I had the amazing opportunity to chat with the very talented Emily Piggford. She starred in the second season of a webseries I adored, That’s My DJ, and was recently announced as a new cast member for the third season of the immensely popular sci-fi series, Killjoys. I’d like to thank her again for speaking with me and I can’t wait to see her in Killjoys, which starts June 30th on Syfy and Space.
You were just announced as a new cast member for Killjoys season 3, what can you tell me about your character Yoki?
“I think what I can reveal is that she’s a hackmod, from that sort of tribe of characters. So hackmods are people who have, most often against their will, been modified with tech. That’s as much as I think I can reveal *laughs*”
What was it like working on the show?
“It was so great. It’s such positive energy on that set from everyone, the cast and crew. I was a huge fan of the show so it was a thrill to just be among those actors for example. I was so excited to create season 3 because I’m so excited to see it. After watching season 2 I was like ‘I need more and oh right we’ve got to get to work on it’ *laughs*”
Since you are a fan of the show did you have any fangirl moments?
“My storyline tied in mostly with Aaron Ashmore and so I’d say, maybe thankfully, I’d actually met and worked with him just briefly before and so I was able to maintain my composure. He’s such a great guy, a cool guy, and a really strong performer. So I’d get a bit of that fangirl thrill like ‘oh my god it’s Aaron Ashmore, okay, be cool, function’. *laughs*”
What were some of your favorite on set moments?
“There’s some slow-mo moments, like walking in slow-mo moments and those are always fun, when you know it’s going to look badass in playback.”
If you could describe your plot in the series in one word, what would it be?
While they aren’t the same genre, Killjoys is the second sort of genre series you’ve worked on what was it like filming Hemlock Grove?
“I loved filming Hemlock Grove. I’m really not very good with watching scary movies or series, but it was so much fun being a part of creating that content. My scenes weren’t particularly scary, but it was such a thrill feeling like I was part of creating that content. I really loved the people. I loved working with Penelope (Mitchell) so much and Landon (Liboiron) and Bill (Skarsgård). It was just a joy getting to work on it. It was also the first big show I’d ever done so that made it a really surreal experience. I was just feeling this like thankful wonderment every day I got to go on set and I was just very happy throughout the shoot even though I had these very challenging scenes I was pretty well prepared for them. The director had mentioned that Bill and I should go to lunch first and talk and actually develop a friendship before. Make sure that you’re both comfortable with each other because we’ve got to do some intimate work so there was some good care taken there and I’ve developed some friendships that I’m really grateful for.”
You mentioned you had a dream spurred on by learning that I’d be asking questions about Hemlock Grove, what was the dream? (Interviewer’s Note: The dream was mentioned before the official interview started and a note was made to bring it up later in the interview.)
“*laughs, The dream, it was at the very end of my dream, and I find that at the end of my dreams they’re the most lucid. I can control them and they’re really vivid. I don’t know the events that led up to it, but I realized I was a vampire. I looked in the mirror at my teeth and said oh my teeth look normal, but then I saw another row of teeth above mine and I flexed my gums and this row of teeth came down that were sharp and had red barbs on them full of venom. Then I flexed my gums again and then the final row of fangs came out, like these two giant fangs, and then I went up to Bill, because he was there, and said ‘Look Bill’ and I flexed my teeth at him. *laughs*”
So now you just need to play a vampire in something is what I’m hearing *laughs*
“Yeah, that’s the next thing *laughs* What’s so funny is I had this CocoRosie song stuck in my head Werewolf, and the first line is “In my dream I was a werewolf.” I was like ‘why is this song stuck in my head?’ Then ‘oh my god, it’s because I’m going to be talking about Hemlock Grove today and there was a werewolf.’ It’s really seeped into my subconscious that show, I think because it was the first big show I did and it meant so much.”
Besides it meaning so much, were there things that stood out while you were filming it?
“Something that I really learned on that set, it was the first time that I learned that all of your preparation, or a majority of your preparation can go out the window on set because certain elements can change. For example I prepared some aspects of Ashley Valentine that I was going to bring to the scene, but the preparation that I had done sort of shifted based on some new direction and some new information. I learned to go with the flow and have a light grip on the work that I’ve done. Have it there for when I need it, but be prepared to let it go and just work on the fly, which can be really exciting and fulfilling because you’re not overthinking the prep that you’ve done, you just have to be present. So I really learned that on Hemlock Grove.”
