WASI's 'Bleed Pop' EP is Guaranteed To Make You Smile: Billboard Premiere

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The promising quartet talks finding their sound, covering INXS and not being considered 'good-enough lesbians' in their scene.

WASI, the four-piece riot pop project founded by Orange County natives Merilou "Cosmo" Salazar and Jessie Meehan, are the type of band that requires just a few minutes to win over an unfamiliar listener with its sturdy melodies, sun-drenched arrangements and wholly inviting attitude. The group's debut EP, Bleed Pop, is the culmination of nearly a decade's worth of musical collaboration between Salazar and Meehan, and its five songs hint at an extremely bright future for the Los Angeles-based newcomers.

Bleed Pop will be officially released next Tuesday (May 19), but stream the debut EP exclusively on Billboard.com below:

Nine years ago, Salazar approached Meehan during a high school class and asked if she wanted to start a band, after hearing that she owned a bass. Salazar had booked a local gig on a whim, and needed Meehan to help her quickly learn a bunch of INXS covers for the show.

"We had two-and-a-half weeks to learn these INXS songs, but at some point we realized, 'Why are we doing this? We might as well just write our own songs,'" Meehan recalls. "We wrote an hour's worth of shitty punk songs and called ourselves the Midol Poppers."

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The duo spent the following years trying to commit to an original sound, eventually moving to Los Angeles and gravitating toward the restriction-free DIY scene associated with venues like The Smell. After struggling to find an identity, Salazar and Meehan gradually embraced the high-energy pop of Matt & Kim in their own tunes, even if it didn't fit in with what was expected of them from their scene.

"It was hard to find an area where we fit into, and we tried so hard for so many years to fit into a certain group or category, and we never really did," Meehan explains. Salazar adds, "Originally, Jess and I were doing a duo, and it was getting really frustrating. It was like, 'Oh, two lesbians' -- people were automatically categorizing us, like we should be playing guitars in coffee shops. We were never like that. And because we were a little bit punkier, we were sort of considered not good-enough lesbians, I guess?"

The pair added Dylan Robin and Garrett Harney -- two friends from UCLA -- on guitar and drums, respectively, and WASI (an acronym for 'We Are/She Is') was rounded out as a four-piece. The group has played with acts like K. Flay and on last year's Vans Warped Tour, and Meehan says that they will continue to play shows in the LGBT scene while writing songs for the Bleed Pop follow-up. The WASI members have taken part in rallies and pride festivals, work with non-profits like To Write Love on Her Arms and Keep-a-Breast, and will head down to Tijuana later this month to perform and film interviews with members of the DIY community as part of an upcoming documentary.

"We're trying to find these communities of people who are, in many cases, marginalized," says Harey. "Through our music and personalities, we want to bring the spotlight on these communities and provide a place for people to get together and be themselves, without judgment."

Along with this week's Tijuana show, WASI will be performing across California this spring and summer -- check out the tour dates below:

May 16: La Nueva Bodega Aragon Tijuana, BC
May 22: The Smell Los Angeles, Calif.
June 5: Slidebar - Fullerton, Calif.
June 6: The Art Parlour Riverside, Calif.
July 18: San Diego Pride San Diego, Calif.