The leftfield pop duo craft a surprising and soulful mix of their influences.
Saa released their debut EP for Left Blank earlier this month to great acclaim - here at Dummy we were captivated by their boundary-walking, shadowy sounds, so much so that we named the release our Album of the Week. Made up of producer Asher Levitas - of experimental East London collective Old Apparatus - and Norwegian singer Linn Carin Dirdal, the collaboration draws as much from the heady heat of abstract dancefloors as it does from ambient bedroom pop. Fittingly, this brand new mix they've put together for Dummy zig-zags through a labyrinth of moods and styles, opening on Anne Briggs's blisteringly clean and cutting a capella recording of the Irish folk song She Moved Through The Fair before moving through the murky bass of Wife and grunge guitars as well as an upbeat turn in the form of horn-spattered Americana with Nicolette Larson's cover of Neil Young's Lotta Love. Settle in for half an hour, read our chat with the alternative electronic pop duo below, and let their uniquely dynamic mix run rings around you.
Stream Saa's Dummy Mix on the left and download it here.
Hey guys, how's it going?
Could you tell us a little about your mix?
Asher: We've tried to give you an idea of some of the influences we think are behind the music we make as Saa.
If you had to describe Saa to new listeners in three words, what would they be?
Linn: Fresh, melancholic, unpredictable.
Tell us a bit about your collaboration. How does Saa compare to your past projects?
Linn: I don’t think either of us has been in an e-mail band before! I’m in Oslo, Asher’s in London, so we exchange ideas and work on tracks via e-mail or Skype mostly. Usually Asher will send me a beat, I’ll write something for it, record vocals, maybe some instruments, and we’ll develop it from there. We both enjoy working independently, so it works out nicely. Occasionally we’ll meet up, which is always good of course. I was just over a few weeks back to work on our live set.
Where does the name Saa come from? Search optimisation directs us to the Scottish Assessors Association and South African Airways.
Asher: Yes there are lots of Saas, which is quite frustrating when you are trying to google yourself... It’s also the Syrian Arab Army. The name in fact stems from a sample from a Norwegian song I sampled for one of our first tracks, it was one of the words in the title and it stuck.
What are the biggest influences on your sound?
Asher: I would say artist wise possibly Wu-Tang, Madlib, Forest Swords, Grouper, Unni Lovlid, Cocteau Twins, Portishead - also there's a sort of 90s poppier vibe there too.
Linn: 80s/90s, classical stuff, pop, world music, books, films, friends... It’s just a big melting pot of stuff that all seeps into the music somehow.
What's on constant rotation right now?
Asher: Not that much really - I was listening to the Kendrick Lamar record the other day and I’ve been listening to Mr. Fingers quite a bit, the new Haxan Cloak album and the last Julia Holter record.
Linn: Asher tipped me about Mr Fingers’ 'Introduction' recently, it’s the smoothest thing! So that’s been on repeat lately, along with French singer/songwriter/producer/football journalist(!) Louis Philippe – elegant, orchestral pop, a hint of Brian Wilson, a bit of XTC, early Scott Walker, Lambchop… Azure with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is my lazy summer day album of choice at the moment.
What do you have coming up on the horizon next?
Asher: We are busy writing new material and working on a live show.
Anne Briggs - She Moves Through The Fair
Saa - Your Sword Is Your Silence
Todd Rundgren - Tiny Demons
Kuedo - Ant City
Nicolette Larson - Lotta Love
Slowdive - Ballad of Sister Sue
Wife - Endings
Unni Løvlid - Jeg Har Så Lun En Hytte
Saa - Shae
Left Blank released the 'Saa' EP on the 8th July 2013.