Interview: "Heart Shaped Box" - Asha June
Your cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” is so well-done and powerful! What made you want to cover this iconic song?
Asha: I’ve been a fan of nirvana since middle school; their songwriting and sheer emotive power has always resonated strongly with me. In my version, I wanted to examine the juxtaposition between the morose lyrics, and a brighter, poppier sound in the chorus. I always like to play with the idea of extremes, I think it’s something innate to my personality, and this song in particular leant itself very well to that exploration.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing your music?
Asha: I think like a lot of writer’s, it comes from a place of emotional vulnerability. It’s a safe place to delve into your weaknesses, dissect your strength and create a dialogue with others, in a way a simple conversation can never quite bridge. Music has this amazing ability to celebrate the darkest parts of ourselves in a way that lacks intimidation, but maintains intimacy.
I love that you sketched the art for your merch! In addition to music, does art also play an important role in your life?
Asha: Thank you! Yes, I was obsessed with drawing and cartoons growing up. I would spend all my babysitting money on old comic books, and trace panels from Jim Lee’s work… at one point, I wanted nothing more than to be an animator for Disney. I’ve always loved writing as well. Creating in this way has always been cathartic. It still is. Art is the place I go to find myself.
What has been your favorite place you’ve traveled so far? And where are you hoping to go next?
Asha: Oh there’s so many to choose from! I love the Caribbean for the beautiful coastlines and balmy weather. You really can’t beat Western Europe for some of the most stunning pieces of classical architecture. The streets of New York thrive with buskers on every street, some of the most insanely talented people I’ve ever seen perform, and Nakuru is one of the loveliest national parks I’ve every been to. Imagine leaving a Toronto winter to climb a mountain. Still, so incredibly worth it. I suppose as travel restrictions lift, I’ll be looking for a new adventure! No decisions made yet.
If you could perform with any artist in the world, who would you pick and why?
Asha: I’d love to do a collaboration with Laura Mvula… She has such an exquisite sound, so beautiful, intricate, with depth, but also a playfulness. Her lyrics are meaningful and have a wonderful narrative style. Or Lianne La Havas, she is such a talented musician I think I’d probably be anxious about keeping up, but man, what an experience that would be!
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start making their own music but doesn’t know where to start?
Asha: Hmm… I think as with most things in life, the key is just to start. There really is no right or wrong when it comes to creativity. Listen to music. Explore different genres. Go to open mics. Learn an instrument. Learn three instrument. Watch YouTube videos on composition. Dissect songs of your favourite artists. Try to recreate them. Most importantly, I think, is to invest in the community. Support other artists! Go to their shows. Buy their merch. It can be such an isolating and difficult process, so finding your tribe and supporting each other is absolutely integral.
Interviewed By Sarah Curry