Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

By now you’ve surely all heard about Smoosh, the local duo featuring sisters Asy (age 11) and Chloe (age 9) who write and play excellent indie-pop songs. After seeing them open for Death Cab for Cutie and Nada Surf last fall, igLiz and I had the pleasure of talking with them (and their dad/gear-hauler, Mike) over donuts and cocoa. Assured beyond their years, yet joyously and refreshingly childlike, their speech was peppered with girlish expressions as they interrupted and flowed over one, just like sisters should.

Plus Smoosh have some great shows lined up that you should know about:

  • January 30th at the Sunset Tavern,
  • February 6th at the Redmond Firehouse, and
  • March 4th at the Showbox (with the Presidents of the United States of America and Schoolyard Heroes!!)But enough about intros. Have a read and see what’s going on with Seattle’s youngest and most charming indie-rock sisters…

Hi girls! Why don’t you introduce yourselves and tell us what you play…

Asy: I’m Asy. I’m 11 and I play keyboards and vocals.
Chloe: And I kinda drum {laughs}. I’m Chloe. I’m nine and I play the drums.

Looks like you’re drinking hot chocolate today. Do you girls like coffee? Are you allowed to drink it?
Asy: Yeah.

Tell us how old you were when you started playing your instruments, and how you formed Smoosh.
Asy: When I was really young, I was playing the keyboards… Before I could even stand, I was going up to the keyboard and banging on it — so I’ve been playing all my life. When Chloe was five or six she got a drumset…
Chloe: I’d just turned six.
Asy: She got a drumset and we started writing these little songs — and they got more complicated and stuff, so we recorded a little CD with our drum teacher and then we kinda gave it out to people. Everyone thought it was good and so we decided to like, be a band. It was really fun!

I heard a rumor that there’s another sister out there who’s learning bass?
Asy: That’s Maya. She’s seven.

So you guys will be a trio! When does she start?
Asy: She started practicing with us yesterday. She’ll play a song with us at the Redmond Firehouse show in February.

Any brothers?
Asy: Nope. We have a baby sister too, named Scout.

After “To Kill a Mockingbird?”
Asy: Yeah.

Awesome! Sounds like dad is pretty outnumbered in your house — four girls!
Asy: Yeah, even our dog and our cat are both girls.
{Papa Smoosh interjection: “That’s what I’m saying!”}
Asy: But Dad, you can go down and have a beer with the gerbils…
Chloe: There’s a funny story of how I got my drumset!

Oh really?
Chloe: I really wasn’t really gonna go to this instrument place. We went cause my Dad, he wanted to play an instrument, and he was gonna play violin. He was going to get his strung, and when we went there we saw this drumset — and I decided I wanted it. We saw Jason McGerr there — you know, the drummer for Death Cab for Cutie, he used to work there — and he said if we bought it, he would give us lessons.

So we bought it and we walked out of there with a drumkit, but no violin strings. It’s still not strung to this day.

Is anyone else in your family musical?
Asy: No… well, you know about Maya on bass.

So Chloe, you take drum lessons… Asy, have you had formal training as well?
I’ve done some, but I didn’t ever do it for very long. I don’t really know how to read notes. I like to make my own songs up and just do it when I want to and not do it formally.

Do you have scheduled times to practice?
Asy: No, we do it when we want to, or else it gets to be a chore. But when we have a show coming up we practice every day.

Do you want to learn to play any other instruments?
Asy: Yeah I got an electric guitar for Christmas. It’s navy blue and I put stickers all over it. I’m getting pretty good at it, but I need to learn the notes and chords. I know a few chords. I don’t know if I’ll take lessons — I might try to teach myself like I did with the piano.
Chloe: I used to want to play the guitar. I was playing the guitar and my fingers, they always got blisters on them. Asy likes to play left-handed.
Asy: We were thinking of going to Guitar Center and trying out the left-handed ones cause on the piano, my left hand does all the chords and my right hand does all the stuff. But on guitar the right hand does the chords and my left hand does the movement, so it’s hard… but I think I’m getting pretty good at it. We wanna do some rock songs!
Chloe: We’re thinking about getting t-shirts for our band. We need cool ones like this with lots of colors. I like your t-shirts!

Thank you! You should definitely get sparkly ones. We totally wanted to buy t-shirts and CDs at your last show. Speaking of which, how can readers get one of your CDs?
Chloe: If you go to you can write us and we’ll send one to you. We give them away.
Asy: If we haven’t been doing a show for awhile, we don’t get as many.
Chloe: After we do a show we get tons of requests.

