About

If you’re looking for a very quick update on what I’m up to right now, check out my Now page.

It’s going to feel a little weird to tell you all this, but if you’re after the deep dive, here we go 🤓

Super-condensed Timeline for Context

  • 1993: born in San Sebastián, Spain
  • 2000: started playing violin
  • 2001: stopped playing violin—turns out I’m not a child prodigy after all
  • 2007: got my first electric guitar for xmas
  • 2008: became obsessed with the Rubik’s Cube, got my first guitar lessons—turns out I wasn’t interested in lead guitar at all, so
  • 2009: got my first acoustic guitar, stumbled into songwriting
  • 2010: kept writing crap songs and trying to sing—key word “trying”
  • 2012: started studying a degree in Mathematics at Imperial College London
  • 2013: dropped out of university—turns out I’m not a maths prodigy either—, played my first ever gig, played more gigs at local cafés & pubs, started a 2 year sound engineering course
  • 2014: formed the band BASIC, started busking—my mum’s idea, which turned out to be a great idea
  • 2015: finished the sound engineering course, released 2 EPs—White and Burning Brightwith BASIC, met Marta, continued to fund our band through busking
  • 2016: BASIC split up, back to being a singer-songwriter on my own and, you guessed it, more busking—I wrote my music in Spanish for a while
  • 2017: moved to Madrid to study Electronic Music Production at SAE Institute, learned to use Ableton
  • 2018: released my first solo EP Hyperpop 1.0, learned to make music videos
  • 2019: released #pinkfridays vol. I, started painting
  • 2020: started releasing #pinkfridays vol. II, the world ended, started my vlog ALMOST PINK
  • 2021: continued to release #pinkfridays vol. II, wrote this timeline

From Mini Sash to Teenage Sash

I was born in San Sebastián, the most beautiful city in the Basque Country, Northern Spain.

My parents are both English. Dad’s from Brighton. Mum was born near Manchester but grew up in Argentina till age 15—she then went to boarding school in the UK and ended up becoming a hippie, but that’s a story for another day.

I was brought up speaking English at home, Spanish in the streets, and Basque at school.

On top of it all my mum decided to give me a Russian name—the plus side is I never got mistaken for anyone else at school. My brother—Zarka—and sister—Xana— also have weird names, so I guess it’s a family thing.

I had a great childhood. Lots of play time, sports, and games. I played a lot of football growing up, my favourite was playing on the beach. I wasn’t a popular kid, and I wasn’t bullied either. However, I was definitely very short for my age, which is weird because I quit football to play more basketball. I also joined a chess club, the school choir, and played violin—as I told you in my timeline though, I did not play very long.

Young Sash about to play violin at town hall in Donostia

Young Sash about to play violin at the Town Hall in Donostia wearing horrible shorts

From Teenage Sash to Now

At age 14 I left the basketball team to focus more on music.

I’ve always needed a lot of alone time. This doesn’t mean I’m antisocial, but I’m not a big party guy either, I’m an introvert. That’s why music, and songwriting specifically, clicked so well with me. It requires a lot of time, both to get good at it and to then create your own music. And it also requires you to look inside and get lost in stories and characters.

Anyway, more about why I make music in the next section. Let me first finish this mini bio.

In 2008 I got really into the Rubik’s Cube. Like, obsessed level into it. I took it everywhere. I had a YouTube channel about it. I spent over 8h a day with the damn thing. But I’m like that, when I get into something I really get into it. Whatever it is, I can’t stop thinking about it and doing it. Seriously, I have to stop myself sometimes, or I’d just quit music and become a different person every 3 months.

After my speedcubing phase died down I continued to focus on school, and ended up getting into Imperial College London. I moved to England in 2012 to study Mathematics, and I quit very shortly after. I’m lucky I realised really quickly that I’d taken a wrong step, and even though it was hard to admit it and move back to Spain, it was the right move.

My dad and me at Imperial College London in 2012

At Imperial College London with my dad—AKA “Mr. T”

Back home, I started playing and writing way more music, as I’d realised I wanted to do it as my one thing. I signed up for a 2 year sound engineering course at Escivi, and also got my first ever gig.

