Words by:
Photography: Ryan Blackwell

A fortnight on from her first-ever ski trip and Asha is still buzzing. “It’s the only sporty thing I’m actually good at,” the 19-year-old, Malaysian-Irish producer and singer grins over Zoom, speaking from her bedroom in Bermondsey, London. “I managed the hardest slope on day three,” she adds, proudly.

A week spent flying down black runs may well be the optimum environment in which to experience the music she releases as yunè pinku. “There’s just something about that sense of movement that works really well with these songs.”

Listening to her debut EP, Bluff, you don’t doubt her logic. Drawing influence from the likes of Wilfy D and Photek, Asha builds momentum with frenetic breakbeats (Affection), syncopated hi-hats (Laylo), hyperactive piano chords (DC Rot), and feverishly layered vocal samples (Bluff), her productions never dipping too far below the 130bpm mark. Filter all this through an unapologetically emo, singer-songwriter sensibility inspired by Eartheater, yeule and Melody’s Echo Chamber, and you find Asha’s real USP, as creator of some of the most compellingly melancholic dance cuts in recent memory.

“Music for introverted ravers” is how Asha frames her output today, an accurate summary that simultaneously betrays her own somewhat strained relationship with club culture. “I like small parties, but I just find clubs very intense,” she explains matter-of-factly, going on to imply that successive, enforced lockdowns actually served as a kind of creative liberation.

“The idea of listening to that kind of music without being in an intense environment was something that just hadn’t occurred to me before,” she remembers. “I’d sit in my bedroom disappearing down 90s garage wormholes, discovering all these different types of electronic music. And that’s when I really got into dance music – through just chilling out, rather than dancing or whatever.”

Having cut her teeth making lo-fi bedroom-pop and soundscapes inspired by post-war radio, Asha began looking to UKG and experimental house, and incorporating more club-centric sounds into her productions. After circulating some demos, it wasn’t long before she found herself collaborating with Logic1000 on 2021 single What You Like, and recording guest mixes for Joy Orbison and The Blessed Madonna, which were aired on BBC Radio 1 and 6Music respectively. Listening to Asha discuss the creative rationale behind Bluff, it isn’t difficult to see why she’s already pulling such high profile support.

“Overall, there’s a punchiness to the project that I think came from a place of being pretty panicked at what’s out there in the world. And with the rise of ASMR, I was really interested in exploring textural sounds. I’m just so fascinated by the concept of digital natives, and by the fact that a lot of young people now probably find the sounds of computers more familiar than, say, the sound of a river or birds singing.”

As for the future, Asha’s ruling nothing out for the time being. “I’m happy to go wherever the wind takes me musically,” she smiles. “Although now I’m also really interested in being a ski instructor.”

Sounds like: UKG-infused dance-pop for dreamers
Soundtrack for: Raving in your bedroom
Our favourite tune: Affection
File next to: India Jordan, yeule
Find her: @yune.pinku

Bluff is out now via Platoon