R.I.P. Smoosh and Hurray for Chaos Chaos
Chloe and Asya.
Remember Smoosh? The Seattle-founded, now New York-based sister duo, made up of Asya and Chloe Saavedra, started singing and playing keys and drums (respectively) before they were even in double digits. By 2007, when Asy was 15 and Chloe was 13, they’d already released four records, performed on Jimmy Kimmel, sung about PJs on Yo Gabba Gabba, and opened for Pearl Jam, Death Cab For Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney, and Cat Power, among others. Pretty ridiculous. Their other sister Maia also joined the band for a while, which made them look even more like Hanson’s sisters, except without the equivalent to that the older gawky looking one (Isaac). Their music started off as plinkety piano pop and nearly a decade later—after a stint in Sweden where their mom is originally from—Smoosh started sounding more indie-synth sweet. But then Snooki came along and killed them, the cow. Smoosh had been around for a decade by the time the Jersey Shore midget came along and sullied their namesake so that it’s now associated with dirty, drunken sex and not perky pop.
Nevertheless, Asya and Chloe are back as Chaos Chaos. They’ve got a new slinky synth pop sound and they’ve grown up to be total babes. We talked to them about their Hanson obsession, fashion, and talking like their Swedish grandmother.
Noisey: Was there a specific band or music that made you want to start playing music?
Chloe: Well actually two things. One is not very embarrassing: no shame about being obsessed with Hanson. We loved Hanson. We were also tomboys, so we didn’t want to be the girl version of Hanson, we wanted to be Hanson. I was Zac and I see you, Asy, as Taylor.
Asya: We looked like them too when we were young.
Smoosh versus Hanson. Totally related looking.
Chloe: Yeah we totally did. I would always hang a low ponytail like Zac and he had these yellow sweats that he’d wear sometimes and I bought some yellow sweats that looked just like that. Then I guess what made us kind of start our band as Smoosh was the soundtrack for the movie Shrek. There’s that “All Stars” song by Smash Mouth…
Asya: It didn’t make us start though, we were already playing music. It kind of influenced our music in a funny way. Smash Mouth was how we thought of our band name.
Chloe: We changed to Chaos Chaos. Mostly because Snooki stole our name. There's a South Park episode about it that basically destroyed Smoosh. They even have a song called “Snooki Wants Smoosh Smoosh” on Spotify, so Snooki people were coming over to Smoosh’s site and commenting like, “Oh I’d smoosh that.” They were obviously not Smoosh fans. They got confused and we definitely don’t want people to be confused, or to be at all associated with Snooki.
So when did you stop being tomboys and dressing like Hanson and start getting into vintage clothes?
Chloe: Actually I still feel like we're tomboys. When we were kids I cared about the clothes I wore, but I wanted to make sure that they were really boyish.
Asya: It's funny because when we were in elementary school, we were playing with people like Cat Power, who has a really cool fashion sense. So we’d be influenced by people like that and then we’d go to school and everyone was wearing Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister, and we had like boots and riot grrrl outfits. People were just confused by us. We were friends with normal kids though. We weren’t like those weird kids that just wore really weird clothes.
Chloe: We got into fashion kinda early because of the music stuff. It was hard to find kid clothes that were cool, so we had to go to some vintage stores.
So Death Cab For Cutie’s drummer Jason McGerr was your drum teacher, which explains a little bit how you ended up rolling with all of these insanely sweet bands…
Asya: It didn’t seem too crazy at the time because we didn’t know who they were. It was just like, “Oh we have another show after school.” Like, it was almost a hobby: “Oh we should practice for the Sleater-Kinney show.” At the time I really didn’t know what we were doing. We just had fun with it. I think they just really wanted to support us. And once we started playing with some bands, other bands found out—the Seattle music scene is so interconnected. KEXP, the radio station, really helped us out. We just had some people who were really throwing us bones and that was great.
How did you manage to fit in touring with school?
Chloe: We didn’t really fit it in. When we got in middle school our classes were more serious and we came into the first day of school and we already had to get absent sheets for our tour that was starting in a couple of days. From that day, they were like, “That’s it. We can’t pass you guys if you are going to be gone that much.” So we had to stop going to school. When we were really busy, we would just be homeschooled and then I would miss my friends and go back to school.