Sash playing first ever gig in 2013

My first ever gig at a fashion show in Bizkaia

For the next year I just kept playing wherever they’d have me. Local cafés, pubs, super small local festivals… It was at a local open mic that I met Pablo, who’d become the lead guitarist in my first band, BASIC. We immediately clicked on a musical level, and adapted all the songs I was performing as a singer-songwriter to band format. My friend Ioseba then joined as the bassist, and Adrián followed on drums shortly thereafter. Our first official gig as BASIC was in 2014, at a fashion event in Chillida Leku.

Being a part of BASIC was a huge part of my life for the next two years. We practiced almost every day. We played gigs on weekends. We spent time together as friends constantly. I essentially devoted all my creative energy to the band.

My mum had the idea of us busking so we could make money and use it to record our first EP. We gave it a try, and it became the cornerstone of the band. We busked every weekend we didn’t have a “real” gig booked. It allowed us to record 2 EPs in 2015, and to buy better gear. But more importantly than any of that, it taught us how to perform in front of a cold audience. When you’re playing on the street, no one’s there to see you. Most people are actually actively trying to avoid you. Learning to win over a crowd in those conditions, to play outside in good and bad weather, and to keep going no matter what… That’s the best lesson I learnt from busking.

BASIC busking at night in Donostia Boulevard

BASIC busking at night in Donostia Boulevard

Anyway, BASIC sadly split up in 2016, and I went back to being a solo singer-songWAIT A MINUTE! I forgot the best part of 2015 😱

BASIC were playing a gig to present our first EP in Fnac San Sebasitán. It was March 20, 2015. Just as we were finishing soundcheck, a girl poked through the curtains and asked me if we could sing happy birthday to a friend of hers who was meant to be a big fan of ours during our set. I of course said no, there was no time to waste in the small set time we were given 🙃😂

But I asked for her name and said I’d think of something. Long story short, the birthday girl was Marta, I ended up gifting her an EP on stage, and we’ve been together ever since. It’s pretty surreal, but there’s video of the moment we met. She’ll hate that I embed this here, but it feels like a must.

Meeting Marta for the first time

Okay, now we can go on. As I was saying, BASIC sadly split up in 2016, and I went back to being a solo singer-songwriter. I wrote in Spanish for a while, and then in 2017 I decided to move to Madrid and study Electronic Music Production at SAE Institute.

That’s where I got introduced to Ableton and learnt the foundations of what my music as Sasha Smith would become.

After my course ended I released my first solo EP Hyperpop 1.0 in 2018. I also decided to make all my own videos for it, because I had no money to hire videographers, and because I also felt like video-editing would be a handy skill to complement my music making craft.

Sash and Marta filming a sea of people in 2018

Monkey time filming the A Sea of People video in Madrid

I stayed in Madrid for another year after that, and then moved back to San Sebastián.

In 2019 I was going to release Hyperpop 2.0, but I ended up switching my release format and creating the #pinkfridays concept. I released 7 new tracks under volume one.

I also got into abstract painting towards the end of 2019, inspired by artists like Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, and Paul Klee. More about it in “The Few Things I Do Outside of Music”.

We’re almost caught up now, what a trip down memory lane this has been for me. If you’re still reading, you know more about me than most of my friends, so feel free to email me and we can have a chat. I love knowing where people listen to me, and what you do with your lives.

In 2020, as the world ended, I started my vlog ALMOST PINK, and also started releasing #pinkfridays vol. II.

Sash filming ALMOST PINK episode 3

Filming ALMOST PINK episode 003

That brings us to 2021, and as I write this I should really be producing my next track, gonna die someday.

Why Music?

It feels good. Making music, I mean.

The act of creating music forces my mind to focus on one thing only, and that’s very relaxing. It’s like a meditative state. Almost like a trance. You must be open and listen closely to what needs to come next. It’s a difficult process to explain, but it’s almost like listening one second into the future and then being flexible enough to voice it out loud or play it. That mental focus feels very good to me. It turns off the noise in my head, which can become like a busy café if left to its own devices.

It also helps me express inner feelings, much like daily journaling. But in lyric form and with the aim of letting it out into the world, it’s more like journaling on steroids. An exercise of honesty and openness. You have to be aware of not letting yourself lie just for the rhyme or the structure. Of always finding your own voice. At least that’s how I try to approach it. I don’t always succeed, but that’s the challenge. I guess the ultimate goal is creating worlds you can step into with the song. Having a song create a new little place in your imagination, and getting lost in that when writing and performing it.

