Here comes Lemon Boy! Joanne Leadbetter
A perfect mix of sweet and sour—and PUNK!—Seattle-based band Lemon Boy is poised to take over.
Lemon Boy imbues its music with a particularly Seattle-DIY ethos that pulls from pop, punk, and riot grrrl, one that celebrates smoking weed and masturbating while also yelling about the horrors of the patriarchy. Self-described as “three ethnically ambiguous girls screaming into mics,” the trio consists of guitarist Yasiman “Yaz” Ahsani, bassist Nicole Giusti, and drummer Myriah Hernandez-Charbeneau.
A mutual friend introduced Ahsani and Giusti, and the two only got a couple of jam sessions in before COVID hit. They spent the first pandemic summer “skating together and dreaming about having a band,” Ahsani told me, before eventually connecting with drummer Myriah. After their first practice session, Ahsani said they all got “goosebumps.” Things just felt right. And since their debut show back in September 2021, Lemon Boy have hit the ground running, with two singles and now a place on Belltown Bloom‘s stacked-ass lineup.
Today, we’re premiering Lemon Boy’s “Oh No” It’s a vulnerable, angsty, and loud rumination on the emotions that erupt when an ex unexpectedly appears at your show.
We rang up guitarist Yaz Ahsani to chat about the band’s songwriting process, influences, and how big into lemons they all are. Here’s our chat:
We’ve pruned this interview for length and clarity
The Stranger: Can I ask about your name, Lemon Boy? Are you guys really into citrus or Lemonheads?
Yasiman “Yaz” Ahsani, Lemon Boy guitarist: We’re citrus enthusiasts! *laughs* The story behind it is that I grew up very uncomfortable with femininity and my body. I was a very androgynous teenager and so it was really difficult for me to be okay with femininity. Then I grew up and I realized I don’t have to be feminine. But as a teenager I felt l like this broken thing. Something that’s a lemon means that it’s busted or kind of messed up or broken. So I felt like a lemon boy—I was stuck in this weird space with my femininity and then I grew up and it’s fine. Lemon Boy is like, it’s okay if you don’t wanna do the thing or you’re not perfect. You’re a lemon boy.
I’ve seen you guys describe yourself as “riot grrrrl,” “your favorite all-girl boy band,” and “pop punk.” Where do you draw a lot of your influences from?
Locally, we’re inspired by Itchy Kitty, La Fonda, Mommy Long Legs, Tacocat, Lisa Prank, and Chastity Belt. We just love that very raw, honest, lyrical stuff. And then from outside of Seattle, we’re big fans of Suzie True, The Breeders, The Runaways, Mitski, Taylor Swift, and Yvette Young of Covet.
I’m glad that you mentioned some local bands! I was gonna say that a lot of your lyrics and songs are biting and funny critiques of capitalism and patriarchy. Seattle has a long history and tradition of feminist DIY punk bands, like Tacocat, Lisa Prank, Chastity Belt, Mommy Long Legs. As a musician, have you found that community to plug into?
We felt really supported by the community from the very beginning! Nate Louis is a champion of the local Seattle music scene and helped us promote and navigate social media as a new Seattle band. Brittne Lunniss, an incredible local photographer, also helped us book our first show and believed in us from the very beginning! We’ve also appreciated Monty Smith working with us to record our first singles. Nicole was lucky enough to take a songwriting class at Hugo House last autumn, taught by two of our local idols, Bree of Tacocat and Robin of Lisa Prank. We learned so much from both of them and are grateful for their continued guidance and support! They are truly comrades to all women in the Seattle music scene.
Ahsani says that they all try to coordinate their outfits to a certain theme while onstage. Danny Ngan
Can you tell me a little bit about this new single, “Oh No”? How did it come together?
There were a lot of people coming to our shows and it was very new for us have to navigate the social avenues of, you know, there are exes, there are your closest friends, there’s people you’ve never met, there are acquaintances. There’s just a lot of emotions surrounding [performing]. At the time I felt very protective of making sure us as a band were okay with like all of the people going. I felt very defensive! *laughs* So I wrote that song and I played it for [my bandmates] and it just came together.
“Oh No” is unapologetically about your ex coming to your show and being swarmed with conflicted feelings, while also having to stay focused on performing and not letting the gut-punch emotions distract you. An ode to Blink-182 is referenced with “…you’ll be at my show”, but from a much different take.
Do you do most of the songwriting?
I don’t do most of the songwriting. I did write the backbone for [“Oh No”], but for the most part, I think we all come together and collaborate pretty heavily with all of our songs.
What is most important to you guys to address in your music? Where are you writing from, especially as an all-girl band in this dude-heavy scene?
All of our songs don’t necessarily share an overarching theme. Obviously there’s like this underlying tone of like, screw you *laughs* down with the patriarchy, but it really depends on the song. For the most part, our agenda is: we’re just gonna do whatever we want. We’re not gonna let the current state of things or other people affect that.
Obviously we’re not big fans of capitalism and all that stuff, but “Sugar Daddy” specifically is a very political song. We do have other songs that are just very honest. One of our earlier songs that people thought were really funny was about just the stress and sexism that comes with going to Guitar Center. It’s just like this very stressful thing, as a woman to walk into a music store and have men talk down to you. So yeah, there is a forever underlying feminist agenda.
Are you guys working on a record or are you trying to put out some more music?
We’re working on a new song, inspired by a prompt Nicole received from Bree and Robin in the songwriting class, called “Stinky Lunch” which is about our shared childhood experience of being bullied by our classmates for bringing an ethnic lunch to school. But in the future it’d be cool to get the support of a label and put out an EP or an album. Even if we don’t get that, we’ll get there, but it’s just a huge undertaking. And it’s also expensive *laughs.*