Ellen Page

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Editor's note: This interview was conducted before Elliot Page came out as trans in 2020.

Actress Ellen Page famously played a music lover in her breakout role as Juno. She relies heavily on music to get into character for all of her roles, from the piercing sadness and longing of Cat Power and Gillian Welch to the beautiful instrumentals of cellist Adam Hurst. She is currently starring in the suspense thriller The East.

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Track List:

1. Cat Power - Fool

2. Adam Hurst - Stone Bridge

3. Youth Lagoon - 17

4. Balam Acab - Dream Out

5. Gillian Welch - I Made A Lover's Prayer



Eric J. Lawrence: Hi I'm Eric J. Lawrence and I'm here with actress Ellen Page. She made a big splash in the 2007 film Juno, playing a character that was a big music lover, so we're intrigued to hear about the songs that have inspired her personally over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Ellen, thank you so much for coming down!

Ellen Page:  Oh my god, thanks for having me.

EJL: So what's the first song you've got for us?

EP: The first song I have is a Cat Power song. This is the song "Fool" which is from the record “You Are Free” and that was the first Cat Power record I ever heard. It came out 10 years ago, so it was sort of when I was really falling in love with music and sort of getting those deep inexplicable emotions from it. I love "Fool" because there's this sadness to it and this sort of piercing quality that I think she has, and I think any art or music should make one connect to themselves deeply but also get them outside of themselves and I think this song does exactly that, it just absolutely floors me.

Song: Cat Power – “Fool”

EP: She's probably the songwriter I've listen to the most on set as an actor working because she's just so vulnerable and courageous in her letting you in. It immediately gets me to a lot of specific emotional places. 

EJL: Do you use music as a preparation for your acting?

EP: Oh, absolutely. And sometimes different records or specific songs I'll have for whatever character I'm playing, and Cat Power is always around. Arcade Fire is a big one… And also I played a character once who had no music and that was sort of sad. I couldn't find music, I couldn't find music for this character, and I was like, ‘oh, it's because she has no music in her life! She's that sad’.

EJL: Wow.

EP: So music always plays a huge, huge part in getting to specific places.

EJL: That was "Fool" from Cat Power. What's the next track you've got for us?

EP: The next track I have is a song by Adam Hurst, it's called "Stone Bridge" and it's from his record called “From Silence”. He's a solo cellist and it is just astoundingly beautiful. This song specifically, for whatever reason, really reminds me of this land that my father has in Nova Scotia, which is incredibly remote. There's something about being in the woods and being in that place specifically that has such profound beauty and mystery, but also evokes so much sadness. You know? And I don't know if that's because there's just absolutely no distractions so you're sort of just left with yourself. And there's something about this song and this record and his music and the emotion that he creates its just so, so profoundly moving I couldn't recommend people getting this record more. No matter where I am in the world working or how I'm feeling, I'll put this on and lay down and it creates a stillness that I sort of feel like being in nature.

Song: Adam Hurst – “Stone Bridge”

EJL: That was "Stone Bridge" from cellist, Adam Hurst, selected by our guest, Ellen Page. The next track you've got is also sort of a one man show, the group is Youth Lagoon.

EP: I know, oh my god. this record. Trevor Powers I believe is his name, and apparently he made this record the year of hibernation when he was 22 or something and it’s  just like, 'you ****", you know? 

It couldn’t be more of an absolutely just soulful, wise but curious, gorgeous, from start to finish. I just could not, could not stop listening to it when I first heard it. And this song "17", specifically, I just love. There's this line in it, "When I was 17 my mother said to me don't stop imagining, the day that you do is the day that you die." And there's something about that line to me sums up the whole record in this way and something that I always want to remember.

I think that we're so encouraged as we get older to harden our hearts. Of course you see the world for what it is -- it's dark, it's cruel, and there's so much inequality and unfairness. It's hard to remember to stay open and stay curious and hold on to that. And there's something about this record that has this sort of sadness mixed with just the joy and beauty of being alive. . . I'm getting way too into this right now but this song is called "17" and I hope everybody likes it.

Song: Youth Lagoon – “17”

EJL: That was "17" from  the band Youth Lagoon. What’s the next song you got for us?

EP: Well the next track is from a band, I hope I'm saying this correctly, Balam Acab and the song is called "Dream Out" and it's from an EP of theirs called “See Birds”. They came about because I really liked that Salem record.

EJL: They're a part of what they called the Witch House.

EP: The Witch House, yeah. I love the whole EP, it's fantastic, but this song in particular there's something so, angelic and peaceful about it and it mixed with the gritty, haunting quality. It's funny because the pacing of the song is sort of slow yet when I hear it I just want to move my body so this EP has allowed for many a solo dance party in hotel rooms to maintain sanity, so I couldn't be more grateful for that.

Song: Balam Acab – Dream Out

EJL: The band is Balam Acab with the song called "Dream Out". What's the last track you got for us?

EP: This is a Gillian Welch song called "I Made A Lovers Prayer" from her record Soul Journey which I think came out maybe 10 years ago. I love this song because, I mean, I think there's a bit of a trend going on here, this sort of longing-ness of it is unbearably beautiful and sad. I think, to me, the greatest love songs are the ones that are the most truthful and contain sadness. I think love goes very hand in hand with that and the fear of it and the vulnerability of it, sort of like Joni Mitchell’s "A Case of You" or a song we all know from when we're little kids, "You Are My Sunshine", I mean that is a unbearably sad song, but of course it's about love. I just love her; she's obviously just an absolutely incredible musician but this song’s sort of simplistic, rustic, sort of gorgeous quality, it just makes me think of. . . I just want to lie in a field at night or something…and just cry.

Song: Gillian Welch – “I Made a Lover’s Prayer”

EJL: That was Gillian Welch with "I Made A Lovers Prayer" as selected by our guest Ellen Page. Ellen I want to thank you so much for coming down and sharing these picks with us.

EP: Thank you, I hope I didn't bring down anybody's mood too much.

EJL: No, a good time was had by all.

EP: Oh, good.

EJL: For a complete track listening and to find these songs online  go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.