In the words of Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics, “Everybody’s looking for something.” In the case of music, put the word new in front of something, and you have a true to life statement. Fitting the bill, Them Are Us Too were certainly something new when they were formed almost a decade ago out in the San Francisco bay area by Kennedy Ashlyn and Cash Askew. A nod to ’80s Shoegaze styles and Synthpop, tragically in 2016, Askew was a casualty to the Oakland Ghost Ship Fire. An untimely passing, it left Ashlyn without her musical collaborator, but most of all, without her closest friend. Very well possibly the end of her music career, she rose from the ashes of her loss to form her new project she calls SRSQ.
Not to be confused with Stacey Q former band SSQ, SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew) is a new beginning for Ashlyn, one where she does not necessarily want to leave the past behind her, but more so celebrate and honor it with something different. Where as Them Are Us Too showed a more aggressive side to dark Synthrock, especially on their final album, this year’s Amends, SRSQ is more ambient in tone. Recently putting out her debut album as SRSQ, Unreality, on October 26th via Dais Records, Ashlyn takes various electronic elements to a new level of a dreamlike sound which act as a lush cushion to her alluring voice.
Produced by Matia Simovich of Inhalt, Unreality consists of 8 songs that are captivating, dark, somber, and vulnerable. No doubt the product of Ashlyn’s grieving process following Cash Askew’s death in 2016, each track has a enticing atmosphere luring you in and seducing you to give into curiosity. Bringing it all together with her voice, Ashlyn lets go of her inhibitions and offers a performance that is eclectic and haunting. This is most pronounced on songs such as the overwhelmingly emotional “The Martyr,” the Shoegaze textured “Procession,” and ghostly “No Reason.” That said, there are more commercially accessible tunes such as “Cherish,” “Mixed Tide,” and danceable “Permission,” a track which saw a music video premiere the same day Unreality was unveiled.
Some have gone as far to compare Ashlyn to the likes of Kate Bush or Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, and these correlations would not be too far fetched. Certainly inspired by artists such as Kate Bush, Ashlyn’s vision for SRSQ is also most certainly a product of such influences, offering an eerie new collection of songs all her own. That in mind, SRSQ may not be for everyone, but those who can dig a modern mix of Avant-garde and Progressive elements churned in with Goth, Industrial, as well as Synthwave, should most certainly indulge in Kennedy Ashlyn’s take on Art Pop.