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photo credit: CJ Benninger

Who’s in the band and what do they play?
Dina Bankole – drums, vox
Erin Norris – guitar, vox
Lauren Rossi – bass, vox

When and how did you become a band?
We formed at the end of winter 2012 from an ad on a feminist fb group. Dina joined in the summertime of 2014.

How did you decide on your band name?
We’re named after the first song we wrote, Casual Sweetheart. It’s about dualities.

Can you describe your music?
College radio. Post-Detroit.

What bands, musicians (or other things) are your influences/inspiration?
Dina: Hole, Sleater-Kinney, The Breeders, ESG, Grass Widow, harmonies, loops, mortality, feelings of failure, floral everything, Georgia O’Keefe.
Erin: bands/music: Grass Widow, L7, Downtown Boys, L.A. Witch, Boris; artists: Jenny Morgan, Swoon, Laura Callaghan; other: horses.
Lauren: The Coathangers, Kathleen Hanna, Grass Widow, Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Lower Dens, ESG, Siouxsie Sioux, The Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono, Louise Nevelson, Yayoi Kusama, friendship, matching outfits, glitter.

Do you have any special rituals to prepare for a show?
Dina: Nothing big for me. I should stretch, but I never remember to. I just make sure I have some water and a drank. No jewelry. Pre-set bathroom trip always.
Erin: I make sure I have multiple cups on stage and then I religiously/accidentally knock over one during the set.
Lauren: outfit, beverages, pre-set pee. Ditto Dina on the stretching.. need to make that part of the ritual.

How did you get into making music?
Erin: I took guitar lessons in 6th grade and played the french horn through middle school but neither of those things stuck. I picked up the guitar again at age 33.
Dina: I started playing violin before I even started kindergarten I think. Then piano, flute, piccolo, oboe. I got my first guitar when I was in college. I wrote songs here and there for a few years and started playing out as Secret Twins (solo until it became a duo) in 2009. I always wanted to play drums, but I could only play a little bit here and there when I could play around on someone’s set. CS is the first band I’ve played “real” drums in (as opposed to a floor tom and maracas, etc.) .
Lauren: I started playing bass in fall of 2012, because I’ve always wanted to play music.

Tell us about your first show.
Erin: It was at the Dreamland Theater in Ypsilanti and was part of Totally Awesome Fest. The floor tom fell over and the ride stand collapsed but we made it through the set.
Dina: My first CS show was at BFF Fest 1 in 2014!!
Lauren: I was so nervous and excited and terrified.

Does your gender identity/presentation influence your music? Has it presented any issues for you?
Dina: Maybe only in the sense that my gender affects every aspect of my life, existence, and experiences; consciously and subconsciously, in how I and others perceive and treat me. At the same time, gender doesn’t affect those things at all. My lyrics are always gender neutral and always have been. I’ve always been intrigued/awed by the universality of music – how a song someone else wrote or even I wrote could resonate with others. So I make sure that gendered pronouns don’t get in the way of that. As for issues, the world still has a long way to go when it comes to equality so there have definitely been times when my cis-gendered female-ness has made me a target for discrimination, blatantly and I’m sure unbeknownst to myself.
I prefer to smash the hold white patriarchy has on the music scene from the outside in. I create the opportunities I want for myself and others through my work with Seraphine Collective, BFF Fest, and Mittenfest, and by just being an active, visible, black, and female member of the Detroit music scene. Fuck yo boyz klub.
Erin: Women are paid less, objectified, aren’t considered authorities on anything (especially their own bodies) and have beauty standards forced upon them. These things impact us on a daily basis and seep into anything we do/create.
We are really selective about who we play with when it comes to bands. I don’t want to share a stage with any musicians that are misogynist, homophobic, racists and/or discriminatory.
Lauren: Everything Dina and Erin said. Being a woman influences everything in my life, and I founded Seraphine Collective to fight discrimination and lift up female musicians.

Gear talk! Tell us about your instruments/pedals/amps/drum set!
Erin: Guitar: 1960s Gretsch Corvette. Pedals: Basic Audio Scarab/Wildcat, Devi Ever Soda Meiser, Boss DD-5, TC Electronic Spark Mini Boost and HoF Reverb. I’m still on the hunt for a really good distortion pedal.
Dina: I’m still borrowing drum sets and still looking for my dream set. I know that it will be sparkly! Hopefully sea foam green. I prefer an 18” ride crash (I have this junky Pearl cymbal I looooove, but it’s cracking and splitting..!). Also, a key part of CS’s sound is the Sabian Rocktagon 18” 6 sided crash I use. It’s the best crash cymbal ever. Sticks have to be 5As. Vaters.
Lauren: I play an Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray bass, which I purchased new last year, now customized with a magnificent Jimbo Easter hand-painted pick guard. I have an Ampeg PF350 head and a 1×15 Orange cabinet. Big Muff pedal.

CasualSweetheartLive
photo credit: CJ Benninger

Who are your favorite Detroit musicians/bands?
Erin: I can’t wait for the Stef album to drop.
Dina: I agree with Erin! Add Protomartyr and Loretta Lucas too ❤
Lauren: Shelley Salant, Jen David, Deadbeat Beat, Protomartyr, Little Animal, ADULT., Kelly Jean Caldwell, Bevlove, Britney Stoney, and so many more.

What is your favorite song right now?
Erin: Television ‘s Marquee Moon has on repeat for months. Also Chastity Belt’s James Dean
Dina: I’ve been listening to Korean future R&B artist DΞΔN (Dean)’s album 180 TRBL frequently for the past few months now. Especially when I’m feeling all the feels. I’ve been listening to Japanese Breakfast’s song “Everybody Wants to Love You” on repeat. It features the vocals of Sam from Radiator Hospital (orig Mich band)! And this has been blowing my mind lately. 6/8 time!: BewhY – Forever
Lauren: 105.1 is the shit. My Boo by Ghost Town DJs has been in my head for at least a month.

What is your favorite way to unwind?
Erin: Sleep/napping
Dina: Korean dramas! And food.
Lauren: dancing, camping and napping with my babe.

What do you want everyone to know about your band?
Erin: Our phone recordings frequently start or end with laughter.
Dina: It’s our collective dream to be sponsored by La Croix.
Lauren: We are feminists, very fun to be around, and want to meet everyone.

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