EASHA Comes Into Her Own
// Photo courtesy of EASHA
EASHA is a singer-songwriter and current undergrad at Stanford University. We sat down with her to chat about music, growing pains, and what's to come.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
KS: Okay, so I know you are currently at Stanford. How do you balance being an artist and a full-time student? Do you think those two ultimately complement or detract from one another?
EASHA: I’m still figuring it out. Definitely one takes away from another — you can’t be perfect. Especially if you are trying to have experiences and be creatively fulfilled in your life, not just in the creative work. I’m really lucky — I’m an English major, so I’m always writing, even for school, so there’s some satisfaction that even through school I’m practicing with pen and paper. Being an artist on campus is kind of a gift in a way that you don’t realize until you leave. Just having a close community. There’s not much to do around Palo Alto, and you are forced to stay on campus — there’s always a guaranteed audience that way.
I see myself as an artist primarily, and student or any other identity comes second. But there have been nights where I have been up so late, so many emotional rollercoasters through my terms, and I think college is just a pressure cooker environment anyway. So I think when you add career stresses that are far beyond the boundaries of the gates, you are unsure all the time. The key is to keep doing shit. I am not the case study for perfect balance, but I’m trying.
KS: So you do think Stanford has been a good starting point for concerts and performances?
EASHA: Yeah! I mean, I live here and everyone else lives here, so it’s pretty second nature that I would perform at little festivals or coffeehouses and stuff. It’s really different performing for peers, rather than in the past when I have performed in the city and there are real people, it feels like. There’s merit to both. Performing for your peers is a different kind of rush because there is camaraderie and support. They are seeing you on your journey, the behind-the-scenes, what you are thinking, your vulnerabilities, your doubts, your fears, your adrenaline. It’s kind of nice, but it also feels like you are really open on stage. When you perform original songs they can kinda guess, who is that about? So that’s kind of weird.
KS: Do you find songwriting to be a solitary practice, or have you found collaborators?
EASHA: I think I collaborated a lot more when I was in Nashville or other music-oriented cities. There, people are 100 percent into music, they do it as a career and it’s all about building your network. I’m really a collaborative person at the end of the day — even if it’s not my first instinct, my best work has always been writing with other people, or using other people as sound boards. I tend to be more extroverted in life, so I think whenever I can brainstorm it's nice. In college, I write a lot more by myself because it’s a lot more practical. I can just write in my room. It’s more about consistency.
My ideal situation is to find lifelong collaborators and people that when we write, we don’t have to explain every single thing. It’s almost like telepathy. You say the beginning of a sentence, they finish it. I think having a lot of ideas and perspectives always strengthens a concept. I think I’m more collaborative.
KS: I read your blurb on your website, and it says that your interest in songwriting began after you started listening to Norah Jones. Today, which artists inspire you? Who are you listening to right now?
EASHA: I am definitely a re-listener. I am not the type of person to change up my playlists every month. I am loyal to my artists. I think for three years consecutively, John Mayer was my top artist. I’m a huge Mayerhead. I love Lana Del Rey. I’m getting more into the indie pop, kinda rock-ish scene. I tend to like singer-songwriter people because I identify with them, regardless of their music. I like the idea that they are creating this world based on their real life experiences. I mean, I’ll listen to anything! I think I try hard to draw from inspirations that aren’t necessarily trying to do what I am.
KS: Ooh! That totally goes into my next question. Which artists do you listen to that have completely different sounds than you?
EASHA: That’s a really good question. I actually do listen to quite a bit of classical music, because I was an orchestra kid in high school, so I’ve learned to appreciate that. Indian classical music I grew up listening to, so I think whenever I’m in a rut that’s really good, because they are big on improvising within a set scale. I think when you are trying to fuel your creativity you want to put restraints on yourself. I listened to a lot of K-pop in high school, and weirdly enough, a lot of my production elements come from K-pop because they are so meticulously produced. So, I’ll send something to my producer and be like “okay, at 0.17 seconds can you add a little bloop sound.” So those types of music melodically inspire me a lot, but you wouldn't be able to tell right off the bat.
KS: You’ve talked before how your upbringing has informed your technique. I wonder what parts of your upbringing have informed your lyrics and production.
