For ASKA, the, Ashiya, Japan-born, Los Angeles-based composer and songwriter, her self-titled, debut EP is the culmination of years of experience but also the beginning of something new and exciting.
When ASKA first wrote one of the EP’s tracks, “There Are Many Of Us,” she recorded it and shared the song with some friends, including filmmaker Spike Jonze. “He had a vision of his film I’m Here already, but he called me and asked if he could use the song.” Jonze ended up using the song as the theme for his film, an experience that inspired ASKA to make this record.
“Before I recorded the songs for I’m Here, I had no intention of doing any solo project,” she says. “But after I wrote ‘There Are Many Of Us,’ I felt encouraged to make my own music and I wrote and recorded five songs that month.”
The result is ASKA, an exquisite collection of electronic-tinged songs based around ASKA’s haunting voice and compiled with the help of Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Money Mark, Butchy Fuego (Pit er Pat), Kitty Jensen and Nick Dewitt (Pretty Girls Make Graves).
More than anything, her own experience as a musician inspired ASKA to create this record. “I played piano all of my life and was devoted to it for many years. When I was 16, I started going to punk shows and was introduced to music outside of the classical world,” she recalls. “I started to question why I was trying to perfect music that was made hundreds of years ago—it was like chasing after a shadow. With the technique I have from my classical background, I am able to express what I feel in a more expanded way.” In doing so, ASKA took a step outside of the work she had previously created and experimented with her sound in new and innovative ways.
When she’s not focusing on her solo work, Matsumiya spends her time writing and performing with the L.A. Ladies Choir, which she co-founded with Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark. ASKA hopes to score more films in the future—she recently finished one for fashion designer Philip Lim—and to use the music she creates to collaborate with other artists.
“I love working with vision—I’d like to do more of that. I’d like to perform with visuals, with a screen behind me or with an installation. I’d love to collaborate with light and installation artists,” she says. “I feel like I could fit into so many different categories of music, but I’d love to play at fashion shows and theaters and not just clubs.”
A more intimate collection closer to ASKA’s better-known work, coming out later this year, it seems that ASKA is well on her way. With a diverse range of talent and years of experience to expand upon, ASKA is securing her place as a unique and uncompromising performer. The world, it seems, is ready to be her stage.