As a junior high school student growing up in the Jericho area, Sarah Khan got bit by the MTV bug—hard. Having started out playing the piano at the age of 9, the future owner of Eskay’s Music School got swept up in the video music channel during its ‘80s height. It was the impetus for a love affair with pop that’s translated into Dust It Off, Khan’s forthcoming EP. She fondly remembers what it was like as a suburban kid getting her appetite whetted in a way that inspired her to hit the recording studio.
“We weren’t really allowed, so when my mom would leave me with my younger sister to go grocery shopping. I turned the TV on as soon as she left. I just remember watching the countdowns and some of the VJs like Martha Quinn and Adam Curry, who I loved. I thought it was just the coolest thing. Everything from seeing the Janet Jackson videos to Motley Crue,” Khan recalled.
For the NYU music education grad, Dust It Off represents a second return to the recording studio, after spending much of the past decade setting up her business and building up a thriving student clientele who hail from throughout Nassau and western Suffolk County. For this outing, the piano-playing singer-songwriter tapped Rob Freeman (Gym Class Heroes) as a producer for her six-song EP. For this project, Khan commuted to Freeman’s studio in New Jersey, oftentimes commuting a couple of hours each way.
That much downtime gave her a chance to work out different musical ideas in her head.
Among the highlights she came up with are opening cut “Beating Next To Yours,” an upbeat love song that showcases the Long Island native’s pure singing style amid subtle synth swooshes and lush harmonies. Elsewhere, fans of well-crafted pop will find plenty to luxuriate in whether it’s the winsome title cut and its sing-songy message of resilience reminiscent of a more innocent Katy Perry or the anthemic closing number “Fame,” which she and Freeman framed with live strings and just the right layered vocal arrangements. A fan of numerous 1990s British artists including Oasis, Radiohead and Coldplay, Khan applied her own electro-pop spin to “Home,” a shimmering mix of dance beats and hooks that brings to mind Madonna’s work with producer William Orbit. Despite being her own harshest critic, Khan was pleased with the end result.
“I felt really comfortable working with Rob, who was really easy to work with. It was all a work in progress. We would mix as we were going along. Definitely the most exciting part of this was when I got the full masters and got to hear the finished product,” she said.
While plans to tour are currently up in the air, Khan is most thrilled with the fact that she got to scratch her musical itch, particularly given the demands of being the owner of a thriving music school.
“I’m not playing live anymore because it’s difficult to find the right musicians to work with who are just as invested in this as I am. I’m just going to take it step-by-step and if there’s a day I feel like going on and sharing with people on Facebook and Instagram, then I’ll share. If I don’t feel like doing that, then I’ll let it be,” she said. “One thing is that I don’t want to be stressed about this. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was procrastinating [doing this EP]. I own a school full-time and not only am I running that, but I also teach. I have cut back on some of my hours because I felt like things like putting the EP were put on the backburner, so we’ll see what happens. So ultimately, the goal is that I’d love to get this music placed in media—film and TV. I’d love to get it licensed. When I made this record, that then became the goal. It’s not like I was writing songs with the idea of whether or not something was commercially viable.”
Dust It Off will be available on a number of platforms including iTunes, Spotify and Amazon on March 19.