The Nashville scene has become flooded by Los Angeles transplants in recent years. While it’s often a source of complaints, there’s plenty of hidden treasures coming our way. Persian-led DIY band, Shedonist, is a shiny example of that. A band as organic as their frontwoman’s homemade tea and glowing in the glimmer of hard work, it was a true pleasure to speak one on one with the woman at the helm of the ship.
D&D: Alrighty, as per tradition: Introduce yourself, role in the band, and tell me what horror movie you think you’ve got the best chance of surviving?
Jasmin Toubi: What’s up! I’m Jasmin Toubi, lead singer/songwriter and rhythm guitarist of Shedonist! Oh gosh, I hate horror movies and my biggest fear is being stranded without glasses/contacts because without them I’d be dead immediately. I’m -5.5 in my eyesight prescription. I do like Zombieland though… Not a horror movie!
D&D: Speaking of survival, you’re far more outdoorsy than a lot of the ghouls that grace our pages. Tell me about your love for wild flowers, and what particularly led you to making tea out of whatever grows in your yard.
Jasmin: Honestly, the pandemic and the empty grocery shelves we saw made me want to be more sustainable and less reliant on big corporations to feed and sustain myself. Moving to Nashville was also a big catalyst, as I’m familiar with all the native plants in CA, but now I have a lot of learning to do and it’s been really fun! Being in nature is also the easiest way to calm the fuck down. I’m starting my gardening journey but I’ve got a long way to go. Very stoked about my one bell pepper right now!
D&D: Onto the music! “Daddy” has quickly become a fan favorite, but you originally didn’t even want it on the record.
Jasmin: “Daddy” was written as a joke on the spot! I was in the studio with our former drummer, Nicole Lemberg, and our buddy, Cire, and he just randomly threw out the prompt “write a song about daddy issues” and I wrote “Daddy” immediately. To me it’s a throwaway song; two chords, silly joke lyrics, doesn’t have that much meaning to me. But the rest of the band and our fans love hearing that one live, so we had to keep it.
D&D: In a previous interview with Spinex Music, you mentioned “Bad Decisions” being about a questionable night in LA, but didn’t elaborate. Any chance I can get that story out of you?
Jasmin: “Bad Decisions” is a reference to my life when I first started the band. I had just graduated college and got into law school, but made the decision not to go. Music has always been my passion, and I figured if I don’t try, I’ll never know. So, I set off living as crazy of a life I could in search of meaning. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in an office and I’m pretty happy with my decision, even though my parents probably still aren’t!
The first verse is just about how I’d hang out with tons of different guys, maybe a different guy every night of the week. I was starting from the bottom in terms of my music career, so really I was trying to meet and learn from as many people as possible. The second verse is about dropping out of law school, and the third verse is about hoping that my “bad decision” to do so and pursue music will someday pay off. I’m still working my ass off and not making a ton of money, but I’m making art that I’m proud of and valuing a life of substance over financial gains. I think overall it’s a win. The name Shedonist also kinda ties into this theme. Valuing pleasure or personal fulfillment over what society tells you is what you should do.
D&D: As if Shedonist isn’t already extremely collective genre-wise, you’re also a former theater kid.
Jasmin: Theater was really a way for me to get out of my shell. I was the quiet kid until I was not. Then I was the annoying kid running around and making stupid jokes and singing all the time. It was also my first real introduction to American/Western music, because my formal music education mostly consisted of Persian music until then. I think what I take from both Persian music and musicals would have to be the vocal style of belting. Both genres emphasize strong vocals and melodies, and that's what I loved most about American musicals.
D&D: Good, bad, or just plain weird, what’s the most memorable thing that’s happened to you at a show?
Jasmin: My favorite show so far has probably been the bittersweet goodbye LA show; Westside Revival at Harvelles in Santa Monica August 2021. Josh Loney of Bent Knee Records (and my BF) had a residency there and he’d put on 5 local acts every last Friday of the month. He, Ben (our drummer) and his drummer's band, The Absurd, built a really amazing community of independent artists and music lovers who’d come out and throw down every month. It was such a sad goodbye but also so heartwarming to see everyone come together to send us off to Nashville. We packed the place and had everyone screaming “okay daddy!”. I may or may not be making a special guest appearance at this month’s Westside Revival (July 29 2022) ;)
D&D: Is it hard to continuously split your time between LA & Nashville? Do you have any desire to someday choose between the two?
Jasmin: We’re still settling into Nashville, and it’s been an interesting transition for me mostly because LA is my hometown and the south in general is so different. I love the people here though. Everyone is so nice and giving, I had a culture shock moment where I realized how fucked up it is to grow up in a city where everyone judges you immediately and only wants to interact with you if they stand something to gain from it. I still have a lot of social unlearning to do. I don’t know where I’d like to be forever yet. Part of the reason we moved was to be able to tour more easily, and I’m excited to explore more new places in this awesome country. There’s so much to see and learn from. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m a big city girl or if I prefer the small town life.
D&D: You mentioned your partner, Josh, as your cofounder at Bent Knee Records; A DIY label created in the process of making your debut album. There’s this old school idea that it’s unhealthy to work with your spouse—What’s your two cents on that?
Jasmin: Honestly, Josh and I are both difficult people to work with. We’re both very opinionated and sometimes we butt heads. At the end of the day, though, we both truly believe in each other and support each other in any way we can. We pick up tasks for each other and help each other out when possible. It is nice to have someone who can pick up your slack or hold you accountable to your word. He’s also an insane filmmaker, so that’s a bonus for any musician.
D&D: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do (so far) because of Bent Knee Records?
Jasmin: Last summer, Bent Knee Records put on its very first festival, Cactus Flower Cookout, in Joshua Tree, CA. That was a life changing weekend for all of us. It was 109 degrees in the desert with the sun beating down and we were setting up tents, carrying cases of water back and forth, Taylor of Graves & the Bad Weather was grilling under the hot sun to feed everyone, but we frickin pulled it off and it was so much fun. We had an indoor stage at Landers Brew (RIP) and an outdoor stage, camping, food included with tickets, a kiddy pool, and so many amazing bands playing. Josh and Ben got so sunburnt, they were red lobsters. That weekend we all really bonded and knew that we’d be able to handle anything, like moving across the country, which we did a couple months later. We’re hoping to put on another festival this fall, but the timing and location are in flux since Lander’s is no longer.
D&D: Here’s your spot to plug whatever you want!
Jasmin: We just put out a music video for “Daddy”, we had so many amazingly talented people working on it from the daddys to the crew to the director, Margo Sawaya. It’d mean the world if y'all showed it some love!
D&D: And finally, what words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers/your supporters?
Jasmin: Never give up on yourself. If you want to do something, do it. Don’t listen to the haters or your parents or anyone who tells you that your dreams are unrealistic. Everything in life takes work, so work towards yourself!