Q&A: Blushh talks SXSW, touring and wet paint

Blushh's Shabnam Ferdowsi.

Anxiety, boredom, introversion, loneliness — these are the through lines of Los Angeles-based garage rock outfit Blushh’s music, floating beneath the surface of the band’s fun, energetic pop rock sound and its undeniably infectious melodies.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Blushh is the project of musician, photographer and videographer Shabnam Ferdowsi. Filled to the brim with power chords, catchy hooks and lyrics so relatable you’ll be forced to keep listening, Blushh is an act you’ll want to keep an eye on in the pop punk scene.

Mixed Mantra caught up with Ferdowsi to chat about Blushh’s recent tour, her origins as a musician and, of course, wet paint. Read on:

MIXED MANTRA: First of all, how’s your day going?

SHABNAM FERDOWSI: I’m doing great. The day is just starting. I can’t complain. This is a good way to start my day.

MM: How was tour?

SF: Tour was amazing. It was awesome. It was crazy. I’m still tired. I think I need to rest for a few days before I start dreaming about the next tour.

MM: What was it like performing at Treefort Music Fest?

SF: Treefort was crazy. I think we played my favorite show we’ve ever played, ever. It was insane. We played the first night around 10:30 p.m. We had played to audiences that were just moshing and crowd-surfing before, but those were house shows and the audiences were not there for us. They just happened to be there having a good time, which is really awesome to experience, but they weren’t there for us. But at Treefort, not only were they moving and moshing, but they were singing along. There was a whole row of people right in front of the stage that were definitely singing along to at least two songs. That’s something I’ve never experienced before in my life. It was awesome.

MM: Could you tell us Blushh’s origin story?

SF: Yeah, sure! To tell Blushh’s origin story, I have to tell my adventures in music. For a few years before I started Blushh, I was doing a lot of behind-the-scenes music stuff. I was running a music blog, I was throwing shows, I had dabbled in booking tours and doing some freelance PR — kind of whatever a band wanted, I was down to do it on a super indie, local, DIY level. Through doing that for a few years, I eventually got to the point where all of my friends were musicians. When I started writing songs in 2015, I showed my friends and it was really, really easy to start a band and record music, because they offered. I really wasn’t planning on doing anything with the music I started writing. I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know what I even wanted from it. But the second I showed my friends, they were like, “Oh, we’re going to record your music and we’re going to play in your band.” I was like, “Okay, I guess this is what we’re doing now.” That was early 2016. Over the course of 2016, I kept writing more music, until fall of 2016 when I recorded a song, started practicing with my band and performed my first show all within three weeks. From there, everything started happening really fast. I’ve had different friends be band members here and there, I’ve recorded a bunch of songs in the past two and a half years, and here we are. I feel pretty good about my bandmates right now, as far as how tight we feel and our energy on stage. Compared to two and a half years ago, I feel like this is something that I want to put energy into and see where it goes now. Two and a half years ago, I had barely played a show.

MM: When did you start playing guitar?

SF: I took lessons for a few years when I was like 9, 10 and 11. After that, my guitar just stayed in the corner of my room. It honestly stayed in the corner of my room until like 2015, when I actually started writing songs. I didn’t buy an electric guitar until 2016. I can play well enough to play my own songs right now. I play a lot of power chords — nothing too complicated. It’s definitely something I’m excited to get better at.

MM: Is there a story behind your band name?

SF: I spent many, many, many pages just word vomiting. I honestly don’t remember what the final contenders were, but Blushh was the final one. I decided to put an extra “h” for search engine optimization reasons, and I am proud to say that if you Google “blush” with two “h”s, we’re all over the first page.

MM: What was the worst name up for consideration?

SF: Honestly, I don’t know. They were all lukewarm. I don’t remember there being any terrible ones. I do remember one was “Wet Paint.” We quickly decided that was the wrong band name.

MM: What was it like performing at SXSW?

SF: It was also amazing. It feels like Treefort, but six times bigger and crazier. We had a pretty relaxed schedule. We played four shows in four days, so we had enough time to focus on our shows but also roam around and catch other bands. It was really, really inspiring to see bands that we’re striving to be like and musicians that we’re striving to be as skilled as. Playing, too, was really awesome, because we were playing to completely new people who we had never played to before. Something that started happening on like the second day was, when we were walking around Austin, people started recognizing us and pointing us out like, “Oh hey, you’re Blushh! That was a good set!” That was crazy to feel.

MM: We actually discovered Blushh through NPR’s Austin 100 playlist. What was it like to be included in that?

SF: It’s been crazy just to see how much traction the streams have picked up since then. I was on the Austin 100 playlist, but that same week, they featured “I’m Over It” on their podcast All Songs Considered. Not only was I on their podcast and their website, they also put me on their Spotify playlist. So that just skyrocketed “I’m Over It” and Blushh’s general Spotify presence. Literally thousands and thousands of new listeners in the first two weeks. It’s been crazy to see.

Blushh’s current lineup also includes Skyler Garn on lead guitar, Kenzo Cardenas on bass and Arturs Reirs on drums. Stream Blushh’s music on Spotify here.