Ashley Campbell: “Build the life that you want for yourself.”
Ashley Campbell was originally a theater major at Pepperdine University. Music had always been a major part of her life from beginning piano lessons at age 6 and picking up the guitar at 15. But it wasn’t until she was asked to learn the banjo for a role in Pepperdine’s Edinburgh Theater program that music began to take the wheel as both a passion and a career.
Shortly after graduation, Ashley spent the next three years touring with her father, Glen Campbell, playing banjo and keyboards. As the tour went on, Ashley began writing and performing music of her own and subsequently moved to Nashville in 2013 where she signed a publishing deal and began her own journey as an artist. Ashley went on to write and release her first single “Remembering” in 2015. A deeply personal reflection about her father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, “Remembering” was featured on her father’s documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The soundtrack for the documentary (also featuring a cover by Ashley of her father’s song “Home Again”) would go on to win two Grammy’s.
The success launched Ashley into a solo career as an independent artist, releasing her first album, The Lonely One, in 2018. Ashley co-produced the record with her brother Cal and released on her own label (Whistle Stop Records). The Lonely One album hit the Top Ten of the UK Country Chart upon release. Since then, Ashley has all over the US as well as the UK and Europe including opening for Kris Kristofferson in London, the C2C Festival MainStage in 2018, and playing at Carnegie Hall with songwriting legend Jimmy Webb.
Ashley’s sophomore album, Something Lovely (produced by friend and co-writer of “Remembering” Kai Welch) released October 9, 2020. The album features eleven new tracks including “If I Wasn’t” which features Vince Gill on vocals and electric guitar. Ashley’s hard-wired musicality, clarity and easy lyrical delivery gives this collection a classic feel but the songwriting and production are right up the minute. There is depth as well as undoubted style. A mature and confident set from a musician who has earned her place in the spotlight.
You recently released your project Something Lovely. What message do you want to get across with this album? The making of this album was a journey of personal discovery for me. Living in Nashville in a music scene that prizes commercial success over quality art can be a discouraging environment to float around in. I swam in that sea for years and almost got lost in the waves but then I realized that the sea you swim in is your own decision and I can walk on water in my own sea. My dad always told me to make music because I love the way it sounds and makes me feel, not to make music that you “think” other people will like. If I like it, chances are, a lot of other people will feel the same and it will bring us all together.
Tell me about how If I Wasn’t with Vince Gill came about and what this song means to you? This song was written to give a sense of nostalgia. It has a classic vibe and is about just feeling something in the moment. In this song, the singer grieves a lost love and wishes he were as sad as she is that it’s ending. There is no resolution, we are just feeling. I want it to be ok to just feel sad and not have to justify or explain. When I wrote this song, I knew it would be perfect for Vince’s high lonesome voice. I was so pleased he agreed to play and sing with me on it.
Who are some of your dream collaborations? I admire St. Vincent immensely. She is such a talented creative mind and I would love to work on a project with her someday. Also Ben Folds, Dolly Parton and Jack White are high on my list.
Where do you feel most at home when creating music? What makes it that way? I definitely like to be where no one can hear me, because to me, being creative is very private…I need to feel that I can try out any idea without the perceived judgment of others…not until I believe it is ready to be heard by outside ears. So, it doesn’t matter where I write as long as I have privacy. Though I do love a spot by a window with a beautiful view. I find that so inspiring. And a glass of wine or scotch never hurts the process haha.
Is there anything you’re currently working on that isn’t announce but you can tell us? At the moment, I am working on writing for my next album and also working on a (non musical) creative writing project. I can’t announce what it is just yet but I will as soon as it’s ready.
What’s your philosophy in life? Always be kind and build the life that you want for yourself, not the life that others think you should have.
Can you share a personal experience that has reshaped your views on music? My dad gave me some killer advice when we were on tour many years ago. He said “Be a super person and the superstar will follow.” I think that for any of my musical endeavors to succeed, they need to come from a place of truth in my life. That advice put into perspective for me that I must put as much care and love into my life as I put into my music. Without a life well-lived, the music is empty.
The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different.” What makes you strikingly different? I believe to be “different” means to be truly yourself regardless of what the people around you think you should be. All I can do is to be the truest form of myself as I see it and go from there. I think it comes from the inside and that the happiest people are the ones who care what they think about themselves more than the opinions of others.