IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang
"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"
Formerly known as Smoosh, Asy and Chloe Saavedra of Chaos Chaos have always been a sister-sister duo. In the first incarnation of the band, the two—Asy on vocals and keys, Chloe on drums—began playing in their tweens (alongside bands like Death Cab for Cutie) in their native Seattle.
Now in their early twenties and based in New York City, the band has adopted a new name and a new sound to match their growth as musicians and people. They released their debut EP, “Committed to the Crime,” late last year, and the response from their following has been largely positive. Their fans have racked up more than one million views for the track "Do You Feel It?” (which was also featured on the Adult Swim cartoon “Rick and Morty”), they released a music video for the song "Love," and they’ve been playing shows around NYC.
TWELV had a chance to ask Asy and Chloe what their transition from Smoosh to Chaos Chaos has been like, as well as peek into their thoughts on the NYC music scene. Check out the interview below:
---------------- Chaos Chaos Interview ----------------
1. What has the transition in the band—from Smoosh to Chaos Chaos—been like? Have you found it difficult to keep the same following? Or has it been a relatively easy evolution?
Chloe: It's been difficult, because a lot of Smoosh fans didn't totally get the memo that our name changed. But in a sense, it's nice to sort of start over and know that the people that are following you are interested in what you currently have to say rather than what you have done in the past. For us, I felt that a lot of Smoosh fans were interested in us partly because of the fact that we were so weirdly young. But, now that we're technically adults, I feel as though the fans must be more genuinely interested in our sound.
2. What have been some of the latest innovations in your music? How has technology, over the years, affected the way you approach your art?
Chloe: That's an interesting question, because I feel like our generation is so interconnected with technology that we can't really separate it from who we are. I suppose for me, as a drummer, it's weird because we are so frequently replaced by electronic drums, and some people even think real drummers are becoming obsolete. I feel things are moving toward what gives us instantaneous results, but I don't think people have lost their appreciation for real human energy. So, I try to combine the results of electronic drums and the weird shit you can do with that and real live drums or random percussive sounds, like banging on metal or sampling your keys jingling. Since I'm lazy, I play midi electronic drums into Logic for most of our demos. I like doing that, because I naturally come up with different ideas when I play it with my fingers and can arrange beats that would be impossibly fast for me to play. Right now, I'm sort of sick of the typical trap drum sounds, so I've been curating these weird drum patches on this early 2000s drum machine called the Tempest (of David Smith Instruments) where I can create really effected sounds on there and save them to the machine. I've been playing that live for a few new songs!
3. What are your thoughts on the music scene in NYC—is it thriving? What areas need attention?
Chloe: I feel like I wouldn't totally have the right to judge this, but personally I love and hate some aspects. Starting with the bad, there's this whole scene in Bushwick, which I am so so done with, which is like a major WEIRD talent show. Everyone's just competing to be the weirdest and all end up being different variations of the same thing since all they're doing is opposing the norm. I don't see any merit to that. I'm a sucker for actual talent, which comes from a genuine place in your heart. Maybe I'm a romantic. Or maybe a total fucking cynic, I dunno. But there is a scene in the city of amazingly talented musicians playing weird heartfelt experimental badass stuff. Some of those bands are Prince Rama, Cuddle Magic, Xenia Rubinos, Mykki Blanco and those kind of artists, who really don't give a fuck—not that they're trying to sell that and rub it in your face either.
4. What are some of your favorite spots in New York? Are there any venues/areas you like best in town (and if so, why)?
Chloe: Baby's Allright: Because the sound is good, and the owners are dope, and I've just always had a good time there.
LA Burrito on Grand: You can get a big-ass burrito, a case of beer and take it down to the Williamsburg piers. So chill.
L Train Vintage: It’s an awesome chain vintage store where the owners are not assholes, and the clothes are cheap and amazing.
Home Sweet Home: ‘Cause they have taxidermy and beer.
And lastly, my bed: It's a great place to get a good night’s rest and for me to hide from paparazzi.
5. Who do you consider to be your favorite bands/artists? Who inspires you?
Chloe: I go through different phases of being obsessed with different artists but there are some that I always go to for inspo, including: Garry Winogrand (an amazing photographer that I was introduced to through my favorite professor Tim Davis), Louis CK (he should be on everyone’s inspo list), and Mitch Hedburg (genius). As for musicians, I’m inspired by: NEU!, John Cage, Steve Reich, Smashing Pumpkins, Bjork, J Dilla, Ariel Pink, Elliot Smith and The Slits, to name a few.
6. What's your creative process look like? What ~usually~ goes into writing a Chaos Chaos song?
Asy: I have this thing where many of my Logic sessions contain two songs. When I am working on a song, and I'm stuck in that weird song place (like went on a bridge tangent and can't find my way back), I'll often get an idea for a new song and then write it really fast. I'm usually too excited to start a new session. That's how 'Do You Feel It' started. The song I was supposed to be working on when I wrote ‘Do You Feel It’ didn't make the cut for the EP. [laughs]
Anyway, I don't have one (or any) foolproof ways, but I have some different methods. I wrote a bunch of songs in Berlin where I just wrote the lyrics first, usually sitting hungover in the M1 or S Bahn. In New York, for some reason, my thoughts are always more scattered so I begin with music and eventually find my way to words. Then Chloe comes in and destroys shit.
7. What's Chaos Chaos' mission statement as a band? What would you like people/fans to take away from your presence in the music industry?
Asy: We just want acceptance.
Well, we're really into challenging ourselves and our listeners. But we're not gonna walk up on stage waving a ginger root attached to a stick in the air and think that what we do is so good and deep that you have to be insanely patient to appreciate it. I think we try to find a balance between being out of control or experimental and still making our music listenable and catchy. It's weird though, we're beginning to write music more for ourselves and think less about the listener, which seems to make our songs more listenable and uninhibited in the end.
8. What's your ideal creative setting?
Asy: Beach. Margarita. Done.
Just kidding, for some reason, I need to be miserable, stressed out and crammed in a tiny apartment with only my tiny midi keyboard to write songs. No idea why.
9. Did you dream of being musicians as children? Or did that just sort of develop at a young age into a career now?
Asy: We had no idea that people dreamt of being musicians when we started playing, because we did it for fun and approached it with the same attitude as we approached sports. I did read this thing I wrote for a first grade assignment where I wrote “I dream of playing piano for people.” So, maybe I did know that was a thing to want.
10. What can people expect from Chaos Chaos over the next couple of years? Touring? A new album?
Asy: We've got some really exciting cauldrons brewing (collaborations and new songs). Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/chaoschaosofficial) is our social media of choice right now so join us—join us! Everything we do will be on there. Near future, we're playing CMJ but I think I wasn't supposed to announce that.
11. Describe your perfect day
Asy: Right now, I feel like a day starting in a serene, beautiful nature setting would be amazing. Cliff-diving would happen, and roasted marshmallows probably. Then, I would transport myself to an improv jam session with some of my fave musicians (PJ Harvey would definitely be there).
12. How would you describe Chaos Chaos' music to someone who has never heard it before?
Asy: Experimental pop with emo glitter sprinkled on top.
13. How does making music make you feel (if you can put it into words)?
Asy: Really weird. When I'm writing songs, I have to tap into my monstrous side, have to bring all my worst emotions to the surface. Sometimes, I punch a wall. Sometimes I don't.
WEBSITE: Chaos Chaos
INSTAGRAM (Chloe): @chloesaavedra
INSTAGRAM (Asy): @asysaavedra
INTERVIEWED & WRITTEN BY: JANE CLAIRE HEYVEY
PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS SCHOONOVER, MACIEK JASIK