Krysten Ritter Gets Intimate on Her Debut Album

Ex Vivian photo courtesy of WT Records.

Every week or thereabouts, Mutant Dance Moves takes you to the shadowy corners of the dancefloor and the fringes of contemporary electronic music, where new strains and dance moves are evolving.

Despite a proclivity for playing amoral, manipulative, conniving, borderline sociopathic characters — be they Chloe McGruff (a/k/a the eponymous character on ABC’s Don’t Trust the B___ in Apt. 23) or Jesse Pinkman’s junkie girlfriend Jane Margolis on Breaking Bad— as Krysten Ritter walks towards me from the Brooklyn waterfront, she’s all smiles and enthusiastic hand-waving in greeting.

The last time Ritter appeared on Breaking Bad was in a flashback: She had just dragged Jesse to an exhibit of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings and her red lipstick traces remained wrapped around a cigarette in his ashtray. Now she sits in a 5th floor walk-up studio in Greenpoint, griping at her bandmate Will Burnett for smoking cigarettes in the dingy, synth- and record-lined room. Ritter sits with her rescued dog Mikey neatly tucked in behind her, as if lumbar support on her chair. Ritter is about to release her debut album with Burnett as Ex Vivian, on Burnett’s own eclectic electronic label, WT Records. The two have been friends for over a decade and throughout, the two bicker and kid each other like siblings.

“I’ve known Will since I was a teenager,” Ritter says, the two meeting when she was still a struggling “badass angst-y deadbeat model” as she puts it. She was living in a models’ apartment in Manhattan and venturing out to Williamsburg to escape such drudgery, where she met Burnett through a mutual friend. “I learned how to play guitar because Will would teach me all of his songs,” she recalls. “We both played nylon-string classical guitar, and Will’s songs were these pretty finger-picking songs with cutesy melodies.” Even when Ritter’s acting career took off, prompting a move out to Los Angeles, the two would still swap songs online: “I wrote them and would email them to Will and ask what he thought. And he liked them enough to come out to L.A. and make a record.”

Watch the video for Ex Vivian’s “Microscopes and Cobwebs,” directed by Eric Ray Davidson:

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