ABOVE: (LEFT TO RIGHT) CHLOE AND ASYA SAAVERDA AT SUN STUDIOS IN NEW YORK. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER GABELLO.
“Everyone are you feeling bad today, ’cause maybe you should be a little happier,” Asya (“Asy”) Saaverda raps in “Rad,” a song she wrote before hitting her teens, which Cat Power would go on to cover in her live sets. Asy and her younger sister, Chloe, have been making music together since Chloe could hold a drumstick. Under the moniker “Smoosh,” the sisters performed at Lollapalooza (2007) and on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2006), and have opened for established indie acts such as Eels, Tokyo Police Club, Death Cab for Cutie (whose drummer, Jason McGerr, taught Chloe how to play the drums), and Sufjan Stevens, most of which happened while the two were still in middle and elementary school.
But that is all in the past. “I always wonder if people know who Smoosh is when they talk to us, it’s like our secret identity: ‘Oh, you know,‘” Asy tells us. Now 20 and 18, Asy and Chloe are no longer prodigious preteens; they are prodigious young adults with a darker, richer sound, a new band name—Chaos Chaos—and a Kickstarter-funded EP entitled S.
The sisters, as a general rule, do not conduct interviews together; but they made an exception when we met in New York last week to talk about amoebas, Snooki, and trash.
EMMA BROWN: Would you ever play a Smoosh song at a Chaos Chaos show?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: We would do a different version of a Smoosh song. We’re trying to do everything more in the moment. It’s way more exciting for us. I don’t really want to play any of the old songs anymore. [laughs]
ASYA SAAVERDA: I also feel like the Chaos Chaos songs kind of have a different attitude, so, if we are going to re-do a Smoosh song, we have to have that translate over.
EMMA BROWN: You started making music and performing as professionals at such a young age. Did you ever consider switching to a different career?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: We kind of took a break from music when we moved to Stockholm, Sweden. We were all going to school there and we just focused more on school. We were in a pretty tight financial situation, so we didn’t have a studio to practice in. It was kind of terrible, to not be able to play drums for so long. But then I’m kind of happy that that happened, because when we came back, we wanted to really go all out with it.
EMMA BROWN: When, and why, did you move to Sweden?
ASYA SAAVERDA: [laughs] Yeah, it was kind of a random choice, but it seemed like a good time, and our family is Swedish.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: I don’t know if it was a good time to move to Sweden.
ASYA SAAVERDA: It was a good time because we were finishing up high school. We were still in high school, but we had decided to leave our school—actually to focus on music and touring—and we really wanted to experience a different culture. It was pretty weird to be thrown into a completely new music environment. We didn’t really have any contacts there, and things were totally different. We felt pretty isolated.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: We wrote a couple of the songs on this EP in our barn in the woods in Sweden. We’ve always gotten along so much better when we’re doing music stuff together. When we took that break in Sweden for two years, we did not get along at all. We hated each other. [laughs]
ASYA SAAVERDA: Did we?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: Yeah! We never hung out. And, now that we’re doing music stuff together, we’re friendly with each other again.
EMMA BROWN: Do you hang out outside of music?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: Yeah. We hang out all the time.
EMMA BROWN: Are you from a musical family? Are your parents musical?
ASYA SAAVERDA: They’re actually not, at all. I grew up having a piano in the house, our mom played a little bit when she was a kid. They love listening to music, but none of them can play.
EMMA BROWN: Was it just your run-in with Jason McGerr that spurred you to start a band?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: Asy’s been writing songs ever since she became physically capable of playing the piano. We have an old tape of her songs when she was five. I never played anything until that day that we walked into the music store, and we wandered upstairs, because we saw big shiny things, and they were drum kits. [laughs] I didn’t really know what they were, but Jason McGerr was working there at the time, before he started in Death Cab [for Cutie], and he saw us looking, all super-excited about these big sparkly drum kits, and he was like, “If you get one of the drum kits, I’ll give you free lessons at Seattle Drum School.” Somehow, my parents agreed to that. [laughs] My parents are crazy. Who lets their kids get drum kits at five?
I practiced with Jason McGerr for a bit, and Jason heard that Asy played the piano and told Asy to come in. He recorded some early demos—we just kind of improvised jumpy songs that Asy had already written. Then we rapped over some songs.
ASYA SAAVERDA: We were so young that we didn’t really know what music was, so we tried anything.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: We listened to some rap music, some Eminem. We thought it was okay that we do it too.
ASYA SAAVERDA: Yeah, like Eminem mixed with classical-influenced music that our mom had listened to—that’s how that came together.
EMMA BROWN: Are you still in touch with Jason?
