He may not have been alive then but GASHI is ready to take you back to 1984. The year is the title of his upcoming album (8/7 via RCA) and the Libyan-born, Brooklyn-bred singer-songwriter feels he’s nailed the vibe. He loves everything about the era from the clothes to the movies to the commercials. The album isn’t just a nostalgia trip however, he’s putting his own modern spin on each song.
GASHI called up Music Choice from his LA home to talk about the creation of 1984 and how he has gotten to this place in his career and where he’s taking things next. There were also a few interruptions from his crazy cute new puppy Preston.
Music Choice: Where are you calling from?
GASHI: One second. I just got a dog and I think he’s about to go to the bathroom on the carpet. Let me grab him real quick.
MC: Oh sweet! What’s his name and tell me about how you got him.
G: He’s incredible and his name is Preston. He’s my first dog. He’s cute and crazy with a big personality. I just want him to like me. I drove six hours to Utah to pick him up. I don’t think I would have done this if not for the pandemic. I’m calling from here in my loft in LA.
MC: Had you been thinking for a while about getting a dog or did the world-changing push you to do it?
G: The world’s changed. I always wanted a dog but never thought I’d follow through. My girlfriend’s not in town and I’m sitting on two music projects so I have time on my hands. I saw him online and reached out saying I was interested and drove to pick him up. The ride back was crazy. He was throwing up in the car. I named him Preston after the character in the movie Blank Check. It’s good responsibility, like having a kid!
MC: Just like a kid. You’re worried about him making a mess on your carpet.
G: Right? It’s a Fendi carpet, man. It cost more than him.
MC: You said you’re sitting on two projects. You have 1984 coming in August (10/7 via RCA). Tell me about that album. When did you realize it was going to be your next release?
G: In 2015 I had just moved to LA with two suitcases and maybe $80. I got out here and was writing for other artists like DJ Snake and Travis Scott. I began working on my own stuff and started to go through some hard times with family but was stuck in Santa Monica.
I had been sleeping in a friend’s closet and decided to take a drive on the Pacific Coast Highway one day and it reminded me of an 80s film. I realized I wish I had a time machine. I wanted to get out of this era. Before you knew it I had made this song called “Mama” and that was the first “80s song” I had. RCA signed me off hearing it. I’ve been preparing 1984 for a long time.
MC: If you had a time machine why are you choosing the 80s as the era you would travel to?
G: I feel like I lived it. I have Michael Jackson toys in boxes. I’m in love with the 80s. ’84 is the year Michael Jordan was drafted and it was the year my parents got married. The first Macintosh computer came out. I’m so addicted to it. It makes me feel like a little kid.
Everything was so lit. Coming from an unfortunate home and background I wanted that life in commercials from then. I wanted to be in the John Hughes movies.
MC: You’re not just aping the sounds from back then on the songs. How do you go about modernizing that sound?
G: People will think I’m going to be sampling but this is all original. I wanted to make this thing like an old Disney movie. I give my modern flair so kids will love it now but their parents from back then will love it too.
MC: You have said you would have been a film director if you hadn’t gone into music. What kind of movies would you make?
G: I’m a Scorsese guy. I love Batman too. I just love movies so much. I haven’t been able to show that side of me yet. I can’t wait for the right opportunity.
MC: As you have a good amount of unreleased music how frustrating is it that so many things in your career have been put on pause?
G: 2020 has been a year where my life came together and fell apart. It’s definitely been the weirdest year. I pray that the world gets back to normal. Zoom calls are not it.
MC: How else have you been filling your time during the pandemic?
G: My dog! I have been painting, watching movies, and learning to cook. I have been reading books and magazines to feel inspired. I have also been designing merch at my house.
MC: Merchandise tied to 1984?
G: Yep. Shirts, hats, hoodies, and more. I’m a big hat guy. I hate the way I look without one on. It keeps me mellow. So, all those things and a varsity jacket. It’s going to be some John Hughes vibes.
MC: Every facet of the project is a cohesive thing.
G: I’m excited about it even though I don’t know what’s going to happen. Every time I drop something people say it’s going to change my life. Everything I’ve made has changed my life! I was sleeping on the street selling mixtapes and now I’m making the music I love!
I grew up on pop and rock and whatever was on MTV. I had been straying away from that because I was scared to be myself. I’m finally an adult and I’m excited to do what I want and be who I am.