I am beyond lucky to have attended Ashe’s sold-out concert at the Troubadour last night in which she opened up about her album and shared an incredible night with her fans also bringing out friend, and popular artist FINNEAS.
For those who are not familiar with Ashe and her music, let me be the first to say, you are missing out. Ashe is an incredible performer, artist, friend, and role model. Her music is vulnerable and has depth, plenty different from much of today’s traditional top hits made to be viral for one moment – Ashe’s music lasts a lifetime. It is simultaneously modern, yet feels much older, and is much more than just a trend. Her disposition toward making music sparks the realization for many of what music should represent; your own truth. The animated, feel-good music runs raw with emotion and vulnerability, creating Ashe’s incredible, unique music.
Tune into our raw, emotional interview with Ashe as she explains the process of writing her Sophomore Album Rae, as well as the meaning behind different songs, collaboration on the album, the album’s structure, hints of her third album, and so much more. To Ashe and her team, we are grateful for this amazing opportunity and cannot wait to continue to cover the brilliant and industry-changing music that she releases.
First and foremost how are you feeling coming of your one-night-only, and one-night-only performance of your album Rae?
I feel like a little emotionally hungover by it all, I am grateful for the experience and gosh, I am always amazed that people continue to show up and care. It’s been a really validating experience, I am good. Emotionally hungover is the best way to put it.
What were some of your favorite moments and or highlights of the concert?
Ok, I am going to say a couple. The first I’m gonna start with is to soundcheck when you weren’t there. I am so sorry. Diane Keaton came to my sound check and we basically just had a private concert just for her. Me and Stef Jones who wrote love is letting go with me, which Diane sings on, we sang it for her, and Stef and I just started crying at the end. Diane was just there and kinda lovingly cherishing it and just smiling – that was probably one of the most special parts, but that wasn’t the actual show, so we will go to the actual show.
On my way could not have been more fun. It was so fun to see people singing a song that just came out. I mean a lot of songs in the album obviously hadn’t been heard, so that was cool. “Love You Need” felt really special. It just felt so good. I notoriously don’t do encores, but the show was not over at the end and I brought my friend FINNEAS out and that was like, he’s just a very special person to me, so that was pretty cool.
That was 1000% one of my favorite moments as well. Since you touched on your track, “Love is Letting Go,” I need to tell you that is honestly one of my favorite tracks on the album. It is just so beautiful and raw with emotion and authenticity, and I know it has a special place in your heart as well. I know you talked about this at the concert, but for everyone who wasn’t there, would you mind sharing the story that is behind that spectacular song?
Yeah…, so I lost my brother to addiction about two years ago now. I didn’t know I was gonna write about it again because I wrote a song about it on the first album called, “Ryan’s Song”, which is my brother’s name and I didn’t know if I wanted to delve into it again. We took this little trip to a little mountain town called Big bear here in California. And I took just some of my favorite writers and closest friends and Stef Jones and I started writing this song and we didn’t really know what it was about when we first started it. And then we wrote the first two lyrics which were, “there you fly soaring in the dark of the night//you touched down to be mine for a little while” and immediately we looked at each other and we started just crying our eyes out. And we knew that we were singing about people we had lost. She had lost someone very close to her as well about the same time I lost my brother. Suddenly we were writing a song tribute to them and for me, it was about my brother and how we just don’t have very long with the people we love, we don’t know how long we have with the people we love, so that song just has a super special place in my heart. And in the midst of a dark spot, I got to do it with my hero and have Diane on the song, it was unreal.
That is beautiful, and something I have noticed in that track and all of your other songs is that you are just sincere and vulnerable in your writing. It’s so easy to connect with your lyrics because you write about things that can happen to everyone, and I think many people connect with your music as a place of closure. I was wondering if vulnerability comes naturally to you when you are writing.
It does, yeah. It is not too much for me to get real and vulnerable. I think honestly, I think you can kinda hear it in any song, I’m hyper-aware that I am gonna die, it’s not a happy fun thing to think about all the time, but it puts everything in perspective and I am just kinda like what’s the point of I’m not gonna be honest and vulnerable with people because I don’t know how long I am gonna have to do it, so I might as well do it in a way that feels authentic to me. I don’t know. I love when people are vulnerable with me and I think it’s an ultimate kindness to share our stories with people. So yeah, it is not too tough, some ones are harder to write than others, but I think ultimately I think vulnerability comes pretty easy to me now.
Definitely. I already said it, but that aspect of being able to connect with so many people through your music must be extremely powerful for you. Even at the concert, hearing everyone singing your songs that just came out, must have been exciting for you.
Yea and emotional– I am surprised I didn’t cry on stage. I think I was having so much fun, more fun than I have had in a while playing a show, so maybe I did not let the tears come out as much, I told all my team, “get ready for me to cry 6 times on stage.” Maybe I got my tears out earlier with Diane.
