The Scotsman Sessions #327: Bee Asha Singh
Welcome to the Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts sector still impacted by the pandemic, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, from a garden close to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, poet, singer and rapper Bee Asha Singh a mixture of song and spoken word called Ice//fall
Bee Asha Singh is a 21st century triple threat – poet, singer, rapper. Anyone who has seen her play live in charismatic hip-hop trio The Honey Farm will know she’s got the moves too but she appears solo and sedentary for the Scotsman Sessions performing a compelling mix of song and spoken word called Ice//fall from a garden space close to Arthur’s Seat in her home city of Edinburgh.
“There was a big thistle bush next to me and so many different birds,” says Singh of the recording, describing her choice of track as “a very emotive piece that explores toxic relationships, emotional abuse and healing after love. Every time I sing this I feel another piece of weight lifted from me and I can feel it connect with others in the room who have had similar experiences.”
Singh is a natural performer and communicator, who has taken this desire for open discussion and connection further by founding the Spit It Out Project, inspired by and named after a 2019 BBC Scotland documentary directed by French-Brazilian filmmaker and charity co-founder Lea Luiz de Oliveira which followed Singh as she swapped anti-depressants and agoraphobia for poetry and performance as a way to recover from sexual violence.
Citing the likes of Amy Winehouse and poet Holly McNish as influences, she released her first spoken word album From Girl to Men in 2021, was chosen as one of the YWCA’s 30 Under 30 inspiring women and named Best Newcomer at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards.
Singh has kept up the momentum this summer. In the spirit of its cathartic name, the Spit It Out Project organised and hosted Aye Festival which took place across two weeks in two cities, blending online and in-person workshops, discussions, screenings and performances.
“It's all about using creative outlets to talk about mental health and things that can lead to trauma,” says Singh. “We've just now finished our festival across Glasgow and Edinburgh which went amazingly – 48 events, 18 venues, so much laughter and tears. We're exhausted from it but it was incredible.
“The last two years have been wild,” she reflects. “Lockdown started hard. Lonely. Then I moved back to my ma's in the countryside with my stepdad, my brother and his partner. It was such a nice time, still plenty of painful, difficult days, but so happy to be with my family.
“This year I've only had two hours of the week free to get into the studio which has been upsetting, ’cause I want to be in there all the time! But I've got a whole load of new music coming, a mix of rap, spoken word and some sweet vocals.”
Singh continues to gig with her erstwhile school friends Gracie Brill and Gael Curran as The Honey Farm and, at the end of August, she will be appearing at Pitch Scotland, an all-day multi-venue festival of hip-hop and underground culture alongside peers such as MC LOTOS, South London rapper NoLay and Aberdeen’s soulful AiiTee.
From Girl to Men is out now on Spotify. Bee Asha Singh performs at Many Studios, Glasgow on 27 August as part of Pitch Scotland