Ashlee Simpson

Interviews

Saturday Night Live

October 28, 2004

Couric: "Saturday Night Live" was not so live when Ashlee Simpson went to perform her second song of the night. She was caught off guard when her own voice track came on from her first song of the night. Simpson walked off stage after doing a little hoe down and following that technical goof.

She's been catching a lot of flack and she is here to tell her side of the story in an exclusive interview.

Couric: This has been a crummy couple of days for you?

Simpson: Yeah. … It's one of those situations. All rehearsals -- we have clips from all week long -- my voice was in great shape. I was so ready to go. Saturday night came at six o'clock. I have severe acid reflux. It started acting up and I could not speak or talk. But most artists on big shows do that (sing to a backing track) and I had never done it once.

Couric: Explain what that is. Vocal guide tracks or backing tracks. Does that mean you are lip syncing?

Simpson: No, I was singing with the track. Like on the first (song). I was singing with the track but my voice was not strong enough to hold up the song alone. My dad was like, 'honey, you have to do it.' He put my vocal doctor on the phone with me. 'You have to. (Singing) will ruin your vocal chords.'

Couric: When you listen to someone performing live and they have a backing track, do you primarily hear the recording or the voice of the artist or does it depend?

Simpson: You hear both. The sound bites fade in and out depending on how your voice is. I have never done it before. The first time I do it becomes a massive deal. It was something I could not control. My drummer who I love and adore accidentally pressed the wrong button and did not set up the song.

Couric: Is he still your drummer?

Simpson: Yes. I love him. Everybody makes mistakes. I didn't know that and I did the hoe-down.

Couric: This must have been so upsetting for you because this is a big break to be on "Saturday Night Live", to be the featured artist and to have this happen. It must have been mortifying?

Simpson: It was definitely upsetting and mortifying. I get comments like now , (I'm like) Milli Vanilli. I write all of my own music and perform from my heart. I am always singing on any show I have ever done. Singing as hard as I can always. This was a situation where I was in trouble like with my voice. Each in the rehearsal I was singing and I am holding my throat.

Couric: Sounding like a munchkin?

Simpson: Yes. And it was very unfortunate. What is even more unfortunate is a am being compared to that when there are artists that even at the awards show last night had backing tracks. People, listen to this! Your favorite artist.

Couric: But it's a dirty little secret?

Simpson: It's horrible. I think for me it was something.

Couric: This was at the Radio Music Awards where you made a joke about it.

Simpson: I figured why not make a joke about. I am not worried about it. I know that things happen and not everybody is perfect. You can't help it if you lose your voice. It doesn't mean you can't sing or don't write your own music.

Couric: You have been very open about how much work it took you to get where you are today. You did an MTV reality show about it?

Simpson: Yeah. And the acid reflux was on the reality show, too.

Couric: Do you feel like fans will be forgiving. Your Web site has been inundated with comments some positive and some negative. What are people saying?

Simpson: I have tried not to look at them because this has been -- it's hard. There are comments that are good and bad. I hope my fans know, especially the ones that come out to my shows, they know it's live. I never had to do that. The one time, you get sick and then -- it's a humbling experience. You could say.

Couric: Were you surprised that people were making such a big deal of it?

Simpson: Yeah, because I am not anorexic. My boob didn't pop out. I am not on drugs. I had a bad performance and I got sick.

Couric: What did your dad say? He's your manager. When you walked off stage, he said you were upset?

Simpson: When I walked off, I don't know what to do. Oh my god! He was like it's okay. You are okay. Breathe, breathe, breathe. I went back out there. Look, things happen.

Couric: Have you talked to Jessica, your sister?

Simpson: Yeah, she was like, 'stay in there and stay strong.' She knows what it's like if you are sick or whatever.

Couric: Before we go, where did you get the little hoe-down moves?

Simpson: I don't know. From Texas. I freaked out. I freaked out and didn't know what to do. … I just kind of froze. My band they started playing 'Autobiography' and switched. I love my band to death. We are all good.

Couric: They are not mad. You blamed them at the end of the show?

