“I want my culture to be in people’s faces,” Yasman Azimi remarked casually as she sipped on her coffee. She sat on soft cushions that lined the sun-filled tearoom of Rosebud Cafe, a Persian-owned spot in Capitol Hill, on this wintry December afternoon. Azimi, who performs under the stage name YaSi, had recently dyed her often-blonde hair dark again. Clad head-to-toe in black and leather with heeled boots to match, Azimi practically oozed cool as she strolled into the cafe she frequents on a regular basis.
Ever since she or her mother could remember, Azimi has had an ear for music. “My whole life music was of interest to me. My mom told me that the moment she knew I could sing was through Disney movies — that’s how I learned how to sing really,” she said. At around the age of 20, Azimi got her feet wet in live performing when she began singing in a local hip-hop fusion band. YaSi began writing her own music two or three years later, citing her first serious heartbreak as fuel for becoming an artist.
“The artist ‘me’ and the personal ‘me’ are pretty different,” Azimi stated candidly. “Some of the things that I’m too afraid to say as just a regular person, I’m not afraid to say on stage as YaSi.” She often incorporates visual themes borrowed from traditional Persian art in her work as an homage to her heritage. Azimi would also like to incorporate more traditional Persian instrumentations and tonalities into her music.
YaSi has seen an almost meteoric rise locally in a short span of time. In fact, Azimi recently headlined her very first show at Larimer Lounge — and sold out of tickets before the night was over. She downplayed the success of her Larimer show with a healthy dose of humility. “I’m really lucky that people I’ve grown up with believe in me and a lot of people in the scene came out to support me. If you don’t put it in people’s faces they’re not going to take it seriously,” she said. YaSi modestly left out that she marketed the event herself diligently even posting in the Facebook event nearly every day leading up to the show. “I told myself every morning, ‘250 or fail,’” said Azimi, referring to the 250-person capacity of Larimer Lounge. Her dedication — paired with her talent — proved to be a success since she was able to sell each and every ticket.
“I’m probably not going to write a song in Farsi anytime soon, only because it’s pretty hard. But one of my biggest goals is to have an album where I only work with Persian people. Like work with Persian producers, other Persian singers, and [have] Persian visual artists make the album cover.” – Azmini
Azimi likes to create art with intent. Having earned her Bachelor’s of Music Business from University of Colorado (CU), Azimi examines artists who choose quantity over quality with a wary eye. “Churning out stuff is, honestly, bull,” Azimi said. “Like I get why artists do it — they find something that works, and why would you walk away from that? I just don’t want to do that.”
She openly admits she only released one song this year. “For every single I put out, I want to have a music video come out shortly after,” Azimi said, a statement that emphasizes the fact that each individual song she crafts is a fully-fleshed work of art. Azimi recently collaborated with videographer Jordan Wozy — who has worked with Machine Gun Kelly, Logic, LANY and They. — to create a music video for her single “Pink Caddy.” “We made that video in a day. A single day,” Azimi bemused. “Like we got together and shot the whole thing in a single afternoon, and he sent me the finished video that same night.” Azimi, along with her many collaborators, takes the craft of music very seriously.
“Kayla Ray is, in terms of sound, the purest R&B singer that we have in Colorado,” according to Azimi. She also mentioned Doze, with whom she performed with at Larimer Lounge. “He produces, writes and does all of his own stuff. The topics he raps about are a lot different than a lot of stuff coming out of Colorado right now.” And in terms of straight rapping, “Trayce Chapman is probably my favorite rapper in Colorado. He can just fucking spit — like he just raps,” Azimi enthused.
Azimi isn’t sure how long she plans on staying in the ever-competitive music industry, but she has plenty of creative pursuits outside of music to keep her busy. She wants to eventually launch a fashion line, and perhaps dabble in furniture design as well. She’s already immersed herself in graphic design and helps with directing her music videos. Whatever creative projects Azimi has lined up for the future, it will surely dazzle Denver and beyond.