Breeders - Cannonball
4. Jonathan Coulton - Re: Your Brains
5. The Guild (feat. Felicia Day) - (Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar
EL: Hi, this is Eric J. Lawrence from KCRW and I am here with actress Felicia Day. Buffy The Vampire Slayer catapulted her to cult favorite status and she’s continued to attract attention as the producer of the web series The Guild. Today we’ll be talking about songs that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Felicia, thanks for coming down.
FD: Thank you for having me. I’m a huge fan, so this is a privilege.
EL: Cool. Well, what’s the first song you got for us?
FD: This was a very hard task – picking these songs. So, I had to be ruthless; part of my heart got cut out a little bit.
My first song is just the genesis of what I’ve been doing with my life for the last 3 1/2 or 4 years almost. It’s called “The Promise” by When In Rome and the story behind this song is a deep-seated ennui, kind of.
I’m a huge ‘80s music fan. Every year for my birthday I have a ‘80s themed dance party and I basically don’t socialize – I just dance for four hours without sitting down. Kind of like I’m on some kind of weird drugs, but I’m not – I have one mojito and I dance.
And this is one of my very favorite songs of all time. Not only because of the ‘80s aspect, but there’s sort of like a lost quality about this song and when I sat down to write The Guild, which is my web series, I was in a really bad time in my life – I had just come off of a horrible addiction to World Of Warcraft, I was acting enough to pay my bills but I didn’t feel like I was filling my days properly.
Finally, out of frustration - because I wasn’t gaming 9 hours per day - I sat down to write The Guild, about a group of online gamers who interact online and offline, a comedy, because that’s basically what I had known for a two year, huge addiction. And, when I sat down to write it, I would always play this song on loop the whole time and, in an ideal world, we would have had enough money that this would have been our theme song, because it’s very much about friendship and about being there for other people and in a kind of un-ironic way it kind of represents the relationships in my show.
EL: That was “The Promise” from When In Rome. Well, what’s the next song selection you’ve got for us?
FD: So, this was hard to pick, and I wanted to get something just from primarily my acting career. I love watching comedy, but I will not watch a drama to save my life. I have The Piano and that one with Hillary Swank where she boxes – like I have those DVDs on my shelf and I’ll never watch them – they’re so dusty.
But I do get hired to be a dramatic victim a lot, I’m kind of victim-y. And I have a playlist to get me into the right state of mind. I think there are four songs on that playlist that just put me in the right mood to feel serious about life. The Jayhawks’ “All The Right Reasons” is my favorite because there’s something about the kind of bluegrassy-folksy style of The Jayhawks. I mean, they are one of my favorite bands. They’re not together, I don’t believe, anymore but I’m from the South and I’ve always had a secret self-hatred about that, so I’ve never liked country music and this is kind of the closest that it has every brought me to it. This is just one of my very favorite songs and if I was going to be sappy and play something for my wedding, I probably would use this song.
EL: That was The Jayhawks with “All The Right Reasons” as selected by our guest, Felicia Day. What’s the next track you got for us?
FD: This track is very seminal in my life because it’s the first time in my life I ever felt cool -- in any way, shape or form. I was home-schooled all my life, I was very isolated, I was very studious. I got straight A’s in college – I was an overachiever to the point where I really was not fun to be around (laughs). I think I was 13 at the time, and this was kind of the first album I ever bought on my own in the store and, when I played it, I felt cool. I felt like I could wear some black leather pants and walk down the street.
There’s something about music, you know, being a musician, I don’t listen to lyrics very well, my Rock Band performances reveal that because I’m never good with anything but the choruses, like, I hope everybody else is (laughs). But just evocative of a mood, that’s what I love about music. You could access emotion in a way that’s just so kind of primal.
And this was the first time I felt like Felicia Day was a cool kid and I put on terrible leather jacket with fringe on it, and I would walk around with a candy cigarette – it was just terrible. I mean, I’m not kidding, I did have a candy cigarette thing going on…anyway, The Breeders…“Cannonball”…makes you cool.
