You are a classically trained musician, with a Masters Degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) - how did you get into writing songs? I feel that I’ve always been a composer. I remember that my favorite part about a music theory class I took for many years growing up was composing my own music. I will always be passionate about classical music – especially classical piano – I feel very close to it, but my pull to writing my own music came from a feeling that playing other people’s pieces – the way they should be played - was not completely fulfilling. I think the idea of writing my own music appealed to me because I got to decide how it should be performed and what it should sound like, I wasn’t just following in other performers’ footsteps. Composing my own music lets me be completely and freely creative. Why songs? How would you define your song style? Something I noticed while focusing on classical music was that many people did not relate to it. Music is a lot easier to understand and reaches many more people when it has words. I wanted my music to connect to a larger audience – so I decided that songs for voice and piano would be my form. Schubert and Schumann were classical composers that wrote fantastic song cycles – why couldn’t I? In terms of style – I think my songs have an eclectic old-school flavor of classical, jazz, European nightclub, folk, and pop. They are very different from anything else out there. What is your compositional process – do you write the music or words first? Each song is different. I usually have an idea for a story and then compose a simple melody that matches the mood of the story. Then I take the melody to the piano and start filling it out – and at that point I start writing the lyrics along with the rest of the song. I think smart lyrics that tell stories are missing in much of today’s pop music so lyrics are a big focus in my composition. I’ve always been an avid reader and creative writer and have my BA from Wellesley College with a degree in Comparative Literature and Music. I like to think my writing and literature background helps me write good stories. What role does classical piano play in your career? Classical piano is still very important to me. In NYC I teach piano to students ages four to adult. I am passionate about engaging others in this musical form and in my instrument because I want to share the joy I have found in it. Since performing my songs, I’ve heard from many fans who want to hear my classical performances. I envision giving classical recitals parallel to performing my own music in the future – continuing to be a classical pianist as well as a songwriter. I think this could be a great way to get folks that never would have thought to listen to classical music excited about the form. What are the next steps you plan to take with your music? These days musicians can build their careers by releasing their own albums on independent labels and marketing themselves online. I’m currently working to do both. I’ll be recording an EP with about seven songs by the end of July. Those songs will get sent to independent radio stations and performance venues. My goal is to get folks excited about my music – so I’m playing live as much as possible – with the ultimate goal of recording an album within the year. You can read more about Sasha Papernik, hear her music and read reviews at www.myspace.com/sashatheband and www.reverbnation/SashaPapernik.