INTERVIEW: Sasha Alex Sloan

Let’s just be real for a moment. There aren’t many good things to have come out from the global pandemic, but one of the good ones was Sasha Alex Sloan’s honest sophomore studio album, ‘I Blame The World’. Before the pandemic she was halfway through writing a new album. It was darker, more direct, and melodically softer as it was folk inspired. But through the course of the pandemic Sasha became angrier, more depressed, and needed to let her frustration out. She found herself needing to release those pent up emotions through lyrical humor and upbeat production, so she scrapped the album and started fresh.

From there she wrote the eleven honest tracks that live on ‘I Blame The World’. Each song has this raw honesty that is coated by satirical humour, and contrasted by big bold production. Imagining what she wanted her live show to feel like, there were a lot of heavy guitars and drums that began to be layered over these raw melodies with ‘WTF’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Global Warming’ representing that. And through this she allowed the intimate stripped back moments like ‘New Normal’ and ‘Hardest Thing’ to be real moments. But if it wasn’t for covid, this album would be really different, as through this forced isolation she realised the common denominator of feeling happy in her life was having people she loved around her, which brought the silver lining to the record. She may be depressed, and angry at the world, but she is in love and feels loved by the people closest to her. 

I sat down with Sasha Alex Sloan to discuss the important personal realisation she had surrounding the pandemic that saw her scrapping an album and beginning to write ‘I Blame The World’, explored the creative process behind ‘Global Warming’ and ‘Intro’, and the importance of incorporating humour again in her lyricism. Check it out BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your sophomore record ‘I Blame The World’ feels like a sign of the times. Do you think if the pandemic didn’t happen that this is the record that would’ve ended out in the world? 

SASHA ALEX SLOAN: I mean, definitely not. The pandemic is kind of a huge theme of this album. It’s a combination of the pandemic and just getting older. When I first started putting music out I was 21, and now I am 27. There is such a huge amount of growth that happens in those years. In the beginning stages of my music there was a lot of looking inward, and now I think this album is looking outward more than I’ve ever done. It’s definitely angrier than I’ve ever been. I really don’t think it would’ve existed without Covid and everything that has happened since. 

TB: Because you actually had another album you scrapped before you started writing this record, right? 

SAS: Yeah, I had five or six songs that I was pretty into, and I was calling the album ‘I Can’t Wait To Feel Like Me Again’. It was all just about being super depressed, and they were all really sad folk songs. And then I just started listening to them back and realising they were really boring *laughs*. They were really pretty, but even I could admit that I was bored listening to them. I was imagining going on tour and picturing what that would be like, and I pivoted, that’s for sure. 

TB: Were there any lyrical ideas or themes from those songs that you actually brought into this record?

SAS: Sort of! The title track ‘I Can’t Wait To Feel Like Me Again’ could have fit on this record, but I think at the end it felt pretty redundant. I feel like I kind of took that title and re-wrote it as ‘Live Laugh Love’. So I feel like there were crossovers, but there was no edge to it. It definitely bleed in, but not directly. 

TB: You open the album with a beautifully dark intro of all of the things you’re scared of. It ends on a romantic twist of you professing, “what scares me the most is losing you”. This feels like the ultimate “I’m in love, but I will forever be a sad girl” moment, that intro’s the poignant confessions to come. Where in the process of the record did the intro come?

SAS: Ironically the intro was the last thing I wrote. I love Modest Mouse, and they do transitions into songs really well. Once I realised ‘I Blame The World’ was going to be the first song on the album, I wanted to see if I could write something that would flow into that. And I love interludes, and short little poetic moments on records, so I decided I wanted one of those on my album. So yeah, that kind of just flowed out one day. It took no time to write. I felt like it summed up the whole record to me. 

TB: I feel like not only did it flow perfectly into ‘I Blame The World’, but it also felt like a bit of a sister of ‘Global Warming’. 

Yeah totally! I mean lyrically in a way they are both the same idea. And that’s what I was kinda struggling with on this album as I was so depressed, and so angry at everything, but also madly in love. It was this weird feeling that everything had gone to shit except for this one thing. 

