Asha Imuno Delves into Debut Album “PINS & NEEDLES”

By Zoe Blakeman – Photo by Manny Singh

ZB: With the release of your debut album “PINS & NEEDLES,” how do you feel about embarking on the upcoming tour with Berhana, and what can fans expect from your live performances?

AI: I’m excited. Without giving away too much, we’ve got some special moments planned for the show. This is the first time we’re playing these songs in this context, so I’m curious to see how the crowd reacts from city to city.

ZB: “PINS & NEEDLES” explores themes of broken love, overcoming anxiety, redemption, and self-discovery. How will you translate these themes into your live performances during the tour?

AI: We’re treating the show a lot more like performance art than we have in the past, there’s some fun moments we have planned. I’m hoping the themes will speak for themselves through the music and how we filter it through the energy of each city.

ZB: Your album has received praise from various media outlets. How does it feel to see such a positive reception to your debut album, and does it add any pressure as you prepare for the tour?

AI: I’m really grateful. The amount of love coming in every day has been overwhelming. It feels like confirmation more than anything. It cuts deepest when you get to feel us live in the flesh. With people showing us this much love before we’ve even gotten to play most places, I know it’ll only capture more people as we bring it on the road.

ZB: Can you share some insights into the creative process behind “PINS & NEEDLES” and how it feels to have the album out in the world finally?

AI: It’s been my baby for three years and now it’s birthed into the world forever. That’s the most beautiful feeling. I got the most passionate, hard-working group of good people in my corner, from my managers Amit & Gurshan, the KOGO family, to my label Guin, to Zach Ezzy and all my collaborators with fingerprints on the music – all the creativity that’s gone into bringing this to life makes me real fucking proud.

ZB: You’ve been described as “an artist who’s skipping towards the spotlight” by Pigeons and Planes. How do you envision your career trajectory evolving after the release of your debut album and the upcoming tour?

AI: Man it’s just a blessing to be recognized in that way. I came up envisioning everything that’s happening now when I was like 14, reading up on my favorite artists on Pigeons, praying one day I get to rub shoulders with people who feel how I feel & put my story into a show. Being here now is a dream. I’m most looking forward to all the love that’s gonna come in meeting new fans on tour with Berhana and building off that energy to figure out what comes next.

ZB: What inspired you to explore a diverse sonic palette blending hip-hop, soul, funk, and R&B on “PINS & NEEDLES,” and how do you plan to bring these varied influences to life on stage?

AI: PINS & NEEDLES is a return to what’s most foundational to my sound and relationship with music. Moments like ROAD RAGE, HONEY, and PHONICS couldn’t coexist without my big sister playing Coldplay every day, at the same time as my pops blasting ATCQ Midnight Marauders on weekends, & my big brother putting on the Kendrick Backseat Freestyle video for me when I was 12. I was a jazz band kid in a family of gospel performers and music lovers.

This is the intersection of the music that raised me. It felt right to speak through the lens of growing through love over the music we used to love when I was a kid. We’re fine-tuning the moving parts of the live set to feel like an in-real-life meeting place for all these worlds I embody, which isn’t easy on paper but ends up being the most honest way of showing the people who I am and where I’m from.

ZB: As you prepare to open for Berhana on “The Nomad’s Tour,” what are you most looking forward to about touring, and are there any particular cities or venues you’re excited to perform in?

AI: Atlanta is going to be fire. It’s one of my favorite cities in general, and something about the first stop being home for Berhana feels special to me.

ZB: The album includes collaborations with artists like WESTSIDE BOOGIE and Tempest. How do these collaborations enhance the storytelling and sonic landscape of “PINS & NEEDLES,” and do you plan to incorporate these collaborations into your live performances?

AI: Every collaboration on the album feels like a perspective from my memories. On PHONICS, Boogie & Tempest brought their own energy, stories, and thoughtfulness to the record – it brought the feeling to a whole new place. I wish we could have them on stage with us every time I perform it, maybe for the headlining tour.

