Sasha Sloan has realized her full potential as an alt-pop singer-songwriter, after years of threatening to do just that: Only Child, her debut album, has arrived on Friday (Oct. 16) following a promising string of song releases, including “Lie,” “Is It Just Me?” and “Hypochondriac.” After collecting millions of streams over the course of her short career, and collaborating with artists like Kygo and Meghan Trainor, the Boston native has given her candid, self-effacing brand of songwriting a full-length home. And while fans will have to wait to watch the new tracks be presented live, Sloan has recently launched a fan community forum for more personal interactions with her supporters.
To commemorate the new album release, Sloan answered Billboard’s questions about her creative process, the artist that convinced her to explore music and the advice she would give her younger self.
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
The first piece of music I bought for myself was a Queen chord book, and I played the whole thing through on piano.
2. What was the first concert you saw?
The first concert I saw was Britney Spears at the TD Garden in Boston when I was in the first grade.
3. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
Regina Spektor. She’s been a huge influence for me. She’s always marched to the beat of her own drum, which helped me realize I could do the same thing. She’s not a superstar but she has an amazing career doing what she loves on her own terms.
4. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
This might sound bad but I don’t really set goals for myself. My motto is keep your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed. Music is a tough career and you never know what’s around the corner. The fact that I can pay my bills and make music I love is all I can ask for.
5. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
I grew up in a small town that was really focused around sports. It was very cookie-cutter, and I always felt out of place. There weren’t many outlets for music so I mostly holed up alone in my bedroom and wrote songs after school. I think I always felt like an outcast because I wasn’t very athletic. At the time it made me self-conscious and introverted, which are traits I still have to this day. Having low self-esteem in high school definitely helped me become a sad girl lol.
6. What’s the last song you listened to?
“You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel.
7. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
8. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your shows?
Last year I was playing a show in Nashville and we started having some technical difficulties. I started talking to the crowd to kill time while we sorted through the issue, and then I realized there were a few dogs in the audience. One of them even had the same name as my boyfriend, which was pretty hilarious.
9. How has the pandemic affected the way you’ve created music in 2020?
Since the pandemic started I haven’t written with anyone in person or been to a studio. All my sessions are via Zoom, and anytime I record it’s all from home. Quarantine started right when I was about to make my album, so I ended up writing and recording everything from my house.
10. When was the majority of your debut album written?
I would say about 75% of my album was written during quarantine.
11. What made you decide upon the title Only Child?
I had the title “Only Child” written down in my phone for ages. I always loved it but never knew how to write it. I took it into a session with one of my favorite people (who also happens to be one of the most iconic and prolific writers of the past 50 years), Shane McAnally, and he immediately said, “It gets lonely being an only child.” From there the song poured out, and after it was finished I felt like it said a lot about who I am. Being an only child has really shaped me as a person, and I feel it’s the root of a lot of my flaws and insecurities.
12. Which artists were your biggest influences during the album’s creation?
Brandi Carlile, The Killers, Robyn, Regina Spektor, Kacey Musgraves, Eva Cassidy, Jewel, Macy Gray.
13. Which song on the album was the hardest for you to finish?
The hardest song for me to finish was “Santa’s Real.” It’s the first song I’ve written alone in a while, so it took me a few days to nail the lyrics. Cracking the production on that was tough too. I wrote it on guitar and I wanted it to feel less folky and more like you just took a massive edible and turned on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. So yeah, it was a little harder to get right lol.
14. How does the fan community forum you recently created work, and why did you decide to create it?
The forum is a way for my fans and me to have an open dialogue. I wanted to create a space where people can open up to me about something they’re going through, share their poetry or just say hi. I noticed a lot of fans DM’ing me on Instagram or Twitter sharing their art or telling me about something they were going through, which inspired me to create the forum.
15. How do you plan to spend the day that Only Child is released?
I would love to say I‘ll be doing something cool, but realistically I’ll be playing PGA Tour 2K21 and drinking margaritas.
16. What’s your karaoke go-to?
“Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus.
17. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
Without fail, Forrest Gump. It always has me bawling my eyes out.
18. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
If I weren’t a musician I’d be f–ked. Half-kidding! I genuinely have no other skill sets though, so I honestly don’t know what I would be… maybe a teacher?
19. What’s one thing about you that even your most devoted fans don’t know?
One thing that no one knows about me is that I despise seafood. I once threw up on a flight because someone next to me was eating a tuna sandwich. Good times.
20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
One piece of advice I would give my younger self is don’t be so hard on yourself. Stop counting calories and jump in the pool. Stop dying your hair – your natural color is pretty. Stop caring what people around you think, because if you try to please everyone, you’ll never please yourself.