Washington Life

Entranced by Sasha


If you have not heard of Sasha Lazard yet, you will. She has just released her debut album on Virgin Records titled The Myth of Red, and it is creating quite a buzz. Raised on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and in Paris, she is a classically-trained soprano but her album combines futuristic, electronic beats with an operatic flair. This sultry singer is charming both classical devotees and dance-club audiences alike. Washington Life’s Editor in Chief Nancy Bagley spoke to Sasha the morning after her release party in New York.

NANCY BAGLEY: Sasha, congratulations on making #3 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Breakout Chart and on launching your debut album in New York last night. Do you feel like your life is about to change?
SASHA LAZARD: Yes, absolutely, because last night was the first time that I’ve performed with a full live band and dancers, and I definitely think it added a new element to my performance, giving it a lot of energy.

NB: Your music has been described as trance-opera. How would you describe it?
SL: Operatic arias fused together with primal/tribal electronic hip-hop beats.

NB: At what age and how did you get interested in opera? Are your parents musical?
SL: I started going to the opera with my mother at age eight. When I was 13, I joined the school choir and continued singing throughout college at Bennington, before going to the San Francisco Conservatory to study.

NB: Weren’t you in a rock & roll band for a while? What was the evolution from opera to rock to your current musical genre?
SL: I wasn’t really in a rock band, but I did work for a while with a team of Celine Dion-type people. They sent me to a teacher to change my sound to pop, but learning a new style didn’t really work for me at all. So I said I’d be back in a few months and fled, which is when I hooked up with Mark Raskin, who was working on the soundtrack for a movie my brother had written, and we started experimenting in the studio with different electronic sounds.

NB: Could you describe the artistic process of making this album? Did you write any of the songs?
SL: All the songs on the album are songs that I love and have been singing forever. It was really a collaboration with the producer, Frank Fitzpatrick. He can hear an aria’s catchy pop sensibility, and we’d feed off of that and rewrite some of the words to follow the story of the Myth of Red.

NB: The title of your debut album is called The Myth of Red. What is the story behind the name?
SL: Well, it’s loosely based on a Samaritan myth but the story is basically about a woman named Red who is restless with her life on earth and gets seduced by the Devil. In the morning she awakens to a beautiful melody of her man urging her to come back to him. Red is also my favorite color.

NB: If you could collaborate on your next album with any artists in the world, who would they be?
SL: Moby, or Josh Groban.

NB: Bono from the band U2 has really been shaking it up in Washington...first by lobbying for debt relief in developing countries, and now his new mission is to save Africa from the AIDS epidemic—two very ambitious, critical, and related issues. After you sell millions of albums and you are rich and famous, will you lend your name to any charitable or political causes, and if so which ones interest you?
SL: One of the reasons I’d like to become successful is so that I can have influence on important issues and give back. The issue of adoption is important to me. A couple of years ago I was in Kyrgyzstan with my sister and she adopted a child. I might also want to adopt one day. But foreign adoption is illegal in many countries, and there are many orphans here in the U.S.

NB: Are you currently working or volunteering with any charities?
SL: I have been too busy recently, but I used to volunteer with the Association to Benefit Children which helps children living with AIDS, and I’d like to start giving singing lessons to inner-city kids.

NB: Do you have a personal motto?
SL: Treat people with kindness and dignity no matter who they are. It drives me crazy when I see someone treat a waiter or a taxicab driver poorly.

NB: What’s your ideal vacation?
SL: Going to my house in Maine with a group of friends...but they have to cook, because we’d all starve otherwise.

NB: I hope that it works out for you to perform at Washington Life’s 11th anniversary party at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel this autumn, but in the event that it doesn’t, do you have any confirmed performances scheduled in Washington?
SL: My tour schedule is being worked out right now, so I don't know what is confirmed, but I really hope it works out for me to perform at the Washington Life party.

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