Sasha Alex Sloan is in a great place. Physically, she’s calling in from sunny Los Angeles, where she has spent the last few weeks in a cocoon of songwriting sessions and, in her own words, was busy “letting the creative juices flow again.” Personally, she’s happily engaged. And professionally? Her sophomore album, I Blame the World, is finally done.
When she speaks to StyleCaster over Zoom, Sloan is just days away from the record’s release, which arrived ever-auspiciously on a Friday the 13th in May 2022 via RCA Records. “I just realized that the other day,” she says of the date, joking, “If it goes horribly, we’ll know why.” It’s a characteristic comment coming from the 27-year-old, whose wry humor and penchant for self-deprecation both serve as driving forces on her new album, and her life in general.
Born Alexandra Artourovna Yatchenko, Sloan was raised in a Boston suburb as an only child. When she was a kid, Sloan spent her days playing piano and performing original songs in local talent shows. “I was obsessed with writing,” she shares. “I remember people were like, ‘Oh, I love your voice.’ And I was like, ‘I know, but did you like the song?’ All my favorite artists growing up—Jewel, Amy Winehouse, Regina Spektor, Brandi Carlile—I just felt like they were telling their life stories. I fell in love with that.” But Sloan never imagined she’d get to write songs for a living like these artists. “I’m very cynical, if you can’t tell,” she says, in a nod to her moody discography. It was Sloan’s mother, she reveals, who “really encouraged” her to pursue music seriously.
Life is multifaceted and songs can be, too.
“I remember her buying a Mac computer and learning Garageband, and then teaching me how to use it,” Sloan recalls. “Yes, she’s the best mom ever. That’s when I really got into writing my own songs, back in high school.” Armed with the support of her parents, Sloan would go on to attend Berklee College of Music for a year before landing a publishing deal (off of Reddit, no less—a story which we’ll dive into more below) and dropping out to move to L.A.
Sloan spent the next few years racking up songwriting credits on songs by the likes of Kygo, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello, before making her solo debut with her EP, Sad Girl, in 2018. Since then, Sloan has released a pair of EPs—2018’s Loser and 2019’s Self-Portrait—and dropped her first studio album, Only Child, in 2020. She’s also moved to Nashville, where all songwriters go to thrive.
While everything is looking up for Sloan on paper, I Blame the World is far more interested in the messier parts of life—like the awkward fumbles of adulthood, which Sloan dives into on her track “Adult,” or the crushing weight of toxic positivity, as she describes on the cheekily titled “Live Laugh Love.” Sloan remembers going through a process of personal interrogation when she first started working on the record. “What do I have to say?” she asked herself. “I really wanted to come at it from that angle. I always try to challenge myself and remind myself that life is multifaceted and songs can be, too.”
“I realized what I was really feeling was depression,” Sloan adds. “People make whole albums about breakups. Why can’t I make a whole album about being depressed? Once I figured that out, I ran with it and I wrote a bunch of songs for this album.” Sloan’s debut record, Only Child, waded into similar, “sad girl” territory. But this time around, I Blame the World has a caustic edge to its sadness. “I went from sad girl to mad girl,” Sloan says, which is understandable for anyone who has survived the last few years and made it to 2022.
Up ahead, Sloan talks more about her new album, her upcoming North American tour and, yes, the viral moment that seemingly sparked her career. Keep on reading for Sasha Alex Sloan’s full “On the Record” interview with StyleCaster below.
On landing a publishing deal from a meme
“When I was a senior in high school, my parents were painting the outside of our house and I was at a sleepover. When I came back the next day, they’d finished all of the house except for my window. They had painted “dork” with an arrow pointing to my window on the front of the house. And I was like, “Wow.” So I took a photo of it, didn’t think anything of it. Then while I was at Berklee, my friend was like, ‘Hey, have you ever been on Reddit?’ And I was like, ‘No, what’s that?’ He was like, ‘Oh, it’s this thing. I think your photo would do really well on there. It’s really funny.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, whatever.’
