Sasha Alex Sloan brings her melancholy 'sad pop' vibes to Seoul
If you left a concert feeling sad and alone, that would usually be a slap in the face to the singer — unless you were at Sasha Alex Sloan’s concert.
“Are you ready to feel sad?,” the singer asked the crowd as she opened up her first-ever concert in Korea on Monday at the Yes24 Live Hall concert stage in eastern Seoul.
Sloan, a U.S. singer-songwriter born in 1995 whose real name is Alexandra Artourovna Yatchenko, is an internet-made star best known for her bitter, beaten-down music. Her career started out through the most bizarre chance — a picture of her family house on Reddit.
She was 19 years old when she was a freshman studying at Berkeley College of Music and returned to her family house in Boston and saw that her parents had painted the word “dork” outside her room. The teenager decided to post the picture on Reddit, which immediately went viral.
Sloan took the chance to promote herself on SoundCloud, resulting in a record deal just two weeks later in Los Angeles. She started out as a songwriter and took part in Kaskade’s “Phoenix” (2015), followed by work with some of the biggest names in pop music including Kygo, Steve Aoki, Camila Cabello, John Legend, Ann-Marie, Pink, Katy Perry and more.
Since releasing her debut single “Ready Yet” in 2017, Sloan has been loved by fans all over the world for her “glass-half-empty,” please-lie-to-my-face, I-just-want-to-be-normal-for-a-day melancholy that consequentially tells listeners it’s O.K. to just lie flat down on your bed and cry your eyes out all night — or, as the singer called it, “sad pop."
“I always said I like sad pop music, or yeah, I’m glad people relate to it,” Sloan said to the Korea JoongAng Daily in an email interview held after Monday’s concert in Seoul.
“I’m learning that the more I write from my heart, the more people connect to it, which sounds obvious, but sometimes when you have a bunch of people giving their opinions, it doesn’t feel so obvious.”
Monday’s lineup of songs was filled with such works written from her heart.
Having kicked off the performance with her latest lethargic confession “I Blame the World” (2022), released last May, the hour-long event was filled with 16 of her best — or saddest — solo tracks from her discography including “Lie” (2020), “House with No Mirrors” (2020), “Older” (2019) and her biggest hit, “Dancing with Your Ghost" (2019).
On a minimalistic stage with just the singer and no band, Sasha was joined only by her husband, who she introduced as Henry, to DJ and play guitar for three acoustic tracks. The two write songs together, according to Sloan.
“For me, it’s kind of weird that I think sometimes I write songs subconsciously, [but] it won’t be how I’m feeling in that moment,” she said. “I will then go through that experience and it’s almost like I was foreshadowing my own life. I think ‘Lie’ is a combination of perspectives. For ‘Lie,’ I was kind of thinking about my ex when I wrote it, but also the way I felt in high school constantly getting rejected. So that was a bunch of emotions in one.”
The Seoul concert was held as a part of the singer’s first Asia tour titled “I Blame The World 2023 Asia Tour,” which began in Singapore on Feb. 28 followed by stops in Taipei on March 2 and Hong Kong on March 6.
“Meeting my Korean fans was amazing,” she said. “This is my first time to Asia in general and it will never stop blowing my mind that, you know, people who live on the other side of the planet listen to my music and everyone here is so welcoming and have the cutest gifts which I don’t ever get in America, so that was very cool.”
The pandemic didn’t just keep her from visiting her overseas fans, but from making music altogether — hence the reason why no new music has come since the namesake song “I Blame the World.”
“Yeah, the pandemic sucked,” she said with a laugh. “I think there was a lot going on politically in the U.S. as well, and it was just a really horrible time and I just got really angry and really sad. Not like cute sad, like really sad. I think for the first time, I didn’t even really want to make music.
“That was kind of always my outlet, and it was kind of a struggle. But in recent days, now that I’m living life again, I just forgot how important it is to just get coffee — not be stressed about, you know, catching anything. So, I would say now I’m feeling truly inspired again.”
When asked if she had any Korean artists she liked listening to or would be interested in working together with, Sloan came back with a candid answer but with a cushion that she doesn’t “listen to much music.”
“I mean… BTS,” she said. “It would be amazing. I have to go with them. I don’t know. I really just listen to like, comedy. My husband’s here, he can vouch that I just sit in silence like a weirdo," she laughed.
“It’s easy to see numbers on a computer, but sometimes it’s easier to forget that those are real people,” she added. “I think live music is so important for that aspect — just connecting with people, remembering why you make music.”
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]