After years of teaching music and performing with other bands, American singer-songwriter Sasami took the bold step of going solo. Soon after sharing her song, Callous, on SoundCloud, she was noticed by Domino Records, and released her first album in March.
We spoke over the phone with the singer, who is currently holed up in the North American countryside working on new music, to talk about her self-titled record – which she says has been a hit even with her biggest critic, her dad.
“I went to this classical school for French horn, and even back then, my dad would give me really dry feedback, even though he doesn’t know anything about music,” recalls Sasami, reflecting on her musical background. “Honestly, he’s a real tough cookie. He would hold me to the standard of Bob Dylan or Elvis Presley, and yet he’s been pretty receptive of the album.
“My parents have always been really supportive,” she adds, although it was another family member that gave her the confidence to become a solo artist.
“I was writing songs when I was on tour with [former band] Cherry Glazerr, and I would sometimes send some demos that I’d made on [music production software] Garageband to my brother. He was the one telling me to get into a studio and record them. He was pushing me to do my own thing.”
Although the album only came out recently, Sasami wrote and recorded it throughout 2017.
“It’s interesting because they were written over the course of a year; it became a case study of my own human emotions over a year,” says the musician who, in addition to French horn, plays guitar, keyboards, and bass.
“It wasn’t intended to be that way, but I think because the songs were pretty autobiographical and not conceptual, they just traced my emotional journey … they show the spectrum of feelings that a person can experience in a period of time.”
Sasami is also heavily involved in the music videos for her songs – she’s “kind of a control freak” that way – having directed or co-directed the shoots for each single. One of her most resonant videos is the bittersweet Not The Time, where she used positive visuals to contrast against the lovelorn track.
“It wasn’t intended to be that deep, but I think it represented some kind of symbolism of me feeling very uplifted by children and women,” confesses the singer.
“I guess that’s evident in the … video, where I’m being rejected by certain aspects of society, not feeling part of the community, and then being really uplifted by these kids who are letting me join in with things.”
Her sense of elevation that comes from art is even more powerful when it comes to music.
“Whether you play or listen to it, music will just amplify whatever emotion you’re already feeling.”
She refers to her own writing, adding, “If I was really sad when I wrote a song about a specific person, I wouldn’t necessarily feel sad because of that person when I played it live, but I might delve deeper into another sad feeling I’m currently experiencing.
“It’s the same when we listen to happy or sad music. It just amplifies your feeling about something that has nothing to do with the song. And that’s one of the best things about music. It’s so relatable.”