Even if Sasha Keable wasn’t on her way to being the next Adele, she would still need a PR agent to handle all the attention she gets. She’s what every male Londoner under the age of 30 dreams of in a girl - beautiful face, beautiful voice, south London accent, and best friends with Tinie Tempah. I still haven’t booked in who’s going to be my summer fling yet, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to go on an interview-date with Sasha.
If you haven’t heard her EP Black Book yet, you’ll have heard her feature on Disclosure’s track “Voices”. Thanks to that track existing, plus me living in the Santiago de Compostela of Disclosure fans (Shoreditch), I’ve actually heard Sasha’s voice a thousand times before, but never whilst sober, which made it weird to finally meet. It was like going on a date with some ephemeral being from another plane of fucked-upness - like she had been secretly there at every Shoreditch nightclub, watching as I stumbled around spilling Red Stripes on Aztec print t-shirts and chatting up American tourists. Seriously though, if you haven’t listened to Black Book, go right now, roll a spliff, pour yourself some horchata, and get ready to spend half an hour listening to the voice that’s going to usher in this coming London Summer. LA can keep Jhené Aiko (who, btw, never called me back) – we’ve got Sasha Keable and she’s fucking amazing.
Noisey: Did you pick this place?
Sasha Keable: No, the place I wanted to go was Negril. It’s a Caribbean restaurant on Brixton Hill. But they had a leak or something
So, ignoring the photographer and the fact that I’m recording you, this is a date.
Oh shit, I didn’t even clock you were recording me. That’s sly!
You obviously don’t usually have a photographer on dates.
I like to record my dates just to go back and pick up on things the girl said, and then bring them up on later dates.
Same, so if they ever try to say that they didn’t say something, I have it on tape.
Is this your first date with a famous person?
Yes it is, congratulations.
I’m actually not that famous, but you are, almost. Do you want to be famous?
No, I don’t want to be. But I want to be successful so I guess it comes with the territory.
I always thought that I would be down to be a little bit famous, but never Kanye-famous.
The thing is, I love music and love doing it. But when I’m 50 I want to just be able to chill with my grandchildren. I’d rather be successful without the stupid fame bit and sign a contract so that I’m not all over the place all the time. People like Adele managed to do it without being on the front cover of every bloody newspaper. As long as you have respect for yourself, and you’re not publicity-hungry like Kim Kardashian, then you’re alright.
So what’s the vibe going to be on your new EP?
It’s really 80s. I’ve always really loved 80s music and last year I was in a taxi – taxis in London always play Magic and Heart – and Rose Royce’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” came on. I was like “Shit! This song! I need to go home and analyse this song.” The synth in it is just like…
Pew pewpewpew pew pew pew BOOM. Yeah. So that’s what started me off. I listened to loads of Rose Royce and then got back into Marvin Gaye. It’s so borderline cheesy, but still really cool, so I wanted to experiment with that. I went to work with Dev Hynes in New York. That was what really made me feel like I could actually pull this off. I’m a bit worried that people are going to be turned off because Black Book was so much more chilled hip-hop, and this next EP is a bit more dance-y.
I feel like last summer was a summer of disco. This summer I want the same kind of thing.
I didn’t want to do another chilled EP. I loved writing Black Book and I wrote it thinking ‘I just want people to just get high to this and chill out.’
I got high to it.
Good. That was the vibe. The whole EP meant a lot to me in terms of writing, but I wanted it to be a bit more than just the meaning to me. I wanted it to have a vibe to it. I feel like I achieved that, but now I want to progress a bit more. In terms of me, I don’t have that much affiliation with dance music, even though I’ve done the Disclosure feature and the Zinc feature. I’m excited for people to hear it. I’m excited to hear what people are going to think – especially the people that listened to Black Book. I want to know if they’re gonna be like, “You’re shit!”
Are you going to change your look too, like Daft Punk did when they decided to go disco?
I’m going to become very glittery.
How old are you?
20. I’m still trying to hold on to being 19; I hate being 20.
I don’t want to be an adult yet.
I’ve only just turned 22, but I’ve never been more childish in my life.
I think I’ve always been mature because I’ve always worked.
Do you see yourself as part of a scene? The phrase London Soul gets thrown around a lot these days.
Maybe it’s just me, because in my group of friends - King Krule and Jamie Isaac -
Those are your friends?!
Yeah, I went to school with them. People like Jessie James and Rejjie Snow, they’re all in my friendship group. So for me it feels weird, like literally, in my year at school, everyone’s coming out of the woodwork and doing their thing. It’s like a south London thing.
Which school did you go to?
BRIT school. Some didn’t go to BRIT school, but we’ve all just ended up being friends. It’s south London coming out. We’re all doing our thing, but no one’s treading on anyone’s toes, which is really nice. People don’t really see it now, but I reckon in five years people are going to be like, “Shit! They all went to school together, and are friends, and hung out together.”
You’re going to get a lame name like the BRIT five or something.
I hope not. I hope they don’t label us by BRIT school. I mean, BRIT definitely aids you in getting yourself focused. It’s a fucking amazing place and I would’ve hated staying at a normal school.
