Sasami on Her Mission to Become a Musical Badass, Channelling Pain into Writing, and More

The opal club x SXSW

SASAMI is the stage name of Sasami Ashworth, a Los Angeles-based musician and graduate of the Eastman School of Music whose mastery of her craft has led her to collaborate with a wide range of artists (Cherry Glazerr, Vagabon, Soko, and Devandra Bernhardt, to name a few). Her self-titled debut album was released last month. The 10-track record is a dreamy deep-dive into loss of love, both platonic and romantic.

On SASAMI, Ashworth’s soft, whispery vocals are coupled with distorted guitar to create tracks that reach down into your gut. SASAMI draws from a wide range of influences including Stereolab, My Bloody Valentine, and krautrock. With songs ranging from plodding and grungy to groovy to low and bittersweet, SASAMI is a dynamic record that keeps the listener emotionally engaged at every turn. Heart-wrenching and achingly beautiful, SASAMI is an album that can make listening feel almost masochistic.

Ashworth’s songwriting is both accessible and profound. Calling on songwriting influences Neil Young and Paul McCartney, Ashworth’s “hooky” songs get latched in your head for days without you ever getting sick of them. Crafted out a need to process “some shit”, SASAMI is a deeply personal reflection on Ashworth’s own pain. She says, “I think of myself when writing, not really for other people.” Yet through her honest and “therapeutic” reflection, Ashworth creates music that connects with the universal human experiences of loss and processing loss.

Her lyrics are emotionally raw and intensely powerful, yet the true emotion of the work comes from the strong instrumentation Ashworth has accomplished. One of the standout songs of the album, Free, featuring Devandra Bernhardt, shifts from noise to ballad and back again. The listener is tugged along, feeling Ashworth’s confusion and loss as the feedback fades and her voice bubbles up, soft and bittersweet. Ashworth has made it her mission to become a “musical badass”, as she realized that men are given a leg up when it comes to the technical side of music. Introduced to more mechanically advanced toys at a young age, boys get a head start on learning how things work, and that’s reflected in the music industry. “Expectations are that women are songwriters or singers and not masters of their instruments, so that is ingrained in people's minds in the industry.” Ashworth subverts that expectation by creating technically masterful work while also being an incredibly talented singer and songwriter.