Only Child

Only Child

“This is my quarter-life crisis album,” Sasha Sloan tells Apple Music about Only Child, which also happens to be her debut full-length. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter, who recently uprooted from Los Angeles to Nashville (“cheaper rent, nicer people,” she quips), had dreamed of recording her first LP in one of Music City’s legendary studios, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut all that down. “I wound up making the whole record in my house with my producer, who is also, conveniently, my boyfriend,” she says. “It was limiting, but also freeing. I got to be totally immersed in my own world.” Solitude, as it happened, was the ideal scenario for writing these contemplative songs, which introduce us to Sloan’s inquisitive personality, against-the-grain perspective, and storytelling flair. “It’s easy to lean into love songs and breakup songs, but there’s a lot more to me than who I date,” she says. “I wanted every song to tell a real story, whether it’s how I struggle with body image or the way I feel about sharing opinions online.” Below, she talks us through the album track by track. Matter to You “I took an edible one night and wound up on this website where you start at an atom and slowly zoom out. Suddenly it's a plant, and then it's a rock, until you make it all the way to Pluto. And I just felt very small after that. I'm a glass-half-empty kind of person, so when I start to think about how big the world is, I feel really insignificant. It can be almost crushing. But I’ve realized, over time, that I find meaning through love. The song is a little bittersweet, like, ‘Hey, I feel like this really small person who has no purpose here, but you give me that in some way.’ But I thought it was a nice way to kick off the album.” Only Child “I had this title written down in my phone for ages, but I didn't know how to write it or what the angle would be. Then one day I was writing with King Henry and Shane McAnally, and Shane said, ‘Well, it gets lonely being an only child.’ The whole song just poured out from there. I remember laying in bed that night, listening to the demo over and over, and feeling like it just explained a lot about why I am the way I am. I'm pretty cynical, I grew up really fast, and it was just my mom and I for a very long time. And only children often feel like outsiders, because we don’t learn how to fight with people, how to make up with people, how to grow. So it kind of summed me up as a person. It felt all-encompassing.” House With No Mirrors “My boyfriend and I were going into the studio and I was getting ready to leave the house. I remember putting on this pair of jeans and breaking into tears. They were a little tighter than they used to be, and I was having a really off day, and he said, ‘Man, we need to get you a house with no mirrors.’ We ended up bringing that title into the studio session, and the woman we were working with connected with it immediately. For me, the important thing was to make it as real as possible. A problem I have with a lot of body image songs is that they’re really empowering. It doesn’t feel real. Someone screaming on the radio that I'm beautiful doesn't do it for me. So I started pulling from real examples in my life—I've struggled with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia for a very long time—and getting specific about these vulnerabilities. It was scary putting it out. I posted it and lay on my couch having a panic attack for the next two hours.” Lie “I might actually be too empathetic. My mom's the same way. We take other people's pain and really feel it for them. When I wrote this, I had just gone through a breakup, and even though I was the one who broke up with him, I felt equally heartbroken, maybe even worse because of the guilt that came with it. Going back over everything in my head—how he felt, what he was thinking—is how ‘Lie’ was born. It was the first time I ever wrote from someone else's perspective. Of course, I've been rejected plenty of times, so I know what it feels like. There’s a feeling of desperation and a struggle to accept that you're not right.” Hypochondriac “I used to be a huge piece of shit. Worse than I am now. Beyond the whole eating disorder thing, I really didn’t take care of myself. My nutrition was horrible; I smoked tons of weed and cigarettes. I had never heard of a vitamin. I basically grew up on fast food. And partly as a result of all of these things, I’m sure, I have bad anxiety. It changes depending on what life phase I’m in, and recently I’ve become the biggest hypochondriac. I literally went to the dentist yesterday because I thought I was dying of a tooth infection. There was nothing wrong with my tooth. This is the level of insanity we’re dealing with.” Is It Just Me? “I'm completely obsessed with Reddit and I love the subreddit Unpopular Opinion. I knew I wanted to write a song about it. The idea was like, I'm sure that my unpopular opinions are actually popular opinions, but people are too scared to say them out loud. We live in such a hypersensitive climate that I'm scared to say anything, ever. And that isn’t right. We should be able to express ourselves. As scary as this was to put out, it was so much fun to write. It took forever because I wanted to make sure that all my examples were actually somewhat unpopular opinions, but without going too far. You need to be able to sing along.” Santa's Real “This was initially meant to be a jab at being cynical and jaded, and growing up to realize that shit's basically rigged. But then the pandemic happened, and the world caught fire, and it was the first time in my life that my problems felt truly insignificant because everything else seemed so bad. I was in first grade when 9/11 happened, and while I was aware that something tragic was going on, I was still playing with toys. I didn’t grasp it. So ‘Santa's Real’ ended up being about how I sometimes wish that I was still a child so I wouldn’t have to reckon with how grave things have become.” Someone You Hate “I got all emotional about my ex-boyfriend one day, thinking about how we used to be best friends but now I'm someone he hates—how I put him through all this shit and it didn’t have to be that way. It’s the most literal I've ever been about my ex in a song, and I think it's because enough time has passed that the wounds have begun to heal. I can revisit what went down without shielding myself from pieces of it. And that’s important because in music, there’s power in specificity. That’s what makes a song relatable.” Until It Happens to You “A very close friend of mine lost his cousin to leukemia, and it happened really fast. When someone you love experiences something like that, you want to give them everything and yet nothing feels like enough. I’ve never lost anyone, thankfully, and even at funerals I’ve always felt a bit removed. So maybe because of that, I never feel like I know what to say. I never feel like my words are sufficient. I haven’t been there. I tried to funnel that frustration into a song, and I wanted it to sound truly emotional, like an Explosions in the Sky effect that hits you like a wave. It was a way for me to express just how badly I wanted to be there for them.” High School Me “This started off as a joke song about hating old pictures of me from high school. Honestly, I think I default to humor when I’m feeling something uncomfortable. When I took the draft to Shane, he was like, ‘Oh my god, I can totally relate to this.’ We both feel the same crushing embarrassment about that period in our lives even though we’re both proud of who we’ve become. Even though I have some regressions, like on ‘House With No Mirrors,’ I like the fact that the album ends with the line ‘I wish I could go back/Tell her it's okay.’ It’s saying, even though things aren’t perfect and I don't fully love myself yet, I'm still okay.”

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