Carrie Brownstein
Brownstein in 2012
Carrie Rachel Brownstein

(1974-09-27) September 27, 1974 (age 49)[1]
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Alma mater
  • Musician
  • writer
  • actress
Musical career
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1993–present
Member ofSleater-Kinney
Formerly of

Carrie Rachel Brownstein[5] (born September 27, 1974) is an American musician, actress, writer, director, and comedian. She first came to prominence as a member of the band Excuse 17 before forming the rock trio Sleater-Kinney.

During a long hiatus from Sleater-Kinney, she formed the group Wild Flag. During this period, Brownstein wrote and appeared in a series of comedy sketches alongside Saturday Night Live alumnus Fred Armisen which were developed into the satirical comedy TV series Portlandia (2011–2018). The series went on to win Emmy and Peabody Awards.

Sleater-Kinney eventually reunited; as of 2023, Brownstein was touring with the band as well as in support of her new memoir.[6]

Early life

Brownstein was born in Seattle, Washington, and was raised in Redmond, Washington.[7] Her mother was a housewife and a teacher, and her father was a corporate lawyer. They divorced when Carrie was 14, and she was raised by her father.[8] Brownstein has a younger sister, Stacey. Her family is Jewish.[9]

She attended Lake Washington High School before transferring to The Overlake School for her senior year.[10][11]

Brownstein began playing guitar at 15 and received lessons from Jeremy Enigk.[12] She later said: "He lived in the neighborhood next to mine, so I would just walk my guitar over to his house. He showed me a couple of open chords and I just took it from there. I'd gone through so many phases as a kid with my interests that my parents put their foot down with guitar. So [the instrument] ended up being the [first] thing that I had to save up my own money for – and maybe that was the whole reason that I actually stuck with it."[12]

After high school, Brownstein attended Western Washington University before transferring to The Evergreen State College. In 1997, Brownstein graduated from Evergreen with an emphasis on sociolinguistics[13] and stayed in Olympia, Washington, for three years before moving to Portland, Oregon.[14]

Music career

Brownstein at Lollapalooza 2006

Excuse 17

Main article: Excuse 17

While attending Evergreen, Brownstein met fellow students Corin Tucker, Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, and Becca Albee. With Albee and CJ Phillips, she formed the band Excuse 17, one of the pioneering bands of the riot grrrl movement in the Olympia music scene that played an important role in third-wave feminism.[15] Excuse 17 often toured with Tucker's band Heavens to Betsy. The two bands contributed to the Free to Fight compilation. With Tucker, she formed the band Sleater-Kinney as a side project and later released the split single Free to Fight with Cypher in the Snow.


Main article: Sleater-Kinney

After both Excuse 17 and Heavens to Betsy split up, Sleater-Kinney became Brownstein and Tucker's main focus. They recorded their first self-titled album in early 1994 during a trip to Australia, where the pair were celebrating Tucker's graduation from Evergreen[16][17] (Brownstein still had three years of college left). It was released the following spring. They recorded and toured with different drummers, until Janet Weiss joined the band in 1996. Following their eponymous debut, they released six more studio albums before going on indefinite hiatus in 2006. In a 2012 interview with DIY magazine, Brownstein said that Sleater-Kinney still planned to play in the future.[18] On October 20, 2014, Brownstein announced on Twitter that Sleater-Kinney would be releasing a new album, No Cities to Love, on January 20, 2015, and would tour in early 2015. At the same time the announcement was made, they released the video for the first single from the album. The single, "Bury Our Friends", was also made available as a free MP3 download.[19]

Critics Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau deemed the band one of the essential rock groups of the early 2000s.[20][21] In 2015, Stereogum Chief Editor Tom Breihan called them the greatest rock band of the past two decades.[22]

Other work

Brownstein performing with Sleater-Kinney in 2023 in London

Brownstein and former Helium guitarist/singer Mary Timony, recording as The Spells, released The Age of Backwards E.P. in 1999.

