When I was in middle school music meant everything to me. Everyday I would come home from school and put on one of my favorite CDs. I would lie there, starring at the ceiling, soaking in every word, like a member of a congregation being cleansed by a priest’s sermon. Lately though, I haven’t been taking in music the way I used to. It’s always on in the background; it’s never the focus of my attention.
This epiphany occurred to me the other day, when I first heard “Runaway.” For the first time in a while, I stopped and really took in the song. Drive fast with the Beatles in the background; Tell ‘em take the 101 out of this town; I was never one to say goodbye. This singer cared too much and unlike a lot of other pop stars, she wasn’t afraid to admit it. Instead of cloaking her feelings in bravado and beats, she owned up to them. That was the beauty of it—by opening up about her most vulnerable feelings, this singer was getting me to actually pay attention.
Sasha Sloan began writing music when she was only ten years old and was discovered at the age of 18 when one of her Reddit posts went viral. She added a link to her soundcloud in the comments, and soon after the same executives who signed Bruno Mars, were reaching out to sign her.
Sloan then moved out to LA to start her career as a professional songwriter. She began penning lyrics for major pop artists like Dua Lipa, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello, while simultaneously doing vocal tracks for popular EDM DJ’s like Kaskade, ODESZA and Kygo. But even with all these accolades, Sloan was hesitant to start a solo career.
When she wrote, “Ready Yet,” a track about her complicated relationship, or lack thereof, with her Dad, she knew it was time to finally take the leap. The song hit too close to home to give away to any other artist. And so, just like that, Sloan finally began debuting her own work. Her debut EP, sad girl, speaks to moments of personal heartbreak, isolation and desolation, that many of us 20 something’s can relate to. Her follow up EP, loser, released today, somehow manages to dive even deeper into those emotions
How did the making of this EP differ from your experience with sad girl?
When I made sad girl, I had never performed live before. I was in the studio for a while, so I wasn't really thinking about what it would sound like live. With this new EP, I’ve been on the road and done more shows. I had a clear vision of what my live show would sound like with the music that I was writing. I had a lot more time to focus on me and what I wanted to say. It’s just as personal, I just thought about making it a little more.
What experiences were informing your songwriting for this EP?
sad girl was a lot about my breakup with my ex. This new EP touches upon a lot of different parts of my life. “The Only” is about when I moved to LA and I was really scared and lonely and didn’t know what to do. “Older” is about my parents getting divorced and how I dealt with that growing up. “Version of Me” is about falling in love with someone new, and opening up to them and letting them see the vulnerable parts of me that no one else sees. I think it’s multi-faceted. It isn’t just about one relationship, it’s about a lot of different relationships in my life.
“Chasing Parties” is a love song, but it’s developed through your reflection on a darker past. Can you take me through the story behind it?
I think when I was in my last relationship I was really unhappy, and I didn’t really know why. I didn’t want to admit to myself, but it was because of the last relationship I was in. I just started going out to avoid being home. When we did breakup eventually I was just out partying and ignoring my issues. Then I met my boyfriend and we fell in love and I was like ‘Damn I don't want to go out. I just want to sit with you at our apartment and watch TV and make dinner.’
What is it like dating King Henry, who is someone you frequently collaborate with?
Henry and I have been friends for a couple years before we started dating. We’ve always just written really well together, and I think for a while we were like ‘Oh no we shouldn't date. This is going to ruin our working relationship and make everything super awkward,’ and it didn’t. It actually made me more comfortable. I write the best with him because he knows me on a deeper level than anyone else. He produced every song on the new EP and wrote them all with me too.
What has this past year been like, stepping out into the spotlight and getting so much positive feedback?
I don’t know. I honestly don't think about it. I’m just so focused on my music. When I started putting out music, I didn’t really care if anyone listened to it or not. I was just doing it for my soul, because I had something to say and I wanted it to be out there. I think that was another really important approach I had for this EP. I can’t overthink whether or not it’s going to react on Spotify, or whether people are going to like it. I just have to say what I’m feeling. If I do that, and one person out there likes it, then I feel like I’ve done a good job. I just keep being me and try not to put too much pressure on myself. From my lens, I’m always just going to be a weirdo who doesn’t really have fans.
This year, “Never Be the Same,” a song you co-wrote with Camila Cabello, has been a chart topper. I remember reading that Camila wrote it about the idea of liking someone so much. For you, did it go a bit deeper?
You usually have three or four people in a room when you write a song, and I think for every person in the room, that song has a different meaning. Just like when you hear it on the radio, no one’s going to think of the same person. So, for Camila, at that time in her life she didn’t have a boyfriend and she was just creating. I was in love with someone at the time, and when we wrote that I was thinking about them. The other co-writer, Noonie Bao, probably had someone else in mind. I think songs are cool in that way, because they mean different things for different people. Camila is an amazing writer and I just got really lucky to be there and help her out.
I really love that young female artists are supporting each other so much right now!
I think everyone just wants to support each other. Everyone knows how hard it is to write a great song. I don’t think anyone is really counting who did what. If you're in the room, you’re a part of it. Sometimes I’m in a room with an artist and I end up writing most of the song, but it doesn't matter. And vice versa. It’s just about your vibe, the song might not have been created if you weren't there.
Do you think you’ll want to continue collaborating with other artists?
I’ve been talking about doing a couple collaborations recently and I think for me it’s all about the song. That’s all I care about. I just don’t want songs to be pitched to me and have to do a collaboration that's forced. I’d rather just have a session with someone. They could be a superstar, or they could be no one, and I’d put it out. It’s just about the music for me.
What’s been the coolest response to one of your songs?
I remember when I did my first headline show in Boston. I had this girl come up to me and she was like ‘I listened to Runaway when I broke up with my boyfriend and that song helped me so much,’ and she started crying and she was like ‘That song make me feel like I wasn't alone.’ I‘ve been doing music professionally for the past four years, so I forgot what it was like to feel affected by music like I did when I was fourteen. You go and you buy albums, and you listen to it on repeat, and the artist you love means so much to you. I kind of forgot what that feeling was like. Once you're’ doing it professionally, you kind of just forget the magic of it a little bit. To be reminded of that, was surreal.