EL: That was The Breeders with “Cannonball.” What’s the next track you’ve got for us?
FD: I’m going to go out on a sacrilegious limb here, and just say *generally,* I do not enjoy rock concerts.
FD: The reason why, is that I kind of have two lives – after I graduated from college, I came to L.A. to act, but before that I was a professional violinist and I have a degree in Classical Violin Performance. I’ve been playing the violin since I was 21/2. So I don’t enjoy rock concerts because I’ve been raised on classical concerts where I know exactly where I am and there’s nothing more irritating that encores to me, I’m like, ‘Listen you guys, you’re done – just get off the stage’ (laughs).
I don’t know why it irritates me so much, but I’d rather have a program, I want to know what you’re going to play so I can leave. So the reason why I chose Jonathan Coulton “Re: Your Brains” is that not only is Jonathan one of my heroes online --he is, if you’re not familiar with this work, he is the preeminent geeky folk singer on the internet -- and he’s kind of like me. He’s very situationally famous. I went to one of his concerts and I was filled with such joy at him alone with a guitar onstage, that I had an amazing time the whole time and I felt like ‘Oh, now I understand why people love concerts.’
And it actually did open up a new appreciation for the whole procedure. It was like two or three years ago, so this particular song is my favorite because he has a trend at his concerts – people flood the stage, walking like zombies. So by the end of the song, I think I saw it in Vegas, he was completely surrounded by fans walking like zombies and it was just like the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. So I hope you find this geekily enjoyable as well.
EL: Music from Jonathan Coulton, the track “Re: Your Brains.” Did Jonathan Coulton do an encore?
FD: He did, but only a reasonable number of two.
EL: Alright, what’s the next track you’ve got for us?
FD: I didn’t know if I was allowed to play a song that I did. I thought it was…
EL: To self-promote?
FD: To self-promote, yes, I felt tacky by even proposing it and I gave a back-up, that you guys didn’t even have, right?
FD: You did not have Stacey Q “Two Of Hearts,” I’m like, come on --
EL: There’s a giant gaping hole in our collection. I will rectify that immediately.
FD: It’s a gaping hole in your life, Eric (laughs).
EL: Now I know.
FD: Exactly. But anyway…the story behind “(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar?” is that during writing Season 3 last year, I was struggling and I made --of course, rather than apply myself with the writing -- I made a playlist of the worst dance music songs. Like “Whoomp! There It Is!,” Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Two Of Hearts” – everything that just made me happy and want to get up and dance. And combined with that, we had had a fan who did a picture of us, as the actors, dressed in our avatar costumes.
So, those things kind of collided with the idea that ‘Why don’t we do a musical?” because everybody keeps asking me to sing because of Dr. Horrible and I’m like, ‘I don’t have time for that.’ But, on a whim, I was just kind of like, hey, this would be really cool, do you want to date my avatar…. and I came up with the title and I called my friend, Jed Whedon, who was one of the co-writers and co-composers of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along blog and I was like, I don’t think you want do this because it’s really geeky, but would you be interested in writing this song with me? He was like, ‘Yeah, do it.’ So I did a draft of the lyrics.
In eight hours, he sent me back the chorus and the body of it and we came up with this song. Everything was done completely low-budget and on favors. So basically, we made this video and we uploaded it to YouTube and iTunes and Xbox and in just one day, climbed the charts to be the #1 MP3 on iTunes and we beat every major label brand with absolutely no publicity or help from the outside.
It was completely fan-driven. I feel like this is kind of, the biggest moment in my life just because I was able to beat the big guys with only fan support and I feel like it kind of embodies what the internet is about and why I love doing what I do.
EL: Okay, well Felicia, I want to thank you very much for coming down and sharing some of your tunes with us.
FD: Thanks for having me.
EL: For a complete tracklisting and to find these songs online, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject.