You may have heard Priscilla Ahn’s songs featured on Grey’s Anatomy or Dancing with the Stars, but the youthful singer-songwriter is back with a new album, When You Grow Up. We caught up with Priscilla to learn more about how the album came together, being a female musician in today’s over the top pop culture style and her Asian comfort food.
“When You Grow Up” marks your second album; is there anything that sets this apart from your other albums that fans can look forward?
I think I’ve grown as an artist a little bit over the years. My singing has changed a little, and some of the songs I write have a different feel to them. It’s not a drastic change, but there’s definitely some growth in there. Half the songs on the album are co-writes with my friends. So that was definitely different for me! I’m so used to writing on my own. But I wanted to branch out a little, experiment with different writing styles. And I discovered that everyone writes so differently! It was a great learning experience for me.
This aptly titled album covers the ups and downs of living life, from moments in childhood to heartbreak. What inspired you to create an all encompassing narrative?
It was actually a challenge at first, because all these songs talked about different things, and were different styles from each other. Ethan Johns, the producer, did a really good job of sequencing them in a way where each song flowed seamlessly into the next somehow. I did a lot of self-reflection about my life, growing up, and moving out on my own and falling in and out of love. So, these songs came from a definitely period of realizations, and growth as a human being. There’s a lot in the album from my childhood, and a lot of songs that came from the relationship that I have now with my husband.
How was the experience of working alongside other songwriters like Sia Furler, Inara George, Eleni Mandell and Charlie Wadhams?
It was really fun! I admire them all as songwriters so much, so I really looked forward to collaborating with them. And each experience was so different. Some people were really picky about words, other people weren’t at all. Sia doesn’t play instruments, so it challenged me to have something written out beforehand, which was fun. I learned a lot working with all of these talented people.
We know you can play the guitar, banjo, ukulele and kazoo. Is there an instrument you’re planning on learning how to play next? Or wish you knew how to play?
I wish I knew how to play the harp! Like, a real classical one. I have a bass guitar that I never play, but someday hope to learn.
With the popularity of female musical artists going “all out”to garner attention, whether it’s through crazy music videos or over-the-top outfits (*ahem* Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga), how do you manage to keep it real, refreshing and sweet? Are you ever tempted to wear your own meat dress at your next performance?
That kind of stuff doesn’t interest me at all. I see that, and it seems so exhausting to me. I’m much more drawn to natural beauty, and inner quirkiness. Like Yu Aoi or Lea Seydoux. They have a “gentleness” and old soul quality behind an innocent face, that I find really inspiring. I know that this more “natural” approach to things definitely doesn’t grab a lot of attention. But I feel like it will last forever, no matter if it’s in a career, or just in personal life.
Any favorite musicians, bands or other albums that you’re listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to Twin Sister, Little Dragon, and Dionne Warwick right now.
What’s your favorite Asian comfort food? Is there a special memory attached to it?
I love Udon Soup. I know it’s Japanese, but I was first introduced to it in Korea. Whenever I fly long distances anywhere, especially to an Asian country, the first thing I want is Udon Soup.