Where it all began
Sasha Makia Spiller-Reiff, known to reggae enthusiasts everywhere as Sashamon, grew up in a town that had, at the time of the last census, 376 residents. He was born in Honolulu. And raised on the island of Molokai, which gets less than one percent of the nine million tourists that visit the other Hawai‘ian islands each year, where the pace of life is slow.the Hawaiian community of Molokai is known as a place that fought outside influence to protect and preserve Hawaiian way of life.. Sasha says I owe much of my ability to the place I was raised. At sasha’s small elementary school, Hawaiian elders visited classrooms to share music and knowledge about culture, language, and art. They made us learn ukulele in the 5th grade.”
While attending UH, Sasha began to compose and later record his first songs. “One Day Maybe”, Sashamon’s debut album, incorporates many diverse influences that blend to create an original, peaceful and memorable sound.
Sasha is currently composing and producing BRAND NEW MUSIC in his home studio on Kauai, playing all the instruments including the ukulele, guitar, bass, keyboard, vocals, and drum sequencer. Sashamon is supported by his long time friends and band mates from the Hawaiian Islands.
“I did not study music until i got a guitar after graduating from high school.” Sasha moved to the bustling metropolis of Honolulu to study at the University of Hawai‘i. I loved the ocean and my guitar. I learned as much as i could and started dabbling and envisioning my own songs. “After I graduated, I wanted out of the big city and moved to Kauai. This is when i started to learn about production. i got a computer and started recording and developing my musical ideas. I gave a few tracks to my surfer musician friend Gabe Larocca who i also recorded in my home studio.”
He gave the tracks to legendary surfer Braden Dias to be featured in his surf flick “Pipeline Posse” They were pumping the music at parties which there were a few of and sharing the music via burnt CD’s.
“The demand encouraged me to finish more of my home recordings and put em on a disk. I was selling them to friends at bars.Then something unexpected occurred: Sasha became, suddenly, a sensation.”
“Every 10 feet I would hear my song bumping on people’s stereos, and nobody knew who I was,” he said. “You couldn’t buy the CD anywhere and it wasn’t on the radio. It was a trip. Then someone brought my tracks to small radio station in Hilo. The track “japanese squeeze” became the stations most requested track Then “Necta” followed. Other radio stations picked up the album. “Necta” was getting major airplay on the biggest stations in hawaii. I had very little performance experience. The next thing you know, i have to get a band together and i’m flying all over Hawaii. I’m opening up for Alpha Blondy on the Big Island in front of 5,000 people, and then I’m in California.”
Peaking at the Right Time
Seemingly overnight Sasha had to learn to navigate the music business, lead a band, and manage managers. He found himself booked for gigs from San Diego to Florida, Guam to Brazil. His first show on the Hermosa Beach Pier was packed; not everyone who turned up could fit inside the bar. Sasha and his band played for 17,000 people at the West beach festival in Santa Barbara, headlined for the opening day of the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, and got featured on surf videos and TV shows.
The whole thing felt like a whirlwind, one that was fun and exciting and gave Sasha a chance to do what he loved most.
Sasha put touring opportunities on hold when his mom got diagnosed with cancer. “I wanted to spend as much time as i could with my mom. She lived a lot longer than the doctors said she would. We got some quality time. After she passed I had to do some soul searching.” In July 2014, his partner gave birth to a son. his focus changed.
Despite disappearing off the touring circuit, Sasha has remained relevant, with his tracks registering 160,000 monthly streams on Spotify. Necta currently has had almost 4 million spins on spotify with other songs in the millions as well. The online activity has encouraged him to stay in the game.
Sasha, who speaks both casually, with a pidgin inflection, and thoughtfully, with pauses and great care, sent me a text message a couple of days after our phone interview.
“I was thinking about your question, how has having a child changed me as an artist,” he wrote. “It intensified my original meaning and message behind my music, which is a vision for a peaceful world, a clean safe environment, opportunit[ies] for meaningful connections, to love and enjoy life. [It also connected me] to the deep love of my parents and other families who sacrifice a lot.”
Now he’s preparing to play at the Hermosa Beach Summer Concerts, and possibly some other gigs while he’s in California, though he is vague about these. He’s excited about sharing the stage with Isaac Kamaile Jr., a virtuoso Hawaiian guitarist who plays left-handed with the strings upside-down.
“Nobody on the planet plays guitar like him,” Sasha said. “He’s all love. I love sharing his music with the people. He hits a note and I’m like, yeah, Uncle, that is so good! The connections and collaboration that music nurtures keep him going when life or touring feels heavy.
“I love playing music,” he said. “I love helping people dance. I love trying to be a voice of truth and just a good voice. There’s so many voices out there—a lot of people carry the torch.”
As for his own truth, the one he wants to share through his music, all roads lead back to aloha. This is the crux of Sasha’s ethos in music and in life: “I’m getting all emotional talking about it”
defining the complexities of Aloha, a word that means hello and goodbye but also so much more than that. It’s a lifestyle, as confirmed by the roadside messages that appear around the Hawaiian islands. It’s about actively defending the rights of every person, taking care of the land, and recognizing the godliness in one other, Sasha explained.
“Ha means breath of life and when you say aloha you are sharing the breath of life” he said. I hear people say god is love. aloha is love. it connects everything”
“Some of us are less and less connected and at the same time we’re getting more connected. I want to help really connect people through music, through getting together and sharing good times, spreading a positive message—that’s a great thing.
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