Sasha McVeigh is a young country music singer from England who has performed all over the world.
The rising star is currently promoting her new single ‘When I’m Over You’ and is gearing up for her new tour which kicks off in Manhattan tomorrow (June 23rd).
Here Sasha talks about what inspired her to get into music, her struggles with childhood bullying and her excitement for the future.
Growing up, who inspired you to get into music?
It’s a strange thing. Nobody in my family was musical but there was always music playing in our house. I somehow just fell into it. My parents tell stories of how I would sing while sat in the shopping cart at the supermarket. I was basically singing [from] the moment I could talk. I’ve just always been drawn to music and the creativity of it.
Which artist inspired you to pursue country music?
I’d probably have to say Dolly Parton because she was the first country music artist I really connected with. My Dad was the big country music fan in the house. I remember when I was little, he would play all these old cassette tapes he had of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, all the classics. When I was older, I bought a CD of Dolly’s greatest hits, I wore it out because I played it so much. I’ve always loved the way she weaves a story with her lyrics, ‘Coat of Many Colours’ is a masterpiece of a song. She inspired me to write songs like that, honest songs with real emotion.
Who are your favourite singers at the moment?
Right now my go-to artists are; First Aid Kit, Adele and Chris Stapleton. I guess I’ve got a mix of three genres going on there!
If you could collaborate with anyone who would you choose?
That’s such a tough question because there are so many artists and musicians I’d kill to collaborate with. But, if I had to choose one, it would have to be Alan Menken. I know that probably sounds like a weird choice, most people would assume I’d pick a country artist, but I am also a massive Disney fan and I love musicals. I honestly wouldn’t have got through my exams without listening to the score Alan Menken composed for Pocahontas and Hunchback. It would be a total dream come true to write a song with him and just get a glimpse into his creative process – just thinking about it gives me goosebumps!
How do you think the music industry can help make country music mainstream in the UK?
I think we’re on our way there already. The perception of the genre, over here, has changed drastically in the last two years. Country music was very much considered to be a bit of a joke in the UK, but with more and more American artists coming over and the rise of UK country acts, people have finally started changing their opinions and seeing that it’s probably the most genuine genre out there. I’m not sure that it will ever be as popular over here as it is in the US because, in America, it’s the genre is a part of American culture and it’s tied up with patriotism, whereas we don’t have that same assimilation with it here. I think the UK industry can continue to help by not portraying the genre as “all rhinestone cowboys and line-dancing” because it’s not like that anymore. It’s about honest lyrics, melodies and story-telling.
What is it like recording and performing in the home of country music, Nashville?
A complete dream! When I started going to Nashville in 2012, I just hoped to get a couple of gigs here and there. Everything snowballed and I ended up getting to go backwards and forwards between my home in [the] UK and Nashville over the last few years. Nashville has such an incredible vibe and spirit, you can just feel all the creativity bubbling away. It was an incredible feeling when the crowds in Music City responded so well to my music, I figured if I was welcomed over there, I must be doing something right.
Do you think free music streaming damages the music industry?
It’s a shame that album sales are dropping the way that they are. I was never really interested in owning an iPod when I was a teenager because I preferred CD’s. I loved getting the booklets, reading the lyrics and seeing all the great pictures. The biggest problem with the music industry is people think music is free…it’s not. I can’t tell you the number of times I get emails asking for me to send out free copies of my album for reviews, or free merch and sometimes even people asking me to put on a free show. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helping people out and getting myself out there but I think people forget that this is my livelihood. You wouldn’t call up a plumber and ask him to fix your sink for free, so why would you expect a musician to sing for an hour and do it for nothing. Sure, I love what I do but that doesn’t mean I should do it for free. People think the term “struggling musician” is an exaggeration but musicians/singers are effectively “struggling musicians” until they’ve had at least three #1 songs. Even when you get signed to a label, you haven’t made it, you’re not rolling in the money because anything the label spends on you is essentially a loan which you have to pay back in sales. If you don’t make the sales, they’ll drop you. People often ask me when I’m going to put out my next record and the honest answer is, when I’ve got $25,000 to record it and right now I barely have $100. That’s the reality of the industry. So I don’t necessarily think it’s just the free music streaming sites that are damaging the industry as much as it’s the mentality that music in general should be free.
You have talked in the past about being a victim of bullying, how did that affect you as a youngster?
When I was going through it, it was awful. It made me not want to go to school, I had moments where I would doubt myself and contemplate changing myself. I think that’s why when I wrote ‘I Stand Alone’ it was such a huge thing for me. It gave me something to anchor myself to and something to focus on because the truth was, I didn’t want to change and when it came down to it, I didn’t actually care what anyone else thought or said about me. Bullying is just such a terrible thing to go through, at any age. We all have insecurities about ourselves and bullies always manage to point them out and make a spectacle of them. After writing ‘I Stand Alone’, I realised if I made sure not to play into their game, they couldn’t make a spectacle of me. Sure, there were times where I’d still go home crying, but they didn’t know that. Ultimately, it’s made me a stronger person, which is awesome.
Do you think schools should be doing more to help victims of bullying?
In general, I think school’s do a great job at supporting victims of bullying. But I definitely feel all school’s should have a safe place where students can go if they are being bullied and school’s should have a proper system of punishment for bullies. There’s no point just giving out detentions to bullies because then they’re just going to say the kid they’re bullying is a tattletale or whatever and the cycle continues. I really don’t think there is a clear cut answer and that’s really sad. Bullying occurs at all ages and on various different levels. I think the important thing to remember is you will get through it and make sure you tell someone about it, keeping it hidden will not help.
Do you think music can help bring everyone together?
100%. You’ve only got to look at people from different countries, who speak different languages but they’re all able to sing songs by Elvis Presley and The Beatles etc. Music evokes emotion in people, it brings back memories and can truly transport you to a particular time in your life – it’s magical! I’m not saying that music will cure the world’s problems but it can certainly soften the blow when you’re going through hard times or add some extra sparkle when things are good.
Your tour is kicking off soon, how excited are you to hit the road?
I can’t wait to get started, I’m honestly itching to get back out on the road. I’m doing a lot more festivals this year and a bunch of headline shows. I’m excited to see my fans and also to meet new ones – it’s such a blessing getting to meet so many wonderful people. They all feel like friends to me. We talk on social media and then I see their faces in the crowds, it makes me want to tear up!
What would be your dream venue to perform at?
My dream US venue has got to be The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The Ryman was the original Grand Ole Opry. There’s just so much history in that venue and on that stage. In the UK, my dream venue would be Wembley Stadium. I remember watching Queen Live From Wembley on Sky Arts a few years ago, there were like 100,000 people in the crowd and the energy was insane. I hope I get to do something like that one day.
What do you hope to achieve in the next ten years?
I want to be in a position where I can tour wherever my fans are and also have the kind of financial stability where I can just go in and record new songs when I finish them. It would be a blessing to not have to worry about budgets, just go in there and record an album because I can and because the fans want to hear the music.
Sasha’s new single ‘When I’m Over You’ is out now.
If you are being bullied make sure you visit bullying.co.uk. Don’t suffer in silence, there are people out there who can help you.
What did you think of our exclusive chat with Sasha? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter @CelebMix.