Interview: Zooey Deschanel on the next 'She & Him' album and a certain cuddly bear
She & Him, the quirky pop pairing of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, may have just released “A Very She & Him Christmas,” but Deschanel already has the duo’s next album in mind.
“I’m writing right now,” Deschanel tells HitFix. “It’s funny how the records shape themselves in that I’ll write a bunch of songs and we’ll cherry pick them and the album ends up having its own personality, but I don’t think thematically as far as ‘This record’s going to have this theme.’ I write to get stuff out and then it ends up having its own identity once it’s out in the world.” She didn’t volunteer if any of the songs she’s written so far addressed her recent split from her husband, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.
Between her shooting schedule for her Fox sitcom “New Girl,” her promotional duties for the “Christmas” album (the pair’s performance on Monday night’s “The Tonight Show “ is embedded below), and other projects, Deschanel jokes that she “never” sleeps. And when she does have downtime, she craves the solitude that writing brings.
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“When I have a few days off, I like to just get in there and write songs,” she says, adding that she wrote as a hobby even before she and Ward released their first album together in 2008. “I was always writing songs when I was really busy, it was like songwriting was my release. So now that I also do it for a living, it’s a nice thing because... my other job [as] an actor is very very collaborative, whereas [with] songwriting, I write alone. I collaborate on the records with Matt, who is my partner in crime, he’s such a great producer and really brings the best out in my songs, but when I’m writing, I’m totally alone. There’s something really great about having that kind of dichotomy.”
In addition to her other activities, Deschanel has squeezed in time to promote her delightful end-title contribution, “So Long,” from “Winnie The Pooh” during this heavy Oscar campaigning season. She wrote the song, which she performs with M. Ward, after Disney had initially hired her only to sing the well-known “Winnie the Pooh” theme song, written by The Sherman Brothers for 1977’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.”
“I recorded that with Matt, who came in and produced it,” she recalls. “They really liked it and so they asked me if I’d be interested in doing an end-credit [song]. So I jumped at the chance.”
“So Long” is a hand-clapping, sweet as Pooh’s coveted honey (but never treacly), pop track about the beauty and joys of friendship, even when our friends bother us. Well versed in writing romantic love songs, Deschanel says it was fun to focus on a different kind of love. “It’s a friendship love song,” she says. “This movie is really about these characters together and how they play off of each other and have wonderful experiences together. I felt like friendship love is maybe an underrepresented aspect of love in songs, so I thought that was a good thing to focus on.”
In addition to singing “Winnie The Pooh” and “So Long,” Deschanel also performs on “A Very Important Thing To Do,” “Everything Is Honey,” and “Pooh’s Finale.”
As a longtime Winnie the Pooh fan, Deschanel says she loved every minute of immersing herself in the Hundred Acre Wood. She even has her favorite character. “That’s very difficult,” she says, when asked to choose one. “I always liked Tigger just ‘cos that felt the most like me. Growing up I had a lot of energy, so I really related to Tigger, but they’re all so great.”
UPDATED: "So Long" received a Grammy nomination on Nov. 30 for best song written for visual media.