Whether you’re familiar with the name Sasha Sloan or not, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard her work infiltrate the culture. After penning pop songs for stars like Camila Cabello (“Never Be The Same”), Katy Perry (“Cry About It Later”), Charli XCX (“Track 10”) and more, the singer-songwriter is now stepping into her own as a solo artist with the release of ‘Only Child’ today, her debut studio album.
Having had the chance to listen to the LP in full ahead of our interview, it’s clear that ‘Only Child’ was worth the hustle Sloan has put in over the years. A mix of pop, folk, Americana and more, Sloan‘s debut reflects her talent for crafting a heavenly pop hook without sacrificing the X-factor qualities that originally attracted major labels. It’s a rare debut project that sounds so self-assured and singular in its vision that it could’ve been someone’s fourth, fifth or 20th project.
Fans of the country stylings of Kacey Musgraves or the indie/bedroom pop aesthetic of Clairo will find much to love on ‘Only Child,’ but Sloan has also managed to carve out her own lane with lyrics that are refreshingly straightforward and moving. Pop Crave caught up with the 25-year-old California-native to chat more about her journey to this debut LP, how her experience as a pop ghostwriter shaped her music taste, the power of Reddit and much more.
Congratulations on the album! I’m really loving it, and I feel like I understand the vision behind it all which is rare for a debut album.
Thank you! That’s so sweet. It’s giving me so much anxiety (laughs).
Anxiety over releasing it?
Yeah (laughs). I get nervous when it’s not out. And the closer it gets to being out, the more anxious I become. Thank you so much for listening to it. I’m really glad you liked it, that’s like the greatest compliment ever.
It’s so good, and reminds me of artists I love like Clairo & SZA in certain ways sonically/lyrically. I only draw that comparison because I think they’re so singular in their vision
Thank you. I think I’m too close to it at this point. I’ve listened to it so many times that I can’t even tell anymore. But thank you so much, I love both of those girls!
That’s a real things with artists. My roommate is a musician and he tells me the same thing all the time
Your roommate and I are on the same page! (laughs)
Is there a defining song on this album for you? My favorites are “Only Child” & “Lie” right now
That’s tricky. The whole thing I tried to make really multi-faceted and make sure that when you listen to a certain song you take away the story I was trying to sell. I would say it’s “High School Me.” That’s one of the first songs I wrote for the album and it’s one of the first songs that I had the vision for.
I didn’t make the rest of the album around it, but it was a defining moment. I was like, ‘this is what I want to talk about, this is how I want to be vulnerable.’ It’s a very special song to me, it’s giving my high school self a hug.
You started out as a songwriter, correct?
I did. I have a weird story about how I got into songwriting. I was a freshman at Berkeley College of Music, I was there for business. I didn’t think I was good enough to do music and I had no connections, I was just a really jaded 19-year-old.
My parents painted the outside of our house, and outside of my bedroom window they painted this arrow pointing to it with the word “dork.” I took a picture of that, posted it on Reddit, and went to sleep that night. When I woke up in the morning, it had gone completely viral, it was on the front page of Reddit. It had become a meme, it was on all these websites.
I commented my SoundCloud link in the comments. Two weeks later I got an email from this guy, they said they wanted to give me a publishing deal as a songwriter in LA. So I dropped out, moved to LA, then I started working at coffee shops and grinding really hard. I was trying to figure out how to write pop music – I came from a folk, Americana background. I didn’t even know songwriting was a thing for other people, I thought every artist wrote their songs!
That’s something I’m learning more about too with ghost writers, I was so naive at first!
Right! I was like, wait, huh!? It was a total whirlwind, I had a lot of catching up to do. And then I just started meeting writers I liked working with, and then slowly getting a cut here and there.
Your Spotify monthly listeners have doubled to over 10 MILLION in the past two years. What has that trajectory been like?
It’s interesting. I don’t feel like I’ve had THE viral moment, but that’s not the kind of music I make anyways. When I started putting music out as an artist, I was independent. I never had any intention of really doing it. It was more so like, ‘hey I have these songs I love, and I don’t really want anyone else to sing them, so I will!’
It’s just been really slow and organic, and natural, I’ve just been doing it on my own terms. I continue to release songs I’m really proud of – I guess a lot has happened in past two years, but it’s felt so slow in a way. My motto is a fan a day.
I’ve been super lucky to also have great streaming and support from Apple Music and Spotify. I just feel lucky.
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That’s the cool thing about the internet, especially Reddit. They’re way more engaged than most platforms – do you look at Reddit Pop Heads ever?
I’m obsessed with Reddit Pop Heads! I’m obsessed with Reddit in general. I feel like discussions on Reddit are the civil version of Twitter. I feel like everyone is relatively respectful, and they actually care. Reddit is awesome.
I’m glad you like Reddit, because I want to post this to Pop Heads! I’m literally just learning how to post on there.
Oh wow, I will comment!
Do it! I think fans will definitely engage if you slide into the comments, I’m excited.
I’ve definitely lurked and commented before. I’ll be doing it again (laughs). Have you ever heard of ATRL.net??
Oh my gosh yes…that’s where legends are born!
