Image: Alice Baxley (Grandstand Media)

It’s an unseasonably nice day in January and Sasami Ashworth is not prepared. “I shoulda worn sunscreen!” the 28-year-old says, perched on an East Village stoop. Skincare’s been on her mind lately, as she does press for her upcoming self-titled debut album, and because, as she puts it, “it’s already really obvious that there’s no money in music.”

“Everyone has a makeup line,” she says: the Kardashian-Jenners, Kat Von D, Rihanna. “It’s actually the most financially sound direction to go in. Have you noticed that?”

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Ashworth, who went to college to study French horn before realizing she would rather brave the indie-music world than be a professional classical musician, is freakishly nice and easy to talk to. She’s wearing a bright red jacket she snagged from a recent music video, and Doc Martens she got for free. After school, Ashworth played guitar and synth in Cherry Glazerr; SASAMI was born out of demos she made on the road on her iPad. “Now I gotta hock this thing,” Ashworth says. “On the streets. Out on the stoops of New York!”

The unofficial elevator pitch for SASAMI, out Friday, is that it’s about “all the people I fucked and who fucked me.” When I ask about it, she laughs. “Oh my god, that was just like, an Instagram post that Pitchfork quoted.”

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SASAMI is not necessarily an angry album—but Ashworth admits with the verbal equivalent of a wink, “I definitely haven’t written a happy song.”

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We walk to Rivington Guitars, where she buys new guitar picks. When her album comes out, she will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Matador Records’s Snail Mail (Lindsay Jordan is a friend) and other peers under the so-called sad-girl music umbrella. And yet, when we grab a coffee at a nearby café on 2nd Avenue, Ashworth says, “The music world I’m in is so not competitive.” Mitski once lent her money so she could make merch. She calls The Breeders her “rock aunties.”

She may have to do this “pop shit”—doing interviews to promote her album—but the alternative? “Classical music is basically like doing karaoke of a bunch of old white dudes every day,” she says. Imagine if bands had to audition for Coachella. The Beach Boys’s “Don’t Worry Baby” wafts in the background. “Everyone would have to play their rendition of ‘Good Vibrations’,” Ashworth explains. “Whoever is the best gets in.”

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Ashworth decides to stay at the café; she has another interview. Her jacket probably won’t come in handy the rest of the day. The rest of her outfit was free or came dirt-cheap. “Good music and good art is good art,” she says. Fashion, too; if it looks cool, it speaks for itself. For now, she’s being practical. “Just gotta stay warm when it’s cold!”

Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated that Snail Mail was signed to Domino Records. The band is on Matador.