During a visit to the set of Portlandia last year, I noticed Janet Weiss off to the side, watching the monitors as Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen prepared to film a sketch with Kumail Nanjiani. It was the final few days of filming for the eighth and final season of the award-winning IFC sketch comedy series, and plenty of visitors were on hand to witness the occasion. The thing is, Weiss — who makes up the riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney with Brownstein and Corin Tucker — wasn’t just visiting. She has served as Portlandia‘s location scout since season three, when Brownstein first brought her into the fold.
“I introduced Fred and Carrie,” Weiss told the Seattle Times while discussing her connection to the show in 2015. It’s true, of course. Yet I wanted to know what the 52-year-old musician turned crew member had learned from her six seasons on the Portlandia set. Had she taken anything to heart as she, Brownstein, and Tucker were in the midst of recording a new Sleater-Kinney album? Maybe. But according to Weiss, what stuck out about her experiences doing both was the life lesson that making “a lot of mistakes along the way” can be the best education.
How did the final weekend of shooting go?
It was great. It was emotional. I saw several grown men crying. It was heavy, the last day especially, but sort of without incident, which was nice.
I love that you’re still thinking in terms of a crew member, of wanting to get from point A to point B without incident.
It’s a lot of moving parts and the parts are moving pretty quickly. We were hoping for a nice smooth exit and that happened. We also had a really great wrap party that was awesome and fun. There was some closure after so many years of working on this project. It was a really positive finish to the show.
When we spoke on the Portlandia set, you said the show had a ‘rock ‘n’ roll mentality.’ Everything was very ‘do-it-yourself,’ even down to the fact that Carrie and Fred drive themselves to work. Could you expand on this, and what the possible connections are between your work as a location scout and your career as a musician?