Asha Imuno made his entrance onto the music scene at nineteen with his debut mixtape “Good News,” a bold, experimental collection of tracks that embodied what would become an evolution of rap thrills and hypnotizing vocal virtuosity. Since then, his discography has been a series of unpredictable bouts of self-discovery, where conventional genre and style come second to narrative storytelling. His recent single, “FLORIDA WATER,” feels like an extension of this creative abstractionism; dazzling funk production slinks behind neo-soul vocals in shades of nostalgia while he struggles to understand himself for the better of his future self. As he experiments past his boundaries, his music structures elusive reflections of what he hopes to learn through the process. It’s tumultuous, blurring, and all at once clarifying. We caught up with Asha to discuss situationships, maturing as an artist, and leaning into the full range of his emotions.
“FLORIDA WATER” is a deeply introspective track that incorporates styles of 70s soul and the bounce of west-coast production, both evoking a nostalgic narrative that frames the way you speak on love and relationships. What was your personal experience while writing this song?
I've been in a number of really beautiful but admittedly complicated situationships over the past few years. This basically is me speaking on parts of different experiences with a single voice.
In one interview you described making music for people who exist in intersections, and in response, your discography experiments with a mix of R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul, and Alternative sounds. How important is it to your artist identity to incorporate a versatility of genres and styles?
Growing up, I was exposed to all different types of music. That's why my most honest works just happen to embody different styles at once. I like to think that genre is more of a tool for the listener to find what they want to hear. As artists, I think it's fire that we get to channel energy in whatever way we feel most naturally expresses what we’re feeling in the moment.
The video for “FLORIDA WATER” illuminates a cinematic portrayal of intergenerational dynamics, and narrates how familial love can affect individual conceptions of self-identity and one’s capacity to love. What was the overall conceptual approach to this video and how did the creative images and scenes shown support the track’s message?
In the "FLORIDA WATER" video, we see a young woman coming home to visit her family and rekindle an old flame (me). The more time she spends at home, the more she realizes her parents’ relationship has soured since she's been gone. The idea is that when you're really in it, love can be more layered and complex than the ways we idealize it in memories, or from a distance. Everybody in our lives is feeling their way through it too.
Your first album since 2020 is releasing this month after three years of putting out singles, what were the different factors or life experiences you had that influenced you to wait this long to drop a second studio project?
I needed to live enough life to have something more to say. 3 years ago I was 19, freshly off the porch from the IE to LA, just trying new sounds to show myself what I could do with a beat pad and a mic, splitting half a bedroom in Echo Park. That's how the GOOD NEWS mixtape came to be. Diving into more mature soundscapes and themes meant I needed to mature as a person and collaborate more. Being heartbroken, crashing out, smoking mad weed, signing my first deal, oscillating in and out of sobriety, meeting Zach Ezzy & all my closest collaborators— it’s all been part of that process.
All of your songs tap into a politically emotive theme, varying from lessons on love to family dynamics to the hustle of dream chasing. What is the most important thing that you communicate through your music? And how do you ensure that throughout the growth and evolution, you stay true to yourself and stay close to authenticity in your music?
My main message is acceptance of the full range of feelings and experiences that come with living this life. Pride, joy, fear, shame, satisfaction, confusion— they’re all visitors that come and go. When these forces cycle back to us, we can choose to either lean in and embrace them or run away. For me, that means staying connected to my loved ones, taking the time to reflect alone, and keeping a clear head. Not thinking through things more than I feel my way through them.
I know you worked with Zach Ezzy on your upcoming project, do you notice a difference in your drive or creative output when collaborating with fellow artists? How do you feel like you produce differently, or similarly when you are in the studio with another singer or producer?
Collaborating with the right people can bring about perspectives and sounds that would otherwise never come to be on our own. Zach and I carved out the sound of this album together, Before really getting into it with PINS & NEEDLES in 2020, I was most accustomed to working alone, which is still one way I really enjoy making music, but my favorite songs and sessions have been me and one or 2 other artists/producers feeding off each others’ energy and having candid conversations.
What was the moment you realized that your music was taking off and that you could pursue this full-time?
Creating and sharing music has been a focus for me since before anybody was listening. I always had a lil job to make ends meet. I think as much as I thought being 100% focused on music and nothing else someday as a kid would be cool, it's becoming even more important to be multifaceted these days. The biggest difference is now I have a team and we get to develop projects that serve the art and our values, like WAITINGROOM.
If you were to put together a mood board to represent your sound and style, what would it look like?
It would be nostalgic, futuristic, and aggressively black. Spike Lee film stills right next to Mowalola ads, images of young Stevie Wonder in the studio, Busta and Pharrell in the Light Your Ass on Fire video, Bobbi Humphrey Satin Doll, Kendrick Lamar God is Gangsta. All my favorite shit.
Who is your dream collaboration?
Thundercat is high on the list for sure. His album Apocalypse shook the whole world of music for me when I was like 13.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
I don’t know that I’d say I couldn’t live without it but I’m big on scents. I always got a little bottle of essential oil blends or some cologne in my pocket. Burberry Touch is one of my favorites for when it gets hot.