In 2016, Kennedy Ashlyn lost her bandmate in Bay Area dream-pop duo Them Are Us Too and her closest friend in the world, Cash Askew, to the Oakland Ghost Ship fire. Out of the tragedy and her overwhelming grief came Ashlyn's new solo project SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew), which just released its debut full-length, Unreality, via Dais Records. The album explores the nuances of loss, from deep hopelessness to bittersweet nostalgia to renewal and re-invention.
For our continuing "Songs for Black Days" series, presented in partnership with Hope for the Day, we asked the singer to share some of the music she turns to in dark times. Below is what Ashlyn offered up.
I can (and do) let this song wash over me for hours. It's one of those songs I wish I could live inside of forever. It allows me to temporarily float away from myself, swirling up and then landing back down slightly stronger than I was before. In general, Deerhunter has been a hugely important band for me since I was a teenager, especially in my hardest times.
Sometimes it's really important for me to sit and stew in my own darkness and this song speaks to my particular brand of brooding. Especially when I'm feeling overwhelmingly alone, in life and in my feelings, it's incredibly validating to allow myself to indulge in a mood that feels so relatable. That being said, I try not to let myself stay in that brooding stage too long.
This is one of my "strong songs." Because sometimes you just need to put on some boots and sunglasses and face the fucking day.
This song pops up in my rotation when my depression is grief-based. Which is definitely a little sad, but if there's anything I'll allow myself to feel sad about, it's loss. Something about the emotive – almost tragic at times – vocal, paired in contrast to the very composed, swoony instrumental, allows me to leave my anguish in the song once it ends. Like it allows what I'm going through to feel performative in all the right ways, and I can leave that performance at the door.
One of the only songs that actually quiets the noise in my head. The repetition of the bassline and the consistent kick is my ultimate catharsis.
This song is incredibly soothing to me. Especially because it's still a bit odd despite it being so mellow, so it still feels relatable. Broadcast is always in heavy rotation for me, but especially when I'm depressed or need to come down from any extreme feeling.
Nothing makes me feel more chilled out than this track. It makes the whole world feel a little softer. Serenity in a song.
I can't really listen to this song without crying, but I'm personally not afraid to get a little misty. I am instantly reminded of my best friend Cash when this comes on, and even though she's no longer here, it almost reminds me how much she is still with me. By the time it's over I feel a little bit stronger, a little bit more composed, and a little bit more able to act with the clarity and poise with which she carried herself.
If I had to describe myself as a song, this would be the one. The almost frantic, desperate sounding vocal sample paired with the singular bass note puts me into a trancelike state. This is another one I can't listen to without crying, but by the end I feel incredibly cleansed.
What a fucking killer track. Listening to this when I'm depressed makes the intensity of my low feel a little absurd ... which makes my absurdist heart smile. I'm definitely dancing by like 30 seconds in. There are days when I listen to this song 30 fucking times. Plus, what in this world is cooler than those kids fucking jamming in the fucking video. So. Fucking. Sick.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of resources.