Give a warm welcome to the next entry in our “Ticketfly Talent” series, which showcases the many talents of our Flyers. We’ve got loads of musicians, DJs, singers, and artists of all types who are Fly by day and rock stars by night (though we tend to think they’re rock stars 24/7). They’re awesome, and we want the world to know.
Today, we catch up with Katiana Mashikian, who not only curates the amazing shows that we feature on our homepage, but jams out on the bass and sings in dream pop band dot Vom. Here, she talks about her musical past—which includes performing on the Sunset Strip as a teen—her stint as a college radio DJ, and her love for “Tarzan Boy.”
Ticketfly: Tell us some fun facts about yourself.
Katiana: My name is Katiana Mashikian but you can call me Kati. I grew up in Pasadena. I moved up here [to San Francisco] to go to college at USF and kind of fell in love with the music scene while working at KUSF, the radio station. I fell into this job at Will Call, and then we got acquired by Ticketfly. Now I work for Ticketfly as a content curator.
TF: What was it about San Francisco’s music scene that made you fall in love?
What’s really unique about this city is that it’s so easy to get everywhere. Most of the music venues are right in your face. You walk by them every day when you’re going to get a coffee, or a burrito in the Mission. No matter what; you walk down the street and you hear music, which is pretty cool. In L.A., it’s kind of hard. You have to know where to go because you have to drive everywhere, and I don’t have a license or a car because I just never got one. I’ve renewed my permit, like, a million times, but I’ve not actually driven any car (laughs). San Francisco’s super appealing because it’s this magical city where you can run amok. Also, the music scene is super tight. There are a lot of local musicians who all seem to know each other. It’s just a really small supportive community. You could be some dude trying to start a label with a four-track recorder and a cassette tape and you’d get five bands like, “Let’s do something together!”
Also, when I went to school at USF, I got this opportunity to hang out during one of the graveyard shifts at KUSF. One of my friends was like, “Hey, come in.” I came in and saw all the music and the record collection and I was like, “Oh my god, this is amazing.” From there I just sort of dove into the music scene. Everyone is super chill and you learn a lot from other people, especially DJing.
TF: Were you involved in L.A.’s music scene at all?
In middle school I was in this all-girl cover band called Shock Treatment. We started in the sixth grade and in high school we quit doing it, but we would play places like The Cat Club and The Troubadour. We were on the Sunset Strip going out every other weekend to do something.
TF: As middle schoolers?!
We played once in middle school, and then I think in the 10th grade we played The Troubadour and that was like, “Whoaaa, big deal!” … And then I was in a ska band (Gonzo) in high school. We played a lot more venues, like Whisky a Go Go and other venues in Hollywood and that was really fun. It was also very different for me. Ska is very different from the stuff that I play now.
TF: What do you play now in dot Vom?
I joined the band two years ago. Danny, the frontperson, vocalist and keyboardist, wrote a message on Facebook looking for backup singers. I was like, “Uh, hello!” My ska band had broken up my third year at USF and I was really missing playing music … I was doing backup vocals [for dot Vom] for a year. Earlier this year, I started playing bass and singing for them. It was very low-key, very lo-fi. It was Danny’s songs that were recorded in their bedroom and then we would play them live in our own way. It was always different whenever we played them live because they were just bedroom songs. It turned out that Danny wanted to start a band for real.
TF: You guys had a release earlier this year.
We did a split with our friends Future Shapes. Fil, who fronts Future Shapes, was the drummer for our band for a while. He just recently left to work on his own projects. He’s got his own record label, Wave Dweller. We did a split with him, which is kinda perfect because he’s in both bands. We worked with really awesome dudes. Scott McDowell, who works at Hyde Street Studios, did really good stuff.
TF: Do you have any more projects in the works?
We’re actually working on an LP. We’re recording and writing; kind of bunkered down and ironing out all of the kinks and all the stuff we really wanna play … We already have a title for it: I Sink Therefore I Am. We’re super stoked because we’ve been playing the same seven songs at our show but we have a bunch of new material that we’re excited to get out.
TF: Is DJ Suga Baby still active?
(Laughs) How’d you find that?!
TF: It was on the first page of Google.
I DJ’d for a while off and on until this year. It just got kind of hectic with work and everything. I plan on DJing more often, either on KUSF or BFF.fm. I haven’t really made any moves. I’m also a little bit not sure what to listen to for myself, so then I’m like, “What am I gonna do if I DJ?” I just gotta get back in the groove. It’s mostly time-consuming, especially since we’re coming out with an LP and practicing and getting our stuff together, and working on top of that.
There’s so much music and there’s so many ways to stream music that I don’t necessarily know what I want to format my show to be. Most people have shows and have themes, but when I DJ’d at KUSF I was also the marketing director. I would work with venues to get ticket giveaways, so I had a section surrounding the giveaway every week. Then I’d do really fun stuff where I’d go into the music library, grab a CD or LP and I’d play one on top of the other and do this weird combo concoction of sound. I didn’t really have a format; I was just being weird all of the show. It’s different when you’re working in online radio. There isn’t a physical library. For me, a physical library is really important because you can touch something, grab it without even looking and just by the cover and artwork—I mean, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but kind of with music. I wouldn’t say don’t do it (laughs). There’s something about the physicality of having a CD, cassette or a record. It makes it more magical.
TF: Let’s say DJ Suga Baby had her own show right now. What are three songs you would drop?
My friend Marina is in this band Summer Peaks. She just released her own EP under her moniker Jay Som, so I’d probably play a song from that. Then I’d probably play something really weird—what’s that song, “Tarzan Boy”?
TF: No idea what you’re talking about.
It’s really funny. It goes like this (singing): “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” Do you know that song?
TF: (Laughing) No.
It’s by Baltimora and it’s called “Tarzan Boy.” It’s the best song ever, 80s weird stuff … And then I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.
*Following the interview Kati sent the following list:
Jay Som – “Peach Boy”
Cleaners From Venus – “Time in Vain”
Aby Ngana Diop – “Dieuleul-Dieuleul”
Baltimora – “Tarzan Boy”
TF: It sounds like you’ve got some eclectic tastes. You played in a ska band, and now dot Vom is a little indie-pop-ish…
It’s got elements of dreamwave and shoegaze and pop, I guess. It’s got a lot of things.
TF: What’s been the biggest influence on your music?
I’m really into old stuff, like 80s or 60s psych. But playing in dot Vom, I’ve gotten more open to dreamwave and indie stuff. And I think coming from a ska background, it sort of grounded me in the stuff that I like. But influence-wise, it’s just seeing all my friends play music. It opens my mind to other genres that are coming out … Music influence for me is just being a part of the scene and going to shows. It’s hard for me to have one thing.