I have actually covered the webseries you appeared on before, and it just won a number of awards, plus you were nominated for Best Actress at the Canadian Screen Awards. Congratulations on all of that! For those who might not be familiar could you describe That’s My DJ? I haven’t had a chance to watch season 1, are you also in that season?
“I’m in all of the seasons, but I’m the lead in season 2. Every season rotates protagonists within the same circle of friends within the same scene. The log line that was used for season 2 was “Beats, Lust, Chaos,” and that pretty well covers all of That’s My DJ. It’s going to be a three season complete trilogy for the web. Season 3 comes out hopefully next month. We’re actually on the last like 15 hours of our Indiegogo right now, going to work on that today. “Beats, Lust, Chaos” covers all the bases for that. It takes place in the indie Toronto electronic music scene here. Season 1 follows the rise of a bedroom DJ who decided he wants to make his career out of DJing so how can he make himself stand out. He trusts his gut and does something kind of crazy and it works. In season 2, it’s within that same world, Meagan, my character, she was just a party girl who loves the music and she realizes she wants to try and advance that industry and move it forward with a fresh take. She throws the event Homebrew in partnership with her friend Sam, Jade Hassouné who is going to be the lead in the third season. They just want to really bring the scene back to the music and away from pretension and being really expensive and just make it about really having fun and being passionate, because she’s such a passionate person. The heart of season 2 is really that she falls passionately in love with one of the DJs that’s supposed to spin at Homebrew, Hannah, played by Dayle McLeod, who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress at Toronto Webfest and LA Webfest, and she gets her heart smashed. Because you take a risk sometimes when you’re passionate because you’re just blasting through life and you want to feel everything and make the most of everything and sometimes feeling everything comes with bad stuff too.”
(Interviewer’s Note: When I reviewed That’s My DJ season 2, season 1 was not currently available online. It is now up and both it and season 2 are only 40 minutes long. This means I definitely need to watch it asap and so should you.)
What have you enjoyed about working on That’s My DJ so far, because you are working on season 3 now, correct?
“Yeah, so it’s going through postproduction and the campaign is to cover those costs and festival submissions and promotions because we want to also get it out there like we did with season 2. The quality we find really does just increase season by season so this will be the strongest season yet and we want to get it out there. I am a producer on season 2 and 3 so my work is never really done as long as it exists because I’m always going to keep an eye out and a hand on supporting it. With Jade as the lead I will theoretically get a break *laughs* from the promotion of it because for the second season it was all about DW (Waterson) and I sort of steering the ship. Now it’s going to switch over and I’m happy to pass the torch to Jade. I think all of us have gotten so much from working on this series and we are getting ready to say goodbye to this chapter in a way. It will be another year of promoting season 3 and getting it out there, there’s already some hopes in the works for the future of the series. DW is such a powerhouse creator. She has so many concepts in her back pocket and she’s got a lot of other work to move forward with so it’s exciting to see what’s going to happen.”
(Interviewer’s Note: That’s My DJ successfully raised their Indiegogo campaign amount as well as additional funds, which will be used to help families affected by the attacks in Manchester.)
How did filming That’s My DJ differ from filming a television/Netflix show?
“Naturally it’s much more intimate set. On set there’s maybe 30-40 people max, but we had a day were it was just four of us: DW, James Poremba our award winning DP, and Dayle and I. We had some really intimate shoot days, that’s different from working on mainstream shows where there’s so many people there supporting the production. Not that we weren’t supported, just fewer people. And because of that intimacy with the size of the group, we also had intimacy in relationships with each other. DW and I friends in life and that really lended itself to our relationship as actor/director. That’s something I don’t often get on a larger set. For me, on a larger set, an example would be like with The Girlfriend Experience. I do most of my prep work on my own and then I just bring my work to set and the director is there to make minor adjustments and capture the work that I’m doing. Whereas working with DW on That’s My DJ I’ll bring my prep to set and we’ll work it out even more between the two of us. So it’s a really collaborative relationship on set.”
Did you learn how to do some DJing on the set?
