Meeting “Kai Booker”: My Tête-à-tête with Torontonian Actor, Rocker, Writer, Sebastian Pigott, of CBC’s Being Erica
DOB: St. Valentine’s Day
Best Friend: His brother Oliver
Debut Album: “Pigottry”
Where to Buy: Available worldwide via CDBaby
Most Influential Tune: “Fields of Gold” - Sting
Biggest Regret: His finale performance on “Canadian Idol”
Best Moment so Far: Filming “Being Erica”
Oddest Obsession: Being pants-less
Couldn’t Live Without: His motorcycle
Who He’d Like to Meet: The King of Munchkins
Upcoming Appearances: “The Bridge” on CTV (late January)
My favourite TV shows always end too soon – when Gilmore Girls eventually went off the air, I thought I’d lost all hope. But then a light at the end of the tunnel shone through with the emergence of some serious contenders to take its place. Though I was hesitant at first – I was willing to give something new a chance. Among the shows that caught my eye was CBC’s then unknown drama with a sci-fi twist, Being Erica.
Now a regular staple in my media consumption diet, it was through my dedicated viewership that I discovered the talents of my latest interview subject, a Mr. Sebastian Pigott, in the role of Kai Booker. Given my rock ‘n’ roll alter ego, my fix of Erica amplified upon the introduction of his character, a conflicted rock star from the future, in the show’s second season.
As Erica’s December 8 finale unfolded and Pigott took centre stage to perform what I later discovered to be one of his own original compositions, I was left wanting more - wanting to know what would come of his character and in real life.
Between auditions, shooting his debut music video, and coordinating touring plans, I had the amazing opportunity to conduct a tête-à-tête with this James Dean lookalike. Aside from his acting, musical, and writing pursuits, he also makes one hell of a good conversationalist.
RCP: So, you’re an actor, musician, and a screenplay writer. Which came first and if you could choose only one of these passions for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
SP: Music came first. I was 10 years old when my brother and I played our first gig in Portugal. It was at a place called Jimmy’s Bar and we opened for a ‘50s cover band called The Pink Cadillacs. We got paid 5000 escudos (converts to roughly $40 Canadian).
RCP: And if you had to choose just one of your pursuits, what would it be and why?
SP: Writing...because you can do it in your underpants. (As the interview went on, I discovered Sebastian seems to have quite the obsession with being pant- less.)
RCP: (Laughs) Alright then, next question. Who or what inspires you?
SP: Anything really. I don’t know how it works – it just does.
RCP: Are there certain moods or settings you have to be in order to write? What sorts of experiences do you draw upon?
SP: My inspiration doesn’t have any reason to it necessarily. You (i.e.: artists) go through phases, and it comes from different places because as a person, you change all the time. It is sometimes from dark places, happy places, sexual places, angry places - it might be scary what comes, but I don’t really think about it. I just let it come.
RCP: So who are your biggest influences?
SP: Musically, certainly my brother, (Jimi) Hendrix since I was little, The Beatles, old blues like Muddy Waters, Robert Pete Williams, Howling Wolf, Queen, Chili Peppers, The Killers, Kings of Leon, Funk and Reggae.
RCP: What about acting-wise? Who are your influences there?
SP: I like Kevin Bacon, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman, Matt Damon, and Edward Norton. In terms of females, Meryl Streep, and Bette Davis, but Judi Dench is the best of all of them.
RCP: And then finally, writing-wise?
SP: Raymond Chandler.
RCP: Who else do you like?
SP: Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson, but these are just the people I like, I don’t necessarily try to be like them. I’m a professional actor and singer, and I’ve got a screenplay sold. I’ve written some plays and stuff, but writing is something that I keep more personal. I don’t think about it too much - just kinda do it - and if it’s no good, and no one likes it, I don’t really care. It’s nice to have one thing that I don’t have to worry about - as a result, I’m probably the best at it, and I’m becoming more confident in it.
RCP: Confident? How do you mean?
