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    From songwriter to singer, Southie’s Sasha Sloan is finding her own voice

    Nicolita Bradley

    Southie-raised mope-popper Sasha Sloan left her studies at the Berklee College of Music to enter the Los Angeles-based world of pro songwriting at 19. She cut her teeth on collaborations with mega-DJ Kaskade and trop-pop heavyweight Kygo, and she’s also worked with upstarts like the feisty Brit Charli XCX and the R&B explorer Tinashe. If you’ve been near a radio lately, you’ve probably heard her handiwork; she’s one of the co-writers on Camila Cabello’s woozy, booming Top 10 hit “Never Be the Same.”

    Now, Sloan, who plays Great Scott Tuesday, is ready to step into the spotlight on her own. Her debut EP “sad girl”, which came out in April, collects six tracks that, true to the collection’s title, flash back to uncomfortable moments. The party chronicle “Normal” balances the tension of its bummer-riding lyrics (”Keep on playing that song that I don’t like/I just wanna feel normal for the night”) and sparse synths with an insistent beat, heightening its alone-in-a-crowd feeling; “Fall” is chilly and piano-driven, its regret-soaked lyrics direct yet detail-rich; and “Runaway” is a fever-dream snapshot of someone realizing her emotional unavailability, with Sloan’s voice sounding otherworldly as she comes to terms with her losses. “sad girl” definitely has an overarching theme, but Sloan’s versatility and vulnerability result in it being a full-spectrum view of a three-letter emotion.

    The Globe spoke with Sloan while she was working on her second EP between tour dates.


    Q. This year, it seems like you’re turning your attention toward being a solo artist. How has that been?

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    A. I’ve been writing my second EP. “sad girl” set the tone for who I am, and now I’m just running with that.

    Q. Have you felt that your writing process has shifted or changed in the time since you wrote the songs on “sad girl”?

    A. My writing has definitely changed — mostly because I’ve been playing live more, and that really affects how I think in the studio. Before, I had no experience performing in front of people. On this new music, I’m not afraid to be 110 percent myself, whereas I was kind of testing the waters with “sad girl.” That was 99 percent me.

    Q. Watching the audience react to your lyrics must be really powerful — I saw a video on [the music-video service] Vevo where you said, “A couple of times when I was performing, I looked into the audience and was like, ‘That’s a 14-year-old me.’”


    A. Yeah. [Writing songs] went from me looking at a computer and seeing numbers and streams to being in front of an audience and seeing faces. That changed everything for me.

    Q. Are you mostly focused now on writing for yourself, or are you still writing for other artists?

    A. Some artists are still cutting songs that I’ve written, which is really nice — I’m fortunate to have that. I’m mostly focused on myself right now, but I’m definitely trying to squeeze in sessions here and there for other people. I still really love doing that.

    Q. Does writing for other people allow you to test out songwriting ideas?

    A. Yeah, totally. When I write for someone else, it’s a nice break from my brain, although I can really appreciate writing for me more once I’ve written in a different style.


    Q. I saw that you have some festivals on your schedule this summer. What’s playing big spaces been like, given that your songs are so intimate?

    A. I just did my first festival about a week ago — Bonanza [a music festival in Utah]. It was so dope. I’d never even been to a music festival before, and I’d never heard my music on speakers that loud, so that was really cool. Compared to 500-capacity clubs, it’s a totally different experience. But I love both.

    Q. Have you ever been to Great Scott before?

    A. Yeah, I’ve definitely been there. I used to spend a ton of time in Allston — I went to Berklee for about a year, and all my friends lived in Allston. We were always just hanging out around there.

    Q. Do you have any places you have to visit when you’re back in town?

    A. Spike’s Hot Dogs. I really hope it’s still there. I used to live basically across the street from it, and I have to go back. That’s my one thing I have to do.

    Sasha Sloan

    With TOMI. At Great Scott, Allston, July 10, 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $15, 617-566-0914,

    Interview was edited and condensed. Maura Johnston can be reached at