And lastly, the feeling of creating something from nothing is an addictive one. You could say it’s like collecting some sort of memorabilia, but you’re collecting stories, melodies, feelings, and music. I can now go back and listen to old material, and I get to jump into that world for a couple minutes and remember what it looked and felt like. The addictive part is that over time you’re creating multiple “universes” of your work (writers call this world-building), and they can start to interact among them and expand… I think that’s so cool! There was nothing, and then little by little there’s a whole new world in your imagination, and perhaps it can do the same thing for the people who follow your music… right? This is why I also think very visually about my projects and will often write from an image that comes to mind first.

That covers the “why” part of “why music?”, now let’s cover the “music” part.

When it really started for me was around 2007, when I was 14. I got my first electric guitar for xmas—I’d seen some kids play at my school’s Christmas festival and really fancied a guitar myself.

Young Sash with his first electric guitar in xmas 2007

Holding an electric guitar for the first time in my life, I promise I’m not stoned

At first I received some lessons and I quickly realized I wasn’t into lead guitar and soloing. As much as I love watching and listening to Hendrix, Clapton, Page, Slash… It wasn’t really my thing. I’ve never been one to sit and learn scales and focus on fast technique. I was always much more comfortable playing rhythm, it came very naturally to me. The skills I’ve developed in lead guitar have come very slowly over the years just because of the amount of time I’ve been playing. The one lead guitarist I have studied and I think has unconsciously influenced my sense of melody and harmony quite a bit is John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He in turn is very influenced by Hendrix, so it all stems from the same place.

Not destined to become the next guitar hero, I soon wanted to get my hands on an acoustic guitar. I wasn’t really sure why but something in me wanted to give it a try. At that point I didn’t even fully comprehend the difference between an acoustic, Spanish, and electric guitar. I saved up and I specifically remember going to a local music store by myself as a secret and asking to try some acoustic guitars. I was still a teenager, so they felt enormous, specially coming from a small Stratocaster style electric. I ended up buying my first acoustic that day and dragging it home on the bus. I still have it and write a lot of my stuff on it. It’s the one with yellow straps around the head stock. The straps come from a notebook my mum gave me.

One of the following days I just sort of stumbled into songwriting. I didn’t know I was doing it. I didn’t plan on doing it. I didn’t even know it had a name. I was just playing around, having fun. I naturally wanted to create my own chord progressions and stories—which would slowly turn into creating my current “song worlds” in the next decade.

Once I had some basic chords going, I started tackling the lyrics. The only thing I remember about that first song is that at one point I needed to know how many stairs there were in my street leading up to the bus stop. For some reason that was in the lyric, and young Sash needed it to be real. So I went out and counted them. 100. 100 stairs. How perfect. It’s like someone wanted to help me write the song. Looking back, it would’ve been much edgier to write something random like 76 stairs though!

An assortment of my lyrics journals spread out on the floor

Lyric notebooks from over the years

And that’s something that’s carried into my songwriting over the years. There’s always story in my songs. Even if I’m writing a fictional lyric, I’ll always throw in some detail that I know to be true in my life. Just little Easter eggs here and there.

I remember starting to sing on my own at that point. I wasn’t good, at all. But I think I didn’t realize I wasn’t very good. So I just kept going. I wrote songs for years that way. I had no intention of playing them for anyone or forming bands or any ulterior motive. I just enjoyed it. In my room, on my own. It was great.

I learnt from my influences by watching thousands of hours of live performances on YouTube, tutorials, and interviews. I listened to a lot of records on loop. I guess I was putting in the 10.000 hours without really knowing I was doing it.

Side note. I’ve discovered so many things about my voice just by driving in my car and screaming my head off to Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell, Nirvana, AC/DC, etc. I can’t factor out the importance that had in developing my ability. To this day, it’s still the place where I sing the best… perhaps I should record some car sessions 🤔

Once I finished school and went to university and dropped out, I started taking it more seriously—you read about that part of my story in the previous section. When I say “taking it seriously” I mean it in the sense of working more diligently on the actual craft of songwriting, singing, playing instruments, and producing. I try not to take myself too seriously or put too much pressure on making the art because I find it makes it stale.