Also in 1999, Brownstein, Lois Maffeo, and Peter Momtchiloff released a single ("The Touch"/"Louie Louie Got Married") on K Records as The Tentacles.[23]

In summer 2009, Brownstein and Weiss worked together on songs (produced by Tucker Martine) for the soundtrack of the documentary film !Women Art Revolution by Lynn Hershman Leeson.[24]

In September 2010, Brownstein revealed her latest project was the band Wild Flag, with Janet Weiss, Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole, formerly of The Minders; according to Brownstein, about a year earlier, "I started to need music again, and so I called on my friends and we joined as a band. Chemistry cannot be manufactured or forced, so Wild Flag was not a sure thing, it was a 'maybe, a 'possibility.' But after a handful of practice sessions, spread out over a period of months, I think we all realized that we could be greater than the sum of our parts."[25][needs update] They released a self-titled album in September 2011.[26]

Music has always been my constant, my salvation. It's cliché to write that, but it's true. From dancing around to Michael Jackson and Madonna as a kid to having my mind blown by the first sounds of punk and indie rock, to getting to play my own songs and have people listen, music is what got me through. Over the years, music put a weapon in my hand and words in my mouth, it backed me up and shielded me, it shook me and scared me and showed me the way; music opened me up to living and being and feeling.

—Brownstein in October 2010[27]

In 2011, they toured for a second time[28] and played at CMJ Music Marathon.[29]


In 2006, Brownstein was the only woman to earn a spot in the Rolling Stone readers' list of the 25 "Most Underrated Guitarists of All-Time".[30]

Writing career

Brownstein began a career as a writer before Sleater-Kinney broke up. She interviewed Eddie Vedder, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Karen O, and Cheryl Hines for The Believer magazine.[31] Brownstein has also written a couple of music-related video game reviews for Slate.[32][33]

From November 2007 to May 2010, Brownstein wrote a blog for NPR Music called "Monitor Mix";[34] she returned for a final blog post in October, thanking her blog readers and declaring the blog "officially conclude[d]."[27]

In March 2009, Brownstein was contracted to write a book to "describe the dramatically changing dynamic between music fan and performer, from the birth of the iPod and the death of the record store to the emergence of the 'you be the star' culture of American Idol and the ensuing dilution of rock mystique";[35] The book, called The Sound of Where You Are,[36] was planned to be published by Ecco/HarperCollins.[27] In an April 2012 interview on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, Brownstein said she was no longer working on the book.[37]

Brownstein's memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, was released on October 27, 2015.[38] The book was published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Books USA.[39]

In 2020, Ann Wilson, lead singer of hard rock band Heart, announced in an interview that Brownstein was writing the script for a Heart biographical film.[40]

Acting career

See also: Portlandia and The Nowhere Inn

Brownstein with Fred Armisen at the 2011 Peabody Awards. Brownstein and Armisen's series Portlandia earned the award for Broadway Video and IFC.

Brownstein has acted (what she calls a "mere hobby")[41] in the short film Fan Mail, the experimental feature Group, and the Miranda July film Getting Stronger Every Day. Brownstein and Fred Armisen published several video skits as part of a comedy duo called "ThunderAnt".[42] She also starred opposite James Mercer of The Shins in the 2010 independent film Some Days Are Better Than Others.[43] The film had its world premiere at SXSW on March 13, 2010.[44]

After their ThunderAnt videos, Brownstein and Armisen developed Portlandia, a sketch comedy show shot on location in Portland, for the Independent Film Channel.[25][27][45] The two starred in the series and wrote for it with Allison Silverman from The Colbert Report and Jonathan Krisel, a writer for Saturday Night Live.[46] The show, which featured appearances of some of the characters from ThunderAnt, premiered in January 2011.[47] The series received positive feedback[48] and concluded after its eighth season.[citation needed]

From 2014 to 2019, Brownstein played the role of Syd in the Amazon Studios original series Transparent.[49][50]

In 2015, Brownstein portrayed Genevieve Cantrell in the Todd Haynes film Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt.[51] However, the majority of her scenes were cut due to the film's length.[52] The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2015.[53] It began a limited release on November 20, 2015.[54]

Brownstein has also appeared as a guest on Saturday Night Live,[55] Curb Your Enthusiasm,[56] and Man Seeking Woman,[57] among other shows.

Brownstein starred in and wrote the screenplay for The Nowhere Inn, a 2020 tour mockumentary thriller, with Annie Clark (St. Vincent).[58]

Personal life

Brownstein was outed as bisexual to her family and the world by Spin when she was 21 years old. The article discussed the fact that she had dated bandmate Corin Tucker in the beginning of Sleater-Kinney (the song "One More Hour" is about their break-up).[17][59]

In 2006, The New York Times described Brownstein as "openly gay".[60] In a November 2010 interview for Willamette Week, she stated that she identifies as bisexual. She says, "It's weird, because no one's actually ever asked me. People just always assume, like, you're this or that. It's like, 'OK. I'm bisexual. Just ask.'"[61] In a 2020 article, the Los Angeles Times noted that Brownstein and Annie Clark (who performs as St. Vincent) "dated years ago."[62]

Since working together on ThunderAnt, Brownstein and Fred Armisen developed what Brownstein has called "one of the most intimate, functional, romantic, but nonsexual relationships [they have] ever had."[63] According to Armisen, their relationship is "all of the things that I've ever wanted, you know, aside from like the physical stuff, but the intimacy that I have with her is like no other."[64]


Year Title Role Notes
2001 Getting Stronger Every Day Various Short film
2002 Group Grace
2003 Fan Mail Jo Short film
2007 Girls Rock Herself Documentary
2009 Light Tiger Eye Woman Short film
2010 Some Days Are Better Than Others Katrina
2011–2018 Portlandia Various characters 77 episodes; also co-creator, co-executive producer, writer and director
Peabody Award (2012)
Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (including talk) series (2013)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series (2012–14; 2016)
Nominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety (including talk) series (2014)
Nominated—Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (2015)
2012 Vancouvria Photo extra Episode: "Big City Survival Class"
2012 The Simpsons Emily (voice) Episode: "The Day the Earth Stood Cool"
2012 Saturday Night Live Cameo as herself Episode: "Martin Short/Paul McCartney", "What Up with That?" sketch
2013 Saturday Night Live Cameo as herself Episode: "Ben Affleck/Kanye West", "It's a Lovely Day" sketch
2014–2015 Transparent Syd Feldman Recurring character
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2015)
2015 Carol Genevieve Cranell
2015 Man Seeking Woman Doctor at Chill Acres Episode: "Branzino"
2015 Archer Doctor Sklodowska (voice) Episodes: "Drastic Voyage: Part 1" and "Drastic Voyage: Part 2"
2016 Saturday Night Live Cameo as herself Episode: "Fred Armisen/Courtney Barnett", "The Harkin Brothers" sketch
2016 The Realest Real Short film; director and writer[65]
2017 Curb Your Enthusiasm Mara Episode: "Foisted!"
2018 Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot Suzanne
2018 Tag Therapist Uncredited[66]
2018 The Oath Alice Button
2019 Mrs. Fletcher Director: "Parents' Weekend", "Invisible Fence"
2019–2021 Shrill Director: "Date", "Ribs", "Will"
2020 The Nowhere Inn[58] Herself Also writer
2022 Minx Director: "Mary had a little hysterectomy"
Irma Vep Zelda Miniseries
Reboot Director: "New Girl"
TBA Fairy Godmother[67] Director

See also


  1. ^ Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. Touchstone. 2001. p. 896. ISBN 9780743201209. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  2. ^ Breihan, Tom (August 6, 2014). "Carrie Brownstein Finishing Nora Ephron Screenplay Lost In Austen". Stereogum. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  3. ^ Braxton, Greg (January 14, 2015). "Carrie Brownstein bounces between 'Portlandia' and punk rock". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  4. ^ Weil, Elizabeth (December 29, 2011). "Carrie Brownstein, Riot Grrrnup". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  5. ^ "Works written by Brownstein, Carrie Rachel". ASCAP. Archived from the original on January 10, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  6. ^ Phillips, Amy (October 20, 2014). "Sleater-Kinney Return! New Album No Cities to Love! 2015 Tour! "Bury Our Friends" Lyric Video!". Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  7. ^ Zeichner, Naomi (January 19, 2011). "Interview: Carrie Brownstein on Portlandia". The Fader. New York City: The Fader Media Group. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  8. ^ de Barros, Paul (March 3, 2012). "Carrie Brownstein: the Northwest's funny girl". Seattle Times. Seattle, Washington: The Seattle Times Company. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  9. ^ "Meet Carrie Brownstein: A Triple Threat". Jewish Women's Archive. March 28, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  10. ^ de Barros, Paul (March 4, 2012). "Cover story—Full Frontal Fun: Watching Carrie Brownstein in 'Portlandia,' we have to laugh at ourselves". Seattle Times. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Times Company. p. 9.
  11. ^ Matsui, Marc (December 17, 2002). "Eastside spotlight: Overlake School". Seattle Times. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Times Publishing Company. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  12. ^ a b Levin, Hannah (May 2005). "Rock of the Decade". The Stranger. Seattle, Washington: Index Newspapers, LLC. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2011 – via Sleater-Kinney.Net.
  13. ^ Shepherd, Julianne (August 28, 2006). "Get Up". Pitchfork. New York City: Condé Nast. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  14. ^ Brodeur, Nicole (November 2, 2015). "Carrie Brownstein comes home to a changed Seattle". The Seattle Times. Seattle, Washington: The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Rife, Katie (April 4, 2017). "Riot grrrl grew up on Sleater-Kinney's Dig Me Out". The A.V. Club. Chicago, Illinois: Onion, Inc. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  16. ^ Ganz, Caryn (June 2005). "Eat 'em And Smile". Spin. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2007 – via
  17. ^ a b "Record Bin: How Sleater-Kinney used punk rock to break social stereotypes on "Dig Me Out"". September 23, 2017. Archived from the original on September 23, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
  18. ^ "Carrie Brownstein: Sleater-Kinney 'Will Just Start Playing Music Again'". Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  19. ^ Grow, Kory (October 20, 2014). "Sleater-Kinney Reform, Share Powerful New Song, 'Bury Our Friends'". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  20. ^ O'Dair, Barbara (May 9, 2001). "A conversation with Robert Christgau". San Francisco, California: Salon Media Group. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  21. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (January 19, 2015). "Sister Saviors: Sleater-Kinney returns". The New Yorker. New York City: Condé Nast. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  22. ^ Breihan, Tom (January 11, 2015). "Premature Evaluation: Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love". Stereogum. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  23. ^ The Tentacles – The Touch. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  24. ^ Brownstein, Carrie (March 25, 2010). "Carrie Brownstein Talks Sleater-Kinney, Acting, Writing, and More". Pitchfork. Interviewed by Tom Breihan. New York City: Condé Nast. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Carrie Brownstein: 'I Have A New Band'". All Songs Considered blog. National Public Radio. September 22, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  26. ^ "Wild Flag's Debut Album in Stores". Merge September 14, 2011. Archived from the original on September 19, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  27. ^ a b c d "A Final Word From Carrie Brownstein". Monitor Mix (blog). National Public Radio. October 6, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  28. ^ Weil, Elizabeth (December 29, 2011). "Carrie Brownstein, Riot Grrrnup". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  29. ^ Caramanica, Jon (October 19, 2011). "Wild Flag Is What Passes for an Inspirational Supergroup at CMJ". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  30. ^ "The Twenty-Five Most Underrated Guitarists". Rolling Stone. October 1, 2006. Archived from the original on March 2, 2011. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  31. ^ Contributors: Carrie Brownstein from The Believer magazine website.
  32. ^ Brownstein, Carrie (November 27, 2007). "Rock Band vs. Real Band". Slate. New York City: The Slate Group. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  33. ^ Brownstein, Carrie (November 19, 2008). "Wii Will Rock You!". Slate. New York City: The Slate Group. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  34. ^ Welcome to Monitor Mix from the NPR Music website
  35. ^ Matthew Thornton (March 16, 2009). "Book Deals: Week of 3/16/09". Book News. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  36. ^ "The Sound of Where You Are". Monitor Mix (blog). National Public Radio. December 17, 2007. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  37. ^ "Episode 267 - Carrie Brownstein". WTF with Marc Maron Podcast. April 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  38. ^ Kreps, Daniel (March 14, 2015). "Carrie Brownstein Pens Memoir 'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl'". RollingStone. Archived from the original on July 28, 2017. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  39. ^ "Riverhead Overview". Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  40. ^ "ANN WILSON REVEALS HEART BIO-PIC IS IN THE WORKS". We Are Classic Rockers. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  41. ^ "Carrie Brownstein Talks Spells, Book, Sleater-Kinney". Pitchfork Media. November 2008.
  42. ^ "Thunderant". Thunderant. Archived from the original on November 15, 2019. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  43. ^ Locker, Melissa (April 26, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE CLIP: WATCH CARRIE BROWNSTEIN IN "SOME DAYS ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS"". Archived from the original on October 29, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  44. ^ Indiewire (March 11, 2010). "SXSW '10 | McCormick's Sad Valentine "Some Days are Better Than Others". Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  45. ^ Portlandia (TV Series 2011– ) - Episodes - IMDb
  46. ^ "SNL Fans Prepare for 'Portlandia'". IFC Channel. August 6, 2010. Archived from the original on August 16, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  47. ^ "Before There Was 'Portlandia', There Was 'Thunderant'". IFC Channel. October 7, 2010. Archived from the original on October 13, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
  48. ^ "Portlandia". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  49. ^ Bendix, Trish (September 26, 2014). "Carrie Brownstein gives us the scoop on her character Syd in "Transparent"". Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  50. ^ Syme, Rachel (December 14, 2015). "'Transparent' Season 2, Episodes 2 and 3: Pool Parties and Provosts". Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  51. ^ Ford, Rebecca (April 9, 2014). "'Portlandia's' Carrie Brownstein Joins Cate Blanchett in 'Carol'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 21, 2015.
  52. ^ Stiernberg, Bonnie (January 6, 2015). "Carrie Brownstein: Fill in the Blank". Paste Magazine. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  53. ^ "2015 Official Selection". April 16, 2015. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  54. ^ "Carol Poster Premiere: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, and the Fall's Most Acclaimed Romance". Vanity Fair. September 2, 2015. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  55. ^ "Watch Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in SNL's Southern Rock Supergroup". IFC. Archived from the original on October 29, 2019. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  56. ^ "Carrie Brownstein and Larry David Fight About Constipation in New "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Trailer: Watch | Pitchfork". September 11, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  57. ^ Kulzick, Kate. "Man Seeking Woman: "Branzino"". TV Club. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  58. ^ a b Yoo, Noah (December 4, 2019). "St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein's New Movie The Nowhere Inn to Debut at Sundance 2020". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  59. ^ Sleater-Kinney Last Show from Under the Radar Archived November 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  60. ^ Parales, Jon (August 4, 2006). "Sleater-Kinney May, or May Not, Be Bidding New York Farewell". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  61. ^ Mesh, Aaron (November 3, 2010). "Mock Star". Willamette Week. Archived from the original on December 10, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  62. ^ Los Angeles Times article: "Annie Clark, St. Vincent and Carrie Brownstein all meet at 'The Nowhere Inn'."
  63. ^ Rosenblit, Rachel (January 9, 2012). "Portlandia's Comedy Chemistry". Elle. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  64. ^ Fred Armisen: Transcript Archived November 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine from WNYC's Here's the Thing. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  65. ^ "Carrie Brownstein's Short Film Trailer For Kenzo Features Kim Gordon & Mahershala Ali —Watch". Indiewire. July 13, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  66. ^ Scott, A.O (June 14, 2018). "Review: 'Tag,' You're It. Playing the Long Game Into Middle Age". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  67. ^ Busch, Anita (May 18, 2017). "'Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein To Make Feature Directorial Debut On MGM's 'Fairy Godmother'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 22, 2019.