Artist of the Month is an accolade given to an up-and-coming artist or group who is poised for the big time. In February 2022, we give the nod to SASAMI as she brings us all into her next era with new album Squeeze. (Editor’s Note: If you’re having trouble viewing the interview above, watch it on YouTube.)
The cover art for SASAMI’s latest full-length studio album, Squeeze, is hard to miss. It shows a human head — her own — attached to a serpentine body. It’s raised up, poised as if ready to attack.
The artwork was inspired by the Nure-onna (濡女, or “wet woman”), a Japanese ghost pulled from folklore, and the art is further adorned with Korean calligraphy done by SASAMI’s mother.
SASAMI’s family is Zainichi, ethnic Koreans on her mother’s side who were born and raised in Japan during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Here she is, now — cultures, family, fables, and folklore, intertwined.
It’s not just the cover art of Squeeze that was inspired by the fantastical. “You can either get really stuck in reality and in the present, or you can go deep into fantasy — because it’s infinite when you’re locked in the house for two years,” she says of the creation process behind the album. “I chose to go in that direction, leaning into the fantasy side of creativity and imagination.”
SASAMI, our February Artist of the Month, let herself fall into the wonderland she felt calling to her throughout the past few years of relative global stagnancy. Squeeze can’t exactly be pinned into one genre and unfolds in a way that’s more reminiscent of a symphony, complete with movements and moments of stillness, something not at all surprising once SASAMI’s background in classical music and composition is considered.