YaSi, aka Yasman Azimi, knows a few things about coexisting with chaos, particularly with regard to the pandemic. The singer had tour dates scheduled through 2020 but had to scrap them all — and after lockdown in mid-March, depression set in for the next few months. But in May, she pulled herself out of the funk by writing songs.
Without her music, Azimi says, "I was going be in a depressive hole for the rest of my life. Music allowed me to get out of that. I just have to keep on going and keep making things.”
That same month, she began flying back and forth between Denver and Los Angeles to work with producer and mixing engineer Jon Lundin on what would become her new six-song EP, Coexist With Chaos, which drops on Friday, April 2, via Royal Rhythm Recordings.
Going into the project, Azimi knew she had to get into the songwriting mindset, so she began watching for things that inspired her and listening to SZA-type beats on YouTube.
“I always tried to just come in with at least an idea, at least a melody, because that helps me feel more confident in the day that's ahead of me,” she says.
Lundin put Azimi through what she calls “songwriting boot camp": four twelve-hours days at his house in L.A., during which she worked on her songs while he taught her about songwriting.
“He just taught me to alleviate pressure from [my]self,” Azimi says of Lundin. “I've only primarily made music in Denver. I've never really traveled outside of Denver to make music with anybody. Not only that, but to work with people who have been making songs that get millions of plays, and they’re with really big labels. It was so intimidating to me, because I felt like, ‘Oh, shit, how is this random Persian girl from Denver going to measure up to the best of the best in Los Angeles?’”
One listen to Coexist With Chaos and it’s clear that Azimi could measure up to some of L.A.’s finest, particularly on the strength of cuts like the R&B-steeped lead single, “Guilty,” or the dark pop of “A Troubled Mind,” in which Azimi sings about dealing with pain and getting the demons out. On the EP, she writes about dealing not only with her personal chaos, but also with the chaos around her, especially on “World Is Burning” and “Inferno,” which were inspired by Black Lives Matter protests, turmoil in her parents’ homeland of Iran, and the pandemic.
When she first took the song “Golden Disco” to Lundin, it was more of a ballad, but he wanted to turn up the energy a bit. Then Azimi wanted to tweak it further, because, she says, it's “the last dance before the world ends. It's like the final hurrah.” She wanted a gradual buildup to the ending, which sounds like there are meteors exploding and buildings collapsing.
“We thought, ‘How would we sonically replicate that imagery into the beat?'” Azimi recalls. “And I think we did a pretty cool job. There are random guitars. There are random horns. There's EDM and rap. Whatever it is, it found its way in there, and I think that could have only been possible having somebody as open-minded as Jon to do that with.”
Azimi says making Coexist With Chaos pushed her life forward and got her into a much happier place.
“I honestly don't think I would have been sane or I would have been happy had I not had the opportunity to work on this record,” she says. “As the title says, I was coexisting with the chaos around me. It kind of gave me hope and got me to wake up in the morning and got me to work on stuff, because you know, the first few months of quarantine, I was just, like, drinking and eating and watching TV, and that's not a way to live your life.”
Looking back on the finished project, Azimi says the EP is like an onion, “and each of the songs are different layers, and I think they all kind of attest to the theme of coexisting with chaos.”