Sasha Sloan On Her ‘Loser’ EP & Writing For Other Artists: Interview
After penning hits for the likes of Camila Cabello, Kygo and Charli XCX, Sasha Sloan launched her own artist project in 2018. The path from songwriter to pop star is increasingly well-travelled, but few make the journey with such a fully-fledged sense of identity and purpose. Take the titles of her two excellent EPs, Sad Girl and Loser. The 23-year-old’s music is unashamedly emo, grappling with issues like mental health and social anxiety — all while delivering punchy hooks and instantly catchy choruses.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. There is a happy-ish ending to Loser as Sasha discovers that non-toxic relationships do exist on songs like “Chasing Parties” and “Version Of Me.” I recently had the chance to catch up with the newcomer and she opened up about the darkness that pervades her music. Other topics of conversation included the possibility of releasing an album in 2019 (we might get another EP) and the difference between writing songs for herself and other artists. Get to know one of pop’s breakout stars a little better in our Q&A below.
There is a thread of misery that runs through both of your EPs. Where does that come from?
Interesting question. I don’t know. I’ve just had a lot of issues with anxiety and depression since I was born. I was always the weird kid at school, boys weren’t into me and I wasn’t one of the popular girls. I have felt like an outcast my whole life. I built this really strong foundation of low self-esteem and ever since then I’ve just been a Sad Girl.
Is your artist project a way to work through all of these emotions?
I think, maybe accidentally. I don’t know. Every song that I wrote that felt like I was just telling my story and my story is just kind of emo. So, it has been really therapeutic to put it all out there and have people relate to it. Because it makes me feel less of an outsider.
Loser is almost a (mini) concept album about trauma. Every song tackles a different shitty situation.
Pretty much. [Laughs]. I didn’t really mean to do that, but I think every song tells a different part of my life. “Faking It” is about my ex, when I looked back at that relationship, I was like, “Wow, I was really good at pretending to be happy.” And I didn’t even realize that I was pretending. “Older” is obviously about my parents and the way that I grew up. Then, “Chasing Parties” is about falling in love again. And finally being okay with yourself. There’s kind of a journey throughout the EP.
I feel like the lightest song is “Version Of Me.” It’s quasi-hopeful.
Yeah. That song definitely is a really important one for me, just the lyrics. It’s about falling in love with someone and then the three-month honeymoon ends and you start burping in front of each other. You’re like, “Can you love this?” That was a really important song for me to have on there.
You released two great EPs. Is the next step an album?
I don’t know if I’m going to do another EP next or a full album, but I have definitely started to collect some songs for it and identified what I want to write about. Because I don’t want to repeat myself. But I also want it to still feel like me.
Can you see any happier songs maybe being on the album or will you always be Sad Girl Sloan?
I think there’s always going to be a kind of sadness to it, because I think my mental health issues will stay with me for the rest of my life.
God bless, for sure. But I can’t get too happy or else I’ll have to rebrand as Glad Girl Sloan! But seriously, if it’s happy or sad or bittersweet, as long as the lyrics are honest to what I’m going through in life. I think that’s the most important thing for me.
You’re also a successful songwriter. Is the artist project your number one priority?
It’s definitely my number one priority. I never really enjoyed being a songwriter that much, honestly. It was never that rewarding for me and I never felt that I was good at it. I think I’m the best writer I can be when I’m telling my own story. And then when I start trying to tell other peoples’ stories, I don’t know if I’m as good at it as other writers are. Ever since I started releasing my own music, it’s just been so gratifying. But it’s still fun to write for other people. I’ll take whatever I can get!
There’s a whole wave of songwriters launching artist projects at the moment.
Yeah. You know, I think some people do it because they just have really personal songs that only they can sing. They don’t care if they’re famous, they just want it to be out there in the world. And then others really go for it. But it’s really cool to see everyone putting their own stuff out.
Are you inspired by the phenomenon?
It’s definitely inspiring. I think everyone has such a different journey. And everyone is a different person which makes them a very different artist.
Have you ever given away a song that you wanted to release yourself?
I mean, not really. Well… I did a sing with Kygo called “This Town” and I would have loved to have kept it. But it worked out because I still got to sing it. And before I released “Ready Yet,” I had some people interested in it and that’s when I really knew I had to just start releasing my music. Because once I felt that passionately about a song for me, I knew that it was time to just start putting my own shit out.
Let’s talk about some of your biggest cuts. What do you remember about Maggie Lindemann’s “Pretty Girl”?
I really love Maggie’s aesthetic. She’s just fucking cool. I’m really glad that it came out and she landed an amazing remix. It’s super wild and kind of weird too, because it didn’t really do anything in the US. So whenever I see how many streams it actually has, I’m like, “Okay, I think people actually heard it.”
What about Camila Cabello? “OMG” doesn’t strike me as very Sad Girl Sloan.
I mean, sometimes you’re just in a room. And you don’t do as much as the other writers do. I think aesthetically, “OMG” isn’t true to any of the writers on that song. Because it was me, Charli XCX, Noonie Bao, Camila and Stargate. I think we were honestly just having fun. We all got on the mic and just spit different things. It was cool. When I go to sessions, sometimes people are like, “Can we do an urban thing.” I’m like, “Alright. Crank the auto-tune and let’s see what the fuck happens.” Kind of similar to “Faded Love” with Tinashe. I don’t know where it comes from.
I really love Charli XCX’s “Track 10.”
Aww thanks. That was really fun to write. And we wrote it to a different beat, I think. So the production really made it sound crazier than the actual song is. But that was a fun one.
I’m pretty sure I saw that on a couple of year-end lists.
Oh really? I didn’t know that. That’s super cool. I try to avoid going online. I’m scared of getting cyber bullied. I’m just extremely neutral.
I also need to ask about “Phases” because I love Alma.
Man, I forgot about all these songs. Wow. “Phases” was really cool. Alma’s the shit. She’s such a boss. I love her swag and her confidence. It’s pretty much everything that I’m not. In one artist. Which made it really fun to be a part of their project. You know? It’s kind of like I get to live vicariously through someone else.
Have you written for anyone else lately?
I’ve been focused on Loser for the last couple months. I just did a lot with LANY and I’m going in with LP soon. Who I love. I’m mostly just focused on doing my own thing. And my upcoming tour and writing more for me. But, so far that’s who I’m excited to work with.
One last question. What was your favorite album of 2018?
Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves. It’s all I listen to.
So, when’s your country album coming?
Sooner than RCA would like. [Laughs].
Thanks so much for your time.