Hoopla

Sasami stepping into her own with solo effort, coming to Englert in Iowa City Sunday

Alice Baxley

Singer-songwriter Sasami will perform Sunday (7/21) at The Mill in Iowa City.
Alice Baxley Singer-songwriter Sasami will perform Sunday (7/21) at The Mill in Iowa City.

Emerging rockers Cherry Glazerr was one of the buzziest acts that performed at the annual music conference South By Southwest in March.

Singer-songwriter Sasami, who left Cherry Glazerr last year, is thrilled that her former bandmates are causing a stir. However, Sasami, who will perform Sunday at The Mill in Iowa City, doesn’t regret moving on from the group to go solo.

“I learned so many things with Cherry Glazerr,” Sasami said from her Los Angeles home. “(Singer-songwriter) Clem (Creevy) is so talented. She’s a huge reason the band is getting to another level. I love how experimental they are, but I wanted to explore. I wanted to do something less straightforward with a solo album.”

Mission accomplished. Sasami’s eponymous debut album, which dropped in March, is comprised of dreamy, eclectic art-rock. The avant-rock of “Jealousy,” the pretty ballad “At Hollywood” and the catchy “Pacify My Heart,” display the vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist’s wide range.

“I don’t see the reason to write the same song over and over again,” Sasami said. “I have a wide spread of influences. I’ve been listening to a lot of ’90s indie-guitar rock. I had some fun on this album with some production tricks and I got to work with some friends.”

Devendra Banhart sings on the duet “Free.” Dustin Payseur of Beach Fossils adds vocals for the trippy “I was a Window” and jazz bassist Anna Butters plays on “Adult Contemporary.”

“I’m fortunate that I have such talented friends,” Sasami said. “Each of them added something that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve without them. I’m also thrilled that my brother (guitarist) Joo Joe plays with me.”

But it’s Sasami’s album. The classically trained French horn player wrote the songs.

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“I’m in a great place and I’m enjoying going back to what was happening in the ‘90s,” Sasami said. “There are so many cool songs from that period that had such an impact on me.”

That includes guilty pleasures from that period. “I’ll admit that I’ve gone down the rabbit hole that led me to bands like Fall Out Boy and some other terrible emo bands. But those emo bands have great energy. Personally, I prefer the work of Elliott Smith and My Bloody Valentine.”

The latter of which probably had the biggest impact on Sasami. “We’re working on an MBV cover,” she said. “They set such a high standard. They were on another level harmonically.”

Sasami has been tabbed to open for a number of high profile female singer-songwriters, such as Mitski, Blondie and the Breeders.

“I think the reason I’ve been part of those shows is that women are very cognizant of other women in this industry,” Sasami said. “I think I had one song that was out there before my album came out when I was invited to be part of the Blondie and Mitski shows. It’s empowering. Women have discovered that they don’t need a man to be part of a bill in order to sell out a show. Yes, this is still an industry dominated by men. But things are changing and I’m thrilled to be part of that change. It’s going to be interesting to see how things continue to evolve over the next decade for women and for music.”

The restless Sasami can’t stop thinking about her next album. “I know this album didn’t come out that long ago, but I’m already experimenting with songs for the next album,” she said. “It’s going to be different. I want it to be more upbeat with more rocking songs.”

Get Out!

WHAT: Sasami

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday (7/21)

WHERE: The Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., Iowa City

COST: $15 advance, $18 day of show

DETAILS: (319) 351-9529, www.icmill.com

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