THERE are few as busy right now than Sasha Brown.
PHOTO CREDIT: @channelkish
The singer-songwriter prepares to release her single, Parallel, on the 14th – she is busy D.J.ing at Hoxton Radio and seems to be constantly moving. She found some time to discuss her upcoming single and the story behind Parallel. I learn about her music past and how she got to this point; how influential her D.J. work is and the sort of music she is vibing to.
In addition, in a full-bodied interview, she talks about how Pete Tong discovered her music; whether she caught this year’s Glastonbury and what the approaching weeks have in store.
Hi, Sasha. How are you? How has your week been?
Sam! I'm good, I'm good.
Busy getting ready to release my debut single!
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm Sasha Brown: singer/songwriter; saxophonist; radio D.J. and presenter.
Did you catch Glastonbury? What was your opinion? Will you be heading to any festivals this summer?
Please, don't even go there: I'm doomed against Glasto!
I can never get tickets even though I was sitting on about five devices with my mates! I caught Ed Sheeran's performance on T.V.
I've kinda been in love with his music since seeing him at Benicassim music festival at eighteen.
Parallel is your upcoming debut single. What can you reveal about the inspiration behind that track?
It's a reflection of where we're at today. I co-wrote it with these guys Joe Kearns and Jason Elliot - who are awesome.
I came into the session with this word that had been playing on my mind for a while: parallel.
Jason was saying how the world's kinda messed up and sometimes it's hard to feel a connection when everything feels so lost. For me, there's a frustration behind the song. It's about a relationship. Two people are moving together - in the same direction - at the same speed but, for some reason, they aren't coming together.
From the outside, everything looks perfect but it's not - there's no connection.
How much of your personal experience and romantic endeavours go into the song?
Yeah, I mean songs I write have to mean something to me or what's the point?
What I write about doesn't necessarily relate to current relationships. I like to play on the past, present and to think about the future.
It's probably better no one knows who I'm writing about - that's a lil dangerous!
Was it quite nerve-wracking putting the song together? How does it feel releasing a debut single to the world?!
No, it feels really right, actually.
Last year, I had a featured release off Jamie Jones’ label, Hot Creations - which got quite a lot of (BBC) Radio 1 play and support from Pete Tong. That was a dream.
It was a Techno, track, though, and I'm a Pop artist – so, for the past year, I put myself into the studio with different producers to really develop and discover my sound.
Parallel feels really good and I'm getting really positive feedback. I'm excited.
PHOTO CREDIT: @charlicohe
The song’s video was shot in Shoreditch and is quite minimal and stripped-back. How much say did you get in the concept and what was it like working on the shoot?
So, Charli Cohen (the fashion designer) and I have been following each other on Twitter for the past couple of years. I'm very into fashion and have done some modelling in the past. After her LFW 2017 showcase, I just messaged her saying I wanted to collaborate.
I came up with a concept for the video as I could literally see it in my head. I pitched it to her and her partner, Ben Thompson, who’s an amazing videographer and director. They were on it so we got Ben's team, PXL Post, together and shot the video one weekend!
The shoot was really good fun. I love Charli's designs and the team were all vibing so it was great!
Of course, you have been in music a little while and gained support from the likes of Pete Tong. It seems Parallel is a softer and more evocative song than, say, Talk On (you featured alongside Nathan Barato). What was the decision behind this stylistic change?
I was a featured artist on Nathan's track. I’m not a Techno. artist, but I do love Dance music - so it was a pleasure to do!
Funny story actually: Nathan and I met in Ibiza a few years ago. My best mate and I went up to him and his friends in the club Space - cos we thought it was hilarious that their whole crew were head-to-toes in black.
We all became friends and then Nathan and I stayed in touch - as he was a producer/D.J. and I was looking for people to work with!
