There’s a deep love for Seattle that pulses through your work. How does Seattle influence you—and how do you influence Seattle?
Seattle is the only true home I’ve ever known outside of Hawaii. They’re similar in many ways, but also extremely different. I love to go on long walks and let myself feel nature—wind, sunshine, rain, falling leaves. It’s such a healing feeling. That energy moves through me and motivates my mindset, which in turn motivates my music. Seattle is a quirky town blossoming into a city that’s constantly moving forward.
It’s hard to put a finger on how I influence Seattle. In terms of musical infrastructure, I sit on many boards trying to figure out how to support artists through work with nonprofits. In terms of live shows, I have attended a large share of shows and venues in Seattle over my twenty years to get a sense of the music scene. In terms of sound, I’ve collaborated with and worked with a lot of local artists and have been on the most well-known local label, Sub Pop.
At your concerts, you encourage your audience to film and take photos of you, as long as they tag you on Twitter and Instagram. Tell me more about that. How do you market yourself in a social media world?
The world we live in today is full of people capturing the moment rather than living in the moment. If you’re concerned with sharing with folks that you were doing or seeing something—which is valid—I see an opportunity there. Let’s engage with one another through this experience. I find it makes people feel even more involved in the show, because now I’m interacting with them in their own personal sphere. There are so many ways to approach social media and I try to use it to my advantage.
You’re a performing powerhouse. What has been your favorite concert so far?
If we are speaking about my favorite show that I have performed, I would say, at this very moment, it would be when I opened for Bilal at Nectar Lounge. That’s at least my most recent favorite gig. The audience was so open and excited and loving and receptive. As for shows outside of myself, it’s very difficult. I have attended a lot of beautiful amazing shows. I’ve seen Erykah Badu countless times, Earth, Wind & Fire, Herbie Hancock, Beyoncé, and so many others. All those shows and my shows exist in their special place and time and choosing favorites depends on my mood.
You write your own beats and lyrics. What is your creative process like? What comes first: music or lyrics?
Everything seems to come at the same time, but it does depend on what I’m feeling. Sometimes I just want to make a beat, so I make a move on a beat. Sometimes I just want to sing a song, so I let it flow free. It’s easy when it comes, but can be hard to complete. That’s when it gets tough.
Tell me about your favorite song—your own or someone else’s. Why do you love it?
Favorite questions hard as heck to answer because I am always changing, so my favorite anything is also always changing. Right now, I really like “Blow” by Beyoncé. That song is killer. Timberlake, Timbaland, J-Roc, Pharrell & Bey—what a dream team! The tune has bounce, soul, groove, disco vibes, just everything. I hope I can write and produce a track like that someday.
Do you have any plugs? How can folks find more about you and your work?
My album New Black Swing came out June 23 on Space Theory Records, which is my label, and it’s available online at sassyblack.bandcamp.com. Folks can also order physical goods from the website too.