By Noah Michelson
What about the graphic novel you�ve been talking about writing. I know you said at one point you were practicing drawing by cartooning your friends� conversations.
Here�s where I am: I did a lot of cartooning and I practiced drawing a lot -- enough to realize that it takes professional people who do this all the time and are really good at it years and years to do a book. So, that seems pretty daunting. And then I realized that my work ethic may not be up to those standards. [Laughs] But what I did start to do is that I started painting. Every few years I�ll go, I want to paint! and I�ll get out the paints and the easel and then start painting and go, Oh. This is really hard and then put it away again. But I started painting again and I realized that all the practice that I got from cartooning made it a lot easier. So I�ve been doing that and it�s been super fun.
Are you going to have a big exhibition like Marilyn Manson did?
Is Marilyn Manson a painter?
Huge. They go for thousands of dollars.
That�s awesome. Are they any good?
They�re exactly what you�d think they�d be: creepy children missing limbs, stuff like that.
Oh my god. That�s awesome. Really, what I�m painting right now is this project that came about by accident but I feel like it�s fun practice for me. I have a friend who works at the White House, who�s Deputy Assistant to Obama and he works on Joe Biden�s campaign, and I visited him a few months ago and he had just moved into his new office and it has really high ceilings and gigantic empty walls. He had like, one photograph of Obama and I was kind of making fun of him saying, �I really love your artwork. It really fills up that wall.� And he said, �You do art. You should do a mural of the presidents.� He was like, �Where�s my portrait of Millard Fillmore?� and so kind of as a joke I thought, I�m going to paint him a portrait of Millard Fillmore, and then we were joking about this via email and it developed into �How about the three worst presidents?� Three really dud presidents like Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan and whomever. And so I started painting and I wanted more to choose from because they were getting better as I went along so I thought, I�ll do the 10 worst presidents.
I�m seeing a new line of tour T-shirts.
[Laughs] I have a couple more presidents left to go. I think I have eight of the worst ones.
Just for fun I ran one of your songs through the Genius function on iTunes to see who else would come up. I got everyone from the Velvet Underground to Beck to Fiona Apple to Simon and Garfunkel to Neko Case. Where do you think you fit into the musical landscape?
I think I feel like I�m pretty influenced by people like Neil Young -- that kind of post-post folk, melodic, acoustic guitar-y stuff with some sort of basic Beatles influence that no one can escape.
When you went out on your own it was the '90s and there was that whole �Women In Music� rocker chick thing going on. Did you feel like a part of that? Do you feel like fit into a that club?
There are two ways to think of it. Back then, when I was on a major label, a lot of the conversations would be people at the label saying that they didn�t know how to market my music and I�d go, �Come on! Look at all these other women -- Liz Phair, etc. Surely it fits in with those people.� So I never thought it was so different. Of course you like to think you�re different because you�re an artist and all that but I guess I never thought I�m breaking any kind of new ground. There are a few artists every now and then that I�m very influenced by. When Liz Phair�s first record came out I was very influenced by that. There was a band called the Loud Family -- Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things was a record that I listened to like a million times. I was very influenced by Scott Miller�s songwriting. I was very influenced by Elliott Smith. To me it�s really obvious -- I can hear myself being influenced by those people. And Fiona. I definitely had this moment when Fiona came out where I was like, Well, I can quit now! [Laughs] Like She�s doing kind of what I would want to do -- but better.
You�ve done some acting -- you were in The Big Lebowski and a few other things. Do you want to do more?
When I do my Christmas shows I make these little videos that I show and just from doing that I got a little experience improvising with my comedian friends and I thought that was really fun. I think if it�s a situation where I�m more or less playing myself and I can improvise a little bit, I�m up for it. As soon as I have to say something word for word then it just feels stiff and I die and don�t know how to make it work.
I love that you were on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How did you get roped into that?
I guess somebody in the camp was a fan. I had actually never really watched the show and wasn�t familiar with the whole phenomenon but everyone I know was like, �Oh, you have to do it!� And I said, �OK. I�ll do it.�
Do you remember your big line?
I remember I said it like 20 times and it was really embarrassing that I couldn�t get this one line natural. You always think, Acting is going to be easy! but for me it�s really hard and I kept thinking, This is really not going across very well.
Especially when they have you saying, �I hate playing in vampire towns.�
Right? It�s hard to go, How would I say this in real life? [Laughs]
Aimee Mann is currently on tour. For a full list of tour dates and other info, check out her website.