Emotional, nostalgic and sad. Those are the 3 words Sasha Sloan would use to describe her music if you haven’t heard it before… and if you haven’t, it’s time you did. The 24-year-old L.A-based singer-songwriter is currently touring with her latest EP, ‘Loser’, which was released in the Fall of 2018. The project features a collection of beautifully written songs about life’s tougher moments – the breakups, family dysfunctions and social anxieties.
A true musical talent, Sloan was studying at Berklee College of Music before she was offered a publishing deal at just 19-years-old. She went on to write songs for big names in music like Camilla Cabello, John Legend and Steve Aoki. She also co-wrote the song “This Town” with Kygo, which was featured on his EP, ‘Stargazing’.
Loser is Sloan’s second EP. She first debuted her solo work in early 2018 with her Sad Girl EP. Sad Girl features the single, “Ready Yet”, which gained 16 million streams on Spotify alone. Sloan’s music is categorically pop, but her songs encapsulate elements of EDM, rock and folk.
We sat down with Sasha before her recent Toronto show at The Velvet Underground. Here’s what she shared about her creative process, personal branding and current tour.
Winslow: You've already had such a really successful career in music. How does it feel now to be finally headlining your own tour?
Sasha: I think it’s mixed emotions. As a writer for other people I was like, “ok cool, here’s a song.. you go promote it, you go tour.” I got to stay home, sit on my couch, play video games and smoke weed… Now I’m doing it myself, which is honestly so much more rewarding. I think when I was writing for other people, it’s not that I didn’t care about the songs, it’s just they weren’t my story, so I wasn’t fully as invested or as connected to them as I am with my own songs. I think it’s just completely different. It’s crazy to live something, and write about it and have people show up because they went through it too. I think that’s the whole point of doing music. Releasing my own stuff has been way more cathartic and rewarding than I ever could have expected it to be.
W: This is your second EP you've released. How do you feel like the two projects are similar or different? Do you feel like you had a different approach going into Loser than you did with Sad Girl?
S: Yeah, I think Sad Girl was me trying to figure out who I was…it was more of a blue print. Like, “ok, do I want to have songs with drops in them?” I think as a writer, I didn’t really know what sound I wanted yet, cause you know, I do write EDM music and folk music and I was trying to combine them all. I think Loser is much more honed in. I really got to take time to focus on me and think about what I’ve been through… and get weirder with it. I think with Sad Girl I was like, “if I don’t write straight pop songs, everyone’s going to hate me.” And then [with Loser] I got to do stuff like “The Only”, which was kind of experimental and kind of ‘rock’.
W: Over the past 2 years, there's been a huge surge of emerging artists in indie and pop music. In that environment, how do you differentiate yourself?
S: I think the only way to be different is by being yourself. I was trying to be different I wouldn’t be… if that makes sense? I don’t really think about being different – I just think about the songs. I know a lot of artists focus on branding and are like, “oh, maybe you should dye your hair purple and that’ll be your thing. I’ve kind of just accepted the fact that I’m me and I’m just going to keep living life, and fucking up and writing about it.
W: Loser opens up about real emotions and personal issues like dysfunctional family matters. What was your song writing process on this EP?
S: I think with Loser, it was really organic because I was fresh out of a breakup. I mean, it was fresh as hell, so it was almost hard not to write. I don’t put any pressure on myself to write a song in a day, and I think that’s a common misconception with songwriters – like “oh, I wrote this song in 30 minutes so that means it’s awesome.” It sort of becomes a competition. I like to come up with hooks and ideas, and if I get struck on a verse then I let the song breathe and then I come back to it a week later when I’ve forgotten what it sounds like. Then I have fresh ears, and I can say “ok, I know what it needs now.” It’s hard to do that when you’re writing for other people because you have such a limited amount of time with [the songs]. But when it’s for me, it’s no pressure. I want the process to be fun.. I wrote a lot of [Loser] with my boyfriend, and all friends really, and family.
W: If you had to pick your favourite song on Loser, which one would it be?
S: I think my favourite song on Loser is "Again”. I was in New Mexico with my boyfriend visiting his parents and we had both taken a massive edible. We had both just been through breakups and we’d both been with people for a very long time, and it wasn’t right. We wrote that song, and we both listened to it when the demo was done and started crying. I’ve never had something I’ve written actually make me cry. It was a really strange feeling… I was like, “is it really narcissistic that I’m crying to my own song?” But I think it just brought up a lot of things, and it was basically everything that I wanted to say to my ex that I never got to.
See Sasha Sloan live at any of her upcoming tour dates.