Her self-titled debut is where synths and guitar reverb bleed sonic walls of intimate sound. Sasami is all shoe-gazer and introspective one minute and ready to tear her emotions wide open the next.
She sees no reason to hide her feelings about relationships gone bad, redemption and what happens when blame goes wrong.
I like the juxtaposition of nature and a sprawling human suburbia … it lends itself well to my music.
“I think it’s a great time to be a female artist,” says Ashworth, who has opened for Liz Phair, Blondie and The Breeders in the past 12 months.
“It’s a time for women, for people of colour and non-binary artists to express themselves. But it’s also a time where people expect you to have a high moral standard and to be pre-politically active.
“There’s good things happening now in the music industry and it’s adding an extra layer to the job, which I’m enjoying.”
Ashworth is one of four children raised by a Korean mother who sang in a choir and a Japanese father who played bluegrass in his spare time. She grew up in a religious home and attended church weekly.
“You can’t have a Korean mum and not begin with a classical education,” says Ashworth, who started with piano lessons aged six and switched to french horn with lessons in jazz after that.
She continued learning the french horn at The New York Conservatory of Music, and when she returned to LA, discovered her youngest brother, Joo-Joo, was playing in a band.
“We never went to the same school growing up due to the five years age gap between us,” she says. “So I never really connected with Joo-Joo at home.
“When I left for NYC, he was into sport and surfing, and when I came back, he was hanging at Echo Park, had a band called Froth and was playing guitar. It was like meeting a new person. We had similar sensibilities, and when it came to making this album, I knew I had to involve him.”
Ashworth made a video clip with filmmaker Riley Blakeway during a trip to Sydney earlier this year. He took her to the Central Coast to film Free, featuring Devendra Banhart.
“Riley and I often talked collaborating together when he lived in LA. He grew up on Central Coast and took me there. It seemed like the perfect place to make a video clip,” she says.
“I like the juxtaposition of nature and a sprawling human suburbia you find there, as well – it lends itself well to my music.”
The video explores Ashworth at her most vulnerable, where introspective lyrics sit around brittle guitars, and images of suburbia and nature switch the mood from boredom to freedom.
Banhart’s contribution to the song happened organically.
“I was playing french horn for my friend Josiah Steinbeck, who has a classical side project with Welsh singer Cate Le Bon,” Ashworth says.
“She’s good friends with Devendra, and one day he came up to me and started taking photos of us playing.
“His participation on my album says a lot about the music scene in LA right now. For a long time, LA was more known for television and big recording studios and the glam rock side of things. But there’s been an influx of indie musicians and artists moving here from all over the States.
“So it’s easy to send Devendra a text and say ‘hey, come over to the studio, let’s do something’.”
Ashworth plays at Wollongong’s Uni Bar on December 4; Howler in Brunswick on December 7; and the Espy in St Kilda on December 9 (all shows with Spacey Jane supporting).
November 29 – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast (with Spacey Jane)
November 30 – The Tivoli, Brisbane (with Spacey Jane)
December 1 – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast (with Spacey Jane)
December 4 – Uni Bar, Wollongong (with Spacey Jane)
December 5 – Transit Bar, Canberra
Decemebr 7 – Howler, Brunswick (with Spacey Jane)
Decemeber 8 – The Espy, St Kilda (with Spacey Jane)
Jane lives in Melbourne, spends her time collecting vinyl records, shops at Victoria Market and spends too much on shoes. She’s big on leopard print accessories, has been writing about fashion, music and lifestyle over two decades.