Boston-native Sasha Alex Sloan is taking over the music scene with talent and wisdom

PHOTOS: David O’Donohue
INTERVIEW: Jasmine Perrier

This feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.16, available now in digital and print worldwide

It was 9AM in Nashville when Sasha Alex Sloan appeared on Zoom from her home in Tennesse where she has recently moved in — she was just waking up, as she gently mentions it with a glass of coffee in her hand. Born to Russian-Irish parents in Boston, the singer-songwriter who refers to herself as “sad girl” — which inspired the name of her first EP released in 2018 — is the artist to have on your radar. “We are gonna try this out — if it works, it works. If it doesn’t by the time I’m 25, I’m coming back home and finishing college,” she told herself when she got a publishing offer at 19, decided to drop out of her music business studies, and moved to Los Angeles. Now that the pivotal age is reached and she climbs up charts with her emotional and honest songs, she can look back on her journey with a sense of accomplishment. Whereas the pandemic led her to postpone her tour, which included a show at Coachella, she has used her free time to finish up her upcoming debut album Only Child — coming this fall.

On being bitten by the music bug…

“I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My mom’s side isn’t musical in the sense of professionals, but they all love music. My grandfather plays the violin so I’ve always had singing and playing guitar around me. I grew up with a lot of pop music playing, country music. Then my mom had this piano in our apartment in South Boston — I started playing it and singing. […] I’m the first artist in my family so far — I’m definitely the black sheep [laughs].”

On moving from Boston to Los Angeles at 19 to pursue her musical aspirations…

“I didn’t know anyone in LA, or anyone legit in the business. I was just like, ‘This is my one chance.’ I didn’t want to be a songwriter for every people, I didn’t even know it was a job because I was always writing songs just for me. I was so excited to move in there, but it was harder than I thought it would be. I was alone and I couldn’t even buy a drink because I was 19. […] When I moved to LA, I was working at a gym every day — I remember listening to Spotify playlists, being at the front desk, and being like, ‘If there’s ever a day, that I don’t have to work at this gym, I’m writing songs that are making this playlist, and I can pay my own rent — I would be so happy.’ Slowly but surely it happened, and I started getting songs on those playlists as a writer or an artist even, and I got my first apartment. I was like, ‘I’m officially a full-time musician.’ I was 21 or 22. It might even still be cooler than winning a Grammy, if I ever win a Grammy [laughs].”

On her artistic evolution…

“Working with different artists and seeing how the system works really allowed me to be myself, and figure out who I was as an artist — helping people write songs that were full of help really made me not be scared to go fully into the ‘sad girl’ territory. I don’t think the music I release would be the same if I didn’t have that experience beforehand. […] In the beginning, I was making music that was independent, so that was really scary because I was funding everything myself and I didn’t have any money [laughs]. When I wrote ‘Older’ about my parents being divorced, I had no idea that was gonna be my biggest song because it’s so niche. I think this new album [Only Child] is the most creative work I’ve ever done. I feel it’s actually who I am as a person. Now I’m at a point where I’m a little less scared and more like, ‘This is my project. I’m going to make music I like.’” 

On impacting people and her biggest fear of becoming an artist…

“I’m not trying to be like a superstar. That’s actually my biggest fear because the more attention, the more anxiety I get. […] The scariest for me was being in photographs and videos, having to really look at myself. I have avoided the camera my whole life [laughs]. These thoughts haven’t gone away — they got a little better. I got a little more confident, then I started playing shows, I gained more fans. […] Last tour, I started doing meet and greets — the first person I met was this woman in a wheelchair with her daughter’s 8th grade. She has turned really ill and the song that made her come to terms with it was ‘smiling when i die.’ It was a super intense moment. And when you perform songs all the time, it becomes dead inside a little bit [laughs], but I saw them in the audience that night, crying. I think I do forget how much it impacts certain people.”

On creating during quarantine and hopes for the future…

“I have so much free time and I have been finishing up the album — it’s gonna happen eventually. I keep bumping the day back [laughs], but the first single is out in August. It’s been great, but this year is so heavy. Especially in the US with the election, it’s kind of all of it at once. It’s hard for me to write a song about how I feel about my body in a time like this. I’ve actually not been writing that much, because that’s something that I find pointless. I feel like there are bigger issues going on. […] I hope this pandemic ends [laughs]. I guess that’s what I’m hoping for right now, but I’m really hoping to keep getting fans. My motto is: ‘If I can get a fan a day, then I’m doing something right.’ I hope that I keep getting to release music I love. I work with a label I love and they get who I am — not everyone is in that position.”

Lie” from debut album Only Child can now be streamed on streaming platforms
Full story appears in Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.16. Purchase your digital or print copy!


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