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LOS ANGELES — Designers often create clothes to satisfy their inner rock stars, but local designer Yohanna Logan prefers to live the fantasy, as well. As lead singer for the fledgling band, Wow! Cougar, the FIT grad brings the girly punk attitude of her designs, sold in L.A.’s trendy Diavolina and Jack Henry boutiques and the New York boutique, Eva, to the stage with a New Wave/early-Eighties sound reminiscent of Blondie and Depeche Mode.
Today, the band is squeezed into an Eighties-style recording studio in North Hollywood, practicing new songs for a gig on Sunday at the El Rey Theatre. Before she moved here, Logan sang in the New York band, Dosed. She also learned a little from her ex, Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis, but she’s quick to note that her musical career predated their relationship. “Now I know more of what the industry involves, the good and bad sides,” she says. “I learned a lot just touring with him. But everything I do figures into my music, so maybe, subconsciously, seeing him on stage made me think, ‘Oh, I really want to do that again.’”
It all started eight months ago when keyboardist Michael Fitzpatrick threw together a band with drummer Scott Ellis and bassist Greg Griffith, both of the band, Melodrome. He added guitarist Chris Arvan and began recording some new tracks. All that was missing was a lead singer. When Fitzpatrick met Logan at a party, he was initially drawn to her fashion sense.
“Not many people get what I call postmodern New Wave deconstructive clothing,” he says. “I told her, ‘By the way you dress alone, you are perfect for the band.’ Then I heard her sing and it all clicked.”
In April, Wow! Cougar played its first gig to a crowd of 2,000 at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. As the winners of a Diesel-sponsored contest for new bands, they opened for Rapture and De La Soul and stole the show. Since then, they’ve played small shows at the L.A. club Spaceland, and Fitzpatrick and Logan have written nine songs they hope to record on their own label. “We’re trying to position ourselves as a fashion-oriented band,” says Logan, adding they hope to get sponsorship to play during New York fashion week next month.
So far, Logan has succeeded in using one career to feed the other; during her runway show at the Downtown Standard in April, the models walked to her music, and she plans to use the band’s New Wave cougar logo in an upcoming line of clothing. Pulling one of her samples out of a pink messenger bag — a T-shirt with red and pink ribbons tying up the open back and a yellow cougar stencil on the hip — she says, “It’s so much better than having cheesy band merchandise.”