Chatting with SASAMI at End of the Road 2019

Photo by Holly Whitaker

Between the success of her self-titled debut album and a support slot on Snail Mail's North American tour, SASAMI's name has been bubbling like magma over the course of this year, ready to erupt. This anticipation was definitely felt at Larmer Tree Gardens, the home ground of End of the Road Festival. Opening the Piano Stage with a secret set and playing one of the first slots of The Line of Best Fit curated Big Top line-up last Friday, festival goers were more than ready to board the emotional rollercoaster of SASAMI.

When fully emerged, SASAMI's music certainly isn't an easy listen, which is part of the appeal. Smooth-sounding shoegaze juxtaposes lyrics that can at times feel like a personal attack, reading like a diary entry of you innermost feelings - a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by repressed emotions masked by syncopated riffs. Before even meeting SASAMI, I felt like I already kind of knew her, or at least what she portrayed to the world through her music. Yet, I wanted to know her more, and we were lucky enough to sit down with her to chat about her set at End of the Road, new music, and thrush (yes, the vaginal yeast infection).

What can we expect from your live set today?

It's gonna be "rock music?" Joking, it's gonna be songs from my album and a new song that I put out yesterday called Take Care.

You mentioned your new song Take Care, we love it! In the press release you mentioned it being about recklessness and vulnerability, how have you navigated being emotionally vulnerable through your music?

Well, the music kind of came as bi-product of the emotions. I never really planned on making an album, I just wrote the songs out of necessity. Making an album isn't really that hard because you can do it in your own time and by yourself, but having to be vulnerable all the time on tour and playing shows is definitely a challenge. I think because of that, my shows have definitely become a lot more rock-ish, I don't know if it's a coping mechanism, or if it just feels better to release in that way. I was kind of sadder when I wrote the songs, now I'm pretty much just angry.

I'm excited to see how that translates! Obviously on record it's pretty chill, sometimes I listen to it and cry, but how have you made the transition to make it more rock-y?

Part of it is because when we tour, we tour with a three-piece band. On the record, some songs have like 16 tracks on them! So live, as there's only three of us, instead of adding more parts to the arrangement, we just amp up the energy and the volume. I think that's enabled us to tap into that louder side, out of respect for the arrangement's dynamics. So instead of adding a synth part, or more guitar parts, we just get louder. 

So you've just come off tour with Snail Mail, how was that?

It was so fun! Lindsay [Snail Mail] is a really good friend of mine, and two of my bandmates are queer women, and Lindsay and one of her bandmates are queer, so it was a really great vibe backstage. We played a couple of songs together and it was really fun! 

Do you enjoy playing festivals?

Yeah, when they're like this, and they're pretty mellow and wholesome! I played Green Man last year and it was a very wholesome-kids-rolling-around-in-the-grass-eating-ice-cream vibe, and I'm here for that.

Well you've lucked out playing End of the Road then! If you were to play somewhere like Reading & Leeds, that's a whole different story. 

Right, it's like that in America, too. You have some festivals like Pickathon that are sustainable and in nature, and other ones like Made In America where there's literal trash all over the fucking ground. Even if you are an artist, you get security guards pushing you and telling you "you can't go here!" It's a pretty aggressive bro-vibe.

Photo by Holly Whitaker

Are you excited to see any other acts this weekend?

Mitski! She's a very good friend of mine, we only see each other a few times, and more than half the time it's at shows, so yeah, it's gonna be nice. Yves Tumor as well, I'm really stoked. I think they're doing a solo set, but it'll still be awesome just to see him up there. He has new music coming out soon, and I'm really excited about that. Georgia too, she's like an octopus up there swinging around on those drums. 

Anything else you'd like to mention? Any burning angers, passions, desires?

Well, my yeast infection is clearing up, so nothing burning! It's so fucked up, in America you have to get a prescription for your medication, but here you can just go into a pharmacy and buy it for £3, no questions asked! My bandmates were joking about buying a fuck-tonne of them and selling them at the merch table in America. 

SASAMI is currently touring the UK, and we'd definitely recommend going to see her. You can find more info on her UK shows here.

Words by Dani Ran
Photos by Holly Whitaker


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