After the release of their debut album “Glass House” on March 5th, we sat down with East Boston based rapper Sashathem to find out more about the release and their artistic journey.
With a unique sound that is a hodgepodge of pop-cultural influence, tinged with elements of
early funk, queer-pop and hip-hop, Sashathem is a non-binary hip-hop artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist with an intimate love for words, that shines in each and every song from their debut album “Glass House”.
The ten-track album is an introspective journey that the artist openly and honestly shares with the listeners, inspiring them and helping them find that same reflective and inner-directed eye that allowed Sashathem to create such a personal and powerful work.
Without further ado, let’s get to know the artist and learn more about their personal experience, creative process and future projects.
Introduce yourself! Who’s Sashathem? What’s your background and upbringing?
Hi! I’m Sashathem, a nonbinary rapper living in East Boston. I grew up in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, and was raised by a teacher and a writer. I describe myself as a “bummer” rapper, but that’s mostly because I use Hip-Hop to process what I go through emotionally, so a lot of the stuff I put out is kinda sad. On the other side of that, I’m a queer person that has found agency and self-acceptance through writing raps and performing. Through my music, I’ve worked towards funding and mutual aid for trans folks, and half of all the proceeds from my projects go towards others transition funds.
When did you get into hip-hop and how did your passion evolve into a career?
I’ve loved Hip-Hop since middle school! I dropped a mixtape in high school, but I didn’t start taking myself seriously as a writer and musician until around 2017. I was the MC in a hip-hop horn band called Gryzzle for about two years, where I delved into writing and grew as a performer and bandleader. We toured up and down the East Coast a couple times; it was my first experience pushing one of my own musical projects professionally. In 2019, I started rapping solo as Sasha, and that’s when I feel like I really found my voice as a rapper and started using songwriting to express myself in a more vulnerable way than I was previously willing to. 2019 was also the year that I came out to close friends as nonbinary, and making hip-hop was so crucial to my coming out journey because it allowed me to process and articulate my experience in a way that was really difficult to do in regular conversations.
Congratulations on your debut album! “Glass House” almost feels like a love-hate letter to life. What was the creative process behind this project?
Thank you! I’m so glad it’s finished and released to the void! Glass House was like a diary for me, and it chronicles a lot of my coming out process as a nonbinary person. The songs were written, recorded, produced and re-contextualized over the course of the last couple years, and I think you can hear me grappling with a lot of self-loathing and self-love throughout the record. I recorded and produced most of it in my bedroom, and sent it to two wonderful musicians; Brian Sauerwald to mix, and CoachCtrl to master. They both did wonderful work and made it feel like a more cohesive album than I would have been able to make on my own. The record also features a ton of friends of mine, including Lobby Boy, and production from Wilkjayy, Agren, and Evan Amoroso.
You collaborated with various producers on the album. What’s more important to you when it comes to collaborations? Is it having a similar style, sharing a common vision or something else?
When working with other artists, I place the most importance on their personal experience and musical ideas because I know that no two people are gonna come up with the same thing. The last song on Glass House, called Stay, was produced by one of my all-time favorite producers and my dear friend Wilkjayy. I handed him all of the final vocals along with a demo of the song and asked him to do what he saw fit with the production, and it turned into something that I could never have made - something that I LOVE so dearly! Collaboration, in music in particular, allows such a beautiful synergized thing to come to fruition, and I am so thankful for the friends that contributed and worked with me on Glass House.
If you read some of my articles, you know that I’m all about diversity in the music industry and I absolutely love people who have the drive and determination to fight stereotypes and stigmas. Hip-hop is a genre that is still too often associated with hyper-masculinity, which is why I think it’s crucial to highlight the diverse talent that is finally gaining more and more popularity in this world. I’m talking women, men fighting the concept of hyper-masculinity, and non-binary artists like yourself. What are your thoughts on this subject and what’s your experience been like so far?
First of all, you are wonderful. Thank you for all you do! Hip-hop has always been rooted in the underground; there are so many incredible artists challenging preconceived notions about gender and the status quo in the music industry right now. I have a tremendous amount of privilege as a white, often cis-perceived person, and my experiences have absolutely been easier and safer than many of my trans peers. There is so much work to be done to dismantle unjust and patriarchal systems in the world and in the entertainment industry. To anyone looking for experimentation and new sounds in Hip-hop, you should know that you don’t have to look any further than the amazing trans artists making waves with their music right now.
How would you like your listeners to feel after listening to “Glass House”? What’s the message you’re trying to deliver?
I hope that Glass House makes a listener feel less alone. I was vulnerable and honest on the project in a way that I don’t think I’ve been with past releases. I hope that a queer kid could hear the internal dialogue that modulates from shame to self-love throughout the project and feel understood and supported. It’s a weight off of my shoulders to have this fragile reflection of myself out now, and I really hope it resonates with people.
What are your projects for the near future? Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
I’m working on a project with a dear producer friend that should be out sometime this summer. The first track from it will actually be out as a demo pretty soon via the next mixtape from Totally Real Records (the tape label that released Glass House)! I’m directing most of my energy right now towards making a compelling live set, but I’m sure that will stay in the privacy of my apartment until this horrible COVID dream is over.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone trying to make their way into the industry and feels like they don’t “fit in”?
The internet is super isolating and makes any aspiring artist feel kinda crazy, but on the other side of that is a multitude of loving communities and kindred spirits. I’ve found so much love in the Queer Music community through pretty much entirely virtual interaction, and it’s wonderful to feel like you’re a part of an artistic community/family. Putting yourself out there is mad scary, but it’s the only way to find other folks like you!