Behind the Mic: Interview with Sydney R&B Artist Ashli
We caught up with Ashli – an incredible up-and-coming R&B artist from Sydney (who also features in our NT1 5th Generation campaign) – to see what inspires her, how she writes her songs and tells her stories, and how she almost became a country singer thanks to the irresistible influence of Taylor Swift.
What inspired you to start making music, and what inspires you to keep it up?
I grew up listening to a lot of singer/songwriters and was always fascinated by how they turned personal experiences into songs that even I as a little girl could connect with. That's what first inspired me to first pick up my guitar and write my own lyrics. I think that’s what keeps me going as well, my love for telling stories and sharing them with people through my songs.
When it comes to your creative process, do you like to stick to a structured routine or keep it free and spontaneous? Tell us what the day-to-day might look like when you're working on your music.
I'm always writing down one liners and poems in my notebook or phone. So when I go into sessions with a producer I pull the notes out for inspiration, using them to craft the story I'm trying to tell. I also always have a big green notebook with me in all of my sessions. I love putting my ideas down on paper and seeing the process of the whole song in front of me.
What's your songwriting space/studio like? Is there any gear that particularly inspires you?
I write at home a lot, I love being in a smaller cosy space. Some of my favourite studios in Sydney have that same feel. A notebook and a mic is always a must. When I go into a studio to write I always love taking the demo home so I can continue refining the lyrics and coming up with ideas even when I’m not in the studio. I always aim to have a demo, with nice vocals so I can see the vision of the song clearly even before it’s completely done.
How do you approach translating the stories you want to tell into lyrics?
I try to take my time with what I’m trying to say and think of each song as having its own identity and journey. I want to find what lyrics, melody and production best works for the story rather than what has worked for other songs.
It seems that human connection is a pretty important theme in your music, can you tell us a little bit more about why this is and how you explore it in your art?
I think this theme is so prominent in my music because it is so prominent in my life right now, I have learned so much about myself through my relationships with people. I feel like I'm in a never-ending journey of growing up and figuring out my place in the world, so this is naturally a huge source of inspiration in my songwriting.
You’re obviously influenced by R&B, but are there any genres of music you’re really into that we wouldn’t guess from your music? Any standout artists in this genre?
Yes! I am a huge Swifti! Also love Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Erykah Badu and The 1975! There are so many more but these are a few favourites that come to mind right now.
If you were to name your single biggest influence, who (or what) would it be, and how has it influenced you?
Definitely one of the big ones is Taylor Swift. I was just so obsessed with her, I even wanted to be a country singer when I was younger because of her haha! To me she is just one of the best storytellers, sometimes I listen to her music and just cry haha!
Check out Ashli’s latest music on Spotify and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.