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Smoosh - Interview

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 29 / 11 / 2005

Smoosh - Interview


Featuring 13 and 11 year old sisters Asya and Chloe, Seattle rock duo Smoosh have been causing a stir in the underground music scene and have played with acts such as Pearl Jam, Sleater-Kinney and Cat Power. Jamie Rowland meets up with them in London

When you hear about a band consisting of two sisters, aged 13 and 11, who play the keyboard and drums and write rock songs, you automatically start getting terrifying flashbacks of S Club Juniors, Musical Youth and Little Jimmy Osmond. But hey, calm down, wipe that sweat from your brow. The young ladies I’m talking about have none of the smugness, the phoniness or the down right punch-ability of those tedious acts (hey, I’m 100% against hurting kids, but that Osmond had it coming !). I’m talking about Smoosh, otherwise known as Asya and Chloe, the Seattle rock duo causing a stir in the underground music scene. These girls are different from your average teen band; they write their own songs and play for a love of music, not fame or money. Smoosh were formed almost by accident. While their family stood in line at a music store, waiting to buy a violin, Asya and Chloe wandered off to the drum room. Here, they met Jason McGerr, drummer with Death Cab For Cutie, music teacher at the Seattle Drum School (where Chloe now studies) and mentor to these two young musicians. The girls left the music store with a $600 drum kit, McGerr’s card and without a violin. Asya had taught herself to play keyboard some time before, and couldn’t help but join in while her sister practiced on the drums. Soon the girls were writing their own songs, and the family set up a website to advertise the band, now going by the name Smoosh. Asya and Chloe have played many shows in their native Seattle, alongside acts such as Pearl Jam, Sleater-Kinney, Rilo Kiley, Blood Brothers, Cat Power and Jimmy Eat World, to name but a few. They’ve toured the US and built up a loyal fan-base. And now, finally, they’re making waves over in the UK. Their debut album, ‘She Like Electric’, was released at the end of this year, and to coincide with it’s release, Smoosh played their first shows across the pond last month, impressing audiences in Glasgow and London. It’s the day after the London show, and I’m sitting in a rather swanky apartment in Kensington, not too far from Earls Court tube station. This is where the Smoosh girls are spending their time in London (in between sight-seeing, dining out and playing rock shows, of course). It strikes me straight away how calm the two sisters are; they seem totally unfazed by all the attention they’re getting for their music, or the fact that they are over in London because quite a lot of people really want to see them perform. When I ask Asya how she thinks the shows went, she replies calmly “I thought they were really good. I didn’t really know what it would be like here, since I thought the response would probably be different from in the United States, but I think it went pretty well. The crowd was pretty good. They were dancing a lot.” And it’s no surprise they were dancing. Songs like 'Massive Cure', 'It’s Cold' and “La Pump” are funky enough to get even the most stubborn wall hugger onto the dance-floor. The hip-hop/pop 'Rad' is also an incredibly fun song, and one which I imagine has won Smoosh a lot of their fans (Cat Power has taken to covering it at live shows). This is what Smoosh is all about: having fun. It’s fun to listen to the record, and it was all about fun when it was being recorded. “It was really fun recording it, because we got to take breaks and go play outside and stuff” says Asya. “It was my first time recording a CD, so I didn’t really know what it would be like. But it was also kind of hard work too.” “I liked recording ‘She Like Electric’ " Chloe agrees. "We also have another CD that we’ve just finished recording. That was fun too, but it was a lot harder than it was before, because we didn’t really get to have any breaks. I’d say our second one is kind of more professional.” “Also the guy who was recording it with us (Jason McGerr) was our friend, so he knew what the best we could do was” Asya continues. “So he was always pushing us really hard and being like ‘Nope, not good enough!’ and we had to play things over and over again. But it was fun.” Having played with so many big names, it occurs to me that the sisters have probably taken on a lot more musical influences than they had when they wrote the songs for their first record. “I think stuff is a lot more complicated because I have a bass now, I use a bass keyboard” Asya explains. “We don’t really sound like Death Cab For Cutie, but we’ve heard them so much, I’ve kind of been inspired by their song writing.” Fan reactions to the new material being played live have been astounding, with most agreeing with Asya and Chloe that the songs are so much more complex, and much more professional. Again, it strikes me how calm about all this the girls seem. If I had just recorded my second album after a year of playing shows with big-name acts like Cat Power and Sleater-Kinney, I’d be bouncing off the walls. Surely there was at least one act that Smoosh were really excited to share a stage with? Asya considers this as calmly as if she were deciding what’s her favourite food. “Pearl Jam was probably the biggest band [we played with], so for me it was really cool to meet them. But all the other bands are really great too, and they’re really nice. Actually before I played with Sleater-Kinney, I didn’t know who they were, but after I bought their CD, and I like them a lot.” For me, it’s exactly this that makes Smoosh so appealing as a band. There is none of the pretension or obnoxiousness of most teen groups. And what about the future for Smoosh? Where do the girls want to take their music in the coming years? There are two more sisters in the family; could we be seeing Smoosh develop into a four-piece? “Well, we thought our sister Maya was going to, but she actually didn’t want to do bass anymore, so she just quit,” explains Asya. “Just all of a sudden,” Chloe continues. “Well, she didn’t really quit. She was never really in the band…” “But she was kind of working towards being part of the band; she called herself part of the band, because she could play some of our songs, but then all of a sudden she started not liking the bass, for no reason and we didn’t know why.” Chloe carries on again. “I don’t know if other people will join our band, maybe our littlest sister. She’s 2 right now. But we might do a band with some kids from our school or something. I’m in the school band.” “We’ll probably still be in the band Smoosh if it’s still fun and stuff,” Asya sums up. “But maybe when we get older it’ll become more like a job instead of something we just like to do. I don’t know, I’d want to still be in Smoosh, but if we decide we want to quit the band then I guess that’s fine too. Maybe I’ll be playing soccer or whatever.” Personally, I hope it never gets too much like hard work, as I can only see Smoosh getting better with age.

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Smoosh - Interview

Smoosh - Interview

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Free to Stay (2008)
Competent, but already somewhat out-dated second album from teenage sisters and keyboard and drums duo, Smoosh
She Like Electric (2005)

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