It was when Sasha Siem began to explore the idea of female guilt in the Judeo-Christian tradition that she realised just how much internalised, heredity blame she was carrying herself. With this knowledge she wrote ‘Eve Eyed’, an empowering and introspective track that calls women everywhere to join together in liberating themselves from society’s coercive control of female minds and bodies. Polly Havelock caught up with Sasha to talk about her music, inspiration, and how becoming a mother changed her as a woman and as an artist.
Hi Sasha! Could you quickly introduce yourself?
I’m an eternal being. I have never been born and I will never die. Same goes for you 😉 Living in time and in tune with my true essence and contributing to a harmonious (harm-free) world is what I’m most passionate about. Writing songs is a big part of that.
So you recently released your track ‘Holey Wholly Holy’ – can you tell us what inspired you to write such a powerful single.
I think of my creative self as a cauldron. Life pours its experiences into me – providing ingredients which – through some inexplicable and mysterious alchemy – combine and transform into song.
The experiences that led to ‘Holey Wholly Holy’ gathered within me over many years. When I was a teenager I experienced a traumatic violation which shattered my belief that the world was a beautiful and good place. I didn’t have the tools to know how to process the experience so I suppressed and denied my truth from myself, continuing as is “business as usual”. but ultimately I felt broken. The loss of my connection with the world as I wanted it left a huge hole within me and a part of me felt shut down – dead even.
It took years of destructive decisions and futile attempts to fill the emptiness within before I was honest with myself that I had to find a way to heal. It wasn’t enough to exist, or accrue external accolades. I wanted to live in joy and possibility again as I had as a child.
I think that often when we make mistakes or go through challenging losses in life, we doubt our ability to regain wholeness. Through my healing I’ve discovered that there is a part of me that is always untouched and whole no matter what we go through. And that goes for all of us. And by reconnecting with that part of us we can live a life that is whole – holy even.
You are now preparing for the premier of your next single ‘Eve Eyed’, this too is an incredible empowering track. What encouraged you to write a song about femininity and the pros of embracing this as opposed to shunning it?
We’re all told that Eve was responsible for the fall of Adam in the Judeo-Christian world. So at some level – even if subconscious – many women carry a trace of this belief that they are to blame for the downfall of society.
Generations of women before us were suppressed and dishonored because of that belief. That legacy is inherited in our cells as we form in our grandmother’s wombs (the egg we we conceived from grew in our mother when she was still in her mothers womb). We have taken out our hurt on each other, on the men in our lives, but mostly on ourselves.
I was ashamed of my femininity for ages. I’d been to an all-girls school and had absorbed the message that feminists had made sacrifices so that women could live the same way as men. I understood that I had to be as fast and strong and hard and ambitious as the men I knew.
I rejected ‘feminine values’ (community-oriented, social, supportive, intuitive, cooperative, empathetic, patient) in favor of ‘male values’ (dominance, aggression, decisiveness, ambition, analytical).
When I was gentle in my interactions I was seen as weak. When I followed my intuition without a plan or a clock I was seen as disorganized. When I aspired to birth children some day that was seen as inferior to having a high powered city job.
It’s taken time but I’ve come to see the tremendous strength and beauty of the aspects of femininity I rejected.
I hope all women recognize themselves as Goddesses. The Goddess has been missing as an archetype and a role model in our culture for too long. We need her wisdom and beauty more than ever! And that means women supporting each other – treating each other as sisters with the utmost respect and tenderness.
This song is a celebration of my sisters around the world – the goddesses in my life who have opened the way for me to love myself and so that I can love every one of them.
Your album appears to navigate those human experiences that are relatable to so many of us, with a truly personal slant. Was it difficult to put so much of yourself out there? Did you find the experience therapeutic?
Song writing was my safe space from the start. I was about 11 and the world around me was changing so fast as I changed and I often felt out of place. So yes, the songs were a kind of therapy – a way of finding my Centre again. It’s sometimes felt easier to address the difficult things I’ve experienced in song than in conversation. 😉
And often when I write a song I forget that it might be heard by millions or billions so I don’t feel exposed and can be as raw and as honest as I want. Then when it comes to sharing I have to take a leap of faith that everyone of us is having a human experience and can relate to what that means. I think we need songwriters to express all the things that we would usually keep hidden away in the dark – things we’re too ashamed to discuss. It’s a kind of catharsis and reminds us that we’re all in this together.
There is redemptive quality to your work and it always seems to be promoting and celebrating self reflection and understanding. When did you gain this ability for introspection and how has it affected your life?
As a teenager I was living a life that was seemingly full of achievement and perfection but inwardly I felt hopeless and disconnected. I didn’t want to live the life others wanted for me. I wanted to be truly myself but didn’t know how. A desire for what was missing ignited a journey of exploration: both within and without.
I have come to see how much everything of my outside world is conditioned by the state of my inner life. It takes bravery to face what is truly going on (or not!) internally but life is so much richer and alive and wonderous for me because of it.
Now I can give myself permission to see my short comings because I see my human life as an the opportunity for constant learning and evolution and growth. We can always make a change!
You say that you musicality was unlocked when you were eleven years old and set a Maya Angelou poem to music – do you remember this moment clearly?
Vividly. I was bored of my piano practice as usual (scales!!!). My mum loved poetry and a volume of Maya Angelou’s collected poems was on a nearby table. I remember opening at a page (the caged bird) and seeing what would happen if I sang the words. The song just poured out. I was so excited. I became almost addicted to scurrying away to a piano whenever I could sneak away (I missed many lessons at school hiding away in the practice rooms with my poetry books)
Has becoming a mother changed your outlook on life, and has this in turn had an effect on you music? Has your song writing process changed or morphed at all?
Yes! I was always afraid that becoming a mother would take away my focus and productivity but if anything it has had the opposite effect. I’ve had to become much more efficient and ruthless about only doing what is truly meaningful to me. When my babe was born I would have 20 minutes here and there as he slept on my chest. I would use those minutes to scribble lyrics into my notebook or dream up chord sequences and soundscapes.
There is something so profoundly altering about giving birth and becoming a mother – it was an intense initiation into my power as a woman. I feel more confident to be and express myself.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself ten years ago what would it be?
Love and be kind to yourself. Trust and enjoy the journey.
Listen to Sasha Siem’s brand new single ‘Eve Eyed’ below, and make sure you don’t miss what this thoughtfully inspiring musician gets up to next.