I sent a couple of demos to Nathan in Toronto and then had this little idea. I still remember standing in my kitchen and singing it into my iPhone. You know how they say 'shot on an iPhone'?: well, Talk On was ‘recorded on an iPhone’!
I sent it off to Nathan who was D.J.ing with Jamie Jones at the time, and next thing I knew, the track had been cut! It was a bit mad.
I've always been in the Pop world. I grew up on Pop and it's in my blood - so it wasn't a transition; more a case of just doing it!
PHOTO CREDIT: @nastassjathompson
Is there going to be an E.P. to follow and will you mix genres/sounds on it, perhaps?
Definitely! I've got loads of music coming; stay tuned!
Come to my gig at Secret Garden Party festival - Saturday 22nd July at twelve (midday) - and you can hear it all.
Can you tell me a bit about the musicians and bands you grew up listening to? Who are the big artists that compelled you to go into music?
I just love music.
Honestly, it's the one thing that can completely change my mood. Music has always been a massive part of my life.
I grew up on Pop. My dad bought me Abba's Gold album at eight and I loved it. I started playing the sax. but couldn't read music at the time - so my teacher had to write out all the letters so I could play the album!
I grew up on everything, to be honest. All the great singer/songwriters like Carole King, The Supremes; Gabrielle - but I also went to dance classes every weekend so listened to a lot of Hip-Hop and RnB. I’m very into artists such as Tove Lo and Sia at the moment - but I listen to different playlists on Spotify every day, so there’s a lotttt that I like.
PHOTO CREDIT: @rhona_murphy
You are a D.J. on Hoxton Radio. How influential is that work to the music you make and what is it like working on the station?
I was Head of Music at Burst Radio (Bristol Uni.) in my last year there. I love now having my show on Hoxton Radio - Mondays 12-2 P.M. (tune in: cheeky plug) cos it means that there's constantly a reason to look for new music and share that with my listeners!
I listen to different Spotify playlists every day and get sent quite a lot of music by P.R. companies for my show - so, all the sounds I'm hearing, obviously, have an effect on me as an artist.
I play a lot of remixes on my show and Dance music because my show is on a Monday and people need a little help feeling good on a Monday. Monday’s are tough so I call my show the Feel Good Show!
I’m a little obsessed with ODESZA and Zhu - and that new Camelphat and Elderbrook tune, Cola, is just, well: it’s perfect.
I love interviewing other artists and seeing what they’re up to! I interviewed Rudimental last week who are just awesome. You can just tell how much they love music and how it brings people together.
What does the rest of the year hold in terms of gigs and appearances? Where might one come and see you play?
Secret Garden Party 12 P.M., Saturday 22nd July!
I’m so excited as I’m playing the same stage as some of my favourite acts at the moment - including Mabel, Zak Abel and Bonzai!
I’m also playing Metropolis Rising at Bicester Village on Friday 28th July.
More coming - and I’ll be posting gig dates on my socials.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Astrid S! I’m obsessed.
I saw her live at Scala last month. She’s amazing. Her single, Breathe, was co-written with some of the guys working with Tove Lo - so no wonder I like her!
Also, check out Julie Bergan: she dances as well so her stage presence is ridiculous.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Work really hard.
When I interviewed Grace, from Clean Bandit, I remember asking this exact question. She said “Just work really hard”; and I was like, “yeah, and have talent”; and she was like, “No, just work really fricking hard”.
Obviously, talent has a lot to do with it but hard work will always override a talented person who’s a little lazy. You have to really want it badly in this industry.
I would also say to be present everywhere and get out and meet people – cos, in my experience, people have generally worked with me after they’ve met me. You can find networking events wherever you are. Just start to build your community.
Also, get on social media. It’s not all about the stats: figure out who you’re targeting and find a way to connect and build relationships. Music is an industry based on passion and love so people just want to work with cool people - and people they think they’re going to vibe with.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
So, there’s this wicked little tune called France by OPAL - which I include in some of my chilled D.J. sets.
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