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On Sunday, April 2nd, the Arab American National Museum will play host to the Rock for Refugees benefit concert, featuring several notable Detroit-area musical acts. With lo-fi power chords, fuzzy drums and striking harmonies, the all-female Casual Sweetheart embodies the spirit of Detroit punk filtered through an Indie Rock lens.


In anticipation of the concert, CultureSource had the chance to speak with Erin Norris, guitar player for Casual Sweetheart. She will be joined on stage with her bandmates Dina Bankole on drums and Lauren Rossi on bass. All three provide vocals.CasualSweetheartLive

CultureSource: Can you give a brief explanation as to how Casual Sweetheart was formed, and how long the band has been together?

Erin Norris: We formed in late 2012. I placed an ad on a feminist Facebook group looking for other women to play with. Lauren [Rossi] and MaryAnn Koz answered the call. MaryAnn moved to Lexington, KY to pursue a PhD, and so Dina Bankole joined us in the summer of 2014. 

CS: How would you describe the band’s sound to somebody that hasn't heard your music? 

EN: We’ve been dubbed post-Detroit college radio. 

CS: What is your connection to the immigrant community, and why have you chosen to play at Rock for Refugees, which benefits Freedom House and Take on Hate?

EN: We are all descendants of immigrants. The America we live in was built by immigrants. We want to support immigrants. We couldn’t be more happy to perform at this concert to benefit Freedom House and Take on Hate. The work they do is important beyond measure.

CS: How did Casual Sweetheart get involved in playing the Rock for Refugees event?

EN: We played the Concert of Colors last summer and gained some recognition after that experience that led to us being invited to play Rock for Refugees.

CS: What impact do you think large music festivals can have?

EN: Music emanates emotion and people connect through emotions. Any time you have an audience, you have the potential to elevate and support one another as well as to inspire.

CS: What do you hope people learn from seeing your set and attending Rock for Refugees?

EN: That women have an equal place in music, the workforce, and society overall, and it is the duty of every human being to respect and support one another. We also hope to inspire people, particularly the people we don’t hear or see in the music industry, to pick up an instrument and start a band.

To read more about Rock for Refugees, click here.