WASI has been making a name for themselves out in California with their unique blend of dancey pop, crunchy punk, and tons of ‘tude. They’re currently on a national tour to support their new EP, Stranger California, and you can find their tour dates here. On top of all that, WASI organizes an annual festival to celebrate, empower, and raise awareness of the music and art of womxn, called Womxn F*^k S#!t Up Fest. And this Saturday (March 24), they’re holding a unique edition of the festival in Washington D.C. that looks excellent, the proceeds of which will benefit Casa Ruby, a local LGBTQ+ organization serving the D.C. area.
Musically, their latest EP is a thrilling blast of California. It’s the perfect set of songs to put on while you’re getting ready to go out, and to make you dance around your apartment in your underwear. Speaking of going out, how about jumping out… of a plane! WASI’s recent music video for their song, “Floor Talk,” confidently and triumphantly showed us how to “fall like a girl” and we were so inspired and energized by it, that we decided we get in touch with them! Check out the video here.
How does your new EP, Stranger California, compare to your previous work?
This EP specifically gets more in touch with our inner vulnerability and lifestyle as artists. These songs reflect our journey into understanding and our artistic place in the world. Neither of us come from families of artists, so finding that voice in ourselves took a lot of exploring underground music and art scenes and digging deep into our our consciousness. Social identity and vulnerability make up the themes of this EP.
The eponymous song, “Stranger California,” seems to be heading away from your more electronic roots. Your 2017 EP, COUP, on the other hand, sounds like it’s rooted in a more electronic, Postal Service style, and your new single sounds like a reggae-influenced M.I.A. track. Was this change of sound intentional or does your music evolve like this naturally?
We think its a little of both! For this EP, two out of the three songs are written with the beat first (and that’s just in general how we’ve been writing recently) as opposed to COUP where we wrote the songs as we created the synths. I’d say it is intentional, in that we’ve been leaning towards writing songs for the live show, and it’s also natural, in that we’re just constantly exploring more ways to get the message of living life authentically out.
We hope these songs speak to those who feel like an outsider and are trying to do something about it, be it finding a community, finding confidence within yourself, or just speaking out for what you believe in. It’s about being true to who you are and finding good vibes to be around.
“Some of the best shows we’ve played were the garage or warehouse shows where the crowd goes wild with pent-up energy. It’s when we get to really tune in, and for those 30 to 60 minutes, we become one with the room.”
As producers, we try to come up with what plugins will work best for what sound we’re reaching for in a given track, and the same goes for mixing. But we always try to shoot for a deep, growly sub-bass sound. When we demo at home, we use an Apogee as our main audio interface, for this EP though, we used the Universal Apollo interface which we also really like. We love chopping things up to create sounds and FX that haven’t been heard before, yet still create a vibe that’s relatable.
For synths, we play with the MicroKorg as it brings a really cool, simple and analog feel. The Logic synths always do the deed, too, when writing!
Do you think Stranger California is an important album to release now? How do you see your EP fitting in, and changing, the musical and political climate?
Stranger California is an EP that is important to us to release (and we hope it feels that way for the listeners!) as we touch base with finding ourselves and our own community. We get to combine these different musical influences and talk about true experiences, and we hope the authenticity of the whole package tells its own story.
We’ve played this EP to different crowds — from DIY punk shows to hip-hop or electronic shows — and it’s really cool seeing both communities react the same to the songs. That’s how we know we’re onto something special, when our music can create that connection in a cool way.
Do you like to define yourselves as “Queer Musicians,” or musicians who happen to be queer? Is being queer fundamental to the identity of this band?
Being queer is an important part of our identity, but I don’t think we’d go up and introduce ourselves as “queer musicians.” However, we do hone in on that part of ourselves when asked, because being queer in the music industry has been a struggle for us. I think understanding that part of ourselves gives us room to connect more with people who have had a similar experience, which then creates a platform around which others can build communities.
WASI is a road-hardened band. It seems like you’ve played every house party, dive bar, and little festival from LA to NYC. Can you tell us about some of your most memorable shows? What was the best show you’ve ever played? The worst? And the weirdest?
Some of the best shows we’ve played were the garage or warehouse shows where the crowd goes wild with pent-up energy. It’s when we get to really tune in and for those 30 to 60 minutes, we become one with the room.
The worst show we’ve ever played was when we were on a little tour, and on stage Jessie dislocated her knee. We ended the set early but she still played two songs with it all messed up. We were on stage when she dislocated it, and in front of the whole audience she popped it back into place. It was crazy.
The weirdest show was when we were on tour with Pansy Division. On the way up to Portland, Oregon, we played a dive bar in Medford — they were compensating pretty well and feeding us, so we said why not. It was awkward, because we walked in in the middle of their karaoke session and started setting up our floor stage. However, it was one of the most fun shows we played! The few locals in the room danced with us and we sold a ton of merch. It was great.
Actually, a collective called QREW are the ones who decided to bring it over! We were talking about booking WASI in D.C., then the conversation of WFSU Fest came up, and there you go! Our Los Angeles chapter has been consulting with the D.C. organizers to make sure the brands feel similar and the artists speak the language of creating new spaces in the community.
We hope that WFSU Fest will be able to touch other cities and communities in the future. If this can continue to inspire womxn to create a new safe space in their community that engages in music, activism, and feminist empowerment, then we’ve done our job.
Finally, what is the one piece of advice you wish you could give to other bands?
The one piece of advice we’d give to other bands is to be compassionate and supportive. That’s how you create a space where your community continually supports one another, and through this, creates connections, exchanges musical ideas, goes to each others shows, etc.
You never know what’s going to happen, so surround yourself with similar and positive energy.
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