Simpson: It was the wrong button he pushed. I was sick and things happen. It wasn't one person that messed up.

Couric: Hopefully in the papers they will be tomorrow's fish wrapping.

Simpson: I love my drummer to death.

Couric: Well, we love him too. Thanks for coming in.




Jessica's little sister talks about her new album and why clean underwear rocks.

Spence D.

July 29, 2004 - Ashlee Simpson should need no introduction, especially if you belong to the MTV/reality television show generation. This particular Simpson chanteuse is the younger sister of Jessica. And like her older sister, she too has her own reality show on MTV, The Ashlee Simpson Show, and is also a pop singer.

But Ashlee has something her sister doesn't: the pressure of living in the shadow of a sibling who was famous first. Ashlee has distanced herself in several ways. For one, she's a brunette to her sister's blonde. She also eschews the ditzy charm for straight forward youthful exuberance. And she's modeling her musical career more after the likes of Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Nicks, and Gwen Stefani than the silky slick balladeering stylistics of Jessica.

Spence D. sat down with Ashlee and discussed her new album, Autobiography, and the joys of doing your own laundry.

Spence D., Editor-in-Chief, IGN Music: Hey, what's up Ashlee!?

Ashlee Simpson: Hey, what's up?

IGNM: Not much other than sittin' here talkin' to you. So, how are you this morning?

AS: I am good, how are you?

IGNM: Great, thanks. You recently did Letterman, how was that?

AS: I did! It was so rad. Isn't that exciting? It was so much fun. He kissed my hand, too. Everybody was like 'That means he likes you so much!' I was like 'Yessss!' Isn't that cool?

IGNM: Totally. Now given that you're doing things like Letterman and you've got your own MTV show, are you at all worried about the backlash of celebrity? I mean the fact that your life is on display for the rest of the world and you've totally lost much of your anonymity?

AS: No, I mean I'm not. I think that no matter what I have my people around me, like my friends and family and all that kind of stuff, so I'm not really worried about it.

IGNM: That's cool that you have such a level head about it. I always think that would be the worst thing about becoming famous, you know not being able to just walk into a 7-11 and getting a Slurpee without people mobbing you.

AS: [laughs] I know exactly what you're saying and that can definitely be intense. But I'm excited about it. I mean everything's fun and everything's exciting for me right yet. I haven't hit that 7-11 part yet [laughs].

IGNM: Well, I'll have to check back in with you after you do and see what you say then!

AS: Exactly! [laughs]

IGNM: In this day and age, and especially for a young woman such as yourself, in the industry you're in, there's really no way to avoid being a sex symbol. Speaking of which, I know you're involved in an upcoming Candies ad campaign and they've been notoriously racy of late with Alyssa Milano and Jenny McCarthy. Also, there's also a certain amount of pressure, I'm sure, to also be seen as something of a role model. Do you try to kind of mix the two together or do you gravitate toward one or the other?

AS: I think that being a role model would be great. But if people think that something I do is sexy, then I think that's great. But I've never looked at myself and thought 'Oh, yeah! I'm sexy!' I'll feel sexy and confident, but I never look at myself and say 'Oh yeah, I'm sexy!," you know what I mean. So if people think that I'm sexy, then that's a huge compliment to me. But I don't really worry about what people think. If people take me as a role model, that's great, you know?

IGNM: I've got your first single, "Pieces of Me." And on the cover you're sporting blonde hair. But then on the cover of the album you're sporting black hair…

AS: Yes. But if you get the single in the stores, I have brown hair. The one you have is the one they shipped to radio. That was sort of like the pre-release.

IGNM: Okay. What I was wondering was if you noticed if people treat you different depending on what color your hair is? I mean did people treat you differently when you were a brunette or a blonde?

AS: You know what? I think I get hit on more with brown hair than blonde.

IGNM: Really? That's a trip. I guess that I'm just falling victim to the myth/stereotype about blondes.

AS: Really? I don't think so. I think you get noticed a lot more as a brunette, but I don't know. People approach me, I think, but maybe it's because of the reality show. You know what I mean?

