Since hearing Chilly Gonzales’ Solo Piano at college, Sasha Spielberg has strived to capture its youthful essence in her own music: “It sounds like a kid doing ballet”.

Spielberg, daughter of Steven, achieves a similar weightlessness on Facepaint, her debut solo EP as Buzzy Lee. Full of dreamy drama, her elegant vocals pirouette around a haunted ballroom of production by Nicolas Jaar. Following previous Jaar collaboration Just Friends and her former band Wardell, Buzzy Lee finds Spielberg tip-toe gracefully into her own space as an artist. Here, she remembers the music that has inspired her along the way.


A record I bonded over with my family:

The prologue to the movie Guns of Navarone [1961]. My dad knows every single word to the prologue. He used to blast it on the drive to elementary school and recite it to me and my siblings. We all used to cover our ears and say ‘turn it off!’ I used to beg him drop us off a block away from school. I despised it, but now if I hear it I love it more than anything. I’ve never actually seen the movie but I know all the words: “Greece and the islands of the Aegean Sea…!”

An album that had an irreversible effect on me as a teen:

Led Zeppelin III [Atlantic, 1970] was one of my first vinyl records. It opened up a whole new world of classic rock. I had been listening to Spice Girls and Britney Spears before this. Once I realised there was a whole world before 1995, it was mind expanding. Then I just wanted to play guitar so well.

An early influence on my music:

The Kick Inside by Kate Bush [EMI, 1978] was huge. I was into musical theatre so she really stuck with me – you could make pop music and also sound like you were wailing and belting in an opera, almost. I thought she was just a genius.

A record which encapsulates my 20s:

Judee Sill’s Down Where the Valleys Are Low [1973]. You know when there’s a song that you’ve skipped over, then you’re driving or standing or walking in a specific place and it just makes sense. All of a sudden you hear the song in its true entirety and you fall in love with it. It’s like falling in love with your best friend. I was driving down Mulholland Drive and I really listened. That song has been an anthem to my past five years. It captures this dreamlike childhood quality that I’m constantly trying to preserve in my life. I never want to grow up, I always want to make my own music sound like there’s a child inside.

My go-to karaoke anthem:

Ginuwine – Pony [550, 1996]. I performed it in November in Bushwick. You text the request to the person in charge of the karaoke machine. I texted: ‘Sasha. Ginuwine. Pony.’ I was like, I want that on my headstone. I was leaving the bar because there was a long queue to sing. As we were leaving the song magically came on, I grabbed the mic, sang it, then left. It was a literal mic drop.

A track I recorded which is deeply significant:

Facepaint from my Buzzy Lee EP [Future Classic, 2018]. The song was me trying to get help for myself, reaching my arms out and hoping someone pulls me out of something. It’s about me trying to get out of my own head really, but out of a specific relationship that I was really drawn to. Just trying to keep my head afloat but also really drowning at the same time – so dramatic! The last minute, it’s all one take and improvised. I could have never recaptured that. It was truly everything I was feeling at that moment, in that song.

Facepaint is out now via Future Classic


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