So you moved to Sweden when you were still recording as Smoosh. How did that impact the band?
Chloe: It was a more quiet time for us. We just disconnected with what was happening in the US. In retrospect, I think it was a good break. We got this transition to Chaos Chaos. In this transition we were like, “If we’re going to start up again, we won’t have any limitations, like school or whatever.” So when we graduated we got started with all the Chaos Chaos stuff and it’s been nice to be able to dedicate all of our time to it.
How was learning Swedish?
Asya: When we lived in Seattle we would speak Swedish a little bit. It was kind of like our code language. Our grandmother was fully Swedish and she was the one who taught us. So when we moved to Sweden, we went to Swedish speaking schools and we actually spoke like grandmas!
Chloe: Because the language there is very progressive and it changes a lot, there's a lot of young people slang. Old people and young people talk pretty different.
Did living in Sweden affect the music you were making? It feels like there's much more of an electronic influence in Chaos Chaos.
Chloe: Actually, thinking about it, some of it has to do with the electronic kind of pop stuff that we were listening to in Sweden: Fever Ray, Lykke Li, and Little Dragon.
Asya: Yeah, so many great electronic pop bands. We wanted to try something really different. Like producing all the songs a lot more, making them easier for people to listen to. So we were listening to people like Timberland too.
Chloe: It’s so weird though. People ask us, what’s your style, or what is your philosophy about music? I feel like it’s just always changing because we started putting out music when we were super young. It’s just going parallel with our growth as people. Everything changes so much. I don’t really know what's next for us.
Who are the drummers you look up to?
Chloe: We toured with Deerhoof and I was so blown away by Greg Saunier. He’s an animal and his style is super cool. I love drummers who don't give a s**t on stage about how they look. I find with a lot of girl drummers, they’re focused on how they look instead of totally getting into it. Sometimes when you see girl drummers rock out, you get the sense that it’s kind of fake, guy drummers too sometimes. So I try to be an exception to that. I have a lot of respect for Haim too. They’re really percussive with their vocals and multi-talented.
Do you think you can communicate with each other on a subliminal level?
Chloe: Yeah definitely.
Asya: Just doing the music makes us kind of have a different connection.
Chloe: I kind of take that for granted sometimes. I’ve played with other people and jammed with other bands, which is great, but it takes so much longer to get somewhere because everyone’s opinions are so different. Their connection isn’t as tight as ours.
Do you swap clothes or do you have a different tastes in clothes?
Asya: We're having so much fun right now with fashion and trying to make that be a part of the music. We try to keep our own identities, but also completely random and not fitting together.
Chloe: I think Asy’s style is almost more original because she always has something that’s pretty unique and not something that's exactly trendy. I always get into what’s on the runways because I use tumblr a lot. I love Rodarte. I love Mary Katrantzou. I love a really colorful, kind of crazy looks. And also Anna Sui.
Asya: I think Chloe’s style is a little bit more fierce, stark, and maybe sporty. More night life-ish.
Chloe: I don’t like to wear heels. Even if I go out to parties, somehow I always end up doing cartwheels or handstands. I make sure I’m wearing something that I can move around in.
Asya: And you’re a complete animal on stage, so there’s no way you could wear like a corset.
Chloe: I love Björk, so if I were ever as big as her, I would love to be like her onstage. I have so many ideas for designing stuff…
Chloe: I guess just weird clothes. Like a dress with weird bubbles coming off it, or a sea creature kind of outfit. Something that could still be functional when I’m playing drums.
Asya: We are actually both really into head-bobbing on stage so we found this hairstyle that actually works perfect: the Princess Leia buns. Chloe always asks the crowd for extra hairpins.
Chloe: I just have so much hair. I’ve contemplated shaving it off at some points, but I would never go bald, because the association with baldness is crazy girl. Like you went crazy.
Chloe: Yes. And didn’t Amanda Bynes do that too? She’s going crazy.
Don’t you guys ever get sick of each other?
Chloe: Physically, we’re rarely ever actually apart. It’s intense!
Style Stage is an ongoing partnership between Noisey & Garnier Fructis celebrating music, hair, and style.