SASHA KEABLE IS THE LATEST LONDONITE AIMING TO PUT HER STAMP ON THE R&B REVIVAL, AND AFTER SEEING HER INK A FIVE-ALBUM DEAL WITH POLYDOR, ONE COULD GUESS SASHA WON'T HAVE A PROBLEM LEAVING A MARK. V SPOKE WITH HER ABOUT HER TOUR WITH DISCLOSURE AND THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HER FORTHCOMING EP
LISTEN TO THE WORLDWIDE PREMIERE OF "SWEETEST TALK" HERE ON VMAGAZINE.COM
Brit School graduate (Adele, Jessie J, Rizzle Kicks) and SouthEast London native, Sasha Keable, is undeniably cool. Her enviable style, bombshell looks and unstoppable voice have her poised to take over the charts. If by chance her highly praised first EP Black Book didn’t reach your ears by now, her vocal contributions to "Voices," the track off Disclosure’s explosive album Settle may have. Like other vocalists of the Disclosure crew, including Sam Smith, Jessie Ware, and Eliza Doolittle, Sasha Keable is doing just fine carving a niche for herself. In fact, as of now Sasha has secured a five-album deal with Polydor in 2012, signed to Tinie Tempah’s label Disturbing London, toured with Disclosure and Katy B and is currently in the studio with Dev Hynes (Solange Knowles, Sky Ferreira). Falling somewhere between Amy Winehouse and TLC, Sasha’s solo sound is the perfect combination of old-school soul and 90s R&B. The comparisons may be dated, but there is something refreshingly new in her approach—like launching forward while staying firmly anchored in the past. Despite the success of Black Book, Sasha asserts that fans can expect something more from her newest EP, Lemon Grass and Lime Leaves, that helped her straddle troubles at home and the challenges of being independent.
The state of music seems really saturated with dark, electronic R&B, but the track we’re premiering, “Sweetest Talk,” takes the genre back to its 90s roots. Was it a conscious decision to stay uptempo or is that just a sound that has organically grown?
SASHA KEABLE: To be honest it was never my intention to make uptempo stuff, the whole time I was writing the EP I was just going with whatever felt right at the time. Ed [Cinematic] and I were just vibing and if it felt good we'd lay it down. My only intention was to progress from the last EP, but I didn't set a specific path for that progression I just let it happen.
Did you grow up listening to R&B? Any specific groups stand out?
SK: Yeah, I listened to a lot of Brandy, Mary J. Blige, TLC, D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill... so much.
What can fans of the Black Book EP expect from the forthcoming Lemongrass and Lime Leaves?
SK: I think they can expect to hear progression, I was going through a lot of shit when I wrote this EP, I think the upbeat stuff came naturally to me because my head needed an escape from the darkness I was feeling back at home. The songs feel a lot clearer to me than they did on Black Book, I'm still writing from the heart but it felt more like I was speaking to someone rather than just myself this time.
Do you ever just put on one of your songs and dance to it? Or…?
SK: [laughs] Unfortunately no, my friends put stuff on at parties sometimes and I just go red and leave the room.
I’m really dying to know the story behind Lemon Grass and Lime Leaves. Sounds like a fun summer tea, am I close?
SK: There is absolutely no story, my friend put on Facebook 'I wish I lived in a world of lemon grass and lime leaves' I really liked the way it sounded and pretty much instantly decided that would be the title of the EP.
Do you have any formal vocal training? Your voice has such a raw quality, but the notes you hit must take practice!
SK: I have a little but not much, I don't have much patience and those lessons can be tedious, I just practice at home.
What experiences or influences have shaped you into the artist you are today?
SK: My family and I have been through a lot in the past year, so juggling my home life and my career has been a huge challenge, I've had to grow up quickly and learn to be independent, I think that shaped my songwriting in quite a dramatic way.
How did you get linked up with Disclosure for "Voices"?
SK: They found me on Soundcloud and asked to set up a session.
I watched a video taken from a radio show with you, Sam, Guy, Howard and Eliza and you agreed that you were each other’s “entourage.” Was there a real vibe of family on that tour?
SK: Yeah for sure, they're some of the loveliest people I've met, we all love coming together and seeing each other whenever were all doing shows, we always have a bit too much fun.
Is there one memory that stands out the most?
SK: Before we played Brixton Academy Sam and I warmed up to Béyonce for like 20 minutes before going on. Actions and dance moves were most definitely included.
Any talks of collaborating with anyone in that original Disclosure group?
SK: Not as of yet, but hopefully one day.
The success of "Voices" and the Disclosure album in total was so fast and worldwide. Has that made working on your solo album easier or more complicated? Is there pressure to follow in their footsteps?
SK: I don't make house music so not really, but I feel pressure everyday regardless of any of that. I think it has made it both easier and harder, but overall I'm so grateful that I got to work with them that it doesn't matter.
I’m kind of obsessed with your outfits! Where do you shop? Particularly wondering about the parrot bucket hat.
SK: Ah thank you! I shop everywhere man, charity shops mostly. I'm quite boyish so any baggy T-shirt suits me just fine. I got that hat from this little skate shop in Oxford I raided when I was on the Katy B tour, I was in Subway before soundcheck and I just saw it from across the street, I literally ran over and bought like ten things in five minutes. My tour manager was like, Sasha, calm down! I walked out like, Shit, I didn't need this much stuff.
Does your personal style shape your music or does your music shape your style?
SK: Neither. I could sing you a ballad in a full Nike tracksuit and it wouldn't change anything either way.
Let’s pretend it’s Friday night. Where are you, what are you doing, and who are you with?
SK: Brixton, Dancing or in the pub, five close friends.
What’s your spirit animal? Mine is a sloth because I rarely make it off the couch.
SK: I'm a dog because I'm loyal and like hugs and belly rubs.
What does success look like to you?
SK: Cheeeesy but, my family being proud of me.
Has anyone ever told you how much you look like Brigitte Bardot?
SK: No, never! but! I did try and cut in a Brigitte Bardot fringe recently, thats how I ended up with the short fringe. I didn't like it once I did it.
image courtesy of disturbing london