The Road to Elsewhere
We’ve got Everlasting love for boundary-pushing Berlin musician Sasha Perera
Sasha Perera, the Berlin-based singer/songwriter/producer/DJ megababe, is best known as the front woman of Jahcoozi—an avant-garde electronica trio, which features her breathy vocals over beats by producers and instrumentalists Teuton Robot Koch and Oren Gerlitz. Their sound oscillates between highly danceable and pretty, sexy bedroom music, the latter of which is closer to Perera’s solo work. Last year, under the name Perera Elsewhere, she released her debut album, Everlast, a stoner gal’s dream that begs for hazy swaying under its spell; her signature smoky vocals are just as haunting, but with a pastiche of folk and electronic that can be downright gothic. Couple Perera’s arresting voice with her unique look—she refers to her style as a “collage,” as likely to include a cheap tiara as wildly colored hair—and you’ve got someone we can’t take our eyes off of. Her particular aesthetics influence her videos as well, like “Light Bulb,” a weird meditation on pregnancy that has Perera in a balloon headdress, draped in mosquito netting, wearing a ruffled black dress with a cutout showcasing her seemingly pregnant belly all while eerily rocking a bassinet. Tidal spoke with Perera about her country-hopping lifestyle, her favorite flea-market find, and the darkest thing she’s ever done.
You’ve had such a rich musical life between your work with Jahcoozi, DJing, and your solo music. How has your background influenced your sound?
Being a born-and-bred Londoner has influenced me a lot because it is such a melting pot musically, it is constantly generating new hybrids of music. Moving to Berlin influenced me most in its DIY approach to music production. I bought a few things and was happy to make music at home independently. This is probably what really put me into action in regards to the “anything goes and fuck perfectionism” approach.
You’re heading to Mumbai soon to work on a project, and traveling is a big part of what you do. Does that impact your music?
I guess subliminally, to be honest. It’s not like you go to India to record a sitar or anything. There are samples of everything, so you don’t actually need to leave your house. Besides, there are so many terrible world-music clichés, which I don’t want to be part of! As much as I like to make music in the solitude of my house, I also love to go to strange places and have the sounds of the crickets or motorbikes leak into my recordings. I love the smell of other places, too. I get into a different flow when I’m not in Berlin. There are less distractions and often less options in terms of equipment and studio setup, so I can get really focused.
Your solo sound is much different from your previous work. Why did you make that shift?
It was probably a reaction to working with my band for so long, the desire to reduce everything to a voice and an atmosphere. Mini revolutions happen within every person and every institution from time to time…or at least they should! Maybe [it’s also] the fact that I bought a really nice old guitar for 40 euros in a flea market in Marseilles. My life is kind of unplanned—one thing tends to lead to another, and if it sounds good, I go with it.
What inspires you aesthetically? How important is it for your look to line up with your sound?
Sound is definitely the central part of this project. I’ve never judged music merely by its packaging. Some of the worst-dressed people make the best music. It’s important to never forget that in the climate of today. But if I am going to make any kind of packaging for my music, then it’s got to be something fresh and exciting, odd and funny, satirical and deep. It’s got to be fucking out there, you get me? Otherwise, I feel odd about it. In the end, I get bored easily with seeing the same shit over and over again.
The “Light Bulb” music video is one of the most interesting videos I’ve seen in a very long time. Could you talk about the inspiration behind it?
Pregnancy is usually such a soft-focus women’s magazine or product-placement sort of theme. I brought a whole load of surreal horror and doom with this song and video combination. In a way, I’m dead serious in that video. I worked with one of my best friends, Hugo Holger Schneider, on “Light Bulb,” and it’s probably the darkest thing we have made.