Ada Pasternak Returns Home with a Song … Actually, a Lot of Songs
When singer-songwriter and violinist Ada Pasternak has a song in her heart, chances are it’s going to end up being heard.
“I write songs for me as a therapy,” the Fairfield, CT native explains, “but I share them with people to connect, and help them. That’s why I perform, as well, to connect with the audience.”
She continued, adding, “I think it was a hard year for a lot of people, just a lot of stuff was happening in the world, and still is, but I’m feeling, in a way, sort of hopeful, and inspired to share my music with the world, and help people heal. That’s what music is for me.”
After spending six years in Los Angeles, Ada returned to Connecticut in 2023, and immediately penned the song “Fairfield.” Named after her hometown, “Fairfield” covers the wide range of emotions she felt when returning home, including both the joy of familiarity, and the reality that some things are a bit different due to the passage of time.
“Fairfield” is one of more than 30 songs Ada has written in recent months, and she’s looking to record every one of them.
In addition to recording new music, Ada has two other projects she’s currently working on. First there’s her long-running Song for Song series, where she sits down with other artists, and they talk about music while singing songs for each other. She’s also in the process of launching Sing for My Coffee, which will see her walking into coffee shops, and offering to sing in exchange for a cup of Joe.
I caught up with Ada on an especially frigid day that required numerous hot beverages – sadly, none were paid for with songs – and she opened up about her six years in L.A., what excited her most about writing “Fairfield,” and how John Mayer, and Dead & Company, each play a role in her hopes for the future.
You spent six years in Los Angeles. What sparked that move, and what were some of the goals you had when you went out there?
I got invited by Postmodern Jukebox to come film a video for YouTube in Los Angeles. They were like, “We’ll put you up in a hotel, just get yourself out there.” I was like, alright, cool.
I bought a one-way ticket.
I was like, what if I just wanna stay? So I got a one-way ticket, and I went out there, and I just had such a welcoming feeling. I met so many great people. Right away, it was just like, oh my God, L.A. is so fun. It’s so new, it’s so exciting. It’s full of opportunities, and possibilities. So I stayed … for a while.
In what ways did the change in coasts affect the music you were making?
Wow, that’s an interesting question. I never thought about that.
I think whatever we’re going through, and our environment, and the people that we spend time with, it all affects the music we’re making.
I’m actually making better music now. I’m making the best music that I’ve ever made, and it definitely has to do with having gone through hardships.
I had a really difficult 2023.
That was the year you officially moved back to CT, right?
Yeah, well, nothing’s official in my life so far, and it wasn’t a move, it was, “Oh, I have nowhere to go,” because I had a breakup.
I was living with a guy.
All my stuff is in L.A. in a storage unit, $200 a month.
But the place I’m living in now isn’t permanent either. It’s a lease until May, and then I don't know where I’m gonna go yet, so it’s tricky.
That is tricky. I was gonna ask if you have any unfinished business out in L.A., but clearly you do, all your stuff is still there!
Yeah, and more.
My dog is out there, but I try not to talk about that because it’s too painful. My ex took her.
You know what, we’re gonna spread this interview around, and make your ex a gigantic villain, so you can get your dog back. That's my goal for this interview. Switching gears, I know you’re very close to your family, so how difficult was it being 3,000 miles away from them?
I think I got used to it pretty fast because I was so excited to be in a new place, new environment, new people.
L.A. is so crazy. There’s always stuff going on. I think I was kind of distracted by everything, so I probably didn’t think about it that much, but there were definitely times, and moments when I missed my family.
I would fly back like three times a year, or so, and stay a week-ish, so I did feel like I still saw them a lot, but now that I’m living ten minutes away from them I’m like, oh my gosh, it’s such a different feeling. There’s definitely a coziness to it, and like a safety, you know?
The vibe is good.
Yeah. I mean, every family has their dramas, but yeah, it’s definitely a gift to be so close to family.
You recently released a song inspired by your hometown, the town we’re both in right now, Fairfield, CT. Was this in the works before you moved back, or did your move inspire it?
So, my breakup was very sudden, and very painful. Again, it’s all part of the story.
I was living with a guy, and we broke up literally in the middle of the night. I had nowhere to go, so I flew home to my parents’ house in Fairfield, and I lived with them for a couple of months while I was trying to figure out … you know … it was just so sad, and I was writing a ton of songs. I wrote like probably 30 breakup songs, and then I wrote a song called “Fairfield.” I mean, I wrote a song, and then I was like, what should I call this? Oh, “Fairfield,” obviously.
