SASAMI on Her Self-Titled Debut Album

Creativity Abounds

Apr 03, 2019 Photography by James Loveday (For Under the Radar) Web Exclusive
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"To keep the attention of 25 first graders is a really specific skill, one that translates very well to rock audiences," Sasami Ashworth deadpans. To master this specific skill, the former Cherry Glazerr-synth heroine (whose stage name is simply SASAMI) had to hone myriad instruments and production skills. Ironically, by teaching music class to kids and becoming a complementary force on many era-defining indie rock records, Ashworth has struggled to embody the same impulsive, playful spirit she so willingly passed onto her peers. Fortunately, all of that changed when she made her thrilling full-length debut LP, SASAMI. "This album marks my first time in the driver's seat and make every production decision I ever wanted," says the Los Angeles-based musician.

Calling from Austin during SXSW, Ashworth is quick to emphasize that she never intended to make an "impressive" record, just a very "honest" one. The feverish, lo-fi atmosphere she conjures on tracks like "Free" (featuring Devendra Banhart and her brother, Froth-frontman Joo-Joo Ashworth), "Morning Comes," and "Jealousy" is nevertheless very impressive, embracing carefully-controlled chaos, allowing melodic and discordant elements to blend and unfurl in mystifying ways. Ashworth was never concerned with making some kind of sonorous masterpiece, nor was she bothered to haphazardly splurge her emotions over the canvas without second-guessing herself.

Instead, SASAMI travels in an elusive space, both embodying and examining defected relationships and conditions. A lot of her lyrics have the flummoxing quality of a snake eating its own tail. On "Adult Contemporary," for example, she whispers about "singing songs that I never heard," words which Ashworth admits were completely made up on the spot.

"But because I studied so much music theory, it took me a long time to get to that place where I wasn't overthinking everything. Playing in a rock band and listening to a lot of Gang of Four and The Pop Group, that kind of angular post-punk music, I was maybe trying to shake my knowledge of music and create more from an improvized place."

Having full agency over her music and performances gave Ashworth the power to translate her songs to the live stage as she sees fit. Though her album sounds introspective, intimate, and gauzy, Ashworth flaunts her towering personality with glee during her shows, at times recalling the impulsive vigor of bands like Deerhoof and The Fiery Furnaces. In a way, she somehow finds herself in that same wholesome disposition as her students, treating the music as her own personal recreation ground. It's something she takes very seriously today.

"The freedom and honesty in which children explore the world with are really inspiring to me," Ashworth concurs. "I feel like children exist in this magical dimension humans exit once they enter adulthood, a space where creativity abounds. Rules exist, but only for their safety, never to limit their creativity. It was really influential for me to be around children. It forced me to become very light-hearted, to remember there is way more to life and existence than just going through the motions of adulthood, which are very easy to get stuck in."

www.sasamiashworth.com

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