I’ve known Susie Ghahremani as an awesome indie illustrator, artist, crafter, and good friend for more than a decade but had only scratched the surface of her musical talent through karaoke. Last week I saw her play with a fairly new band, Bulletins, right down the street from my house at the Silverlake Lounge. The sound is both lovely and cosmic with elements that recall the energy-filled hooks of Velocity Girl and noisy undercurrents of Asobi Seksu. Afterward, I had to ask my pal from San Diego for more details…
MW: It’s been a while since you’ve played in a band, hasn’t it? What got you back into it?
SG: It’s true that I haven’t really been playing music in awhile–slowing my pace recording/playing as Snoozer was a combination of feeling increasingly burned out mixed with developing stage fright mixed with a blossoming art career that became increasingly demanding. I was (and am) juggling work as an artist/illustrator, meeting deadlines in the mornings before playing shows at night, which is really pretty exhausting. I didn’t used to have stage fright, then one day I did and it sucks. I still get this fear-of-spotlight at art shows, which is why you often find me at my openings standing outside the gallery.
I wasn’t really planning to get back into being in a band, but I was browsing Craigslist for a band for my shy husband Michael to join (now the singer/guitarist of The Paper Thins) and I saw an ad for a band that sounded perfect for me. So here we are!
Incidentally, our singer/bassist Lorelei Plotczyk used to work on HGTV’s Crafters Coast-to-Coast and had contacted me to be on the show ages ago! So we were already connected!
MW: You’ve been in more bands than Snoozer and Bulletins. Can you give me a short laundry list of your bands with brief descriptions?
SG: Here are the main ones:
The Spoolies (1996-1998, I think?) - My high-school-aged all-girl band.
Snoozer, nee The Boy/Girl Party and Brie (1994-sorta-ongoing, not that active after 2007) – My solo project. Indie pop / indie. I think my album Winter Stops All Sound (Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records) was my first mention in Giant Robot!
Snuggletooth (2002) – Very short lived indie pop with my college BFF.
Palephant (2012) – After dating my husband for 10 years (also a musician, who I met through Providence RI’s music scene when we both lived there) we finally started writing songs together. I play whatever Michael isn’t playing. We hardly ever practice but our songs are always stuck in my head.
Bulletins (2012) – The band I am in now that you just saw! Dreampop/Indie. I play keys/sing harmonies.
MW: What’s it like being in a band as an “adult”? Advantages and disadvantages?
SG: Pretty much the same. Advantages: fun, social, creative, exciting. Disadvantages: expensive, time-consuming, exhausting, tinnitus.
I definitely have a lot more responsibilities now which makes it harder to balance a band in the mix. But since I last really put effort into music, the Internet has really changed the game, making it so much easier to connect with like-minded people/venues/listeners thanks to Twitter, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Bandsintown, etc.
MW: It’s got to be weird jamming out songs with a band after being an indie artist who’s used to being in total control… Or maybe it’s kind of fun?
SG: Totally great! I’ve always loved being part of a band dynamic, and with the aforementioned stage fright, I much prefer being in the background and having someone else front the band! (My first time doing so.)
MW: What’s it like working with your brother in the studio?
SG: It was so. Much. Fun. I always love hanging with my family but it’s extra awesome seeing someone you love at work, just being totally amazing at what he or she does. Check out his recordings for Gelmania, The Apple Sisters, and Jon Daly’s Rafflecast and you’ll see what I mean.
And it was really my first time ever working on a creative collaboration with him! My brother, like everyone else in my family, is ridiculously talented and I feel really lucky that I get to be related to him. More about him at cyrusg.com.
MW: Thursday night’s show was your first outside of San Diego. Any tours in the works?
SG: Someday, but nothing in the works today! I think we want to record an album first.
MW: Any other projects I need to know about?
SG: I’m speaking at The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art on June 27 in La Jolla, CA. I’m on the awe-inspiring board for the Illustration Conference happening in Portland in July 2014. I have a few group art shows opening in the near future–such as this one in Florida curated by my friend Heidi Kenney.
I recently released a new collection with Chronicle Books–a fox journal with sticker tabs and a bird/telephone/typewriter-themed office supply kit, both available in my shop.
I’m about to launch new collections of jewelry, buttons, and magnets.
I’m also designing a T-shirt for the amazing Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater and some illustrations, wedding invitations, and logos for some of the coolest, kindest people I’ve ever met.
MW: I just saw you last week signing your new children’s book, What Will Hatch?, as well. How’s that going?
SG: Amazing!! It’s my first picture book, and I am so proud and astonished by the response it’s been receiving–it was selected as part of a national campaign at Barnes & Noble displayed next to classics I grew up with like Make Way For Duckling! It’s surreal and touching seeing my friends’ kids covet it. Sometimes I get teary signing it to the next generation of indie rockers and artists. I hope it shapes the way they see the world in the same way books did for me at that age.