We recently got to chat with riot pop band WASI on their new singles “Run” and “What is Riot Pop” and their forthcoming debut album Riot Pop. WASI is the musical duo of Merilou Salazar, and Jessie Meehan. WASI are strong activists for the queer community and are quickly paving the way for other queer artists. Not only have they developed and produced their own music festival called Women Fuck Shit Up Fest, they have also partnered with LGBTQ+ youth centers where they meet with queer youth to talk about music and art while spreading a message of empowerment and positivity. WASI’s anthemic music will make you feel empowered and will make you want to take a stand and use your voice to help make the world a more inclusive place. WASI are taking the world by storm and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the art they have to offer! Check out our interview below where WASI talks about the new album, influences, and how important music like this is in today’s world.
1. Hey glad to talk to you, congrats on the new music! Tell us a little about yourselves for those who may not be familiar with you.
Thanks so much for the kind words and for chatting with us! We are a mostly queer band and are vocal about what’s up in our heads. We’re not afraid to talk about depression, bullying, being queer, or anything else that we identify with. We play super poppy music, but if you listen close enough you’ll hear that there is a lot more going on underneath.
2. You recently released two new singles “What is Riot Pop” and “Run”, how does it feel having those out in the world for everyone to hear?
We were pretty nervous actually! It was the first time we’ve produced and recorded ourselves (we collaborate with our guitar player Kai and our friends with the production group, The Fund) but that being said, it is very liberating to have something new out there that we are proud of.
3. What is the meaning behind those two singles?
What is Riot Pop? is talking about how we deal with the most sinister side of ourselves- that monster that lives in-between our ears, our voice. It’s about how when we get really low we reach out for those around us, in a community of people that we’ve created for ourselves. We’ve known each other for a while and have seen each others best and worst times. This song talks about how we get through those hard times by supporting each other.
Run is about living in the moment. And if you don’t feel anything, DO something to feel it. Life is dark and numbing, but to feel something is the goal. Otherwise we’re cheating ourselves.
4. You’re expecting to release your debut album Riot Pop in June, what has been the hardest part about writing a full length album? Was the process different from writing an EP?
The hardest part of writing a full length album is to hold onto the discipline to tell your full story. It’s definitely different from writing an EP! We’ve released several EPs and the fun part of EPs is you take what you feel is your best, put it out there and then do it again. For an album, there’s a greater concentration on the overall story. There were definitely moments where we felt like we had done our best, and it would’ve been much easier to just say “ok cool! Let’s just release these songs as an Ep and then do it again later”. But disciplining ourselves to keep moving along brought out some feelings that we didn’t even know were buried so deep. We wrote RUN after a 8 hour songwriting session. We disciplined ourselves to do 3 songs that. The first two were alright (don’t now where those went). We could’ve easily walked away with just two songs in hand. But we PUSHED to do the third. And that’s when the free flow came. When you brain is just too exhausted to think. Run was born.
5. Do you have a favorite song on the new album that you can tell us anything about?
Merilou – My favorite song is What is Riot Pop? That song started out as one kind of tune and turned into something completely different. This non-linear way of songwriting was magical and inspired so many moments that would’ve never happened if we were closed off from ideas. It teaches me to be open minded and vulnerable to what is just right around the corner.
Jessie – My favorite song is RUN. Love how drivey it is and its really fun to play live.
6. How would you describe your debut album in two words?
It’s not just Lala land of seeing the bright side. It’s accepting our pains, our struggles and the system that we’re placed in and not letting it be the death of us. Its fighting for something bigger and bringing your crew with you.
7. Who or what are some inspirations that you drew from to make you debut album?
We grew up on Blink 182 – that So Cal optimistic pop punk vibe. I think that will live in us no matter how much or how little we pull up their music.
We’ve also performed Le Tigre tribute sets in the past which help channel the inner riot grrrl through the music.
Some all time favs of ours are The Clash, India Arie, K.Flay, Matt and Kim and Missy Elliot.
8. You often describe your music as “riot pop”, how influential has the punk scene been to you?
The punk scene is where we found our true selves. Our veryyyy first band was actually an all girl punk band called The Midol Poppers. But there was always that influence of melodic, so cal sunshine songwriting.
The punk scene will always be one of those things that live in our shows. It’s about feeling the energy of the person next to you and letting it influence the moment. To us, that’s life.
9. Your music is very anthemic and you both are strong activists for the queer community, how important is it to be releasing music like this in the state of the world today?
Overall ,I think its just important to surround yourselves with other narratives other than what you think you may already know. Our narratives of being queer stem from a place where it wasn’t ok. Where we hated ourselves everyday, but somehow learned to love ourselves while at it. Our music speaks of those stream of conscious moments, and if that connects with someone, then we did our duty.
10.You co-founded the Womxn Fuck Shit Up Fest, what has that been like putting that festival together and if you could have anyone in the music industry play it who would you have?
Merilou – creating women fuck shit up fest was one of the best moments ever. I say moment because that’s really how it started, as just an idea that I blurted out and my friend Mayra took that and bounced an idea back. An all it took was that moment for years of this festival and meeting and hearing how it has helped so many artists find the courage to perform, try new things in a safe space and even play their first show.
We wanted to create the space we never had and turns out others needed it too. So putting it together, while its tedious AND ALOT OF WORK, we see how much it plants seeds in our community. And that’s priceless.
I want someone to play that’s always been afraid to start a band but did start one to play their first show. That’s the reason I met Jessie and that moment changed my life. I would love to see that for someone else.
11.What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Our plan is tour. Create moire content and tour. We have the Love is Gay tour coming up and are working on later summer and fall. So to just keep touring!
12. Lastly, what’s something that people may not know about you two?
We’re married! Got married on January 19, 2019 in a room and party with some of our best friends. Best day ever.
Keep up with WASI!
Catch WASI on the Love is Gay Tour!