ASYA SAAVERDA: Yeah, we are.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: I guess I mostly contact him now for when I have a sampler problem, which happens way too often, because I’m not very techy, and—
ASYA SAAVERDA: He’s one of those.CHLOE SAAVERDA: He’s really techy, so I ask him when I have questions about it. We saw him, I guess this summer, play at Beacon Theater.
EMMA BROWN: So, tell me about your new song “My Hands.”
ASYA SAAVERDA: “My Hands” is—wait, should I say, “My Hands” are?—one of our new songs. I think I’m probably most excited about that song. It was actually the first song we wrote upon coming to New York, and it felt crazy to be in America again. There were all these crazy music styles. So we wanted to write a song that was really not Swedish. One of the main influences to that song was Timbaland. We had never tried simplifying our songs—taking out anything that didn’t fit—so we really wanted to make a song where there was nothing in there that was too much. It took a long time.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: It’s weird, how that was the biggest challenge ever, to simplify the song. In the past we kind of thought that the more complicated the songs were, the better. And then we started listening to Timbaland, for some reason, and we were like, “God! This song has been stuck in my head all day and it’s so catchy!”
The drums are pretty simple in that song, because we have mostly electronic drums, but live, I’m going to go a little more all-out —I play real drums, electronic drums, and some trash.
EMMA BROWN: Trash?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: I’ve been getting really into using non-instruments as percussion instruments. I got this steel garbage can and I’ve been playing that alongside my kit, and then I have this aluminum piece that I nailed a chain on to, and the chain makes a rattle.
EMMA BROWN: Do you go scrapping?
ASYA SAAVERDA: Yeah! She’s constantly doing that. It’s embarrassing to walk around with her, because she has this eye out for any good trash, and she’ll impulsively run across the street and grab this thing beside people’s garbage.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: Everyone thinks I’ve gone crazy.
ASYA SAAVERDA: You’re definitely dedicated to it.
CHLOE SAAVERA: Yeah, I’m such a scrounger now. It’s good because we live in the Gowanus area, and there’s so [many] junkyards, and scraps everywhere around there. That’s where I’ve been getting all of my trash.
EMMA BROWN: You mentioned that your dad is a scientist. Is he disappointed that you didn’t follow him into the field of science?
ASYA SAAVERDA: He actually calls us every day and lectures us about it, so he’s pretty angry. [laughs] No, I’m just kidding. He gives us a lot of lectures because we ask for it. We like it. Weirdly, that kind of stuff does help [with our] music. Opening your mind to weird things.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: Since we’re young, I try not to tell interviewers about parents. I don’t want it to seem like they’re involved –they have no involvement with our music stuff. And I like it that way.
ASYA SAAVERDA: But we ask them for advice.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: It is funny because the lectures that our dad gives us help with the music stuff so much. We’re still fascinated by science because of our dad, and we’re always drawing parallels between music and light, or music and evolution, or something like that. It’s fun.
ASYA SAAVERDA: It sounds really pretentious, but you can compare it in a lot of ways.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: Our band name, Chaos Chaos, is actually a giant amoeba, and it’s called Chaos Chaos because scientists didn’t understand why it was so big.
ASYA SAAVERDA: You can see it.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: You can see it. It’s about the size of a pencil point. Isn’t that creepy? [laughs] We thought it was cool for our music to have the name Chaos Chaos because amoebas are constantly changing on the inside. And we think of music that way—constantly changing.
ASYA SAAVERDA: It’s always in a constant state of complete disorder, but it’s always there.
EMMA BROWN: And where did the name Smoosh come from?
CHLOE SAAVERDA: A smaller amoeba? [laughs] Gosh. Actually, we used to love that movie Shrek. Shrek isn’t even that really that old, but we were really young when it first came out, and we loved that song that was by Smash Mouth [on the soundtrack]. We wanted a name like Smash, so we tried Smush, but we spelled it wrong, so everyone pronounced it Smoosh. And now Jersey Shore has taken it over.
EMMA BROWN: I did not know that.
CHLOE SAAVERDA: That’s also reason why we decided to step away from that name. Because smoosh actually means, in Jersey Shore lingo, “to hook up with somebody.” And we only realized that when we’d search “Smoosh” on the internet and get weird Snooki things—”Wait, what does Jersey Shore have to do with this?” We figured out what it meant, and then South Park made an episode about it, and we were like “Alright! It’s over! It’s over! We have to change our name!”
It’s fun to think that we’re just going to be completely starting over. [It’s like] if you create a new Facebook page: “Who am I going to be now?” Or if you go to a new school, and you’re starting over, you get to create whatever personality you want. And it’s nice to have that feeling with our music—that we can make all these [new Chaos Chaos] shows whatever we want to be. There’s probably going to be 10 people at the first few.
S IS OUT NOW AND AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON, iTUNES, AND SPOTIFY. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CHAOS CHAOS, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.