Courtney Yasmineh ~ Red Letter Day

Courtney Yasmineh

Courtney Yasmineh

Indie alternative rocker Courtney Yasmineh and her band are literally rocking the planet. With the success of her album Red Letter Day, they are getting ready to tour the US on their way to SXSW in March.

My favorite track from Red Letter Day is Misfits and Losers, because it’s super fun and it reminds me of my bar-hopping days. So, I asked Courtney to tell me about the song. She laughed and explained: “My band and I have done a lot of touring lately. When we’re on tour, we run into lots of crazy people and we go to lots of crazy places. We’ve done a lot of touring in Europe these last couple of years, and it just seems like a lot of weird stuff happens. We look at each other and we say, ‘Oh my God, get me outta here!’”

Courtney Yasmineh rocks the look and her music totally reminds me of early punk bands like Blondie. It’s interesting, because this is a new sound for Courtney: “I started out doing more singer-songwriter stuff. Each new record gets more and more rock. Red Letter Day is my fifth record, and I’ve gotten more into playing electric guitar, and my sound has gotten more alternative rock. I think it’s gotten a lot more fun.”

Who are the music influences who inspired Courtney Yasmineh in her transition? “I started out loving Bob Dylan. I was a Bob Dylan freak. I guess I’ll always love Bob Dylan. When I started making this record, I thought about The Rolling Stones and T. Rex. I did think about Blondie and Debbie Harry a little bit, but I wasn’t relating as much to female bands at that moment. Now that the record’s out and people are saying the Debbie Harry thing, obviously it’s my blond hair. My blond hair is new.”

Courtney Yasmineh - Red Letter DayWhen I listened to the single Cleaning Crew, I heard some island influences, which is not heard in the rest of the album. I asked Courtney what’s with that song? “Cleaning Crew is a band and fan favorite. I wrote that song when I was trying to sell my house, so I could buy a conversion van and go on tour more. As I was prepping to sell the house, they said I had to stage it. A cleaning crew came to help me fix up the house and I got totally bummed out. I took my guitar and went up to my room and started singing, ‘Clean it up, clean it up right now.’ I was mad that those people were in my house and that inspired the song.”

Since then, Courtney Yasmineh has sold her house and spends half her time in Minneapolis with the band and half the time in New York City, trying to get her music out. “I’m enjoying not being tied down.”

Courtney Yasmineh’s story is one of bravery and determination. She’s been on her own from the time she was a teenager. The short version of her back story is: “My parents fell apart when I was a teenager, and I was in Chicago at the time. I ran away, because I didn’t want to deal with it. I went to northern Minnesota, where my grandfather had a hunting cabin. He had died and the cabin was deserted. I lived up there and that’s how I got into listening to Bob Dylan. Everybody listens to Bob Dylan, because that’s where he’s from. I started writing songs and playing in bars. I’d been writing songs since I was 12, but when I ran away and spent a lot of time alone, I listened to a lot of Bob Dylan and really got inspired.”

In addition, Courtney Yasmineh has lots of great videos on her website and YouTube. She has music videos, preview videos and live videos. I just had to learn more about her video strategy: “We were on one of our tours to Europe, and we ended up in Paris without a gig. We had the whole band there and we were wondering what we should do. A friend of ours flew into Paris from Minneapolis at the last minute. We spent the time in Paris making the Heartbreak Woman music video. That time was as rewarding as anything we’d ever done on tour. It’s a wonderful video. We got hooked on documenting the songs and documenting the tours. It makes everything come to life for people.”

Courtney Yasmineh performingCourtney also went on to tell the back story behind her Red Letter Day music video: “In my new Red Letter Day video, I paint a picture and end up in this weird art gallery playing the guitar. Originally, we wanted to do a sex video with me naked in bed, because Red Letter Day is a very sexy song, but I chickened out and ended up playing the guitar and painting pictures instead. We still have to do the sexy one.”

She successfully mixes video as part of her overall social media strategy: “With anything I do, I try to make sure that anyone who would care about it knows. It’s not so much that I want to cram the videos down people’s throats. I just try to make sure that anyone who would want to see it gets to see it. That’s the mindset that I use.”

What’s that one piece of advice that Courtney Yasmineh has to share with fellow recording artists? “I know exactly what I would say: It’s never too late and there’s never a time to give up. Every time I’ve thought it’s getting too hard, that’s the time we have a new, wonderful breakthrough. If this is what you love, just keep doing it, no matter what.”

What’s up next for Courtney Yasmineh? “We’re super excited because one of my super fans has offered to help us by taking us in his van down to our gigs at SXSW. Since we have a van and a driver, we get to make a tour out of it. We’re going to play in Madison, WI; Columbia and St Louis, MO; and then three nights in Austin, TX.”

Courtney added: “Of course, we’re bringing the videographer. We have an idea for making a music video for Misfits and Losers while we’re in Austin for SXSW. You know, there are so many crazy people there, with people wearing American flags and nothing else. We have this idea to film us walking through the bars and walking down the main street in Austin and singing Misfits and Losers.”

I can’t wait to see that video and to hear Courtney Yasmineh play live when she comes to the Pacific Northwest.

The Amused Now Featured Artist Series

Courtney Yasmineh head shot 2Courtney Yasmineh

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now