Seattle sisters Chloe and Asya have been making music under the name Smoosh since they were 8 and 6. Now in their teens, they have blossomed into an indie pop duo whoss stripped down keyboard-and-drum sound is on par with their much-older peers. Determined to move forward from the gimmicky pigeonholing that follows their name, Chloe spoke with Exclaim! about her worst tour memories and some changes in the band. Be sure to catch Smoosh opening for Tokyo Police Club on selected dates of Exclaim!’s 16th Anniversary Tour this spring.

What’s new with Smoosh?
We’re working on a lot of new stuff for our next CD. The new stuff is really different; I like it better than both of our other albums. Since we’re getting older, it’s always like that. We sound so much younger on all the other ones, and as I get better at drumming, I end up not liking the albums from a while ago.

Do you ever wish you could change the band name?
Yes! Oh my god! Asya and I wish we could change the name so much. We named it when we were younger, and I’ve told this story so many times, it’s kind of boring to tell it again, but we liked Smash Mouth because we liked the movie Shrek when it first came out, and we wanted something to sound like "smash” so we came up with Smoosh. We want to change it so much, but we feel like if we do no one will really know who we are anymore.

Are there any songs on the old albums that you really like?
I wouldn’t ever listen to them. If I wasn’t in Smoosh, I wouldn’t listen to it. But some of the new stuff I like a lot.

What’s different about the new material?
Our old CDs had a poppy feel to them, and I don’t really like that as much. This CD doesn’t have that as much, it’s more like authentic, and we have some samples that we’re going to put in. We also have a song where, it’s not hip-hop, but we were messing around with Asya’s keyboard, and it’s super fun. We also had this guy who plays the trumpet come in and do a horn sample. We’ve been playing two new songs live already, and I trigger the horn sample live.

How long has your youngest sister been in the band? Will she be on the new album?
I don’t think she’s going to be in the album, but we might just have her play bass live for a few songs or something. Everyone’s thinking that Maia’s been in the band for a while, but she hasn’t been playing for very long. She’s only done two tours. She doesn’t write her bass parts, Asya writes them for her. We’re not sure if she’s going be in the band for a lot longer because she’s a lot younger, and I don’t know if she can decide.

Have you ever thought about having other people join the band, or do you want to keep it in the family?
It’s not like it’s a family band. I don’t want it to be like that because it’s me and Asya — we’re just sisters. I don’t like to think of it as a family band, and I don’t want to. But I think that if we had anyone else be in it, like if it was an older adult it would seem weird, and I don’t know if a kid could be committed enough. Also, if I didn’t have someone who was related to me in the band it might be really uncomfortable to say, "I don’t want that, I don’t think that sounds very good.” I’d feel bad saying that to someone else. My sister and I are friends, but I feel more comfortable telling her if I don’t like something.

What is your favourite memory of the band, and what is your worst memory?
I don’t really have a favourite memory. The recent tours that I can remember the most, I really, really liked, so those have been really good memories for me. As for a worst memory, there was a bunch of stuff that has happened on stage that I was really embarrassed about. When we use our sampler, we don’t have a click track so we just have to guess what time it’s going to be on and try to keep up with it. So the first time we used it, I hit it with my drumstick and I couldn’t hear it at all so I kept trying to turn it up without dropping my drumstick, and it was totally offbeat. Then I hit the wrong one for the wrong song, and a piano part started playing when it was supposed to be a horn sample, and it was really bad. I just turned it off, and I was so pissed. There was another time that I was supposed to hit the horn patch and I forgot, so Asya was trying to do the horn parts on her melodica. That was interesting.

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I don’t like to plan ahead because I just want to live in the moment, and I don’t really know if I’m ever going to really change my mind. I really like music and I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than being a musician or doing something that has to do with music. I can imagine myself doing side jobs because I won’t make enough money being a musician, like writing drum parts for people or something, but I don’t think I’d ever be a dentist or anything.

Do you go to a normal high school? Does that make it difficult to go on tour?
Yeah we go to school. We just bring our homework with us when we go on tour, but for this tour coming up and then for the tours after that, I don’t think that we’re going to bring our homework because it’s just too hard. And after that I don’t think we’re going to go to an actual high school. Maybe we’ll have a tutor, we haven’t decided yet.

Do you have time to do other stuff?
In school we have sports teams, so I’m on the ultimate Frisbee team and Asya’s on the track team. I used to run all the time and do cross country running, and I was really into it. I went to nationals, and I got 21st for nationals. My friend Patty, she was really good. She got sixth place in nationals for girls. I spent most of my time doing that last year. But now I’m not very committed to sports. I like trying to keep in shape, and I like ultimate Frisbee, but I’m only going to be here for one game, so it kind of sucks. But I’d rather go on tour.

How do you feel about music piracy?
I don’t want to be someone who gets all pissed about it. All my friends download, and I think pretty much everyone has. I never have, because I’m a musician, and I think most musicians don’t because they care about their songs being taken off the internet for free. I just think it’s kind of disrespectful. It’s good that they want your songs, but they’re too lazy or they don’t care enough to pay for it. Some CDs are so expensive, but people put so much time and effort into them. For people that don’t care at all to take it for free is kind of mean. But I don’t go around telling people "Don’t do that! Don’t do that!” because I think that would be kind of annoying.

Would you ever sign to a major label?
I don’t know. I think that it’d seem kind of annoying — I keep saying the word annoying! — because we’ve been playing for like seven or eight years, but Barsuk is only our second label. It would seem like the only way we would get to be on a major label is because we’re young, and we’re a two-piece, and I think that if we were older we wouldn’t get that opportunity. So it’s not really fair, and people would think of us as more of a gimmick.

Even on an indie label, do you think people see you as more of a gimmick?
I know some people think of us as a gimmick. If you just look at us, we’re two young girls playing music, and I think we’re getting a lot of really good opportunities. People can be like, "They’re a gimmick.” This doesn’t really have anything to do with it, but I don’t like it when people describe us as two American blonde girls that play music. To me, that seems like it would be thought of as a gimmick. I kind of want to dye my hair because of that. I don’t like the image you get for being blonde. We’re not actually very blonde, we’re kind of just blonde-brown, but I think it would be cooler if my hair were a different colour. Also, then people won’t think we look so alike. I hate it when photographers try to make us pose and smile at the camera. They’re trying to make us look like a gimmick. They make us look so stupid when they do that. And for other bands that are older they don’t do that. I like it when we can just be natural. They try to make it look like a family photo, especially with Maia; "Okay, Maia goes in the middle, Asya and Chloe go behind, now smile!” People can think what they think, I respect that, but I don’t like it when people don’t listen to our stuff or they haven’t seen us live, and they just look at a picture of us and they’re like "I don’t like them, they suck.”