Cupnoodle on upcoming debut album ‘Taste Test’

Cupnoodle on how she found her voice, upcoming debut album ‘Taste Test’

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:15 AM April 27, 2024



Being able to do what you love is a privilege, but it should also be fun. That, in a nutshell, is an aphorism that Thai singer-songwriter Cupnoodle aka Sasha Natasha Johst abides by.

But while Sasha’s melodies are indeed hard to resist, upon closer scrutiny, her self-penned pop tunes—among them the toe-tapping “Nothing Nothing Nothing,” the ruminative “Therapist” and her irresistible latest single “Bababababy”—aren’t also the disposable, cotton candy-coated sort that don’t have much going for them other than their catchy hooks. Not at all.


They may sound anthemic as all get-out, but a number of them also reveal thought-provoking themes and advocacies—although you can certainly groove to them despite their edgy dark themes. When we spoke to Cupnoodle recently, we asked her if the hopeful vibe in her serious subject matters is deliberate.


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“I didn’t think that my songs were all that hopeful really, but people kept giving me that feedback,” she told Inquirer Entertainment over Zoom. “Yeah, hope is such an important thing, but from my perspective, I want to stay realistic while being hopeful. It’s not like, ‘Oh, the world is perfect, so let’s not fight.’ That’s not my vibe.

“But life can be terrible sometimes. It’s almost like embracing the reality, yet remaining hopeful. Perhaps that’s the kind of hope reflected in my songs.”

There’s something more thematically significant about Cupnoodle’s songs than the professional name she’s chosen to be known for—like when she sings about interracial relationships in “Pineapple on Pizza,” or when she weighs in on the more important things in life in “Mathematics,” or dealing with mental health in “Therapist.”

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While we thought that picking “Cupnoodle” for her name was a catchy stroke of genius, we asked her if it wasn’t a concern that people might not take her or her songs seriously because of that name.

“Bababababy” cover art

“Bababababy” cover art —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Different perspective

“Thank you for listening to my songs and taking a deep dive into them. You’ve done your research, and I’m learning about myself through you,” she beamed. “But it was more of an intriguing aspect [than a concern] for me.

“Actually, fitting into a category or a marketing pressure is the actual challenge. Of course it would have been much easier if I just called myself Sasha. But the point I’m trying to make here is that it doesn’t really matter what I call myself. I’ll make the listener take me seriously because of the music I make.

“Artists come up with their own [unique] names all the time—Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, etc. It may seem so out of the box if I dare call myself such a silly thing, but if I’m doing something serious, I feel like, ‘Why not?’ What I’m trying to present to the world is a different perspective.”

In 2022, Cupnoodle was hand-picked by Spotify as one of the best indie artists in Asia—with good reason. In our Q&A with Cupnoodle, she also talks in public about her upcoming album for the very first time:

You wrote “Therapist” after a breakup, while “Bababababy” is about an unrequited attraction because of one’s inability to express it. Are your songs based on personal experiences?

There are two types—they’re either personal or concept-based. Many of them stem from my personal life, but not always. So I would say they’re 70 percent personal and the other 30 percent comes from movies, TV series, friends’ experiences, or anything that I hear, think or read about.

It’s always about sharing a unique perspective about something. I feel like it’s the year 2024 already, so every breakup song has been written about. It’s like if you don’t have something different to say about the same subject, then why write about it? That’s what happens when songwriters manage to write great songs about love and breakups.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

It’s difficult to say because we all have very eclectic musical tastes. But I would say in terms of songwriting, maybe Freddie Mercury of Queen. Some of his songs may not seem all that serious, like “Bicycle” or “We Will Rock You,” but I love the lyrics or the way he tells a story, coupled with his way of performing—it’s just genius!

Alicia Keys is also someone that I love. And Britney Spears has always been among my first musical influences (laughs).

I always tread this line between being creative and being personal. So some of the songs that I have put, like “Not Ready” or “Therapist,” are quite personal, and some, like “Nothing Nothing Nothing” or “Bababababy,” are a little bit more creative conceptually or production-wise. So I think it’s not only just about trying to get people to feel like they know me, but also about my need to push the boundaries on the creative side.

Are you familiar with Filipino songs or Filipino artists?

No, but I did listen to some when I was younger—like Charice, but she changed her name already. And Sarah Geronimo, too. But I also know that the Philippines has great singers. When I go on YouTube, it’s like, “Oh my God!” I don’t know what you guys do over there or why is it that everyone is amazing (laughs)?

In your view, should singers write their own songs?

My opinion on this is, I understand there are performers and there are artists. Say Britney Spears. I’m a huge fan of Britney, but while she doesn’t write her own songs, she’s such a great performer.

Alicia Keys, on the other hand, writes her own songs, handles her own production, but doesn’t do choreography onstage. I feel like in the modern world, an artist should express herself through any medium available and just say what she means when she sings something and mean what she sings. You have to be authentic [in whatever you do].

What can your followers expect from you in the coming months? A full-length album perhaps?

Yes, in a way. “Third of May” is my next single, actually. This year is an exciting one because there will be a new song every six weeks until we reach 10 songs. The project that I’ll soon be releasing is an album, but I’m not releasing it like everyone else is doing. I feel like I need to hold your hand as we listen through each single together.

Maybe it’s too early to say this, but OK, I’ll tell you anyway (laughs). The project is called “Cupnoodle: Taste Test”—and it’ll be very different. It’ll be testing you as an audience and testing creativity. And I can only promise that you can’t predict what’s coming to you. We’ll go through pop, GarageBand, R&B … we’ll go through ballads and slow songs, So yeah, we’ll go through a taste test!

You started singing at age 4, and you were really shy as you were growing up. Was music responsible for you coming out of your shell?

Yeah. It’s almost like shyness was the obstacle I had to hurdle to get to do what I want. So, for me to get to sing, I had to shake it off. You know, when I was younger, I thought, “What’s up with this shyness?” I just worried about getting bullied by my friends in school in Thailand … and the bullying was real.

So when I changed schools, I thought, “If the teacher asks who wants to sing, I’m going to be prepared.” I was ready to just raise my hand. I just knew that I had to work up the nerve and courage to just take the first step.

After that, I became known as the singer … and it isn’t a weird thing. We always make fun of that kid in class who wants to sing, so I just had to come out of my shell and do it.

What an inspiring story! This can be empowering to children who are going through the same thing.

Yeah, it’s a funny story. But it turned out to be one of the best days of my life! I was in ninth or 10th grade when I entered a singing competition in school. And that was the first time that my whole class would see me sing.

All my friends—all 30 of them—came to see me and were kind of getting ready to make fun of me. They didn’t know that I could sing because they’d never heard me before that. There was a singer before me and she was pretty good. And one of my male friends was like, “Oh, you’re really gonna go through with this? And I thought, “OK, just wait and see…”

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So, I sang “Born To Try” by Delta Goodrem. And literally, as soon as I sang the first sentence, everyone stood up and they were like, “How could you hide this from us?” After that, it was like, the secret’s out! That’s why I keep stressing how important it is [for anybody with a dream] to just take that first step.

TAGS: Cupnoodle

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