ZB: What message or emotions do you hope fans take away from your live performances during the tour? Do you want to say anything to your fans as you embark on this new chapter in your musical journey?

AI: There’s a lot I hope people feel from coming to the show. The main thing is that this life is a beautifully complicated, mysterious, and fleeting thing. Every shade of color that comes with it is worth celebrating. Music is like a place we can go to to make sense of our lives and soundtrack the experience, but it’s a whole world of its own, too.

My whole mission is exploring that world and taking y’all on the journey with me through the music. People showing love and support for what we do, coming out to shows, and sharing moments with their people are what make all this stuff possible. I don’t take it for granted, and it’s just the start, believe me.

ZB: What plans do you have for your music in the future?

AI: More touring, more WAITINGROOMs, more collaborations, a whole lot more. I’m learning a lot very quickly, and I have a pretty big imagination, so there’s nothing off the table. It’s gonna be a really fun year, especially for the ones that have been tapped in for the longest.

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Asha Imuno is an artist, producer and songwriter from Moreno Valley, California. The 22-year-old multihyphenate’s creativity is a melting pot of inspiration, seamlessly blending nostalgic influences from classic Hip-Hop and R&B with a refreshing take on new age Soul & Funk sounds. His pen is precise & beyond his years, with a knack for sticky, nostalgic melodies housing thoughtful, nuanced storytelling covering a range of experiences as a young black creative from the Inland Empire.

Imuno is unafraid to dive into the provocative, reflecting on topics as intimate as his own vices, struggles with mental illness, lust, incarceration, identity, family, and everything in between.

His breakout single ZIG ZAGGING reflects his own duality – with bouncy west-coast funk inspired drums underneath a soulful guitar riff painting a familiar, bright soundscape, while the lyricism describe an explicit image of our inability to run away from our innermost thoughts & emotions, “zig zagging, runnin’ for cover in my brand new jacket, ain’t had it on me i don’t know what happened, wonder what if I meet lights flashing, black sadness, still zaggin…”

The California-born & raised artist has only just started his introduction to the world, but Asha’s musical talent stems from a lifetime of being surrounded by gifted musicians & working tirelessly since his early teens to develop his craft. “My grandmother was a beloved pianist and music director in churches all throughout San Diego from the 80s to the 2000s so choir rehearsals and band practice was where music first found me. My parents always kept good music in me and my siblings’ ears – Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers – I grew up with that everyday.”

Before recording himself or playing keys, Imuno began his artistic journey drawing, painting, and sculpting in his elementary years, and continued to do so throughout all the way into highschool. Creation has always been his first language, which led him to joining his middle school jazz program & marching band to further develop his foundation in musical composition & production.

“My interest in film score was what kept me out of the way at a time where there wasn’t much to do but get into trouble or get creative. My band director would let me stay back an extra 3 hours while he graded tests so I could learn to play other instruments and perform the pieces I was writing.”

At 16, Imuno began rapping over his own beats & sharing them on SoundCloud, quickly developing a hyper-local following amongst his community in Moreno Valley. His progress led him to sharing his first mixtape “Good News” in 2020, an initial look into Imuno’s versatility as both a rapper & vocalist.

The self-produced project earned critical acclaim from Billboard, Complex, and earned him the top spot on Spotify’s year end Fresh Finds: Hip-Hop playlist. Since then, he’s continued to share original music, including singles LONELY NIGHTS, ZIG ZAGGING, and PERFECT PACE. He’s earned co-signs from the likes of Jordan Ward, Diddy, and Hit-Boy, alongside collaborating with buzzing upcomers like Aaron May & AG Club.



The Nomad Tour Dates

Atlanta – 4.11 – Terminal West
Washington DC – 4.13 – Union Stage
Boston – 4.15 – The Sinclair
NYC – 4.16 – Bowery Ballroom
Toronto – 4.18 – The Axis Club
Evanston, IL – 4.20 – SPACE
Minneapolis – 4.21 – 7th Street Entry
San Francisco – 4.24 – The Independent
Los Angeles – 4.27 – The Roxy