Earlier this month Brisbane indie-folk artist Asha Jefferies released her entrancing EP, The Pinnacle. This is a tight collection of five heartfelt songs, covering a range of emotions touching on anxiety, heartbreak, depression and self-doubt.
Asha has the knack for delivering a line that stays in your head. It’s beautifully produced, with a full-band feel and Asha’s vocals telling her truth.
The Pinnacle was co-written and produced with Aidan Hogg, who has worked with the likes of Holy Holy and Jaguar Jonze. The EP includes “Crybaby” which has been on high rotation on triple j.
Asha has been on the scene from an early age. She started writing and performing at the age of 11, and at fourteen won the Byron Bay Busking Challenge, giving her a slot at the Blues Fest that year. Since then she has shared the stage with Julia Jacklin, Lime Cordiale and City and Colour, amongst others.
If you are lucky enough to be in Brisbane, on the 28th of October Asha will be performing at the Bearded Lady for an EP launch. Tickets HERE.
To celebrate the release of The Pinnacle, Asha has put together a track-by-track breakdown of the EP. So do sit back, press <Play> and enjoy reading the insights to each of the songs on The Pinnacle.
The Pinnacle from Asha Jefferies – Track by Track
“Dizzy” was the first song Aidan and I wrote together for the EP in May 2020. We bonded over Beachouse and Soccer Mommy records – the spacious and eerie production hit home for both of us. So Aidan made this thumping drum machine loop and I wrote chords. I was listening to a lot of Caroline Polachek at the time, my melody was totally crafted by this love for spooky descending notes. Retrospectively, I wrote Dizzy about longing to get better. I was intensely anxious, like difficult-to-go-out-and-buy-a-coffee-anxious. There was this real anxiety around my anxiety and the hole would get deeper as I tried to scurry out of it. Writing Dizzy intuitively channelled my experience of surrendering to the hole, making a water-hole and swimming in this very valid fear and uncertainty. I wanted it to sound like you’d been swimming in a lush, messy, emotive lake and then when you come up above the water for air there’s new-formed clarity and peace. Something I was learning at the time – fear is valid and can be nurtured, instead of feared.
I’m such a sucker for a heartbreak song. They’re my favourite kind. But in the last 2 years, I’d felt silenced from a different type of heartbreak. A long out-drawn experience of being coerced by a male in the music industry. The hardest part about this experience was the shame and blame I put on myself. For trusting someone. For having a misguided judgement and having “big expectations” (that were really just bare minimum requirements). It’s made me question and think a lot about being brought up in a society where women feel expected to accept a sickly amount of responsibility when an authoritative male takes advantage of their career.
In saying this, I’ve learnt to stand up for myself in a greater sense because of these experiences. It’s helped me trust my values and when I got to a stage to write it out, I wanted the song to channel this light, almost satirical playfulness. Like most songs, it started in the studio with a drone (I find it really grounds an idea down) and Aidan wrote the broody bass line. I can still hear myself getting stuck in what I want to say in this song. It’s in the early point in the EP where emotions feel misguided but the channel is opening up.
Aidan and I had a pretty dud writing session the day we wrote Crybaby. We wrote chords, a structure and a soundscape for the song but I left feeling pretty underwhelmed. It was difficult to approach lyrics or a subject, as I was still in shock from being on a break with my partner at the time. Although, that night (with the help of an edible) I wrote the whole chorus for “crybaby” in 5 mins. It was the first time I felt comfortable expressing my disputes and frustrations about the relationship and I guess crybaby is me writing about the journey of accepting faults and being able to start again with a revitalised sense of re-birth.
The original demo came out having really strong Taylor swift vibes. I love the lo-fi acoustic guitars and how Aidan spaces out the chords in the chorus. This song is very bittersweet for me, it was a start of a new era, feeling, phase where I was lifting off barrels of heavy emotions and touching into a new source of freedom.
“Dancefloor” is about my lockdown experience last year, one that felt numb and made me silence a lot of my emotions. I’m not much of a dancer but I felt the real loss of those delirious late nights out at a party or club, where all concerns and tears are turned into sweat and krumping at 2am. A silver-lining shaped moment where suddenly not much matters and you see through your troubles. But last year I felt like everything mattered, all of the time where there was so much weight to the world and I didn’t know how to shake it off my back. “Dancefloor” is an ode to dancing – a language we all know how to speak.
I wrote this song on Garageband in July 2020, using a drone and playing my nylon guitar on the verandah. We kept heaps of the same lo-fi sounds that were from the original garageband session and they’re in the final version! This song taught me so much about production and how to envision a feeling.
This is my favourite song on the EP. I wrote this in a couple of different locations – the guitar, synth and melody in my bedroom, the lyrics and chorus at the Old Museum (a beautiful historic building near Fortitude Valley with a grand piano on the stage) and the outro at Plutonium Studio with Aidan. I was channelling a lot of emotional exhaustion and just denial/ignorance of what I could see in the world. I kept escaping back to a simpler, child-like innocence of being a kid and having the world presented in this joyous and pure way. ‘Mmm’ is me trying to escape and internally figuring things out. My favourite part was writing the outro with Aidan and making it big and bashy. It’s definitely the song Aidan and I experimented with the most – listen closely! My whole vocal take was recorded lying down, plus it features a violin I bought off gumtree and real basketball bounces