Daydream Vacation is the new collaboration between Asya of Smoosh and Dave Einmo of Head Like A Kite. Their debut album, Dare Seize The Fire, comes out on June 19th. I talked to vocalist Asya about living in Sweden, her group Smoosh, the process of recording this album, and the differences between New York and Seattleâ€™s music scenes.
Where did you grow up?
When I was really young, I lived in Salt Lake City. I mostly grew up in Seattle, though. I spent three years in Sweden, from when I was 15 to when I was18.
When did you start making music?
I started when I was 9. I formed Smoosh with my younger sister, Chloe.
You guys famously would never disclose your last name to the press. I donâ€™t suppose I can have it?Â
Actually, yeah. Itâ€™s Saavedra.
What was it like spending your teenage years in Sweden?
It was actually a pretty amazing experience. It was kind of funny because, in the States, my family spoke Swedish and we felt Swedish. In Sweden, we felt American, even when we spoke Swedish. It was sort of hard to adapt to the culture. But I love it there, and I consider it a second home.
Did you continue to make music in Sweden?
Yeah. We wrote the third Smoosh album in a cabin in the woods, which was a really Swedish experience I guess. And Dave (Einmo) and I wrote the album while I was there.
I read that you wrote the album over Skype?
We didnâ€™t write it over skype, but we talked about it over skype. We would have weekly discussions about what direction we wanted each track to take.
Whatâ€™s the recording process like for Daydream Vacation?
Well, I always have to be standing. I use LOGIC and record my demo vocal tracks over Daveâ€™s instrumental. And I canâ€™t sit. I have to be standing and dancing and moving. Itâ€™s a different style of music [compared to Smoosh]. Itâ€™s hard to find something that works with the percussiveness of the song. When the demos are done, I fly to Seattle and Dave and I have a month-long recording marathon.
And the songwriting process?
With Smoosh, usually it will start with keyboard or guitar and Iâ€™ll kind of just be experimenting with a melody. When I come up with something catchy, I record it. I get excited when I try to add weird things to it, and when Iâ€™m trying to be adventurous with different parts. Thatâ€™s how I create new sounds. Then I have too much, so I strip it down to make it more listenable. Itâ€™s always music first, then vocals. For the vocals on Smoosh songs, I just start out mumbling words, with no lyrics. Some songs take a really long time. I make ten versions and they change drastically. More simple ones, with fewer instruments and less electronic elements, take fewer versions to get down. Iâ€™m always recording different versions of songs while I write them. Adding new parts and layering is really easy that way.
With Daydream Vacation, Dave will write a beat or a whole song and send it to me. I put my dancing clothes on and start recording vocals. When I have a vocal track I like, I send it to him over email. When we have a rough draft, we meet together. We work on the vocals, and add in ideas for the arrangement and melody.
I wrote the vocals in Sweden, in the cabin in the woods. It was a really unique experience, writing these dance vocals and seeing birds fly over my head.
Who are your major influences?
It totally depends. When I write music, I listen to different stuff than when Iâ€™m just hanging out. I donâ€™t want to recreate something thatâ€™s already been created. I listen to a lot of PJ Harvey. Lately, Iâ€™ve been listening to a lot of blues stuff. A lot of John Lee Hooker.
Iâ€™m calling you on a 646 number. Youâ€™re in New York, now?
Yeah, Iâ€™ve been here for a couple of years. I moved here right after coming back from Sweden. New York seems a little more European than most of America, so I like it.
How does the NY music scene compare to Seattleâ€™s?Â
The music scene here is different. Thereâ€™s a really tight community in Seattle. If you leave, itâ€™s hard to get back into it. In New York, people are used to coming and going. In Seattle, people are following each other. I love the Seattle Music scene and am inspired by how experimental it is, but it is exciting for me to travel to a different place with a different music scene –especially NY’s, since it is so open minded.
Do you think both fans of Smoosh and Head Like A Kite will find something to love in Daydream Vacation?
I think some fans will. We have some different fans from different albums. We play a lot of different types of music. Some will, some wonâ€™t. Iâ€™ve already noticed that. I think itâ€™s pretty cool that both Smoosh and Head Like A Kite fans are coming together and seeing the same show.
Is there anything else you want to plug or talk about?
We have a CD release party JUNE 23rd at the Crocodile Lounge, and the album comes out on June 19th. We have some New York shows later in the summer. For now, weâ€™re focusing on Internet stuff. We have a lot of videos, which are pretty crazy, so weâ€™re releasing those. The video for “Dare Seize The Fire” can be streamed on the website, so people should definitely check that out.
Also, Smoosh is finishing a project. Weâ€™re changing our name. Weâ€™re changing our sound. Itâ€™s a pretty new thing and itâ€™s pretty different. Weâ€™re going out on a limb. Itâ€™s an EPâ€™s worth of songs. The whole project is about taking risks.
Thatâ€™s sort of what â€œDare Seize The Fireâ€ is about, right? Taking risks, seizing the day?
I think itâ€™s really important in anything you do. When youâ€™re the boss of yourself and when youâ€™re the boss of what you do. Itâ€™s easy to settle and itâ€™s scary to put yourself in an uncomfortable place. If you try something new, musically, you never know whatâ€™s gonna happen. I only get better when I challenge myself. I think itâ€™s just random that I happened to like music. If I loved anything as much as I love music, I would put the level of effort that I put into music into that.