Ashe Talks "Used to It", “Girl Who Cried Wolf”, & Being a Perfectionist
Though she’s a California native, it took a move to the east coast for songstress Ashe to curate her talents, taste, and sound. Think Rolling Stones meets Ella Fitzgerald… and with three (yes, three) upcoming tours, Ashe’s show is one you won’t want to miss.
MILK.XYZ premiered the video for Ashe’s “Used to It” earlier this year, and now she’s back, to catch up on the video, life on tour, and what it’s like to collaborate with some of the biggest names in the industry at the moment. Check the full interview below.
You just announced you’re going on tour! Tell me about what we can expect?
I’m on tour right now. We’re in Brooklyn right now, this is actually the third date of the tour, and it’s already been so much fun. I’ve been loving every second of it. I’m about to go on tour with Louis the Child in November right after this, and then I’m going on tour with Lauv in January. Basically, I better get used to using these showers. [Laughs]
Any cities you’re pumped to see or haven’t been to before?
I’ve never been to Philadelphia, and that was the first stop on the tour. I haven’t been to a lot of places, I’ve mainly visited California and Boston and Nashville, so I’m exploring a bunch of places. Last night was my first show in New York City, and it went so well. I totally thought I was gonna eat it, like I was gonna trip on stage and it was gonna be a total mess, but I did good! [Laughs] It was a lot of fun.
Do you ever get to explore the city you’re in or is an in-and-out, do your set, do your thing and then leave?
It depends on the day. We’re on day three, so I’m in a total learning curve. This is my first tour, and I’m doing three back-to-back, so I’m sure by the end I’ll have more of an opinion, but I love exploring. I just got this amazing new film camera from this company Lomography, so I’m gonna part-time do some photography work on film and explore a little bit. At the beginning, it’s fresh. I should, though.
Tell me about your single “Used to It.” What’s it about?
There’s a couple sides to it. I went into it as a pitch session, writing songs for somebody else originally, which is pretty funny now that I think about it. I had just signed my publishing deal. I was trying to get cuts, which is funny because when I stopped trying to get cuts, it happened. That’s how the Demi Lovato song came out of nowhere—it was this chance thing that I have a song on her album. That session was set up right after I signed my deal. The real inspiration for that song was my first love, my first boyfriend [Laughs] I was with him for five years, which is way long for your first relationship from high school. I’m a serial monogamist. I’m married now, I like commitment. We just grew out of each other and became young adults. It’s a little sad, but in a way I got a lot of closure that I never had. I haven’t seen him since we broke up, so like seven years ago. That’s probably the most lighthearted of the songs coming out. I’m really excited to have new music coming out, with me 100 percent knowing it was for me. The next single comes out November 10, “Girl Who Cried Wolf”.
The video for “Used to It” premiered on MILK.XYZ! What was the creative process like for bringing that song to life in the video?
I’m a little over-controlling [Laughs] It’s my image, my aesthetic. I’m really involved. I run all my socials, all the artwork. In that scenario, I worked with the creative director at my label Mom+Pop, and she was able to find the director. I told her I needed it on 16mm film, it has to be for the first music video. I knew I wanted it to start in black and white and transition it into color. The main reason for that was that in high school when I was dating that guy, I was very lame. I was maybe the most neutral-colored wearing, lame outfit girl. It was awful. I hide all my pictures of me in high school. I hated color, and I was basically just a stick in the mud. I went to a really close-minded private school. I was already a 50-year-old in a 16-year-old’s body. Then when I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, it threw the door open and I became myself again. I wore color again, and became the girl and woman I truly wanted to be in this world. So, the music video starts in black-and-white and transitions into this really beautiful, soft, colorful, trippy world. That’s the world I live in now.
You mentioned you went to college in Boston, can you talk a bit about how you started out as a musician? Any notable influences or inspiration?
Everything really became when I applied to Berklee. I only applied to Berklee, so I was basically like, “Fuck my life” if I don’t get in [Laughs] That’s the only thing that I planned on doing. I didn’t want to be an artist, I didn’t want to sing, and I actually got in and they even gave me a partial scholarship. Everything changed from there. I grew up playing piano and writing my own songs, and they were kinda lame. I was a lame person in high school, and the songs were kinda lame too. No regrets, I love my life and it brought me here. Berklee was amazing, I had no musical repertoire growing up, we would play Christian radio in the car. My saving grace was my grandpa. He would play the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan in the car on road trips. He’s the guy who introduced me to Jefferson Airplane, which is now one of my favorite bands. There’s this song “White Rabbit” and he said, “If you can sing this song, you’re gonna make it.” For one of my very first shows as Ashe, I did a cover of “White Rabbit” and was like this is for you, Grandpa.
He was right! That’s so amazing.
Yeah, I want everyone to know him. Best human I’ve ever met. Once I went to Berklee, which is a jazz conservatory, I learned all about Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane, all these great jazz musicians. Even old swing music, and then I started singing jazz. I think that’s carried through into my voice even now.
I was a lame person in high school, and the songs were kinda lame too. No regrets, I love my life and it brought me here.
You’ve collaborated with some pretty huge names—Big Gigantic, The Chainsmokers—can you talk about what that has been like, especially as a female artist in a male-dominated industry?
I’ve kind of always been a guy’s girl—I’m a girl’s girl too and am a total feminist and women’s rights activist. I’m most often a guy’s girl though, and that gives me an opportunity to put them in their place if anything came up [Laughs]. With Louis the Child, they’re the most well-researched and two of the most humble, sweet men, and they really gave me a voice in this world. Big Gigantic, Dom and Jeremy, again—if you ever meet Dom in person he will give you this big hug and make you feel the world’s love. I’ve been really lucky because I know there’s a lot of scary situations that happen with men and female artists in this world and a lot of stuff is coming out about sexual harassment with producers and I really have to say I’m incredibly blessed to be around guys who respect me and love me. I have to put them in their place once in awhile. It gives me an opportunity to say this is how I expect to be treated, and this is how you should treat other people as well. I’m really grateful. I want to work with more women, Elohim is a good friend of mine, I’m hoping we can collab on something soon. It’s kind of worked out that the guys have been my collaborators.
What new music are you working on, an album? EP?
Yeah, I’m working on a new album. I’m on tour, so I’m kinda psycho [Laughs] I’ve been in the process of working on my first album and hopefully put out more singles before the album comes out. The next single comes out November 10, “Girl Who Cried Wolf”. I have a lot of new material that’s being fine-tuned right now. Again, I’m super controlling when it comes to work, so everything has to be perfect or at least meet my imperfect standards.
Stay tuned to Milk for more west coast favorites.