Wonderland.

SASHA KEABLE

The artist talks destigmatising taboos, new EP “Intermission” and finding self-love

Sasha Keable wonderland autumn 21 issue

CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat, TABITHA RINGWOOD boots

Sasha Keable wonderland autumn 21 issue
CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat, TABITHA RINGWOOD boots

Taken from the Autumn 21 issue. Order your copy now.

A conversation with Sasha Keable is like a conversation between two friends: frank and filled with expletives in every other sentence. Between exes and antidepressants, there is nothing off-limits. Her schedule is moderate today; a few hours in the studio followed by a trip to her friend’s house to discuss video treatments – that ‘friend’ being Jorja Smith who features on Keable’s upcoming EP, “Intermission.” Despite the pandemic causing a de- lay in production, Keable is bright-eyed with excitement under her Von Dutch cap, happy to simply be out of the house and back in the swing of doing what she does best.

“I think I’ve written one song in the past year and it was shit,” laughs the British-Colombian singer-songwriter. From the very first lockdown and the several that followed, quarantine sapped away Keable’s creative energy. “I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t focus even if I tried. I was panicking, thinking, ‘What is my life?’ I didn’t know where I stood with anything.” To sit down and write became an unexpected challenge for Keable, who usually finds her voice through the more solemn situations in her life: heartache and loss. “Not being able to find the words to even share with myself, let alone the world, about how I’m feeling has been really tough. I got really frustrated at one point, but I just had to say to myself: trust in the process and it will come. And when it does, it will all come out.”

Sasha Keable wonderland autumn 21 issue
Sasha Keable wonderland autumn 21 issue

(LEFT) CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat, TABITHA RINGWOOD boots (RIGHT) FLORENTINA LIGHT one piece

Sasha Keable wonderland autumn 21 issue
CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat, TABITHA RINGWOOD boots FLORENTINA LIGHT one piece
Sasha Keable wonderland autumn 21 issue

Despite Keable’s early aspirations of becoming a vet, she took to writing songs throughout her childhood. And what inspires the poetry behind the songs of a 10-year-old? “Boys, boys, boys. And probably boys that didn’t fancy me,” she starts laughing again.“The tunes were so bad.” But rebuttals aside, there was something therapeutic behind her scrawlings. “I got into writing through my therapist when I was a kid. I was quite angry towards myself. She gave me a book and asked me to write down how I felt when I got really angry, instead of hurting myself.”

Penning daily entries, Keable’s sentences turned to poems, poems to songs. “Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. It’s how I process my emotions because I’m not big on chatting to people about how I feel. Music is my safe space where I can be 100% honest, and I do think that translates into what people can take from it.” Upon realising she didn’t have to ingest the music given to her, she soon began creating her own. “I don’t remember ever really making that decision of ‘this is what I want to do with my life.’ I just always knew I was good at it, and it never felt like work or effort. I was never going to do a career that I didn’t love. Nor did I ever think I’m going to be a massive fucking star. It was more of, this works for me so let’s see what happens.”

Sasha Keable
Sasha Keable
CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat, TABITHA RINGWOOD boots FLORENTINA LIGHT one piece

What came next was Keable’s introduction to the esteemed BRIT school. “I made the decision to go when I was 12-years-old. I said to my Mum, if I don’t get in, she’d have to homeschool me because I fucking hated my school so much. I went to a Catholic school and it just wasn’t it. I think me making that commitment at such a young age was me making my commitment to music and learning about my craft. I really can’t fault it. It set me up not only to be the musician that I am now, but the person too.” Since graduating, Keable has amassed three intimate EPs and co-wrote and featured alongside Disclosure with their infamous track “Voices.” But her next contribution is something a little outside of her usual remit. “This EP is like half heartbreak, half loving yourself – which is really fucking cringey to say. I’m very good at writing about sad situations, that’s where I’m comfortable. The fact that there are two songs on the EP that are about never knowing love until I’ve loved myself, was really strange for me, and what made it weirder is that it wasn’t a challenge as such. I’m like, ‘Who am I? Who is this positive person that I’ve become, preaching self-love?’”

Over the past two years, Keable has been grappling with heartache and learning to be content on her own, without relying on others to provide that happiness. “I didn’t even realise how much I’d developed as a person until the EP was done,” she confesses. “It just fits perfectly with where I’m at.” Using her words as a confessional memento, while “Intermission” tours new terrain for the artist, it continues to help aid the journey in understanding her conscience better. “I’ve had quite severe mental health issues since I was like six or seven, and it wasn’t until about five years ago that it was talked about.” Following the pioneering documentary led by Jamal Edwards back in 2017 on mental health in the music industry, she recalls how shocked those around her seemed. “I’d never really said anything about it up until that point. I’d never said out loud that I’d been suicidal. My family found out through that documentary. It was a big thing. I got to see the impact that it had and how grateful people were when all I did was open my mouth.”

And thankfully, she’s got a lot more to say. “I remember once doing an interview and sharing off-air that I was on antidepressants and the room just fell silent. Everyone didn’t know what to say,” she comments. “I was like, ‘Guys I’m fine, it’s cool.’ I’m dealing with this shit but we really need to fucking normalise it. I’ve got about twenty mates on antidepressants and we’re all checking in like ‘Oi oi, have you taken your tablet tonight?’” She smiles. “I get people who are fans of my music shocked by it, but if you really listen to my music, I talk about depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol misuse.” That’s not to say she’s glamorising medication, rather proving the problem at the crux of the music industry. “I’m not mad for having mental health issues but we really have a long way to go.”

Sasha Keable

CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat with TABITHA RINGWOOD boots.

Sasha Keable
CULT GAIA dress, MARTHA coat with TABITHA RINGWOOD boots.

Naturally, when things pause, you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone – and Keable’s sense of longing came from the absence of live performances.“They’re the best part of the job for me. Seeing people singing lyrics back to you that you wrote is literally the definition of turning a bad situation into something great.” Instead, the solitude had forced her to combat her inhibitions head first. “I’ve had to rely a lot more on actually talking to people, which isn’t a bad thing but I’ve always had this superstition that if I talk to someone about my life, I might say something that would sound really sick in a song and then I’ll lose that idea out of my head, and never find it again.” Doubts aside, she wants to remain palatable, avoiding self-indulgent monologues but still words that feel relatable. For Sasha Keable, there’s no room for brushing our feelings under the carpet any- more. It’s about ripping the rug off and confronting the hardwood floors underneath. Because after all, it’s what keeps us standing.

Photography
Kane Layland
Fashion
Rishy Malik
Words
Scarlett Baker
Makeup
Aimee Twist
Hair
Keiron Fowles.
Photography Assistant
Flora Judy
Special thanks
Trent Park Equestrian Centre.
SASHA KEABLE