IGNM: Speaking of your reality show, you've done a spate of acting in films like The Hot Chick, plus television shows like Malcolm in the Middle and Seventh Heaven. What's the difference between doing a reality show where the camera is just following your around and then doing something like Seventh Heaven?

AS: Well it's definitely interesting. Because in Seventh Heaven you're playing like a character. You're not being yourself, you know what I mean? It's not like on a reality show where you're just living your life. I mean it's so different. It's almost like harder sometimes [to do the reality show and] go 'Oh my God, I'm just living my life.'


IGNM: Are you saying that it's harder to be yourself than to disappear into a character?

AS: I think that it's easier to be myself, but I think that being a character is something that I've just learned how to do for a little while on Seventh Heaven. Then on my show, it was like 'Oh my gosh I have to just like be myself.' And I did. And the MTV crew was so nice. They thanked me for not like putting on a show or anything like that and for just kind of being very real.

IGNM: It's safe to assume that you're not pulling any prima donna demands on the show then?

AS: Oh no, not at all.

IGNM: No bowls of M&Ms with all the red ones removed…

AS:No [laughs]. I haven't done that yet. [laughs] I'll never do that.

IGNM: I was recently reading an interview you did on MTV.com where you mentioned that you loved Gwen Stefani and that you were a fan of Courtney Love, but that you would like to see a good female rocker emerge in this day and age. What do you feel makes a good female rock star?

AS: Actually I think that Gwen Stefani is a good female rocker. And I think Courtney Love used to be, too. But I think that a good female rocker is like Chrissie Hynde.

IGNM: Ah, you're going Old School.

AS: Yeah. Like the Pretenders and you know, Joan Jett. Those kinds of people. I love them.

IGNM: Would you say that they're more influential on you and what you're trying to do with your music as opposed to say a Stefani or a Love?

AS: Yeah, absolutely.

IGNM: Forgive me for saying so, but that seems kind of weird considering how young you are.

AS: I know, but they're so great though. I've gone back and looked at every single thing that they've done. I think that they're sexy and confident and they have these cool, kind of like tough attitudes, but at the same time they are sexy. And I think that's so cool. And they can get up and rock and they're so good. And their voices were so incredible.

IGNM: On your album you collaborated with folks from Sugar Ray, Good Charlotte, and Goldfinger. How did those collaborations come about? Did you seek those people out?

AS: Yeah, I did. I had meeting with them and was like 'Hey, let's work together.'

IGNM: I kind of lump them all into that same sort of poppy-punk category. But then Goldfinger has been around a lot longer than the others. And then Sugar Ray has been around longer than Good Charlotte. It's kind of cool that you went for lineage styled choices rather than just using artists who are brand new and the flavor of the day.

AS: No, no, not at all. I met Benji and I thought he was great and talented, so I wanted to work with him. And Sugar Ray is great. Stan [Frazier]'s incredibly talented, so it was very exciting to work with him. And Goldfinger is just an amazing band, I think.

IGNM: How do your friends, family, former lovers or boyfriends feel about you writing about them in your songs?

AS: [laugh] I don't care if the former lovers care about me writing about them in my songs. But my family thinks it's great. I mean I've never written a mean thing about them and they're so happy with the record. And they think that it's awesome that I wrote to Josh ["Unreacheable"] and everything. But I had to, I had to get it out, you know what I mean?

IGNM: Oh yeah. But I always think that's an interesting dilemma for a writer—either a novelist or song writer—is that when you start delving into personal stuff, do you tell the people 'Hey, guess what? I just wrote a song about about you.' Or do you not tell them and then when the song comes out they end up on your front porch, pounding on your door yelling 'Dude! Why did you write that song about me!?'

AS: I think you don't tell 'em.

IGNM: You just do it?

AS: You just do it and then they hear it and then they go 'Oh man, I f@#ked up.' [laughs]

IGNM: Now what about the song "Shadow," which is essentially about you living in your sister's shadow. Did you just write it first and then play it for Jessica?

AS: Yeah. I just wrote it and then played it for my sister. And, awww, she cried and she was like 'I love it. It's the most beautiful song.' My mom was the same.