SP: Well, in the sense that it doesn’t have to be “precious” which is making me a better collaborator.
RCP: Why writing then? Why do you keep it more private than your other creative endeavours?
SP: Part of it being more personal has to do with... I don’t know... only in that I like to write whatever I want and it serves me really well not to listen to anyone – this serves you well as an artist in any capacity, but unfortunately, as someone who makes acting my profession, more than the other, I have to make compromises as I’m not the boss.
Writing - I mean, even if I were working for money it’s not something I’m as invested in as a professional, I’m more of an artist. Part of that is because you don’t make as much money, and so it’s more important to be good artist. Hopefully one day, as an actor, I’ll get to the point where I can command a bit of artistic authority – for now I haven’t earned that yet.
RCP: Fair enough. Considering that the vast majority of TV programming, these days, tends to revolve around the reality TV show genre, I’m sure you’d agree that Being Erica ranks as one of the more unique viewing experiences. If, and when you have time for TV viewing, I’m wondering what programs you typically enjoy watching?
SP: Reality shows are not my thing, but I can see why people like them. I mean documentaries and cinema vérité (a fancy word for looking at people do stuff) is really the best acting there is. Reality TV is watching people pretend to do stuff, and put on fake personas for TV. I like to watch mostly crap like comedies. It’s a long term commitment to sit and watch a movie. I enjoy Seinfeld, The Simpsons, King of the Hill - but not Family Guy.
RCP: Well that’s fair then. Okay, so what’s been your worst experience in the Canadian entertainment biz thus far?
SP: My worst regret occurred towards the end of Idol (Pigott had a six-week stint on last season’s Canadian Idol making it to top eight placement). I wasn’t performing as well. I didn’t have my head in it anymore ’cause my brother wasn’t there anymore. I wish I could’ve maybe been a bit more of a professional back then, but you can’t expect perfection of yourself all the time.
RCP: And your best experience?
SP: Doing the show (Being Erica). I got to do everything – my brother and I wrote a few songs together, and I got to act on a regular basis for four and half months.
RCP: And in regards to your album, Pigottry? What was the songwriting process like for that?
SP: I wrote three songs, he wrote five, we covered one, and I sang one of his. (The cover is of “Dark Horse,” originally popularized by Amanda Marshall in the 90s, and performed by Pigott on Canadian Idol). The rest of them we just kinda played instruments on each other’s stuff.
RCP: I just have one more question for you and it’s based on one of my favourite episodes of Being Erica: If you had a complete do-over day where nothing would stick, what would you do?
SP: Well, I wouldn’t want to end up in prison... not too early anyways.
RCP: Seriously, what would you do though? Nothing sticks. You can do whatever you want.
SP: I’d take my pants off... that’s it.
RCP: What’s with your obsession with taking off your pants? That’s it? You’d just take your pants off?
SP: Well, I’d probably eat anything I wanted. I don’t know how to answer that - get really drunk I’m sure, but I’ve been doing that for well – never mind I abstain from this question.
RCP: You abstain?
SP: Yes, I abstain. (Laughs)
RCP: (Laughs) Okay, well then is there anything else you’d like to say or plug?
SP: Yeah, our music video for, “Rich Man” will be released to Much in the new year – so everyone, please send requests for them to play it lots and lots. I also have “The Bridge” coming up on CTV - I’m playing a bad guy, everyone should look out for that, episode three, I think.
Though Sebastian repeatedly claimed, throughout our discussion, to be a “wholesome” gent, and even went so far as to detail for me his present attire to prove said point (which I know for certain consisted of a derby hat...pants optional), his character, in my books, remains largely up for debate. But that my friends, is not necessarily a bad thing... After all, as any good actor I’m sure would concur, it is the workings of mystery and suspense that largely keep audiences glued to the screen (or in his case, screen, stage, and written word!).
If you’d like to read the full interview, it will soon be located on my column’s official website www.soyouwannabearockstar.ca