When you go through a hard time, there’s different points of healing. It was nice to get to a place where I wrote a song that wasn’t a breakup song. It’s about me, and where I’m at in life, and how that experience led me to this experience. So I decided to call the song “Fairfield.” It just felt right.
I’ve written a lot of other songs since then – some breakup songs, some non-breakup songs.
Fairfield is really special to me because it’s where I grew up, and now I’m back, and I never knew if I would live here again, but life sometimes gets you out of your comfort zone, and places you somewhere else where you’re meant to be.
I’m really glad to be here with friends and family, and I’m also realizing I sort of missed the seasons, because I’m really enjoying the snow.
That’s why you like today so much! After six years of no winter, you’re like, bring on the snow!
You mentioned you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 breakup songs. How many of them do you want to have see the light of day, and how many of them were just like a catharsis to get through things?
I want to release all of them.
When the whole drama / trauma situation started, songwriting was my therapy … and still is. It really always has been, but I was like – I need to make an album. I’ve never really made an album before. I have an album that I made with my parents, like a fun, let’s jam in the studio thing. It’s called Sweet Dreams, and it’s beautiful, but I’ve never made like an original music album, because I think even though I’ve always wanted to, I didn’t really have something to say. Now I do.
I have a lot to say, and I really love my new music. When people ask me, “What’s your favorite song you wrote?” I’m like, the songs that I’m writing now, because they’re just so honest, and really come deeply from within me, and from my experience, and my pain. Sometimes that’s the best art.
So yeah, definitely, my goal is to make my album, hopefully by May, or so, and then do a summer tour.
You have a lot of songs to narrow down to an album. At what point do you have to stop yourself, and say, “These are the songs”?
I know I have too many songs that I want to fit into an album now. My friends are like, “Ada, you can’t put 18 songs in an album.” I’m like, “But can I? Maybe I can.” It’s a lucky Jewish number.
Since I keep writing and writing, I’m thinking about maybe putting out, sometime soon, like a little EP, which would include “Fairfield,” because I wrote a couple of songs recently that are in a similar vibe.
I have a song that I wrote called, “I Moved to the Beach,” because I did, I’m living in a cottage on the beach. That’s a fun song, and then I have a song called “Starting Over,” which really goes nicely with those other songs, and I just wrote another song called “2024,” which I’m really excited about.
Then, just like two days ago, I wrote another song, because it was a hundred days since innocent Israeli civilians were held up in Gaza by Hamas, I wrote a song dedicated to the hostages, and their loved ones. Actually, it’s sort of going viral, because like every time I check my phone, it has more shares and views. It has I think 36,000 views in two days on Instagram, and a couple of famous actors have shared it like Deborah Messing and Michael Rapaport.
I think people are resonating with, yes, with my music, but it’s beyond that. I think it’s my vulnerability, and my emotion. That’s what I resonate with when I listen to music.
Keeping with your songwriting, I saw you take part in a songwriters’ circle at Park City Music Hall that was put together by Drew Angus.
With that in mind, are there collaborations in the works for you? Are there any local artists you might be excited to be working with?
I do want to write a song with Drew. We actually started jamming on something at some point, but we didn’t finish it.
I just have so many songs that I need to record, and finish on my own for now, but I’m definitely open to it, different collaborations, you know, wherever the magic is.
Is there a dream collaboration? Put it out there, local or otherwise.
John Mayer, baby.
Technically local, but I believe he lives on some gigantic ranch in Montana now.
Yeah, he probably has a couple houses, I’m guessing.
He’s my favorite artist. He’s my favorite songwriter.
Obviously there’s so many great people out there, but one of the things … I want my career to look similar to his, because I love that he has his pop stuff, he has his blues trio, he has his country album. He’s so versatile, and I love that. I love that he can shred on guitar, but then write a beautiful pop song with lyrics that make you cry. I’m like, yes, that’s exactly what does it for me as a listener.
Everyone likes different stuff, but I love John Mayer.
That’s also an indicator that you’re willing to take your music in a plethora of different directions.
I can get on stage with Grateful Dead, and jam out. Like, why not?
I mean, he’s leaving Dead & Company, the spot’s right there.
I know. Hey, they might need a shredding violinist to fill in.
For more Ada Pasternak, check out adapasternak.com.