Where was the furthest request from?
Asy: Europe. Somebody in England. Oh — and there’s someone in Thailand, a teacher who wanted one, so we sent them one!

How’d you pick with the name Smoosh?
Asy: We used to be called Smush.
Chloe: We liked “Smash,” but that was a lot like “Smashmouth,” so then we went with “Smush.” But then with our first CD we gave out, my old soccer coach Craig, he called it “Smoosh” — cause we really didn’t know how to spell Smush. So we decided to spell it s.m.o.o.s.h. — and now everybody calls us “Smoosh” every since.
Asy: (laughs) I used to want it to be “Hummingbears” and then Chloe wanted it to be called “Crashdown.”
Chloe: You wanted it to be “Whirled Peas,” remember?!!
Asy: But we decided on Smoosh.
Chloe: But Crashdown is cool!

Crashdown — that could be your rockin’ side project. Hey, do you two ever fight?
Asy: Sometimes. A lot of people really fight with their sister but I would say we pretty much get along.

You guys have played some pretty big shows. So far, what’s been your favorite?
Asy: Um, well I really liked the Showbox, cause they’re are so many big bands we’ve played with there.

Did you guys get
nervous, playing with bands like Sleater Kinney and Death Cab for Cutie?

Asy: Not really nervous meeting them, but I get really nervous before the show, with so many people watching. Before shows when we’re nervous, we always run around and jump up and down.
Chloe: We always go to IHOP after shows.

What were Sleater-Kinney like?
Asy: They were partiers.

How about Cat Power?
Asy: We got to go into her room. She wasn’t shy at all — she was really outgoing backstage, though she didn’t say much onstage.
Chloe: You don’t talk much onstage.
Asy: I know. I never know what to say.
Chloe: You should tell jokes.
Asy: Yeah, like John Roderick of the Long Winters — he always tells a lot of jokes.

I thought you guys were cute onstage. I like the way you introduced the name of each song onstage.
Asy: It’s kinda formal though. My dad told me not to say “thank you” after every song. At the Death Cab for Cutie show, when everyone clapped I was like, “Whoa!” I didn’t expect so much clapping.
Chloe: When you were doing the song “Rad” the audience tried to clap along but they were off…
Asy: In that song we stop and start and so people got off beat — and it made her mess up
Chloe: Yeah, it made me mess up! The next time we play I want Asy to say, “No clapping, it gets her offbeat!”

Which other bands would you like to play with?
Asy: Do you know the band DEK? They’re an indie-band and they’re kids aged 14-16. The youngest one is Brett, and I think they’re really good. We opened for them at the Fremont Fair, and we’re playing with them February 6th at the Redmond Firehouse.

How do you feel about music like Britney Spears? Do you like it?
Asy: I don’t really like that music…

So who are your favorite bands?
Chloe: We like all the local bands, like Death Cab for Cutie and the Long Winters. And… what’s that band called?
Asy: The Thermals? Cat Power?
Chloe: No, the Eddie Vedder band…?
Asy: Pearl Jam.
Chloe: Yeah! At the Sleater-Kinney show we got to meet Eddie Vedder backstage!

Wow! What was that like?
Asy: It was really cool! (laughs)

We saw the photo of Conor Oberst on your website. Who’s the Bright Eyes fan?
Asy: I used to play saxophone for my school band in elementary school. My mom put a picture of him on the front of my music book and everyone at school was like, “Who’s he?” And I didn’t know why my Mom did that! Now I know him and I like his music a lot. Everyone always asks that cause they see it on our website.

Do you remember your first live gig?
Chloe: It was at a coffeehouse — Cloud City Coffee. And they would only let me bring a bass and a snare and a high-hat.
Asy: I was so nervous, I decided to run around the block with my mom beforehand. There was only like 10 people there, but I was so nervous!

What else do you girls like to do for fun?
Asy: We play soccer. We have three practices a week and a game. It takes a lot of time. I play midfield.
Chloe: I play midfield too, and sometimes forward.
{Papa Smoosh interjection: “They practice soccer twice as much as they practice music.”}

Are you two on the same team?
Asy: Yeah. Um, do you think that braces change your voice?

Hmm. It shouldn’t change your voice… Why do you ask?
Asy: I’m getting them in the next month. Do they hurt?

It’s not that bad. When are you getting braces?
Asy: On my birthday next month. It’s my birthday present!

Dad! That’s not nice!!
{Papa Smoosh interjection: “I know… we’re going to have to change that. That’s just awful.”}
Asy: But I just want to get it over with. I don’t want to get them when I’m too old.