I posted the photo. Then I woke up the next morning, and it had gone completely viral. It was number one on the front page of Reddit and all these websites, I think it was on BuzzFeed or something. So I posted my SoundCloud at the time in the comments, and then like a week later, someone from Warner Chappell reached out and was like, ‘We want to sign you as a songwriter.’ I just packed up my bags and left Berklee and moved to Los Angeles. I was 19 and had no idea what I was doing!”
On dropping out of school to pursue music full time
“At the time, it was so exciting that all my friends and family were just super pumped. Everyone around me was more excited than I was. But once I got to L.A., I realized how isolated I was. All my friends were in college making new friend groups, and I was not even able to go to a bar. I just felt like I really didn’t have friends for years. It sounds sadder than it actually was, I was OK! But I had no money. I was working at Coffee Bean, then I worked at a gym and all my friends were getting degrees. I was kind of like, “Did I make the right choice?”
Everyone was super supportive and really excited, which I think helped. I didn’t really have parents who were like, “Well, you need to stay in college,” and that was a blessing. But my mom and I are super close. I went from being 30 minutes away to a six-hour flight. So that was definitely hard.”
The graph of success is not a straight line.
On the advice she’d give her younger self
“Oh my God, I would have so much to say. I would just be like, “Chill out, dude. It’s all going to work out. And you’re not as bad as you think.” It’s a really tough age because you are technically an adult, but you’re still a child in so many ways. But yeah, I would just go back and say, “You’re not going to have to work at a coffee shop forever. So have fun. Also, hey, you’ll get signed to a major label.” That was my dream as a 14-year-old, so that’s awesome.”
On what success looks like to her now
“Defining my own definition of success and having goals for myself has been really healthy and important. It’s easy to be like, “I just want a big song.” But I’ve switched my goals to “How can I get a fan today? How can I sell more tickets and how can I get to that next venue size?”
For me, it’s realizing that the graph of success is not a straight line. And looking at the careers of artists that I really grew up loving, maybe they didn’t hit their peak of success until their fifth album. That’s something that’s been really good for me. My whole goal is to look back a year from now and be like, “I Blame the World was an album that I can outwrite now.” That’s the only goal that I ever set for myself—to just become a better artist and a better writer every day. Because that’s all you can control.”
On her favorite songs on the album
“I do really like the song “I h8 Myself.” That’s a title that I’ve always wanted to write. I feel like it’s like my version of “Shake It Off.” I do love “Adult,” too. It’s about how hard it is to be a functioning adult in society. But honestly, I think my favorite on the album is “Global Warming.” Sonically and lyrically, it’s just [about] how the world’s on fire. But you’re sustained by the people around you that you love, and that’s what keeps you growing amidst the chaos. That song really nails the emotion of what I’ve been feeling for the past year and a half.”
On her favorite song to perform live
“The crazy thing is that I never got to tour my debut album, so I’m really intrigued to see those songs live this summer. I did do Gov Ball last year, and I’d never performed this song that I put out called, “Is It Just Me?” It was a really fun song to perform there. But my favorite song to perform is “Dancing With Your Ghost.” It’s probably my biggest song, but that’s not why I like to perform it. I’m kind of an awkward person on stage, and that song allows me to just stand there and sing. And I know that everyone’s into it. It’s an awesome feeling, seeing that.”
On her upcoming North American tour
“Honestly, I’m so pumped to get back out on the road. You can go on Spotify, you can look at streams and numbers and be like, “OK, these are pretty solid.” But it doesn’t ever feel like real people. Then when you get to see the fact that these are real people, and that they all have different stories and they connect to music in different ways, it’s just surreal. There’s nothing like it. It’s such an important part of music—seeing it live and connecting with fans and fans connecting with artists.”
Sasha Alex Sloan’s 2022 North American “I Blame the World” tour kicks off on July 21, 2022. Tickets are available for purchase on Ticketmaster. Discounted tickets are also available at StubHub or VividSeats using StyleCaster’s exclusive code, SC15 at checkout for $15 off.
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