EASHA: I think a lot of my earlier songs were informed by this fear of missing out, or this angst that was more reminiscent of Olivia Rodrigo. I just thought, Ugh, I’m not having the typical teenage experience. You know, I grew up with immigrant parents. So I feel like your values, and the things that are important to you, the things that you want, and the things that you can’t get are really different. I just had this perspective that I was an underdog, or an outside observer, or that I was very late to the game to certain things. I had a lot of pent-up frustration and angst. And now that I have a sense of my identity and have had more experiences, have been to college, lived in different countries and cities, my music has shifted to more of my personal experiences, rather than projecting my fantasies. I think it depends on the stage in life. Whereas before I was an observer, now I am kind of an independent, free-spirited girl who is trying to go for something — still with underlying insecurities — but I feel a lot more sure of myself now. I don’t consciously think of my background when I write lyrics, but it inevitably comes through. Depending on what I’m reading, watching, listening to. I trust the subconscious.
KS: I’ve noticed that a lot of your music is contemplative of love and adolescent longing. Do you think that you write songs in the moment or retrospectively?
EASHA: I’m such a retrospective person. I get paralyzed in the moment. Even in life, if I’m trying to gather my thoughts, it takes me a good week. I have this tendency to put things on myself and not externalize any problems. I have tried to write in the heat of the moment, and I can get a really solid verse, but I can never finish the song until I have fully processed how I am feeling. Or I’ll go back and revise songs the more thoughts creep in. But I guess that’s more of a personality thing.
KS: Do you journal?
EASHA: Oh, I journal so much! It’s so bad, my friend hates this, but I journal using this college ruled notebook from Office Depot. It’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen in your life. But for some reason it’s easier for me because there is so much space. I’ve never been the type of person to have a pretty journal. I need something so fucking ugly that can reflect my ugly feelings. That’s been wildly helpful.
KS: I wish I was like that. When I’m too sad, I don’t want to journal. When I’m too happy, I don’t want to journal. So I only end up journaling when I feel nothing.
EASHA: Haha, “I had scrambled eggs today.”
KS: Yeah, exactly. Okay, so I wanna talk about your song “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” Obviously this song is discussing a trope in a lot of films and books. Actually, for a really long time, as a teenager, that’s kind of what I wanted, bizarrely. I wanted to be the mysterious girl in the coffee shop with the Radiohead t-shirt. I would have this outward persona but no real individual goals. It’s weird!
EASHA: Yeah, yeah.
KS: And I wonder — did that song for you come out of a specific experience or a similar general feeling of wanting to be that ... and then eventually realizing, “Hey, this is not good.”
EASHA: I think it’s so funny because initially I wrote that song because I was reading this book and in it the character was really going through it. She had just got out of this relationship and constantly had this complex of “we just look good on paper.” When it came down to it, there was no raw connection. And then it just ended up manifesting in my own life — I just sang it too many times I guess. I got into this quasi-situationship where I felt so glossed over. And I always joke that I just need to shut up and be mysterious, but it's so against my nature.
KS: Me too! I just need to shut my mouth and be mysterious!
EASHA: Exactly, but you lose either way, that’s what I learned. Even with me being expressive, being really clear about my needs, and being fun to be around — I don’t think that’s the epitome of “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” Other people will see you for what they want to see you as. Maybe they won’t project a fantasy onto you, but they will definitely not be curious about your hopes, dreams, ambitions, and thoughts. And what you want in a relationship. So, afterwards, I looked at the lyrics and they had a whole new meaning to me now that it was happening in my life. I mean, I think there is something really appealing about being someone’s manic pixie dream girl, but then you realize that you are also a human being. It’s a lose-lose situation. Anyone who doesn’t see you 100 percent does not truly care about you, and you are not going to feel validated in the way that you expect.
KS: If you had to give an elevator pitch, what few words would you give to describe your music?
EASHA: Mmm. If I had to put some words to it, I would say fun, sincere, real, thoughtful, and just I guess the in-between of the emotions, the popular ones like love and hate.
KS: Haha, “the popular ones.”
EASHA: Yes! I think I talk a lot about gray areas. I mean, “Poor Connection” was about a friendship breakup, and with “Far Away” I was really surprised by how many people could relate to that. This feeling of “I’m not living the teenage dream but at the same time, I’m not depressed.” This feeling of expecting something more. Someone described one of my songs as a coming-of-age movie musical, and I just love that. I would just cite my inspirations — I’m really a sponge when it comes to art. I guess my elevator pitch would be really long.
KS: Hopefully they are going up a lot of floors.
KS: Okay, so the last question is: What’s next for you? Do you plan on getting an album out?
EASHA: I definitely have more songs on the way. I’ve been performing out a lot more. This quarter I have had a lot of live performances with a band. I have songs that are 90 percent done, and I’m excited to churn them out. But this is my life. I don’t think people should worry too much. I don’t care if no one is listening. I will still put stuff out. I will still be writing.
// Kyra Siegel '25 is a guest writer for Record Hospital.