Hi. My name is Lauren. I decided to start this blog because I’m interested in learning more about other female musicians in Detroit, and so far, it seems like I’m not the only one. I want to create a positive space for people to learn more about one another, and be encouraged and inspired by each other. I also want this space to showcase and raise awareness of the many amazingly talented women that live and make music in Detroit. Before I introduce other musicians I’m talking to, here’s a little bit about me.
Name: Lauren Rossi
Current location: Hubbard Farms, Southwest Detroit
Day job: I am a museum professional and arts organizer. I currently work full-time at the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor (yes, it is a long commute) where I manage public programs and student engagement. I also run an artist residency program called Third Story in my house.
Which instrument(s) do you play?
I play bass guitar. I sing a little bit too.
Ocean Trenches is the intermittent project that I have with my husband, Ryan, which started when I first picked up the bass. Casual Sweetheart is my main band.
How would you describe your music?
I’m still figuring out how to answer this question…
Who are your other band members?
Causal Sweetheart is Erin Norris, MaryAnn Kozlowski, and me. They both play guitar and drums and sing. Erin lives in Ann Arbor, and MaryAnn is living in Lexington, Kentucky now. We met on the internet.
Where did your band name come from?
The first song we ever wrote together is called Casual Sweetheart, and after collectively coming up with a list of like 40 ideas for band names, and not being able to choose one, we all decided that Casual Sweetheart would be a great name.
How long have you been playing together?
Erin and I started playing together in December 2012, and the three of us got together in January 2013.
Just Ocean Trenches. It’s rad spacey weirdo rock. I play bass in that project too. We have a drum machine, and Ryan plays guitar, and melodica, and keyboard, and sometimes drums. I’m trying to convince him that we should have another band member. The name Ocean Trenches was a gift from our friend Matt.
Where did you grow up?
Dearborn, Redford, and Livonia, MI.
Do you remember your first experience with music as a child?
I remember listening to my dad’s records and dancing in the living room at our house in Redford.
What was your first favorite song?
I don’t know which was my favorite first, Peter Piper by Run-D.M.C. or Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen.
When and why did you start playing?
I started playing bass in fall of 2012, because I’ve always wanted to play music.
What was the first song you learned to play?
Come As You Are, by Nirvana
Describe your first instrument.
My bass is a 1981 BC Rich Bich. Ryan found it at a pawn shop in Pontiac about 5 years ago. It’s mine now.
What gear do you currently own, and how did you choose it?
I have an Ampeg PF-350 Portaflex bass head and an a 400 watt 1×15 Orange cabinet. Ryan bought me the head as a gift last year. I bought the cab after I inherited a little bit of money from my grandfather this year. Before that I was borrowing other peoples’ cabinets for all of our shows. I wanted to buy something that was really good, and that would last forever, and after playing a bunch of different ones, it was clear that the Orange was the right way to go.
When did you first perform live?
Casual Sweetheart’s first show was in April 2013 at Totally Awesome Fest in Ypsilanti. We were supposed to play in someone’s backyard, but it got rained out, so it got moved to the Dreamland Theater in Ypsi, which was a really fun place to play.
What was the first song you ever wrote called/about?
The first song I wrote the lyrics to is a Casual Sweetheart song called Secret Cult. It is about both Scientology and the Fluxus art movement. It’s inspired by Beck Hansen and his grandfather, Al Hansen, who was a Fluxus artist.
What are your current influences?
Other female musicians. Grass Widow. The Coathangers. I’m also really inspired by a lot of 60s psychedelic rock. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Michael Yonkers’ Microminiature Love album.
What is your favorite thing to play?
I just love to play. I love writing songs with my bandmates. I really like playing and singing at the same time, which is still a big challenge, but I really enjoy it.
How do you balance your music with other obligations?
Well, obligations are obligations, and I can get bogged down by them pretty easily. I generally practice in the evenings, and sometimes on the weekends. I wish I could practice every day. I’m trying to be better about balancing everything so that I can practice more.
What was the first record you bought with your own money?
Madonna’s Immaculate Collection
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Paula Abdul at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 1991
Who is your all-time favorite musician/band(s)?
David Bowie. The Velvet Underground and Nico. Yaz. Devo. The Beatles. and The Rolling Stones.
Who is your favorite Detroit musician/band(s)?
I’m really into Protomartyr, Tyvek, Ritual Howls and Illy Mack. Soft Location is an all-time fave. And Rodriguez!
What is your favorite local venue to play?
Well, I haven’t played at many yet, so I don’t really have a favorite.
What is your favorite non-local venue?
I’ll let you know in January, after I play at a couple.
What was the best show you’ve played?
My favorite is probably our first show in Detroit, at the Lager House with Secret Twins and Blizzard Babies (Chicago). That and the Nirvana tribute show we did in September at the Old Miami – that was so much fun.
What was the worst show?
Probably the first one, because I was terrified and pretty much in shock the whole time.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Self-confidence. And time. There’s never enough time.
What advice would you give to other women who want to play music?
The best advise I have received was from Ryan. He told me that I didn’t need to know what I was doing, or how to do it the “right way,” and all that matters is that it feels good, because if it feels good then it probably sounds good too. I think it has worked out pretty well for me so far.
What are your immediate (1-3 year) goals for your music?
Casual Sweetheart is hoping to do a week-long East Coast tour in May 2014, which would be great. Otherwise, I’d like to continue working on writing and recording songs with Casual Sweetheart and Ocean Trenches. Ryan and I are planning to record some Ocean Trenches songs in January.
Are you interested in working on new projects with new people?
Do you have any shows coming up?
We’re playing at the Lager House on Thanksgiving with The Intended, Mountains and Rainbows, and Martha.
We’re also in the process of booking five other shows in December/January, one in Ann Arbor, another in Detroit, one in Kalamazoo, and one in Chicago, and one in Lexington, Kentucky.
Where can the people hear your music and/or get in touch with you?