Rising country star Sasha Dawe returns with his latest single, ‘Shovelling Hopes and Dreams’, a bittersweet and serendipitous composition that showcases his depth as an artist. With soothing vocals and melodies that exude a country-pop essence, the song possesses a raw authenticity that resonates deeply with listeners.
‘Shovelling Hopes and Dreams’ immerses listeners in a country-infused soundscape, creating a tranquil atmosphere with its stripped-back arrangement. Bordering on a ballad, the song’s gentle acoustics and slide guitars provide Sasha Dawe with the perfect canvas to display his songwriting prowess.
We sat down with Sasha to learn much more about his creative process, his anticipated debut album and much more here at TAGG. Please enjoy!
Your music is described as defying genres, fusing post-punk folk, shoegazing sound, and insightful storytelling. How do you manage to blend these diverse elements into your music, and what inspires you to explore such a unique sonic landscape?
I have been through multiple musical listening and making phases throughout my life and these have influenced my taste, but I definitely can’t say that I actively try to blend elements. I did spend some time when I started music, exploring what sounds I like making and in what combination.. Berlin was a great place for this.
Sound wise, I started off by releasing a minimalistic folk EP. Then I got into Deep House and alternative pop, now I have come back full circle. This was all under my previous alias David Stars. Looking back now this exploration wasn’t even really about the music but more about becoming aware of who I am and how that came to be. Changing the alias to my birth name was a significant moment in acknowledging this very personal process. Changing my perception towards objectivity has changed what inspires the music and its landscape.
You draw inspiration from The Whitest Boy Alive and Jeff Tweedy. Can you tell us more about the impact these artists have had on your musical journey and style?
To be honest I hadn’t actually heard of Jeff Tweedy or of The Whitest Boy Alive before my podcast on Playtime with WC Turck where Bill wrote a few great descriptions of Cellar Sessions likening my song writing to those two groups and it seems to have stuck. I’ve listened into them and can understand where it comes from, I wouldn’t say they’ve had any particular influence on my music creation though.
Your new single, ‘Shovelling Hopes and Dreams,’ is described as bittersweet and serendipitous. What emotions and experiences led to the creation of this song, and how does it fit into your larger musical narrative?
Coming to grips with how inconceivably big the universe is encourages a feeling I can describe as close to meaninglessness for me. Counterbalancing one’s personal dreams and the things you are working for with the reality of meaninglessness is not easy as pointlessness sets in. This song explores emotionally how faith and spirit are abilities used towards finding purpose and not getting lost in the chaos.
‘Shovelling Hopes and Dreams’ is said to immerse listeners in a country-infused soundscape. Can you delve into the musical elements and influences that shaped this particular track?
On the production side, this was one of the songs that we wanted to keep as simple and pure as possible, as it’s quite easy to overproduce. The guitar riff has a somewhat earthy context and might be a reflection of the influences that surrounded me during my upbringing.
I’m proud of this song as I feel it captures a very authentic and stripped-back desert soundscape. The swooning slide guitar was an idea by Stefan my producer and was excellently played by Joe Van Der Linden. They add a lot of the character to match the heat of the desert somehow.
The song’s theme revolves around the journey away from home and chasing one’s dreams. Can you share more about the personal experiences and reflections that inspired this song’s lyrics?
After my studies in South Africa, I denounced the traditional route that had been made out for me and followed what I knew was my musical calling. I dived right in, going only where opportunity lead me and haven’t regretted a single day. My ‘leaving home’ led me to Berlin first where I took up musical studies and where this part of the adventure started. In the song I personify the adventurous spirit, the curious consciousness to take up the reins and motivate us along our journey. The inspiration is that everyone has a personal hero’s journey as I see it, some embrace it earlier than others and it has everything to do with who we want to become.
You emphasise introspection and emotive storytelling in your music. How do you approach the process of crafting meaningful narratives in your songs, and what message do you hope to convey to your audience?
Songs are like magical fairy dust that you’re only allowed once you’ve been really good. And by that I mean if your perspective or view on life has been good. For me it’s the whole thing of Understanding v Ignorance. Learning and experiencing new things inspires and energises the spirit, strengthening your creative connection which heightens the probability that you’re going to write a good song. Nature is the primary source in my experience. It’s also important to be clear about what it is that you want to say or convey. All songs are unique but all good songs were made with a clear Intention in mind.
Your debut album is on the horizon. Could you give us a glimpse of what we can expect from the album, and how it fits into the larger artistic journey you’ve embarked on?
It is a 13 track Album and it was created keeping the motto of ‘Legendary Folk Album’ in mind. My father had gotten sick around the time of me writing the first few songs, so I moved to Cape Town to help him find his feet there. A lot of the writing for the album happened while our family was going through quite a tough period navigating cancer. And Being away from my studio in Berlin, I was not able to record the songs by myself so I started looking for a place to record the album.
Finding the right people for the project was probably the most important part of the creation of this album. I really wanted to find someone that would be a right fit, someone who was going to be as passionate about storytelling and old folk music as I was. So I was very lucky to have found Stefan Uys, an old university buddy of mine and his studio partner Boogiea. Together we recorded and produced the album over 4 months. They had incredible gear in their studio and we brought carefully selected session musicians to play on the tracks. Including the two Zimbabwean nursing ladies that were helping my father at his clinic. So the album has some wonderfully intimate, funny and also extremely introspective songs which I think make up a very special debut album.
Finally, in your own words, you mention “embracing the experience of living while also yearning for the peace of mind.” How does this existential duality influence your approach to songwriting and your overall outlook on life?
Hypocrisy makes for interesting stories. One of the principles in hermeticism is that things exist in balance. ‘There is always more than one side to a story’, and by empathising with both sides we create a balancing act out of this existential duality. The story is created through balancing, compromise and by ‘getting to the middle of it’. In my experience, allowing oneself to become an objective observer in any situation is a good approach to songwriting and to life in general.
Stream ‘Shovelling Hopes and Dreams’ here: