We got a chance to chat with Mena Sachdev, 23, also known as Ushamami about their new single and music video “Jinx”. This Valentine’s Day, 80’s-inspired bop is a follow up to their debut EP Proximity. It is a rumination on the anxieties of being in love and in lust – with a polyamorous twist. The video blurs the lines between the surreal and the real, and is an assertion of queer desire, style, sound, and connection. Check out the video, as well as our Q&A with them below.
What does the song “Jinx” represent to you, and why do you choose to share it on Valentine’s Day?
Jinx is an exciting moment for me artistically – it’s my first track I’ve put out since my debut EP and the first music video I’ve ever done. I made this track last Spring (almost a year ago WOW) and it was the first taste I got of something that felt like it was truly my sound. I have chased that feeling a lot since and have really built off of jinx as a reference.
Emotionally, the track represents the thought process I go through when I’m first starting to be into someone. We (the production team) took that concept and ran with it for the video and used the visual to explore the complexity of queer relationships and intimacy that we have encountered. With the way the timing and editing process worked, Valentine’s day was the perfect hook for us. Jinx really feels like an assertion of queerness rather than a just reaction to misrepresentation, and releasing it on a historically hetero holiday makes this release all the more exciting and, hopefully, impactful.
This song is a rumination on the anxieties of being in love and in lust – what are some of those anxieties you’ve experienced?
I’m a Cancer sun, venus, and mercury so, realistically, all of them lol. I think a lot about existing power dynamics in my relationships, like desirability politics, time, money. I also am such a planner and can get really caught up in the future (“don’t jinx it…”). Most of all, I’m can go on these little self-sufficient analytical anxious spirals in my brain (I hope this is relatable), which is something I tried to portray with the use of the second person “you” in the jinx lyrics.
Love that this video has polyamorous representation, which we don’t always get to see. Why is it important to you that this story gets told?
The polyamorous concept came pretty naturally because we wanted to include a bunch of my beautiful friends, and also demonstrate that a queer relationship is so much more than being with someone who was assigned the same gender at birth. There is so little queer representation in the media that I feel is accurate to my experience, and the polyamorous aspect of jinx is just reflective of what I see in my community.
What has Valentine’s Day always represented for you? How has your relationship changed with this holiday over the years?
As an awkward Brown kid growing up in a majority white spaces, I was what I like to call “romantically under-appreciated” throughout my younger years. Valentine’s Day wasn’t really anything to me, until recently. I’ve found a new appreciation for the coziness and smushiness (again, I’m such a cancer) of the holiday and I love that it’s an opportunity to shower my people with love.
What was your creative process for making this song? What (or who) were you thinking of?
I produce, mix, master, etc. all of my tracks so it started out per usual: made the drum beat in my room on a random weeknight last year and laid the bass and synth elements for the chorus and worked outwards from there. Jinx was weird though – I recorded the bulk of the vocals in one session and finished it within a couple weeks whereas I usually take like 3-6 months to get through writing and recording a whole song. Something was just flowing with this track and I knew it was going to be special.
I always have a thousand reference tracks going in my head when I’m composing, but the biggest influences for Jinx were Prince, Nicolas Jaar, and Yaeji.
How do you want to make people feel when they put this song on?
I just want this to be a bop. It’s definitely the most traditionally “fun” sounding track I’ve made. I want people to vibe to this on their way to work, at the gym, driving in the car, etc. It has so much movement in it and I really hope that people can access that energy when they put it on.
Since the last project you’ve put out, how do you feel like you’ve grown as an artist?
Since I put out my EP in June, I spent the summer touring and then moved to New York, so constantly performing and DJing has really helped me evolve and gain confidence. I’ve started producing and writing a lot for other musicians, scoring films, and generally doing a lot of more behind the scenes stuff – this has been great because it is giving me the space to think deeply about what I want my Ushamami project to be/sound like, and how I want it to fit into my creative world, while still practicing my craft as a producer. Putting out this track+music video combo that is so sonically complex, danceable, and unapologetically queer feels really true to me as an artist – I’m really excited to see where this goes.
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would you tell them?
So many things… Being a late bloomer is the best… Don’t get too caught up in people who aren’t worth your time… Be patient.
I struggled so much throughout school and college with feeling so out of place and being stuck in the in-between. I feel like this is something a lot of first-gen kids go through, especially queer folks. I felt dissonance between my cultures at home and in school, between what I wanted to pursue and what I felt so much pressure to pursue, between my straight circles and queer circles. I internalized a lot of really unhealthy shit. I’m still working through all of that. I was so gay and didn’t even know it. I wish so bad I could show 17 year old Mena the jinx video and be like, yo, don’t even worry, it’s gonna work out.