of Chaos Chaos
It’s often pointed out that life’s changes can be particularly stressful on young musicians who balance a “normal” existence with that of a performer. But anyone who’s been following Chloe Saavedra’s career knows that she seems to not only deal well with change but to hungrily seek it out.
“I never plan how I want to sound as a musician or how I want my playing to evolve,” Saavedra says. “I think my drumming is more reflective of what I’m going through as a person than on a musical level, and part of growing up is having this relationship with restraint. With drumming that’s really hard for me, because I usually like to do way too much. I like to be a bit much as a person too!”
When Saavedra and Modern Drummer last spoke, in September 2005, what she and her older sister, Asya, were going though was atypical for girls their age. At the time eleven and thirteen years old, the siblings, known then as Smoosh, were opening for established bands like Pearl Jam and receiving rave reviews for their uncommonly mature take on indie pop. In 2012 the pair introduced a new project, Chaos Chaos, with the five-song EP S. That release found Chloe indulging her love for found sounds and urban vibes, to which she applied her unexpected drumset orchestrations and open-handed, lefty-on-a-righty-kit approach. Late last year Chaos Chaos put out a second EP, Committed to the Crime, which finds the sisters even more effectively incorporating electronic elements.
“I was really into mainstream hip-hop when we did Committed to the Crime,” Saavedra says. “I just liked the simplicity of the drums and how there’s this formula to making people anticipate the downbeat. I wanted to replicate that and have my own spin on it. And I think that being drawn to that music had something to do with my wanting to be into something that made sense to me. I’ve sort of changed a bit, though. Partly because of being in college now, I’m drawn to music that doesn’t have such a clear message, where there are different ways to interpret it.”
Chloe’s recent full-time enrollment in college was a big decision for her, but she and Asya have no intention of putting the band on hold. In fact, at press time plans were already being made for their upcoming appearance at SXSW, an event that brings up a touching memory for the drummer. “I remember I was in sixth or seventh grade at the time,” Chloe begins, “and we were at SXSW to play at Stubb’s. We had a meeting there with our manager, and she was like, ‘I want to talk to you about an offer—Eels want to do a tour with you.’ We were like, ‘Yes! When do we go?’ ‘May through June.’ ‘But…my best friend’s birthday is May 25. Nooo!’ I remember I was crying, like, ‘But there’s going to be cake.’ And Asya was like, ‘Chloe, be quiet! We’re not going to not do it because of your friend’s birthday party!’” [laughs]
Smoosh ended up doing the tour, but the anecdote reflects a real issue that the sisters have always had to grapple with. “Yeah, I missed out on a lot of stuff with my friends,” Saavedra figures. “But I like being super-busy, and Asya and I really wanted to go to college while we were still young, to have this communal experience. And we know that we’ll always do music together. We’ve always tried to balance having a normal life and do our music. If we were to do only one of those things, we wouldn’t be happy.”
Tools of the Trade
Saavedra plays a DW Pacific kit (an end-of-tour gift from former Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong) with 10″ and 12″ toms, a 14″ floor tom, and a 22″ bass drum. She plays a 12″ 1971 Ludwig Super Classic snare borrowed from her teacher, Death Cab for Cutie drummer Jason McGerr. (“I’m hoping he forgot about it,” Chloe says, “because I love this snare.”) Her Paiste cymbals include a 22″ Twenty Custom Collection Full ride, an 18″ Wild crash, and 14″ Alpha Rock hi-hats. She uses a Roland SPDS sampling pad. “And then,” she adds, “there’s the bread pans.”
Story by Adam Budofsky
Photos by Paul La Raia