R&B Artist YaSi on Her Rising Success: "You've Gotta Make Shit for Yourself"

Yazman Azimi, who performs as YaSI, says, "Music is just about relating to people; the only thing that changes is the sounds.”
Yazman Azimi, who performs as YaSI, says, "Music is just about relating to people; the only thing that changes is the sounds.” Blake Jackson

People crammed wall-to-wall in a backyard studio to catch a glimpse of the new music video to the song "Pink Caddy," by Yazman Azimi, who performs as YaSI. The Denver crowd, many her friends and fellow artists, interrupted the video with cheers.

"Pink Caddy" has been part of her live show for almost a year, but the video came together over the winter. She opted not to premiere it at an official venue; she prefers to create her opportunities in makeshift spaces. Creating her own opportunities is the foundation of her solo career. 

“If they’re not going to give you a show, you make a show,” Azimi says. “If they’re not going to put your video on a blog, then put it in front of people. Create your own path, because people aren’t going to give you what you want…especially when you don’t know people. You’ve gotta make shit for yourself and push the limit as much as you possibly can so you at least start getting people to pay attention to you.”

[Below is the music video for "Pink Caddy."]

Growing up, Azimi was always singing or involved in choir. Her parents listened to light rock, Michael Jackson and Persian songs. Hip-hop was the first genre that resonated with her. Soon, she was writing her own hip-hop and R&B music. Being a member of band H*Wood while she was in college before going solo in spring 2016 allowed her to gain practice and confidence on stage.

“For a solid year and a half, I would go on Rap Genius and see how they wrote songs,” Azimi explained. “How many syllables they use in what line, where they put in metaphors and what characteristics you have in R&B music that you don’t have in pop music. Then you get the production that has R&B sound, and then it’s kind of seamless at that point, and you learn how to ride the beat in a certain way.... Music is just about relating to people; the only thing that changes is the sounds.”

Azimi's parents emigrated from Iran to America. She grew up in the suburbs and was hesitant to embrace her cultural background.

“For a really long period of my life, I pretended I wasn’t Persian,” Azimi explains. “I didn’t want to learn anything about my background; I didn’t care to learn. I didn’t speak Farsi to my parents for a couple years because I was trying to fit in with those kids.... You didn’t want to be more different. I think as a kid, you’re always scared to be different because different is weird to children. Especially, back to representation, if you’re watching TV and don’t see anyone that looks like you, how are you supposed to know that you aren’t ‘weird?’”

click to enlarge BLAKE JACKSON
Blake Jackson

Azimi says Denver's music scene creates unfair expectations for women musicians, which she aims to defy with lines like “I need head and a cup of coffee." 

“It’s hard as a girl,” Azimi says. “You feel, at times, that there’s nothing you can do to get the same respect. Or there’s nothing you can do to show people to pay attention to you or take you seriously. I’m not just a pretty girl that sings. You don’t deserve to have the first word after your name to be ‘the beautiful, the pretty.’ You can say my voice is beautiful or my words are beautiful, that’s cool. But if my looks are the first of five things you mention about me, that’s kind of insulting.”

She has also noticed that a few women artists are rotated on bills around Denver, while many go unbooked. She wants her success to rub off on others.

“I was thinking about how a girl in ten years may not have heard of my music or know who I am, “ Azimi says. “But I made it a little bit easier for her to get to the next level.... I wish there was a more equal playing field for everybody. I don’t want to be just competing with girls for shows. I want to be competing with everybody. If I get booked on a show, I want it to be because I was the best option.”

YaSi performs Saturday, March 25, at Pearl's for Stay Up Saturdays, with UNIIQU3, SIXXD, Annamalistiik and grey sea.

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Riley Cowing has been writing with Westword since July 2016. She is originally from Kansas City and graduated from the journalism school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She enjoys connecting with local artists, drinking all types of espresso and loves any excuse to watch The Devil Wears Prada.
Contact: Riley Cowing