New York City is lousy with people who make us feel terrible. There are rich people, beautiful people, talented people, and, of course, people who are rich, beautiful and talented all at the same time. We’re used to this. We are not, however, used to the talented people we envy still being in junior high. Such is the case with Smoosh, the Seattle duo who has toured with the likes of Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley and Sufjan Stevens, and who will be making their way to NYC June 13 at the World Financial Center. The band is comprised of sisters Chloe (12) and Asyah (14), and they play timeless pop music that doesn’t sound anything like those stupid Kidz Bop records. Singer/keyboardist Asyah took the time to answer some questions about their unusual career path.
The L Magazine: Obviously, it’s pretty rare for any band to wind up touring with the well-known artists you’ve toured with, but it’s even more unusual for a band as young as yourselves. Could you talk a little bit about how you wound up in a situation where these opportunities became available? I know Jason from Death Cab played a pretty big role, but how did everything else come about?
Asyah: I was writing songs on the piano, then Chloe got drum lessons from him and stuff. I told Jason that I made up some songs on the piano, and we just kinda started making demos and listening to them all the time. Then we decided to be a band, and we had to think of a name, so we came up with Smoosh.
The L: How’d you come up with the name?
Asyah: Well, we really like the movie Shrek and we wanted to think of something that sounded like that. Like, that band Smash Mouth — they had a song in the movie, and we really liked it. So we came up with Smoosh (Smush), but everyone kept saying Smoooosh, so we just became Smoosh.
The L: What’s the best part about being on tour?
Asyah: The best part is probably just playing shows. Oh, and making friends with the bands you play with. We like to play tricks on the other bands sometimes.
The L: Like what?
Asyah: You know how bands have their names on a sign outside their dressing room? We just, like, write all over them.
The L: Does anyone ever get you back?
Asyah: Yeah, all the time. Nothing mean or anything.
The L: How do you balance your school schedule with your touring schedule?
Asyah: Um. We usually just bring out homework with us. It’s pretty hard. A lot of times, we have to do our homework at shows, but I don’t think anyone knows how busy we are. I hate doing homework at shows.
The L: How much school do you miss?
Asyah: I don’t know. Not that much. Sometimes a couple weeks. About two months all together, so kind of a lot, I guess.
The L: Speaking of school, what’s your favorite subject? Least favorite?
Asyah: I really like the humanities, and I don’t really like math, but I’m not that bad at it.
The L: How do other kids your age react to your situation? I imagine some would be jealous.
Asyah: Me and Chloe don’t really talk about our band at school. We don’t really brag about it or anything.
The L: What kind of role do your parents play in your career? They must be very supportive.
Asyah: They’re really supportive, They’re not like most parents. They’re not strict or anything. They let us miss tons of school.
The L: What music were you exposed to around the house when you were growing up?
Asyah: I always heard a lot of Louis Armostrong, the Gipsy Kings, Tori Amos… stuff like that.
The L: What bands do you listen to now? Do you and Chloe have similar taste?
Asyah: Yeah, I think so. We’re listening to Of Montreal, Rilo Kiley, Mates of State… oh, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The L: When people write about Smoosh, they obviously always talk about how old you are, and I’m wondering if it bothers you at all that your music sometimes takes a backseat to your age.
Asyah: I don’t really get mad, because I don’t think people would like us as much if we were older. I get kind of annoyed when people are like, “Oh they’re so normal” or, “Oh, they’re so cute.” But no, it doesn’t really bother me.
The L: Do you ever consider adding additional members or instruments to the band?
Asyah: Yeah, I definitely want to. I want to have a bass player or something, but I don’t think any other kids would be allowed. Sometimes I want our sound to be more full. I can make us sound pretty full, but not really that full. Maybe when we get a little bit older we can add people.
The L: Are you looking forward to playing in New York in a few weeks? What kind of experiences have you had here in the past?
Asyah: We’ve played a few places there. I’m really excited to go back. I really like to shop.
The L: Where do you like to shop here?
Asyah: I don’t know. Nowhere specific. But, like, in Seattle… do you know that store H&M? We don’t have one in Seattle, but I really like H&M.