Get to Know Asha Imuno [Interview]

California rapper/multi-hyphenate Asha Imuno is making a name for himself as one of the most forward-thinking voices of hip-hop and R&B. After working with artists such as Frank Sativa and Wakai and dropping notable singles such as “ZIG ZAGGING” and “PERFECT PACE”, the Moreno Valley native is building towards Pins & Needles, his first album in three years. Asha started this rollout with the soulful and introspective “PUSHING BUTTONS”, a collaboration with Weston Estate’s Marco Luke that discusses perseverance, healing, and facing demons. Most recently, Asha dropped “DID I CALL AT A BAD TIME?”, an infectious and soulful single with an ear-catching beat switch. We caught up with Asha to talk about his new single and what he has planned for the future. 

It's been a little over 3 years since your last project Good News, what’s changed for you since the release of the album sonically, mentally, situationally?

With Good News I was freshly 19, and had just moved to LA from Moreno Valley. I was just wide eyed to everything, trying to figure it out and prove to myself what I could do, which came with a lot of experimentation and a lot of firsts. I think it's kind of a similar thing in this season now, working on songs for my next album Pins & Needles. It’s been a lot of stretching my voice to sing more or getting more into my bag rapping, but making it all a little bit more cohesive and a little bit more focused. I feel like I've matured as a human in the process of making Pins & Needles. It also brought new collaborations. Good News was like 98 percent self-produced. Pins & Needles is entirely co-produced. Me and Zach Ezzy co-produced the entire album together, and it's like we're carving this sound that exists a little bit more at the intersections of the music that I love.

Let’s talk about the “DID I CALL AT A BAD TIME?” video. What was the concept or theme for the visuals and switch-up of the video?

A: Angel Orozco, the director of the video, had this idea for this really strong reference of the movie Punch Drunk Love. We've just been obsessed with 2000s stuff but not Y2K. We really fucked with the trope of seeing me embody a bunch of different characters. Conceptually, it was a reflection of the experience of my come up, just working different jobs to make it happen, get from A to B, and then culminating to a point of I could really just be on my shit. It's almost like pushing fast forward.

How did you decide on “Pushing Buttons” and “Did I Call At a Bad Time” as your first singles for the album?

Actually, for the most part we’d just be cooking and it was what came out. When we made “Pushing Buttons,” it felt like it was really special. We didn't know if it was a focus, but it felt right to share a little bit more of the story. For “DID I CALL AT A BAD TIME?”, Zach and I just kind of looked at each other and were like “The time gon come”.

I know you worked with Marco Luka of Weston Estate and did your whole album with Zach Ezzy, what was that like coming from a producer perspective and how is your creative process different when you're working with others?

It’s definitely been a lot more of sharing a new perspective as opposed to relying on my own. I think nobody is really the owner of ideas, they come to us. Seeking those out with another mind in the mix is a fast track to new textures and feelings, that's what's kept it so fresh. Writing “PUSHING BUTTONS” with Marco Luka too was just so organic. He just happened to be in the crib here in the garage. Stuff like that feels kismet, and it adds an element of magic to the process for sure. 

Over the years you’ve been involved with and adjacent to so many forward thinking minds in music, starting with Raised by the Internet and now you're part of Kogo and Kogo in general is doing so many amazing things, like we're in this house right now and I feel so grateful to be here. Can you speak a bit to how that's helped you or continues to help you develop as an artist?

A: That kinda goes back to what I was saying about collaboration, in general, being around fresh, inspired energy constantly. Being a part of a community of people who want each other to win is the most beautiful and highest privilege. Even just at the beginning of my journey in music, being in a place where there's not as many like-minded people or as many opportunities to exercise your craft as an outlet can be a little demoralizing to the process of finding yourself creatively and your journey. It’s very inspiring at the end of the day, and I think that’s something that I try to keep at the front of my mind. If I could tell 15 year old me anything at that time, it would be to get out and find your people. You can't be in a vacuum. 

Looking ahead to your next album, can you give us a preview of where the Pins & Needles name come from for this project? 

Pins & Needles is an idea that's rooted in embracing the duality of the feelings associated with the journey that I feel like we’re all on. In that process, I learned a lot and spent a lot of time meditating on ideas of familial love, self love, the bittersweetness of a beautiful moment as it passes and how to embrace the light side and the dark side as an all-encompassing journey. 

Listen to “DID I CALL AT A BAD TIME?” below.

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