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​Photos by Nani Garcia/@nanivvision. Photo illustration by Srikar Poruri.
Photos by Nani Garcia/@nanivvision. Photo illustration by Srikar Poruri.

FIRST LOOK FRIDAY: Asha Imuno’s Experiential Debut

Exploring the free-radical creativity behind Asha Imuno's debut album, PINS & NEEDLES.

Within the margins of a 16-track album, Asha Imuno defies the limitations of sound through a genre-bending storytelling experience. His debut album, PINS & NEEDLES, is most simply described as a coming-of-age tale, not only through the music itself but also in the journey of its production. We recently sat down with Imuno to get his view on his creative process that led to this force of a project which is PINS & NEEDLES.

Hailing from sunny Moreno Valley, California, Asha Imuno is no stranger to music and its extensive reach across various genres. With musical inspirations ranging from Tyler, the Creator to the incomparable Rick Rubin, Imuno has a very obvious appreciation for not only music, but sound itself. This becomes evident on PINS & NEEDLES through its unique portrayals of the album’s most poignant theme: self-discovery.

Photo by Nani Garcia/@nanivvision.Photo by Nani Garcia/@nanivvision.

With elements of jazz, electronic, soul, and R&B sprinkled throughout the album, Imuno’s creative process is solely his own. When asked about how he navigates incorporating such contrasting genres, Imuno mentioned how he doesn’t intentionally try to make genre-specific music, but heavily draws inspiration from his vast range of artistic influences. “I’m a nerd about different niche parts of music. I’m a massive fan of people like Arthur Russel, who’s a pioneer of ambient and disco music, but at the same time, I'm a massive Björk fan, with the folky, Icelandic, alien music. Then, I come up on the underbelly of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind & Fire, so it all naturally intermingles.”

In our interview, it was clear that Imuno was incredibly passionate about this album, and he shared some of the methodical elements of its creation. Along with improvements in rapping, singing, and writing, the tipping point for PINS & NEEDLES’ production was being more open to collaboration. Imuno, who had worked mostly solo on his last EP, was adamant that having more hands on this album brought him out of his shell in a great way, which reflects positively in the music itself. “I think that embracing more collaboration has brought the best out of my process more than anything. I’ve also been pushed to sing a lot more, and I’m not a trained singer so it’s definitely been an interesting experience.”

PINS & NEEDLES is a thoroughly captivating project, so we were anxious to know his thoughts on what emotions he wanted to evoke through the album. “Appreciation for the full range of experiences that compose real life is the main thing. I think it’s a lot easier to embrace the moments of celebration or excitement, but in some cases, a lot of it is about giving people permission to appreciate every aspect of their lives. With feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and overall introspection, there are also moments where you have to be present and celebrate, congratulate, feel warm, and be in love. Just embrace the dynamics that come with being a human.”

Leading up to the album’s release on March 1st, Imuno released two music videos as a glimpse of what to expect on PINS & NEEDLES. Both have a way of drawing in the watcher through a curated use of light, color, and eye-catching graphics.

Asha Imuno, Tempest - PHONICS (feat. WESTSIDE BOOGIE) - Official

Asha Imuno - FLORIDA WATER (Official Music Video)

Imuno’s creative talent is clear, and we were excited to hear who he named as inspiration for his visual ventures. “I’m very inspired by Tyler, the Creator, Outkast, and Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors. The way the shots are composed with warmth and the way that they frame daily life in a way that’s somehow niche and larger than life simultaneously. I love people who use visual storytelling to portray everyday life things.”

There aren’t many artists today who are as passionate about their work as Asha Imuno is, and to only be 22 years old and a triple threat, there’s no telling what he has up next. With impressive talents in singing, writing, and producing, we can’t wait to see all he has in store for the future.

PINS & NEEDLES is out everywhere now!

Photo by Nani Garcia/@nanivvision.Photo by Nani Garcia/@nanivvision.