Not Your Usual: Bee Asha Singh on The Gitika Project
Not Your Usual is a new series from The Skinny and Glayva highlighting interesting and exciting artists from across the Scottish scene. For our second instalment we catch up with Edinburgh multi-hyphenate Bee Asha Singh
Bee Asha Singh first came to our attention as MC Pimses hAsha, one third of Edinburgh via Dunbar hip-hop trio The Honey Farm, when we caught them at a festival in 2018. We were blown away by their infectious onstage energy, and the fact that they weren’t afraid to speak their mind; song titles like L.A.D.S., Ass Bitches and Pussy All Day should give you a little bit of insight into their collective psyches.
During our chat with Singh, we find out that Pussy All Day started life as a song for ukulele, and we are living for this juxtaposition of filthy lyricism and twee instrumentation – it's definitely not your usual. It was Honey Farm bandmate Gael Curran who pointed out to Singh: ‘We should just rap this. Why are we not rapping this?’ and The Honey Farm was born, as was Singh’s first official foray into music. Skip forward to 2021, and as a solo artist, Bee Asha was crowned Best Newcomer in the Scottish Alternative Music Awards.
Before Singh launched her solo career, however, she co-founded charity The Spit It Out Project, further demonstrating her ability to speak out on difficult topics. Like her debut solo record, Spit It Out was borne out of personal trauma. “In 2017, I was raped by someone,” Singh tells us, “and I talked openly about it as soon as it happened, and I started writing about it, and I started making music and writing poetry about the experience. It made me feel like it had happened, because it made me feel like it was real, and I wasn't lost in this little trauma bubble.”
It was around this time that she met French-Brazilian filmmaker Lea Luiz De Oliveira, her future Spit It Out co-founder. De Oliveira followed Singh to India (“that’s where I would often go to heal from things”) to make a documentary later showcased by the BBC. “We just got so much traction from other creatives who had experienced similar things – similar types of either sexual trauma or just trauma in general, and that they used their creative outlet as a way to talk about all the stuff that they had experienced.
“And we made a collective of people who all just felt so comfortable sharing difficult things together, because we did it in a way that didn't feel too heavy [...] And we decided to start a charity to hopefully start convincing people that they can be different from someone else and still understand who they are.”
These themes of connection continue in The Gitika Project, Singh's forthcoming new solo project as Bee Asha. Due later in the year, she describes the project as a "really big undertaking". Of the title track, she tells us: "It's about the connection I feel when I'm with brown women, especially brown women who have grown up in the UK. And when I meet them, they understand the part of me that no one else understands. And I understand a part of them that no one else understands, so you feel that automatic connection."
She later adds: “Gitika is about building yourself up and going out into the world and feeling crazy sometimes because you are an individual human being whose mind’s going a million miles an hour at different places, and people don't know where you're at... You're thinking about something really dark for a second and they're looking at you being like, 'It's a nice sunny day'. And then you're looking at them thinking about that great sex you had the other day, and they're remembering someone that had passed away. That disconnection and connection that comes I think is really beautiful, and sad. And so Gitika's about that, and it's a house track. So it's really fun to listen to.”
That juxtaposition of light and dark, playful and serious is a vital part of Bee Asha’s music making. “There's other tracks on there about loss of love, between friendships, a lot of friendship loss. And the changing of, as we get older, all the disconnections that happen in our life, and how weird those feel.”
As part of Singh's ambitious project, expect band tees, a lyric book, a cookie-munching video game and three music videos. Hints have already been dropped online for all three videos, for Gitika as well as the colourful Shy Guy that plays out as a love story between Mario Kart’s Wario and Daisy, and Boys, a track Singh has chosen to revisit from her debut EP. “I decided to work with all men on that, which is a rogue choice for a song about consent,” she tells us. “But I wanted to show to myself and show to the men that I was working with that they could engage in a conversation about sexual assault, about the blurred lines of consent, and open themselves up to taking control of a woman's space and doing it in the right way.”
Listen to an extended chat with Bee Asha Singh on The Skinny and Glayva's new podcast, Not Your Usual, in the player below or wherever you get your podcasts (click here if it's not displaying correctly).
Shy Guy as well as the accompanying video game are released on 15 Sep; The Gitika Project EP will follow later in the year
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