Everybody in my family was like 'Oh my God, we love it! It's amazing.' So it was cool. I got a good reaction from the family.


IGNM: In reference to that song, how are you going about finding yourself and creating your own identity that is separate from your sister and climbs out of the shadows, so to speak?

AS: I think that for me, that was really something that I went through when I was literally 15 and 16 years old. And I was just finally writing about it, writing about how it was being in the shadows at that point and stuff. I think for me, I know who I am and I have my own identity and everything, so for me it's just about staying true to who I am and everything.

IGNM: I made mention of the Candies campaign you're involved in earlier. What can you tell me about it?

AS: The Candies ad was fun. It's racy, but it's cute. It's not like…

IGNM: You're not sitting on the toilet like Jenny McCarthy, are you?

AS: No.

IGNM: Okay. Now are these actual print ads that will be in magazines or what?

AS: Yeah.

IGNM: When you say that they're racy, but cute, can you reveal any more details? I mean are they like the Alyssa Milano ones?

AS: They're not even as racy as hers. Wait, what were hers like again?

IGNM: They had one where she was in a school girl uniform and she was bending over in front of a bathroom mirror putting lipstick on. And her skirt was short enough that you could see her panties.

AS: Mine are not like that.

IGNM: So your pictures are, shall we say, a little more tasteful than that?

AS: Yeah. Exactly. Mine are very tasteful. They're not too racy at all. It's cute. And actually my mom was on the whole set to make sure…

IGNM: …that nobody was taking advantage of you?

AS: Well, I wouldn't let anybody take advantage of me anyway. But my mom had my back.

IGNM: You have this great line on the title track "Autobiography" where you sing "I have stains on my t-shirt…" So I was wondering what you use to get stains out of your clothes. And more importantly, do you do your own laundry or does your mom still do it?

AS: I do my own laundry [laughs].

IGNM: Are you like a Tide girl? Or All TempaCheer?

AS: I'm a Tide Girl. Tide Spring Breeze.

IGNM: No! I can't roll with the scented detergent. It makes my nose itch.

AS: I know, it kinda stinks sometimes. But the last time I got [detergent] I got Spring Breeze. But the time before that I got the original. I don't really know what I get. I just kind of get whatever Tide stuff I see.

IGNM: I totally hear you on that. Actually, I've been pimping my roommate's laundry detergent for the past couple of months. So I've been using whatever his fiancé has been buying.

AS: [laughs] But actually, I like to do laundry.

IGNM: Why?

AS: I think it's fun [laughs]. There is nothing better than clean clothes.

IGNM: Well, I think there's a few things better than clean clothes, but I'll say that it's probably in the Top 10.

AS: Yeah, it's definitely the Top 10. Clean underwear? Are you kidding me!?

IGNM: Yeah, but sometimes it's nice to go without.

AS: [laughs] I don't know about that!

IGNM: I guess I think that laundry is a chore. It's something you have to do.

AS: I think it's fun. I'm proud of myself [that I do laundry].

IGNM: Maybe you should do some ads for Tide. You know, 'Ashlee says doing laundry is fun!' You could totally cash in on that. You could start a new movement where kids start doing their own laundry.

AS: [laughs] Totally! Exactly!

IGNM: When I visit my parents, my mom will still do my laundry. You would think that after more than 20 years she would trust me to do it, but no.

AS: My mom still does my laundry when I'm at home.

IGNM: I kind of put all the colors together.

AS: You do?

IGNM: I mean it's not like I put a dark blue shirt in with the whites, but I run the blues, blacks, and greens all together. And I'll run yellow shirts with the whites, you know?

AS: I do that, too.

IGNM: Right on.

AS: Nice.

IGNM: Those are pretty much my questions…

AS: Nice.

IGNM: Unless you've got anything additional you'd like to toss out there.

AS: I'm good.

IGNM: Cool!

AS: Thank you so much!

IGNM: No, thank you for taking the time out to talk to me. I totally appreciate it.

AS: Of course! It was nice talking to you. Bye!


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