Entertainment

Jenny Lewis: Rilo Kiley Never Broke Up

Jenny Lewis talks about those Rilo Kiley reunion rumors and what it was like scoring the film Very Good Girls, premiering at Sundance today.

Lewis performing at the Hollywood Bowl last summer Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times / MCT

PARK CITY, UTAH — Jenny Lewis may be bad news, but the singer-songwriter has good news for fans: five original songs recorded for the film Very Good Girls, premiering at Sundance today, plus a solo album in the works, a collection of Rilo Kiley “b-sides and rarities” ready to be released — and encouraging words for those who would like to see the band back together again.

Very Good Girls, directed by Naomi Foner, is about best friends (Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen) who fall in love with the same man the summer after graduating from high school in New York City.

Lewis says that Foner, a longtime friend, approached her for help with the songs that Olsen’s character, a budding songwriter, sings in the film (including the Rilo Kiley deep cut “Go Ahead”), but pretty soon she’d agreed to act as music supervisor and to score the entire thing.

She wrote five original songs that will be featured in the film and composed five additional pieces that will be used as the score. “What I’m drawing from is the palette of sounds that I would use on a record,” Lewis says.

Foner also asked Lewis to make mixtapes for the actors, to help get them in character before filming began.

“For Dakota [Fanning]’s character I put a little Best Coast, I had to throw a little Rilo Kiley in there, Sharon Van Etten — female-driven music,” Lewis says. “For Lizzie [Olsen], who’s playing a young songwriter, I put more classic singer-songwriter cuts, and then for Boyd [Holbrook] I put, like, Primal Scream and Gillian Welch and everything in between.”

Lewis was finishing up production on the film’s music in December when her Rilo Kiley bandmate, Pierre de Reeder, posted a message on the band’s Facebook page: “Record is almost finished, and artwork is nearly done. Going to need your help! More to come.”

Rumors that the band was reuniting ricocheted around the Internet, followed by official denials from Rilo Kiley’s representation. Lewis laughs the whole thing off, saying, “That was the most innocent post from our bass player, Pierre, who I guess isn’t really on Facebook and didn’t realize people would give a shit.”

By way of clarity, she adds: “We never officially broke up. It was just: Blake [Sennett] made a statement in the press.” (Rilo Kiley released its last album in 2007; in 2011, Sennett, Rilo Kiley’s guitarist, told Spinner, “I just felt like there was a lot of deception, disloyalty, greed and things I don’t really want to submit myself to.”)

“I think he was hangry at the time — hungry and angry,” Lewis says, adding that she believes Sennett was speaking about himself as much as he was speaking of the band. Rilo Kiley has in fact continued working together; they’ve just finished a “b-sides and rarities” collection, five years in the making. It will include several unreleased songs.

“Every record that I’ve ever been a part of, there are always leftovers — things that don’t work as a part of the whole thing,” Lewis says. “Some songs, which may actually be better songs in the long run, get kind of kicked to the side in the process. We scoured our digital hard drives and old 8-track cassette tapes and made this record.”

She says fans can expect that record to be released in the next couple of months.

Lewis doesn’t rule out the possibility that Rilo Kiley will make new music together at some point in the future, either. “I just tend to think in my life you can never shut the door on anything: an ex-lover, a bandmate, a song — there are so many songs that I didn’t want to play for so many years but then they kind of come back around and they become relevant again.”

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