I hate labeling. When you write about music the impulse is always to come up with a new name and artists hate it. But, I would say there’s something going on that maybe isn’t a genre, but is definitely very London. London now is really fucking good for music.
I love being associated with the London scene, that’s standard. That’s the best bit about being an artist from London. I would hate to be an artist right now who’s moved down to London from somewhere else. Everyone that’s doing it right now is from London. Born and bred.
Have you been to America?
Whereabouts have you been? Have you been on tour there?
Nah. I’ve been to New York loads of times; I’ve got family there and I’ve been over to work. And I’ve been to Miami.
You need to get over to the other coast. East coast is all cocaine and hookers, and west coast is all weed and hookers.
Yeah, sounds like a big difference.
Everyone on the east coast is always stressed out and they’re really intense. They walk so fucking fast.
That’s a bit like London though; I reckon that’s why I’d probably fit in there. London is very like, “I need to go somewhere! I have no time!” I love London, though. That’s why I find some mad affiliation with New York; they’re very similar. New York is just London on steroids.
So when are we going to see the new EP?
Around mid-April. I just got through a bunch of the mixes today, so I just need to listen through them and I need to get the artwork back, and then it can be released.
Do you get quite a bit of creative oversight?
Yeah! This is the first time that I’m not deciding the album art, but I’ve sent the most extensive mood board ever. I get so impatient with people – especially when I know what I want. I end up shouting at people.
Is that what you’re like in a recording studio, just shouting at people?
With music I find it a lot easier, because I speak the language. But with art it’s a lot more difficult.
You cant do everything, you should be happy that you were blessed with a good voice.
I should. Ok, I’ll back down.
Do you like relationships or do you hate relationships?
I love relationships. I’m not in one, so I’m not cheating on anyone right now.
Yeah, I like to focus one person. I’m not one of those people that’s like, “I love being single!” When I’m single, I’m like OK I’m alone; I’m just going to work, my whole life is going to be consumed by work. I love relationships. It’s nice to be able to just chill with just one person, focus all your energy and your good deeds on just one person, without seeing any kind of finality.
Are you seeing the finality of this date at all?
I’m cool; I’m actually seeing another beer on the cards. I should probably eat something; do they do food here?
After this beer, we could go get an ice cream?
Yeah let’s do it.
It would have been such a good day for a spliff.
It’s cool. I stopped smoking. It’s not for me; I’m not about that life.
Oh, I just thought that because you said when you were writing…
Yeah when I started writing, I was smoking. Now I just smoke cigarettes, which is a million times worse.
Why did you stop?
Because I just, zong out. I still smoke when I’m abroad – you know when you’re on holiday it’s just a completely different vibe.
It’s the best thing when you’re hungover. If you’re in New York – oh wait, you can’t legally drink in New York yet can you? That’s a shame.
No, I have to wait a whole year before I can, which is annoying. I really want to move out there.
Move to New York? Even though you love London so much?
I love London, but it’s more for the getting away from home kind of thing. Not my home as in my family, I just mean getting out of the bubble.
I want to do something on my own. I’ve been doing music for so long and I want to focus on myself more.
You’ve got to have new influences every day if you’re an artist. It’s like you said: the cab driver was playing Heart in the cab and you changed your whole album. You’d have so many moments like that in New York.
Exactly. The last year and a bit has been the rockiest time of my life. It’s become quite repetitive – the dealing with shit all the time. I just want to get away for a bit and deal with it when I get back. I want to find something fresh to write about… The last EP was about my stepdad passing away.
I guess that made your EP more emotional, that’s one of the reasons why it was so good. It’s pretty sad that it came from a bad place.
It’s so weird that everything started kicking off around the same time. It’s very bittersweet; something good happens but in my mind I’m like “fuck I wish he was here to see it.”
So you work for VICE? That’s quite interesting, me being half-Colombian. You guys love to focus on Colombia! Have you seen the Donkey Sex documentary?
No, but let me ask you a serious question. Heart to heart, I trust you, you trust me.
Ok, well I trust you. You’ve got a trustworthy face.
Roughly, ballpark estimate, how many donkeys have you had sex with?
That’s a really difficult one.
It’s hard to remember, isn’t it?
Yeah. I’d say about 8. I have one that I’m really attached to, so that’s my regular beat.
Haha. What do your tattoos mean?
This one is October. Last year October was a really good month within a really bad year. And you know Little Dragon? This is the shadow puppet from the video for "Twice".
I only found out about them after they collaborated with Gorillaz.
Little Dragon are my favourite band. That song has changed my life. Yukimi’s voice is just crazy.
If we went to a club and "Voices" came on would it be really weird?
It has happened quite a few times, so I’ve kind of got used to it now. But I like to watch how other people react to the song.
Cool, do you maybe want to hang out again, without the recorder?
Yeah, why not.
So I have Sasha Keable’s number now. We’ve exchanged at least one text. I haven’t yet decided if she’s replying because she’s too nice not to or because she’s genuinely interested. To be honest, I’ll take whatever I can get: a second date, gay best friend – I’m even down to be hype-man in the background with maracas, an R&B Bez for the modern age.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_A_Shea