The musical rise of Tasmanian starlet Asta continues apace. Her latest single ‘Dynamite’ is brilliant and she’s currently touring the country playing to appreciative audiences.
We chatted to the singer about her win in the 2012 edition of Triple J’s ‘Unearthed High’, how ‘Dynamite’ came to be and a fatalistic meeting with a sick aircraft passenger on the tarmac in Adelaide.
But she begins by telling us how life was in her hometown Hobart prior to the Triple J experience.
“Basically just writing at school. You know, failing,” she laughs. “The only things I was good at were music, performing and dancing. I wasn’t doing much. Hanging around with friends, driving around, doing blockies, playing a few pub gigs; just trying to pass college.”
But Asta’s life changed immeasurably after she signed herself up to compete as part of Triple J’s ‘Unearthed High’ competition.
“If I remember correctly, I wrote a song, I met this guy one night who said, ‘come to my house and we can record your song’. I didn’t really have any recordings at that stage. So I went to record the song and it sounded really good. I’d never had the opportunity to work with someone who’s into electronic music before.
“I played it to my friends and they loved it. Then I played it to my parents and they were crying, so I thought it must be good. So I uploaded it to Triple J. I was aware of Triple J and the website, but I didn’t think I was eligible for ‘Unearthed High’. I thought it was for much younger people. I was 17.
“I submitted it really early on, selected the box and then all of a sudden this snowball happened and people really started responding to it. I got a lot of support from my local community, which was awesome. And here I am now. It’s been an incredible ride since.”
Brilliantly, Asta tells us that the fact that she was championed by Triple J hasn’t prevented other radio stations from showing some love to her latest single ‘Dynamite’. Though she admits to finding it difficult to strike the right balance between being an indie and mainstream pop artist.
“I want my music to be able to reach a lot of people. At the end of the day, who wouldn’t!? It would be incredible to reach all fields, but it’s extremely hard for any artist to be commercial, but also indie.
“I think naturally I have these dance elements in me. So when I’m writing, it usually forms into a dancey-pop song. And with the honest approach with my vocals and some other elements within the song, it’s naturally pop music. But from what I gather, a lot of people see it as indie music too.”
Asta recently inked a deal with Warner Music Australia (who she describes as being “like a new, bigger family”) to release her latest single ‘Dynamite’. We described the track back in March as “pretty amazing”, but the singer tells us it look a long time to see the light of day.
“We were just jamming one day on the piano at my producer’s house,” she reveals. “It literally just started from the piano and a Whitney Houston sample. And then it just happened in five minutes really. The melody came out and we thought it was really cool.
“We literally spent a year on producing it. It took so long because we just experimented so much with it – and we were able to because there were no limits placed on us. It was just such a beautiful thing going through a lot of different avenues and seeing what worked. I think I was really lucky to do that. But in taking that time, I had to eat stale bread and stick it out.”
And, she reveals, work’s already underway on what she coins “another baby”.
“The sister of ‘Dynamite’, or something,” she laughs. “I’m working on one song in particular and seeing where that goes. But the idea of doing a record; something a bit more substantial is really exciting, so that’s the aim I guess.”
Fans can catch Asta playing her singles thus far, as well as some of her newer material, as part of the ‘Dynamite’ national tour, which continues in Tasmania later this week. She tells us that crowd reaction at the dates in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide has been fantastic and has been a good gauge of who’s liking which of her new tunes.
“I wrote a new song a couple of days before the Perth show and we just threw it in the set just to see peoples’ reactions. It’s really important and I think that process is really exciting,” she says.
But she also tells us about an incredibly fatalistic experience while on the way over to Perth from the Adelaide show.
“Unfortunately the plane had to turn around and go back to Adelaide because someone on board was having a minor heart problem and had stopped breathing,” she reveals. “So we went back to Adelaide and the paramedics came on board.
“It turns out that it was my long lost step grandpa.
“When he walked past with the paramedics I said, ‘Oh my god… Papa!’. We hadn’t seen each other since I was 12 years old and it was just the most messed up thing in the world. I was just so delirious from having three hours of sleep that I didn’t know what was going on.
“It’s such a small world. That was pretty crazy. Meant to be, because I hadn’t seen him for so long. So yeah… things that happen on tour… pretty crazy.”
We’re presuming things won’t be nearly as crazy when she hits her hometown later this week, though no doubt family will be there too, tears in their eyes, beaming with pride for their little girl who’s got a great new record deal and a ‘Dynamite’ new single.
‘Dynamite’ is out now.
Catch Asta at one of her remaining live shows as part of the ‘Dynamite’ tour;
August 14 : Launceston (Club 54)
August 15 : Hobart (Republic Bar)
August 20 : Sydney (Manning Bar)
August 21 : Canberra (Academy)
August 22 : Wollongong (Uni Bar)
August 28 : Melbourne (Howler)
August 29 : Ballarat (Karova Lounge)