“No I didn’t actually. Dayle and Jade play characters that dj so I just get to party. So my research was actually partying *laughs* Homebrew is actually an event DW has been running once monthly for like 3 years so I go out to that every month. Around the time we were shooting we went out to see Hannah Wants and Hunter Siegel and stuff like that.”
Image from IMDb
Do you have any projects that you’re working on that you can talk about right now?
“There’s a one woman show which is on the backburner, it’s something to be revisited called ANA that I co-created with Impulse Theatre. Andrew (Barrett) the artistic director of Impulse Theatre and one of my best friends is in Victoria working and I’m out here and we’re really pursuing our career paths right now. I’m really going into screen work more and he’s really developing his voice as a theater maker, he does movement based theater. But we put so much of ourselves into that play, but right now it’s in the ether and someday we’re going to bring it back down to real life and workshop it again. That’s always out there.
The Girlfriend Experience will be coming out, season two. I wrapped my recurring role on that, the whole season’s wrapped now. We don’t have a release date, but that will be out soon and I’m really excited for that to hit the world because I think it’s a really brilliant series and it’s going to resonate with audiences.”
What is The Girlfriend Experience about for those who might not know the show?
“The Girlfriend Experience, the first season stars Riley Keough who does really stunning work. It contrasts the luxury call girl world with the corporate world. In season 1 it’s a law firm and Riley Keough plays a student who becomes an intern at this law firm and is also a call girl. It examines the startling similarities and differences between those two worlds and that it all comes down to power. It’s fascinating to see that when people think they have power they actually do not have. Often it’s actually Riley’s character who seems to be most in control, even when she doesn’t look in control, she’s choosing that reaction. It’s really fascinating. It’s a lot about ethics really. I think society has some hang-ups about sexuality, some taboos especially with female sexuality and to see a woman who just genuinely seems to love sex, she’s in such control of her life and how corrupt the more capitalistic business side of that world is is really interesting. Halfway through watching the series I had this flash that all of the shame and the rules we have of sex seem really damaging and it really makes you thinks.”
(Interviewer’s Note: The first season of The Girlfriend Experience is available on Starz in the United States. Thank you to Emily for letting me know during the interview.)
Going back to your previous answer, what is the one woman show ANA about?
“It’s an examining of the oppression of the feminine is what we said, so it’s not even necessarily just women, though that’s how it started. We were looking at how femininity is perceived and so often sort of persecuted. The catalyst was this event in Saudi Arabia. A father horribly abused, physically and sexually, his daughter, and she was in the hospital for ages, but eventually she passed away due to her injuries. He was imprisoned for a bit and then released with a fine that was half as much as the fine would have been if the victim had been a boy. CocoRosie, who I funnily enough mentioned earlier, they made a song called Ana Lama, which means I am Lama, the little girl’s name was Lama, and it was this beautiful, haunting song. That story coupled with that song rocked Andrew and I so hard for so long that it got us just furious and confused and fascinated with the perception of women and the treatment of women through history and now. That this really feels like a time of change with all the “Smash the Patriarchy” stuff going on and I really feel like a shift is happening. We really wanted to examine that situation, the treatment of femininity, and see if we could add our voice to that shift.”
That sounds amazing so I hope it gets to come back sometime soon.
“It’s so complex, since it is a one woman show it’s just me. I dance, I do clown, I sing, and the acting, there’s nudity and all my costumes are made out of white tarp and there’s a giant tarp in the middle of the floor so it’s a tactile sonic experience that takes a lot of energy *laughs*”
Any last things you’d like to add?
“I’m excited to be part of this industry, especially at this time, because that shift does feel so prominent that people are becoming so much more socially, politically, and self aware and we’re looking at systems that aren’t serving us any longer and really actively trying to shift it. I’m really happy to be part of an industry that’s doing that.”
You can find Emily Piggford on Twitter, @EmPiggford, and can keep up to date on That’s My DJ, @TMDJ_Series.
Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Twitter, @thenerdygirlexp. You can find me on Twitter, @kleffnotes, on my blog, kleffnotes.wordpress.com, on my kleffnotes YouTube channel, and I run The Nerdy Girl Express Snapchat, thenerdygirlexp.