Not long after a show-stealing performance at the Mission Ballroom opening for Snow Tha Product in December 2019, YaSi signed a deal with the prestigious United Talent Agency. Then she and her band toured the country with iyla. Driving home from their last show in Utah in March, Azimi learned that the country was beginning to shut down because of COVID-19 and that Live Nation and AEG had put a halt to all concerts for the foreseeable future.
YaSi's mother called, warning her to stock up on toilet paper in Utah — because Colorado was running out. And soon Azimi was erasing weeks — and later months — of planned gigs from her calendar. "I felt like I had the world in the palm of my hands, and then it went whoosh," she recalls.
She had been warned that after being on the road, artists often have "tour depression," she says. That hit her hard — but not as hard as pandemic depression. She was in a funk through March and April...not that she was alone.
Her friends were all delaying new releases, trying to figure out whether the world needed new music. Putting out fresh tracks as people died seemed "tone deaf," she says — a tough call for an artist who has often talked about the healing power of music.
As spring bled into summer and the United States erupted into a mass social movement against racist police violence, dropping new pop tracks seemed even more absurd.
"Who wants to put out music when the world is in such disarray?" she asks. "Can music really heal us, because what the fuck is happening? It felt weird to even pick up the guitar. It felt weird to sing a cover. I didn’t do anything music-wise."
Her UTA booking agent Daniel McCartney was starting the new record label Royal Rhythm Arts; he asked her to put out a new EP. She began flying between Denver and Los Angeles, recording in the studio there. For the first time, she was working with L.A. producer Jon Lundin, whose skill, speed and raw talent blew her away.
Collaborating with new songwriters and producers, she expanded her network and deepened her approach to music, finding newfound purpose in the songwriting and recording process. Within three months, she had recorded the songs for a new album, Coexist With Chaos, which is scheduled to come out in early April.
She's teasing that release with the music video for "Guilty," the first single off the EP.
Written by Lundin, Bruce Wiegner and YaSi, the song is at once contemporary and rich with ’90s R&B vibes. Delivered through stacked harmonies, the lyrics are all about cheating and the delicious guilt that comes with it. It's a gorgeous, sultry track about being in a relationship and yearning for someone else.
YaSi may have been down, but she keeps on rising, and if "Guilty" is any indication, the new EP is going to be like nothing we've heard from her yet.
"I’m so excited about the project," she says. "I can’t wait for people to hear it. I’m very nervous."
For more, go to YaSi's website.