Q&A: Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
The story of Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger is just too precious: Model Charlotte Kemp Muhl and her boyfriend Sean Lennon decided they missed each other when Lennon was on tour, so they decided to form a band together.
But they’re acutely aware of how that looks.
“It’s definitely a hard pill to swallow; the son of John Lennon and a model having a band together is a cliché,” Muhl said “But I think that once people get past that I think there’s been a really warm reception to our music.”
Their first album, titled simply “Acoustic Sessions,” deals in spooky folk, and features just the two of them. We spoke to the duo about their experiences so far.
You’ve both had experience of being in the public eye, and “Acoustic Sessions” is pretty low-key. Was that intentional? CKM: It’s just a project of passion. I think it’s a nice escape and change for Sean, because he’s been working on so many fully blown projects with his mom lately. … So it’s been a nice escape, a reprieve for him, to join our ramshackle, amateur aesthetic.
SL: This record is intentionally under-produced. But we actually are going to release a much more produced album next year, which has a full band and all the bells and whistles of a more fleshed out rock section. But we decided to start with just an acoustic album because we thought it best represented the way we began, which was just she and I messing around with a guitar.
Sean, is it different for you being a part of a duo, as opposed to being a supporting player or doing solo work? SL: It is very different. I feel like most of my life I’ve either been a sideman, supporting someone else’s project as a session musician or a player, or being a solo artist, which was for me mostly about expressing myself and talking about my own personal narrative. Starting a band with Charlotte has been really liberating and really fun for me because suddenly I’m able to escape myself and write songs with somebody really for the sake of imagination and fun.
You also both started the label Chimera Music. SL: We started the label right around when we started the band, actually, … because we were looking at putting records out, and it just didn’t seem viable to put it out on a major label like I used to do, mainly because we had so many different projects [by friends and family]. … So we thought why don’t we just start a really cool indie label and do something that was kind of the equivalent of a mom and pop shop.
CKM: It’s great because we really draw all of our own graphic art, design all of our own T-Shirts and merch, and design all the packaging for the CDs. It’s very, very hands on.
And you run it out of your kitchen? SL: We’re hoping to have a real office eventually. But at the moment it’s sort of held together with tape and string and in between doing the dishes we mail out CD orders. I think eventually we’re hoping to redecorate and make it more of an official office space.
It must be hard to maintain a work/life balance when your work is always at home. SL: I think it’s more a question of designating a corner of the room to be officially work-related. Because right now it does kind of overlap with lunch and dinner. ... But I actually do like the idea of working out to the house because this is where we keep all of the merchandise that we ship out and also, this is where we make all of the recordings, so it’s all kind of self contained.
CKM: And also our work is a very personal kind of work. [So it makes sense] that it’s intermeshed with our daily life.