TB: It’s interesting you say that as I feel like as a whole this album plays an important commentary on the way that we rate success, especially through social media. Because on the outside someone looking at your instagram could see your engaged status and your work success and be like “oh she’s so happy and thriving”, but really anxiety and depression is something you can’t see. And that’s something this album highlights. 

SAS: Well I’m glad the outside looks great, because I don’t even know that part *laughs*. No, it’s true. I think for me, the older I get, no pun intended, I really think the common denominator is having people you love. It’s what gets people through the best of times, and the worst of times. And that was an interesting case study during the pandemic, to see what motivates people to go on during the darkest of time. And that was just having those people in your life. And that was a theme I wanted to drive the album. 

TB: ‘Global Warming’ stands out to me as the album’s centre-piece that brings together this whole ideology. Can you explain the creative process behind this track? 

SAS: Thank you, that means a lot to me as that is one of my favourite songs on the album. I always write with a guitar or piano, and to be honest I was just over the process. So I opened up a drum loop and decided to write to drums. That song kinda just came out really easy. And I always wanted to write a song called ‘Global Warming’, and I was like “yep, this is it”. So King Henry and I wrote the track, and he produced it, and it was decent. But then Mike Elizondo jumped on the track and did his thing to it and took it to a whole new level. It was such a fun song to work on. 

TB: Last time we spoke you mentioned that ‘House With No Mirrors’ felt like the first time you wrote incredibly vulnerably without there being a “lol” attached. Looking forward to ‘I Blame The World’, there is a lot of humour contrasted with heavy emotions on this record. Is there a moment you wish you didn’t make a joke as its call and response? 

SAS: I’m the worst at talking about feelings and emotions. Like, everything is a joke in my life. And I think music is the one thing that allows me to be serious and not feel uncomfortable about it. I hate serious conversations, and I hate getting in trouble as it gives me so much anxiety. ‘House With No Mirrors’ was the first song I did that, and I actually forgot I said that, but it’s actually kinda funny as there is no lol attached, that’s just it. 

I think one of the reasons I scrapped that first album I was making was because it was really heavy. There were no lol’s. And I think it has been such a heavy time, so if there wasn’t a wink in what I was releasing then it may have been too heavy. Even for me, it was hard to feel depressed all the time, and then write songs without a bit of a punchline at the end. But now I’m dying to make the folk record I wanted to make. Like of course it always comes back. 

TB: On the title track ‘I Blame The World’ you ask ALL of the existential questions. But what is the classic Sasha Alex Sloan existential question? 

SAS: I would say, “why fall in love, if I fall out”. I think that kinda sums it all up. I mean, I am getting married so I don’t know if I can say that is the one I believe in the most *laughs*. 

TB: I can actually imagine you getting up there and saying your vows and being like “I love you, but this is what I feel about the world and love…”

SAS: *laughs* Can my vows just be ‘I Blame The World’. My finance would love that. But just the verses though. 

TB: *Laughs* can’t be too sweet, has to be a little cynical.

SAS: Exactly! Oh my god, that would actually be so funny *laughs*. 

TB: Sonically this album feels bigger with songs like ‘Thank You’, ‘WTF’ and title track ‘I Blame The World’ really capturing that. Did live shows play an inspiration for where you wanted this record to go?

SAS: Totally! After not being able to tour ‘Only Child’ I listened to it after a year and I tried to picture the live show for that album, and I was like “there are some moments here”, but I knew when I hit the road again that I wanted the show to be fun. And I wanted the really sad slow moments to be moments, and not the whole show. So I really tried to make this record hit harder and be more uptempo. Which is really hard for me, as it doesn’t come naturally to me. So I was really nervous putting this album out as I didn’t want people to think it sounded like I was trying really hard, because I was *laughs*. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about the album. Are you ready?

SAS: Yes!

TB: The emoji that best describes ‘I Blame The World’ is…

SAS: The crying smiling face, with the single tear. 

TB: The song that nearly didn’t make the album was…

SAS: ‘One Trick Phony’.

TB: The song I’m most looking forward to performing live would be…

SAS: Probably ‘Thank You’. That song went through a lot of different outfits to get it where it is now. 

TB: The first song from the album I’d want you to play to your friends if they’d never heard of me or my new music would be…

SAS: ‘Global Warming’!

‘I Blame The World’ is out now!