It was special being in the room –just feeling the energy. I am interested to hear what your favorite part was when you made this album which serves as closure and a special place for your listeners.
I think the most memorable moment was that trip to big bear. There were just the five of us, we didn’t go with any agenda, it wasn’t like we need to write a bunch of hit songs and finish the album. I sent this email to all of the writers that were coming and it was basically just “we all know that we are good at this, we are good at writing, let’s get over our insecurities and accept this is what we do, and we are good at it, so let’s just go and do what we do best and have a hell of a time doing it.” We really set the tone for that trip before it even started. The point was just the process. I know that sounds cheesy, but genuinely the point was to enjoy what we do best and enjoy what we love doing most in this world together. That was maybe the most special week of writing music throughout my whole career.
That is a good way to go about it. On that trip to big bear, I am curious if there was any talk about the structure of your album and deciding which song would go where. Because there are different types of songs in Rae, like Another man’s jeans, or Angry woman and then there’s love is letting go. What went into deciding the order of the album’s tracklist?
I wanted to tell a story with the track order, even from Rae’s theme, kicking it out with this instrumental, I wanted it to be like you were entering your own movie. I think you can kinda feel that, I just wanted to take people on a journey, and I wanted to take you onto a wild run ride in the beginning. The front half of the album is kind of stacked with large songs and you get to the middle and it kinda cools out, and we talk about some hard things. It took me a long time to put it in order.
I could definitely feel that story the first time I listened to the album all the way through.
Oh good, I am so glad. You put a lot of effort and spend a lot of time on that kind of thing and you never know if it actually translates.
No, it definitely does. This is something that you touched on earlier and told us in the concert that Tuesday night was the only time that you were planning on playing Rae all the way through. And just because I know how fun it was at the concert, I have to ask how come?
Oh gosh, two things. One, the album I think top to bottom, it feels so right to listen to it that way, but as a live show, I feel like I would just reorder things around. And also there are just records from Ashlyn that I am so attached to, when I put on another show, I want it to be this blend of my favorites of each. And gosh if I play both albums, I will die on stage. And you know, I just wanted it to be really special and feel really unique to this one night. And the troubadour, that was my 7th time playing at the troubadour, the troubadour is like going home. It was my second time heading there, and sometimes it’s nice to just let something live in its own unique bubble and let it be that precious thing. I can’t recreate it. There is not going to be another night like that. There will be amazing other nights but that one was supposed to be what it was and special and all on its own.
Don’t worry it was special, I feel like I am being a broken record, but it was genuinely so special. When people are listening to all of your music but specifically your album Rae, I am curious about what you want them to take away or learn from your albums.
Oof. I think the biggest thing is to do life your own way. And do it on your own terms. I was really liberated by writing this album, so I would want people to feel just an ounce of that liberation listening to it. I think we as humans inevitably feel a lot of pressure from the world, friends, and social media to be/act a certain way. And you know, it is your life, and you only get one. And so what’s the point if you are not doing it on your own terms? Now I sound like a broken record. I want people to live like it’s their last day, cause you just don’t know when that actually gonna be the case. And so screw the world, screw what people want you to do and what you to say and what music people want you to make, like you just gotta do it for yourself first. I don’t know if that comes through the album, but that’s a hope for when you listen.
Aboulsetly, I know you said in the concert you were initially somewhat nervous to release Rae because it wasn’t similar to what is trending right now, but I think we are all extremely happy that you did release it. But I understand where some of that fear might come from because the album is a little different from what is traditionally popular right now.
Yeah, I agree. We are living in an interesting time and I — I got a really sweet compliment from a friend the day the album came out. They listened to it and they texted me and they said they felt like the album simultaneously felt modern but also 50 years old. And I was like that is the best compliment that I could have ever received. I wanna make stuff that feels like it could last and I just genuinely don’t feel like much music that is coming out right now is made with that intention – for good or for bad. I am not even saying that’s good or bad, but I hear a lot of songs that are being made to be viral right now or to hit right now and it just feels like it’s lacking a sense of depth or honesty and integrity. I was like if I am gonna do it I gotta do it my way and I wasn’t sure that my way was gonna be something that people wanted to hear. Honestly, the response to the album has been very surprising; it’s done far better than I thought it would.
Yea. 100 percent.
I feel like coming out of the height pandemic, I felt that was when a lot of artists had the opportunity to take a moment of reflection and consider what music they truly wanted to put out. I think that as LA returns to a somewhat previous life pre-pandemic, I think artists are putting out music to put out music and what they thought fans would want. So respect you for putting out your own message and what you want to say.
Aw, Will, thanks. Well, I am just kinda like shoot, if I am not gonna do it this way then I am gonna quit. It is either do it this way or stop doing it all. I would rather make coffee for the rest of my life than not get to make the music that I want to make.
And I really do think that is what makes you as an artist so special and your music so incredible, that message right there.
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Words + Photos// Will Bollini