An emerging pop-country singer-songwriter from the Central Coast, ASHA is back after an extended break with the care-free, fun pop ballad 'Better'.
A song that deals with toxic relationships and the push-pull to continue or end them, ASHA teamed with producer Andy Max (who has worked with Vera Blue, Megan Washington, Boy & Bear and many more) on 'Better'.
Although it has been a minute since she released her debut EP (in 2017), ASHA expects 2021 to be a busy year for her with more releases and touring planned for the remainder of the year. She has already supported the likes of Diesel and Alex Lloyd.
Her day job also involves teaching songwriting at Gina Jeffreys and Rod McCormarck's songwriting and performance school, which is no mean feat for the 22 year old.
With 'Better' set to be released tomorrow, scenestr is ecstatic to share an exclusive premiere of the music video for 'Better' today. Enjoy.
It's been a while since you last released music (2017); how does your new single 'Better' showcase the current incarnation of ASHA? It has been a while. I feel that 'Better' carries over the acoustic guitars and the story-based writing that was pretty prevalent on my first EP. I'm loving new things like playing around with synths and vocal layering/ BVs.
I'm also loving working with my brother. I feel content that this track sits in quite a transitional space for myself as an artist.
You worked with Andy Mak on 'Better'; what did he bring to the project that enhanced the song, elevated your own talents? 'Better' was my first collaboration with Andy. He's an amazing producer and an all-round amazing guy.
Andy quickly understood and heard what I was wanting to create. That put simply being pop music with integrated guitars. He started playing the main synth hook over the chorus and instantly I was super stoked and a thousand times more excited about the track.
I found it to be a super pressure-off situation and I was able to create and sing freely. He's definitely pushed me to sing high notes and interesting backing vocals, and I am so glad he did because the tracks wouldn't sound the same without them.
Lyrically, what does the song express... what subject matter did you want to cover with 'Better'? I wrote 'Better' alone in my bedroom one night as I was pretty much weighing up whether to leave a toxic relationship in the past, or run back to it.
The line 'just another minute with you, and I might come through' came to me as I was sitting next to my ex in the car. I got out of the car and almost finished the song that same night. So I guess it's kind of your classic break-up song, but I did make a point of leaving the song a little inconclusive. That's how I was truly feeling in the moment.
What role does your guitarist brother play with the creative outlet of ASHA; and how connected are you two both with music and life in general? My brother Sam and I are two years apart, we've been best friends growing up. Once upon a time I was way better on guitar than he was, and one day he decided to be an absolute weapon and be better than all of us.
Our usual process is that I'll write a song, then I'll take it to him to spruce it up and add guitar hooks. Another way we've written is that he'll send me a phone recording of a guitar part he's come up with and I'll write over it. The thing I love most though is performing together. I feel like we feed off each other's energy and confidence.
Tell us about the music video clip you've created for 'Better'; what did you want to create with the storyline and vision treatment of the video? Like I mentioned before, 'Better' is a song written about an ex, which can seem kind of heavy and it does inevitably bring up old feelings.
I wanted to steer away from that and fill the video with bright colours, have a bit of fun with flower confetti, and just focus on performance as it's the first time Sam and I have done a video together too.
You've said that Matt Corby became somewhat of a music teacher when you were in your teens, in part just by watching his YouTube clips of live performances – how immersed did you become with music during this time? YES! Matt Corby is a favourite. I was only just picking up guitar when I fell in love with his music and the way that he plays guitar. Especially the mellow, fingerpicking tracks.
I would come home from school most days and practice so you could say I was pretty well immersed. I actually wish I still spent that much time every day learning and getting better.
As a teenager, you entered and won a lot of local talent and song competitions – was that natural momentum that propelled you from one comp to the next, riding the wave to see where it would take you next? Yeah, it was definitely something I loved doing. The comps were over a wide spectrum of genres, so I wouldn't say I propelled from one to the next, but more so just kept entering every one I saw going. They did get bigger and better as I went on though.
Winning the Vance Joy comp where you covered his song ‘Fire And The Flood’, getting to meet him and his feedback to you as a songwriter; that must've been a massive moment for you? Indeed, it was so massive for me at the time that I literally lost all ability to speak and stood there like a little girl. It was a huge face-palm moment as I walked out of that room. But I'm still super grateful I got to meet him and see him play at the Opera House. And hearing that he liked my work was definitely encouraging.
Your comp winning days continued when UK singer-songwriter Lewis Watson selected your cover of his song 'Little Light' as one of the winners of his competition – again, what did that moment create for your own music career and the idea to chase a full-time career in music? I think at this point when these artists that I look up to so much were consistently liking what I was doing, it really spurred me on to be writing more, playing live more, and just doing everything I can to head in the direction that they've went in.
You were handpicked to be a teacher at Gina Jeffreys and Rod McCormarck's songwriting and performance school; how has that experience shaped your own songwriting abilities? I am sooo grateful for Rod and Gina. A lot of what I do and what I know is because of those guys.
Gina is the most beautiful and positive human you'll meet, and Rod is the most talented guy you'll ever meet. To think Gina would trust me to teach songwriting to her students is a compliment in itself. Teaching songwriting week in and week out over the years really helped me to stop being so precious and just write. And it's amazing what comes when there's no filters or ideas of what a song should be.
The power of music to unite people; is that something that draws you into making and playing music? Yeah it always has. Even if it's not my own music/ songs. I've grown up in a loving and super supportive church community my whole life, and it's really played a part in my sense of belonging and I've always felt very backed and loved.
One of my main desires is that everybody can feel like they belong and have a sense of purpose and home like I have had. I believe music is one of the most unifying things ever and I love how for an instance a song's theme or lyric can feel like home to someone, or just being able to relate to a lyric can make a person feel that they're not alone.
I love being at a live venue to see a band/ artist and everyone in the room, despite their vast differences are all there for the same reason.
The rest of 2021 for ASHA; what is the plan re: more releases and live shows? All of the above! My brother and I are pretty excited for this year. Last year was spent writing and recording, and we've been looking forward so much to releasing it all. There will be a lot more music coming after this track! And plenty of shows, with the next one being 13 May at Baker St in Gosford.
Some fun questions; Which fictional character best describes your personality? It would have to be Dory from 'Finding Nemo'. At work, I used to get called Dory on more occasions than one.
I recognise that I really do live in the moment and everything before that moment just temporarily becomes a blur. So literally, short-term memory loss! If you ask me what I did on the weekend, I'd need a few minutes before I could tell you! And I am consistently misplacing my phone and keys.
Do you have any phobias? If I did it would have to be the sound of people chewing. If I'm in a quiet room and all I can hear is chewing, I have to go. The other thing is that I cannot share a drink with anyone. I have a chronic fear of backwash omg.
What is your favourite app at the moment? My fav app has to be Spotify. Used on the daily. Second place would be Shazam. Nothing better than hearing a banger you've never heard before and being able to find out what it is.
When it comes to pets are you a lover or hater of our furry friends? I don't understand how anybody could be a hater. I love animals and I always love the challenge of winning over an animal that's a bit hesitant.
I've gone through plenty of goldfish in my lifetime. My first one was named Judy Garland Rainbow Fairy. But my favourite pets I've ever had were my mice. There were 16 of them. I loved them way too much. Until one day my Dad let them all go up the mountain near our house. That was a sad day.
Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add? Thank you so much for your time. I'm just keen and ready to release new music and thanks for letting me unpack it :)