Aaand that covers the “music” part of “why music?”.

As for “?”, it’s just in my nature. I’m constantly evolving and in search of new challenges. I’m never satisfied with repeating the same formula over and over again. Music provides me with an infinite playground of styles, genres, and emotions I can blend together. It’s the ultimate pastime for a curious mind.

This is as good a place as any to write a list of the stuff I spend my time doing when I talk about making music.

The Different Hats I Wear Making Music

  • Songwriter
  • Singer
  • Producer
    • Ableton—my main DAW, been using it every day for the past 4 years
    • Logic—what I used before Ableton
    • Cubase—what I first learnt years ago in my sound engineering course
  • Recording Engineer—this mainly involves recording vocals, guitars, and percussion
  • Live Technician—be it more traditional live setups or rigs with Ableton, I’ve done both thanks to my busking and gigs
  • Instrument Player
    • Guitar—I’m most comfortable on acoustic
    • Bass—my favourite instrument to play parts on and record, if there were such a thing as a “spirit instrument” this might be mine
    • Drums—I took lessons for a year, mainly so I could produce better rhythm sections for my music and the other artists I produce
    • Keys—also took lessons as a teenager, but I mostly play my synth and key parts on Push now, so I’m forgetting how to play real keys; this is why I want a real piano in my house

The Few Things I Do Outside of Music

  • I’m really into Stoicism and Taoism.
  • I’ve been journaling every day and night for the past 4 years and it’s been a great tool to get clear on what I want in life. I use The Daily Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.
Daily Stoic Journal stack from 2018 to 2021

It feels good to see the stack grow

  • I follow morning and evening routines so I can review where I fell short that day and to improve my habits. I truly believe the start of the day is key, and that by reviewing it at the end we can continually improve. You can only compare yourself to yourself. How will the you of tomorrow do better than yesterday’s you? That’s something I try to keep in mind, and it’s very helpful when you’re trying to have a career in music because it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other artists your age who have more listeners or fans or critical acclaim… But you can only judge your own path, so that’s something I try to keep in mind.
  • A year ago I started painting large-scale abstract acrylic canvases. I just had the urge to do it. I’m not highly skilled at drawing, and I’d never really painted before. The feeling of painting is similar to music in that it allows me to express feelings, but I think it’s better at letting out emotions that can’t be expressed through words. I think not knowing exactly what I’m doing and not being able to overanalyse or overdo it is very freeing. It also helps me reconnect with my inner child, through a sense of play and improvisation. I use it to make sense of all the craziness going on in the world. It’s also influenced my music making process and brought back some sense of play and improvisation into it.
  • I love nature. Long walks in the forest or following a river… I need time away from the uber-connected digital society we live in. It helps me think—or stop thinking—and not lose sight of what being human is really about. It’s easy to get confused with fame, especially in this industry. But that’s not why I make art, and time in nature helps me reconnect to that idea.
  • I run and cycle. Recently I’ve been into trail running, which combines my love for nature and running. My long term dream goal is to complete an Iron Man—still very far away!
My bike near Getaria

The Basque Country is incredible for cycling

What’s Next?

You can find out what I’m up to these days on my Now page.

My biggest challenge the past few years has been finding an audience for my work.

I think I can be real with you if you’ve read this far…

It’s been so-fucking-incredibly-difficult-and-challenging-and-frustrating-and-self-worth-shattering-and-made-me-feel-like-it’s-impossible-to-build-an-audience, you know?

Yes. It’s tough to find people like you:

  • People that care
  • People that believe in the value and necessity of art in our society
  • People who read all the way down to the bottom of the about page
  • People that crave a deeper connection with the artists they follow
  • People who want to see the work up close, to see how it’s made, to know the story behind it, the anecdotes, the failures and successes
  • People who want to support tiny indie artists and feel like they’re on the journey with them
  • People that want to be inspired, to learn, to grow, to be exposed to other cultures, to find new experiences
  • Nice fucking people

Let me tell you, you’re a rare breed, and a breed that I love.

It’s been a long journey so far—my music career—but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. I know I’m doing work that matters, and I have no intention of stopping, ever.

Thanks for reading and for supporting me. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or would simply love to have a chat. I’m here for you if you need me.

Love,
Sash ✌