ATRL is one my favorite forums! As a songwriter, that’s honestly where I find a lot of songs.
album out now I think I might puke lol link in bio pic.twitter.com/56PHm4dil6
— Sasha Sloan (@sadgirlsloan) October 16, 2020
Those are my favorite type of artists, the ones engage with fan bases. It really works when it’s genuine! That’s my advice to every artist I meet
I love doing that stuff, I love interacting with people. It’s the whole point of releasing music, and thanking people for connecting.
Do it!! And your motto, “a fan a day,” is so real. When you interact and show genuine love to supporters, it’s like planting seeds everywhere you go.
100 percent. And it’s not even trying to become a mega superstar, but my dream is to one day play the House of Blues to a sold out show for people who want to be there really badly. That’s always been the goal. Even with my favorite artists, like Regina Spektor, she’s not performing in huge stadiums because she’s not that kind of artist.
Sasha Sloan via social media
I really believe smaller artists have certain advantages over big industry names in a pandemic, even though it looks bleak right now. Did ‘Only Child’ get pushed back because of COVID?
I think I started writing this in January. I was supposed to go on tour in March, but that got canceled. It just gave me more time to write. There was a moment where I was like, ‘wow, I don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last.’ I was quarantined in my house and hoping to go to a studio. So we talked about pushing it back, waiting, and I thought, ‘why wait?’ Who cares, and who knows how long this will last?’
I ended up making the whole album at home. I think it worked to my advantage actually. I ended up living in my own world and I got to create my own thing. I wasn’t really talking or speaking to anyone. I kind of just did my own thing, I think it ended up being cool, as opposed to this process of going to studio with a bunch of songwriters.
Exactly! Did you ever do songwriting camps?
I’ve been dying to learn more about songwriting camps – I had a friend who did them
When I’m just using my songwriter side and it’s not for me, then I’m down for a camp. But when I’m writing for me, it’s a really small group of people. For this album I can count on my hand how many people worked on it. There’s just people who really understand me, they’re not trying to come in and write a smash – they’re trying to help me tell my story.
I think I only worked with five people on this album. They all feel like family, which is especially important. I never felt like I had to be something I”m not when I’m around them.
Only five people! Wow. You’re also not afraid to dabble in real dance music, which is unique considering your singer/songwriter sound. Who are your pop influences?
I would say Robyn, I’m obsessed with her. It’s interesting because I grew up loving Folk Americana, but I also loved One Direction. Once I moved to LA I learned how to write pop music. When I write a song I’m often I torn between wanting to make a super weird song, or like a pop song. It’s always finding the balance for me, because I kind of learned how to do both.
Robyn does it so well. All her lyrics and melodies are sad, and her production makes you want to dance. That’s something that’s always made me obsessed with her. I don’t know if The Killers are particularly pop, but that’s another thing I love about them. They create this emotion, like I want to cry and run at same time.
I made an inspiration playlist for this album, and they were all on it, including One Direction.
The way you described Robyn’s music, I get that exact feeling with Lorde’s “Green Light.” It’s one of those songs where I’m like, I don’t know how to dance to this, but my body needs to vibrate.
It’s so crazy you mentioned that. My boyfriend and I just listened to the entire ‘Melodrama’ album yesterday! I forgot how much “Green Light” and “Homemade Dynamite” slap.
Totally! 2017 was the summer of SZA & Lorde, their albums came out within a month of each other. It was THE summer!
(laughs) Back in simpler times!
And Lorde is just thriving in New Zealand while we’re in this American pandemic
I wish I was in New Zealand right now
Same. Meanwhile I’m in Michigan. It’s kind of insane over here, people tried to kidnap our governor
I have friends in Michigan! I try not to watch the news, it makes my blood boil and it’s so dark. But Michigan is so beautiful, and weed is legal there (laughs). I think I need to make a trip.
It’s on every street corner now – so wild. It makes me think of your lyrics off “Is It Just Me?” when you sing, “I think marijuana’s classy, and doing coke is trashy.”
Weed can definitely be classy. I remember going to so many LA parties and cocaine was everywhere, I’m a total pussy when it comes to drugs. I guess I smoke weed, but that’s it. Coke scares the shit out of me!
Cocaine isn’t cute period. A lot of what you’re saying comes back to playing the long game in music, something I perceived with your rollout. Do you have a road map for how you’re promoting ‘Only Child’ in this pandemic?
My manager and I and RCA sat down to talk about how can we make this meaningful since it’s my debut album. We agreed on doing a couple singles, these are the singles that I love which I why we picked them.
I’m so lucky to have a team that trusts me, because it’s not like that for a lot of artists. We’re just figuring out how to do videos safely. I think it’s actually been really strategic, everything we’ve done has been planned a month or two in advance.
I really, really wanted to drop the song “Hypochondriac” on its own. I threw it in last minute as a promo single. But besides that, it’s all been really thought out. I’m impatient, I want to put the whole thing out at once, but I know it’s not a great tactic.
“Hypochondriac” is another example of why I love your songwriting, especially the “inhaler” line. Are you going to make a music video for it?
We’re not, but we’re making a video for “Matter To You” and it’s next single on the album. It’s coming out with the album!
We’re so excited to see the new video and share this album with Pop Crave followers, for real!
I’m honored, thank you so much for having me. I’ve been obsessed with Pop Crave for a minute! This interview is like my actual blue check mark.
Stream Sasha Sloan’s debut album, ‘Only Child,’ on Spotify: