There are so many reasons why Asukal a.k.a. Raquel Undheim is one of our favorite emerging artists on the rise, but her music truly speaks for itself. The singer and producer describes her music aesthetic as “90s guRLi game boi pop” so not only are your ears in for a treat, but you’ll likely become addicted to the mesmerizing soundscape as well. Today, we’re premiering the music video for her latest single “u alone.” Similar to the song’s effort to tap into vulnerability, the concept for the Stephanie Dimiskovski-directed visual is minimal to the core with the focus on Asukal in an assortment of New York settings.
“I wanted the minimal production to match the concept of the video, so it felt natural for my friend/director Stephanie and I to film with a DV cam around the neighborhood on a lazy weekend,” she told us in an email. “I also incorporate a bit of lightness and humor into everything I make, whether a portion of a song sounds like it belongs in a cheesy game show, or whether I look like a glammed up fifth grader taking school photos like in the ‘u alone’ vid.”
The whole montage rolls like an unofficial day in Asukal’s life as she takes us along to random places like the spa, park, subway platform, and an empty stairwell. After you watch the cute video unfold, scroll down and read our short (but sweet) interview with Asukal.
Where did the inspiration for the song “u alone” come from?
“U Alone” came from the turmoil of not having the words to truly express how you’re feeling to someone in the moment, and then trying not to mess it all up before it’s too late. I’m just drawn to the idea of innocence, coming of age, and the complexity and simplicity of youth. Some of my other songs have been heavily calculated and intricately produced, but this song is a little more stripped back, focusing mostly on vocals and melody to reflect the pure emotions I’m expressing.
I love the scene in the video where you’re singing while getting a facial. Just curious, what is your skincare routine?
Gotta thank Accutane first of all for making it now possible to zoom in that close to my face. I typically use Cetaphil and a Filipino tea tree oil face wash first. Then I use REN Ready Steady Glow AHA toner, Sunday Riley Good Genes (daytime) / Luna (at night), Biossance squalane + vitamin C + rose oil, and then finally IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream. I try not to wear that much make-up, just IT CC cream and concealer as they’re both hydrating and anti-aging.
The quick moment with the iMessage exchange reminded me of Kelly Rowland texting Nelly via Microsoft Excel in the “Dilemma” video. Was that a possible reference?
Woww, I love that scene, like she gets mad that he doesn’t reply to her spreadsheet haha. I wasn’t thinking of that scene in particular, but I definitely wanted some dumb texting interaction going on.
We need to talk about the single artwork. The Nokia phone obviously triggers nostalgia, but what else were you trying to convey through this image?
It really just goes back to that Nokia phone being my very first cell phone and mode of communication outside of class in the sixth grade, so it seemed right to pair and contrast that with the super sleek futuristic jacket made my friend Helen Zhang.
How do you handle having a crush now as an adult? When I think back to the way I used to feel about crushes when I was younger I am mostly embarrassed by how consumed I allowed myself to be by them, but part of me longs for the pure innocence of it all. Talk me through your process!
The song is less about being obsessed or consumed with someone as it is about having a problem admitting my thoughts and being vulnerable when I need to be. I used to have a pattern of shying away from any moment where I needed to express my real true gritty feelings because I didn’t feel like it and it was easier to use humor or something as a defense mechanism. Hence me processing emotions later on through lyric and melody. I think this particular song is an ode to a time when vulnerability was more of a struggle for me, but I’ve since then grown into myself more.
Purity was a post-breakup project so where is your mindset now?
I honestly just have a lot of clarity, freedom, and joy. Post Purity, I was able to put more focus and time into my goals, not necessarily even straight up music related, but just career wise and friendship/family wise.
What are some of the most valuable things that you’ve learned (in general or about yourself) while being single? (Side note: I am also an only child and I think that directly makes impacts your ability to enjoy being single because you’re used to spending so much time alone by yourself.)
That you can just as easily become consumed with something else if you’re not careful, such as the stress of the city, money, status, or work. You can just as easily make something else your idol and lose your identity, so it’s all a balance. Don’t dwell too much on what you can’t control and take time for yourself so you’re able to be emotionally available for other people that you care about be and 100% yourself.
How have you grown as an independent artist since that project was released? Is there anything you are particularly proud of that has happened in the past year?
I think I’ve actually grown a lot more in/and am proud of how I’ve discovered who I am as an artist, how I’ve navigated label interest, and where I want to go aesthetically and overall creatively to stay true to myself.
What are you hoping to accomplish as an artist? Have you set any goals for yourself?
I’m hoping to create more visibility for female producers and work on collaborating and producing with other artists I admire within the next few months. I’d also like to get my music out and distributed to a wide audience and travel as well.
Can you update us on your next project? Is there an EP or LP in the works?!
I do have another project in the works, not entirely sure what it’s final form will be at the moment as I’m evolving and experimenting with different genres, but so far I have some really hard beats in the making.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you to everyone that has listened to my music thus far and is on this journey with me, I hope you enjoy the vid!!
For more of our premieres, check out NIKI’s new video for “Plans” right here.