SASAMI hasn't been able to write a happy song just yet

Sasami Ashworth has been playing music her whole life. The LA songwriter started on piano before taking up French horn in her teens. 

After graduating high school, she studied classical music and worked for three years as a music teacher. Grabbing a guitar and diving into the grimy indie rock scene seemed an unlikely next step.

“I grew up going to rock shows,” says Ashworth, “and then I went to classical music school and then I came back. I actually did a lot of work composing for film scores and commercials, so I was getting more into synths and playing guitars. I was doing arrangements for people’s records – for example, on the Curtis Harding record – and I had to be able to communicate between rock musicians and the classical world. That bridged the gap for me.”

In 2014, Ashworth joined LA post punk band Dirt Dress, channelling Public Image Ltd and New Order on synth, guitar and vocals. It was the beginning of a significant lifestyle shift and by 2015 she was touring with garage rock act, Cherry Glazerr. 

“I was a huge fan of Dirt Dress and scammed my way into it,” says Ashworth, “and Clem [Creevy, Cherry Glazerr] was a fan of my playing in that band. Clem was really cool and she was super fun to jam with. I came from such a different background to her so it was really fun to work together because we were so musically different. I learned a lot as a person from being in a band with Clem. She does not give a fuck what anyone thinks and I was fully a classical nerd.”

Ashworth played keys in Cherry Glazerr from 2015 till 2018 and appears on 2017’s Apocalipstick LP. Her solo project has taken precedence over the last 12 months, culminating in the release of her debut, self-titled LP. 

Despite shifting focus to the solo project, her tour schedule has been uninterrupted – in 2018 she supported the likes of Mitski, Snail Mail, King Tuff and Soccer Mommy across the US and UK. 

“I’m 28. I had a proper apartment and had relationships and had a real job. Then once I started playing in Cherry Glazerr I was single and on the road and had this renaissance period in my life,” says Ashworth. “After having a real job and going to college and stuff, I then had this free life. So I feel like I’m constantly on vacation. People complain about being on tour. I’m like, dude you’re eating cheese in France, that’s sick.”

Given how much time Ashworth spends on the road, it’s a wonder she managed to write, record and produce an album.

“I wrote my record on tour,” she says. “I would roll up to the venue, load in, sound check, then we had three hours until our set so I would go back to the hotel and work on a song on my iPad.” 

SASAMI will be classed as indie rock, but it’s not run of the mill, rag-tag indie. It’s textured and atmospheric with interwoven guitars and synths and regular extended instrumentals. Ashworth also has a flair for hooky vocal melodies, but writing catchy songs wasn’t the objective.

“It came from a deep place of necessity,” she says. “Like, I needed to write the songs. That’s why I haven’t been able to write a happy song yet. They’re pretty much all like, I feel terrible, I have to write something.”

It’s not a breakup album – not in the traditional sense, anyway – but the songs on SASAMI deal with failing to commit, communication breakdowns, feeling alienated and playing the blame game.

“They’re pretty basic bitch [lyrics], like, ‘I’m sad you asshole, you suck because you don’t like me anymore.’ It’s emotional. I definitely didn’t even overly think about how it would come across to other people.

“It represents a significant period of my musicianship. To me, this record is my guitar album. I’m sure that my next records will be very different.”

SASAMI’s self-titled debut album is out now via Domino Recording Company.