The 405 recently premiered the video for Asha Ali's latest single, 'Words', which is the kind of song everyone and their pop-loving kith and kin should be all over like butter on sizzling crumpets.

Truth be told, there's much, much more where 'Words' came from on Ali's second long-player, Loud and Out of Place. We are particularly excited, for example, about her next single from the album, 'Go The Distance', which would have made an incredible kick-off/comeback release for Mutya Keisha Siobhan. In a world with planets deservedly aligned, the single and album should get Ali the international attention she deserves.

We decided to go and explore Ali's musical influences with her on a record-shopping escapade in Pet Sounds, Stockholm's prime purveyor of music. And you know what? She was like a kid in a toyshop, her eyes visibly lighting up with delight as she found each of her five artist choices, below.


The Knife

Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
"I came across Deep Cuts much later than everyone else, as I normally do [laughs]. It was so new and so fresh to me but, at the same time, the music had an old feeling to it without that sounding like a production tool. It was just two people being honest, musically. I like their integrity. They do what they want, the way they want to. Karin, as a female artist and songwriter, is an inspiration to me. And the songs are so amazing. My favourite one has to be 'Heartbeats'. It's epic. It's so sad and so beautiful."


Joni Mitchell

Pet Sounds: Asha Ali "I started listening to Joni when I was 19 and Blue was introduced to me by an old boyfriend's mother. I remember listening to it and being blown away by the way she wrote her lyrics and her melodies but also by her freedom - she was not bound by one particular form. She is so poetic and I relate to what she means, you know - being able to make sense of what she sings about, out of my own experiences. I sing along to her often when I'm washing the dishes or something and my son would say 'shut up, I'm trying to watch TV!'. And I'd go, 'you can't say shut up when there is singing in our house!' [laughs]. She is definitely an inspiration and a strength-giver to me. My favourite song on Blue is 'All I Want'. I also love 'A Case Of You'. That's an amazing song. Oh, and 'My Old Man'! Actually, I guess every song on that album is my favourite one [laughs]."


Jeff Buckley

Pet Sounds: Asha Ali "This one's a life-changer. When Grace came out, at that point I hadn't listened to Joni Mitchell, yet. With my taste in music I would describe myself as a 'late-bloomer'. I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop because my brothers loved hip-hop so I knew a lot more about it than I did about other genres. I didn't know what I liked. I knew what they liked. But a friend of mine had read about Jeff Buckley's death in the newspaper and so she checked out his music and then I listened to the album with her. I hadn't heard anything like it before. I knew that this was the kind of music I wanted to make. Like Joni, the music is free in its form, it's poetic and something settled in my soul when I listened to that album. 'Dream Brother' is a song that I really love. The song is, I think, about his father. One of the darkest and saddest songs I have ever heard. The way he builds it up gives me goosebumps."


Madonna

Pet Sounds: Asha Ali "I was 7 years old when I heard 'Live To Tell' for the first time. I was living in Uganda at the time with my family. It was a couple of years before I moved to Sweden. My mother took me and my sister to a friend's house. They had a TV, which we didn't have. Their relatives from Canada had sent them these VHS tapes with music videos on them. 'Live To Tell' came on. The opening of the song is so dramatic with the synth line. I remember everything becoming quiet around me - it was just me and the TV. I was so profoundly affected by the song and also the video for it. Everything about it. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. When I moved to Sweden a couple of years later it was still stuck in my head. I was at home and it came on the radio and I couldn't believe it. I was like, 'oh my god, it's that song!'. What I feel for music today came from that feeling the song gave me. I have kept it inside me since then."


Nina Simone

Pet Sounds: Asha Ali "Nina Simone is, for me, a place to go when I need to come home and I don't know what I'm doing or why I'm doing it and feel the need to centre myself. The way the lyrics tell a story or an emotion is just so special. Her struggles and her pains are in all of it. I love her. I wish she was my mother. I love my mother but I wish I had Nina Simone as a mother too [laughs]. Actually, maybe she would have made a terrible mother. Maybe I wouldn't like her as much [laughs]. Also, as a black woman making pop music in a predominantly white genre it can be a little difficult sometimes, especially in a country like Sweden. Very few artists are of colour. I think with me and my music, a lot of people don't know where to place me because I don't have a super-souly voice and I don't perform R&B music. So people don't know how to categorise me. I think that makes things harder. Most of my influences are pop. Where I come from musically is pop. I love pop music and that's where my heart is. But that surprises people because of their expectations. I don't think it's a race issue but more about people's need to pigeon-hole you and your music."


Loud and Out of Place is out on Hybris today (19 November in Sweden).

Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali
Pet Sounds: Asha Ali