Ashe Cuts Away the Past For New Era

Ashe is ready to start something new. V got the chance to sit down with her following the announcement of her new album.

When I video called Ashe, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter was still on tour, spending the night in Milan. She was thinking about the varied, tumultuous events of the last two years: the gift of performing on stage, and the recent loss of her brother. But underneath it all was a returning theme:  Ashe is entering this new era, her sophomore album, with more confidence. As she puts it, it’s all sex and rock and roll.  It’s all about seeing what happens when someone leans into womanhood.

Ashe has decided to announce this new era of self-assurance in a variety of ways, including through fashion. You can see it in the Quentin Tarantino-inspired visuals for the “Angry Woman” music video, which features hands slowly cutting away Ashe’s old clothes—or her old self. It’s a bold, tongue-in-cheek choice for a woman trying to reintroduce herself to the world. There are a lot of guesses on what it means to be confident. As Ashe’s sophomore album “Rae” looms on the horizon, we’ll finally get to see what it means to Ashe. Read below for a sneak peek of what’s to come, following the smashing, in-your-face alt-rock of “Angry Woman.”

V MAGAZINE: When you were crafting this album, what did you want it to say about you as an artist?

ASHE: My first album was so off the heels of my divorce and going through all this turmoil and toxicity. I was really coming out of that phase of going through so much healing. This new album is so grounded in confidence, sexual freedom, excitement, and liberation. I feel like that’s what I really wanted to come through, that aspect of confidence.

V: Do you feel like the newfound confidence has affected how you make music? Do you take more risks? Or is this new confidence more about your identity and platform?

A: I think it all flows into each other. It’s hard not to let one affect the other. I think that the more confident I’ve become as a woman and as a human being, the more freedom and liberation I’ve felt in my writing. I’ve always tried not to be censored, but sometimes you just have to keep growing up and live some life and go through human evolution to really step into that. I’ve finally been able to get there, and the music is finally really able to reflect that. And it’s just fun…I think this record is a lot more playful, which is where I’m at internally.

V: What was the process of finding more confidence for you?

A: Trauma. [laughs] Well, a little bit is trauma and a little bit is growing up. I lost my brother not so long ago. The gift of losing someone is they also kind of give you a little back of your own life. You take so much more stock of the time, the little time that you have. So I think that was a huge piece of the puzzle. I was feeling really set free from all the pressures that I felt the world expected of me.

“Loss” is the worst thing ever but then it’s also this strange gift. I wish there was a better word than a gift, but it gave me back so much freedom. It’s like, “What do I care what someone else wants me to do with my time? It’s mine. Not theirs. Only mine.”

V: I’ve listened to “Angry Woman,” and I felt like it was such a different sound from what I’ve come to expect from you. What influenced you?

A: I started listening to a lot more Pink Floyd, and a lot more to Rolling Stones, Alanis Morissette. All these different influences I listened to as a kid are now starting to come through in my own music. I have always been an avid Beach Boys listener, an avid Carole King listener.  I think “Ashlynn” really formed around a lot of those sounds and a lot of those soundscapes. With “Angry Woman,” I think that part of feeling more liberated and uncensored is that I’m a woman in this world who has countless times been told to be small so that someone else feels bigger. “Don’t let your happy get too loud” and “Don’t let your anger get too loud” because that’s going to make someone uncomfortable. I grew up feeling like anger was a very dangerous emotion. Anger to me as a kid was dangerous instead of righteous and healthy. I think I got to a point where I was like, “This is exactly what I need to feel, and exactly what I need to say.” The music required a little bit of an aggressive reflection of that emotion.

V: When did you know that you wanted to become a musician?

A: Music has always been the only thing that made sense in my world. I didn’t think I was good enough to be an artist. I had a lot of insecurities attached to who I was as a human and as a young adult becoming a musician. I went to music college and then was like, “I’ll go to Nashville and be a songwriter.” That’s what I did after school, and I started that way. I had some level of confidence that I could write a great song and something clicked in Nashville. Also, I work harder than other people. I’m going to stand by that truth. I’m not going to be timid about that. I work my ass off, and I was like “maybe if I just work harder than everybody else, which I’m already doing, then maybe I can do this.” Something just really clicked.

V: What would you say is the most important part of making music to you?

A: It’s like a dual thing. In my own personal life, it gives me the freedom to explore and process all the stories that I’m collecting in my world. I’m an avid journaler, so I start my processing that way. But writing a song, and adding poetry and art to a story, is so cathartic and wonderful. The other side is how it affects the world and connects with people. Being on this tour, the number of people who have embraced me and who have been holding signs that say like, “You saved me” or “I  wouldn’t be here without you”. At first, it was very overwhelming. But then, once I let that go, it became like, “This is what it’s all supposed to be about, real-life human connection and people being moved and affected by it.”

V: How does fashion play into this new album?

A: The music video for “Angry Woman” is cutting away an old layer that was there. I’m fully in a turtleneck, full Ashlynn attire, a jacket and suit pants. There’s a slow stripping away of that. It’s liberating, and it’s supposed to feel jarring. Fashion is a huge part of my inspiration.

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