Interview: 2018 Must-Know - Saski

New Zealand's Saski, real name Mikhail Birch, hails from Nelson and a musical family, and brings an impressive DIY work ethic to the table with no backing from any record labels or managers.

Already, Saski has attracted acclaim from the likes of Beats 1's Matt Wilkinson, and been featured on official Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

Keep an eye on this one...

MUST-LISTEN: ‘Independent’, ‘Faking Bright’.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Sylvan Esso, MS MR, Billie Eilish, Disclosure, Låpsley, Lauv, Chet Faker, Shura, Wet… and listening to music in your headphones at 3am.

COUP DE MAIN: What was running through your mind while writing your latest song ‘Independent’?
SASKI: Well initially it came from the circumstance I was in at the time, which was making me feel stuck and frustrated. I was at a breaking point where I knew I had to change something and after talking it out I came to the realisation that like, ‘I’ve got this! I'm independent and I don't have to feel stuck.’ Girl powerrr.

CDM: “I do this all on my own,” is a really powerful line - do you think it’s important for people to learn independence and reliance on themselves in life?
SASKI: I think it’s really important for people to have experiences that are out of their comfort zone because through that you learn independence and you find out what you're really made of. So far, for me, I’ve learnt that life is never how you expect it to go but that it’s worth the chance and you grow so much in the process. Being independent though doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have people in your corner to be there for you, I think a healthy reliance in people builds trust and deeper relationships - just choose the right people wisely.

CDM: When can we expect to hear more music from you?
SASKI: I have another single coming out soon!! As well as a song I helped write and feature on vocally.

CDM: What do you think is the strongest human emotion?
SASKI: I would say love! Because love is a splendid thing, love lifts us up where we belong! Jokes. But I think the majority of emotions stem from or reflect love, whether you're in it or out of it... there are so MANY songs that describe facets of love or talk about the lack thereof.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
SASKI: It’s never the same. I am always writing lyrics and have melodies that I sing into my phone. Some of them stick and some get altered into something new when I collaborate. Usually I will write a bunch of lyrics and then when I am home I will write a melody to them. Ideally I write it all together, lyrics, melody and chords.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
SASKI: I will usually write lyrics purely for a song even if I don't know what that sound is yet. I get inspiration from so many unexpected places that usually I have picked up a phrase or a passing line from someone, written it down, and then later on it becomes something bigger.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
SASKI: Every song is my favourite when I first write it! Then I write something else... So far my favourite song, lyrically, hasn’t been touched production-wise yet, but I’d love to work on it with the right person.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
SASKI: For me, a great song makes you feel something deep and that feeling sticks with you. A great song is timeless, it comes on the radio years later and you're right back there, feeling it all over again! You never have to second guess a great song. A good song still makes you feel but it doesn't resonate for as long... it's a song for a season and when the style fades, usually the song will too.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
SASKI: I was 17 and living in Holland for the year. My host parents happened to have guitar in their house and so I started teaching myself the basics and there I wrote my first song called ‘Tightrope’ to the sun. It was inspired by ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak, which I was reading at the time and it was more a written description of feelings of hope and desperation. So a pretty sad song but with a some tangible hope in the melody, ha!

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
SASKI: I hope they feel at ease. That they can relate to it in some way and that they feel authenticity in it. That they enjoy it and can chill listening to it/vibe around the house, or whatever ya do.

CDM: If S.A.S.K.I. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
SASKI: That's a good one! I would have to say
S - soul
A - authenticity
S - sass (just the right amount)
I - indie electronic pop

CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2018... who are yours?
SASKI: I would have to say that I am loving Sabrina Claudio... I could listen to her all day, Sigrid, because she's so genuine and has sass! Lilla Vargen - I heard her song ‘Downtown’ on Spotify's Chill Vibes playlist, (which ‘Faking Bright’ is on) It's a beautiful song! Same with TYNE and her song Crawl. Grace Weber, she played at my work recently and her new song, ‘More Than Friends’, is fire. And last but not least Ruel - watch out for him he's got an amazing voice and he's killing it - he's also my (not so little) little cousin! Ha. Plus the many more upcoming artists that I discover each day...

Saski’s single ‘Independent’ is out now - listen to it below…