Edward Sha illustrates personal journey in debut album


Photo by Calvin Zhou

Edward Sha releases his debut album “fine pining” on Sept. 28, his 17th birthday

Valerie Shu, Design Editor

On his album cover, senior Edward Sha stands facing a dusty path, sunlit brush and misty mountains stretching out before him. Entitled “fine pining” — a portmanteau of fine dining and pining — the album consists of 11 original tracks documenting his personal journey with themes of love, relationships, body image and mental health. 

Sha was introduced to singing at a young age and discovered music production in middle school through creating covers of pop songs with GarageBand. He began experimenting with songwriting to find his own style of pop music  toward the end of middle school and continued to produce on and off throughout high school. Over the summer, Sha turned to songwriting as an outlet to help with mental health and grapple with personal issues. 

“For me, music is really cathartic,” Sha said. “The whole process is liberating because I have a lot of loose thoughts that I like to tie together with music and songwriting.” 

His debut album “fine pining,” was released across a variety of music streaming platforms including Spotify and Youtube Music on Sept. 28, Sha’s 17th birthday. He was influenced by artists like Conan Gray, a pop singer who writes elaborate love songs despite never having been in a relationship. Sha credits Gray’s music with giving him the confidence to write about complex topics like love and relationships. 

Every song began as a quick line or phrase, jotted down in his Daiso notebook and later unfolded to tell a story. Sha would then record and produce the song from scratch with nothing but a keyboard, an iPad, a pair of earbuds and a bathroom or bedroom with high quality acoustics. Sha played all the instrumentals electronically before mixing and mastering, or editing the music, on Garageband.

“It’s really impressive that he was able to finish the album so quickly because he started it pretty recently,” said senior Sravya Vakkalanka, a singer who gave Sha feedback and helped him brainstorm song ideas during the creation of his album. 

Some songs took weeks to fully form, but Sha’s favorite tracks are 1 a.m. creations pulled together in only 10 or 20 minutes. For example, the album’s fourth song, “unreal,” is one of Sha’s favorites in terms of lyrics and production. “Do I have to eat like I’m unreal?” Sha sings in the track, which lays out his struggles with body image and food. 

“‘unreal’ is just a really powerful song,” Vakkalanka said. “It’s very representative of the title of the album and I also feel like it’s really relatable for a lot of people.”

Even Sha’s lighthearted songs are more meaningful to him than they may seem. For example, Sha is heavily involved in the French community at Lynbrook, and the fifth track, “ideal,” is a hopeful love song filled with references to French food and culture. In it, he uses Paris as a backdrop to pine for his ideal love life, bringing to life idyllic locations like the Musée d’Orsay and Champs-Élysées.

Several tracks on the album like “the i-280” are not only extremely personal but also discuss more taboo topics like mental health and self-harm. Sha hopes that his music will resonate with others and help to destigmatize these topics.

“A lot of the songs are personal because they discuss things that I’ve gone through,” Sha said. “It’s a way that I helped cope with those specific issues at the time and it’s also a way to normalize them.”