Music Interview: Ashlinn Gray – Best Friend, Or Love Yourself First

May 7, 2020

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Singer-songwriter Ashlinn Gray recently released the single Best Friend.


“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?

I was always obsessed with my parent’s Madonna and Michael Jackson music video collection. I would watch them on repeat whenever I could. That really moulded my musical palate. I was then introduced to Queen and the musical Xanadu. I became obsessed with musicals. I really fell in love with Phantom Of The Opera and Cats at around the age of 10. Finally music won me over when I started listening to indie and alternative arts like Daughter, Arctic Monkeys, Bon Iver and Alt J.


Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?

All my past heroes are still my favourites. My influences have just grown. I now look up to the likes of Jessie Reyez, Julia Michaels, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish and Lorde. I love that they are all amazing songwriters and have such unique ways of producing their sound.


Name one song you wish you’d written. What makes that song so important?

Figures by Jessie Reyez is one song that I sometimes thought was my own because I felt it so much. It helped me through a really rough part of my life. I feel such a strong connection to it.


Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?

I have always been one to prioritise lyrics. I can’t remember a melody to save my life. That’s kind of how I started writing actually. I would sing at church and would get in trouble for messing up the melodies because they need to be easy enough for the congregation to sing along to and be similar to the original, but I would always sing it my own way. Lyrics are what make a good song great for me. I’m a stickler for lyrics and take the longest time on them.


The music industry is no longer a single-narrative operation. For you, what is the best way to get your music from your head to potential listeners? Please comment on digital means (from social media to full streaming and download distribution), playing live (how often; where; to whom), being a cottage industry (e.g. selling CDs from a box in your car) and any other creative channels you’ve explored.

It’s so easy to record now days. You can buy a mic, a midi controller and use your laptop to create a song anywhere you want. In your room or even a forest. I think we are in such great era for creatives. It’s no longer a monopoly. After creating something you are proud of, there are free sites to upload your music to like Soundcloud and Reverbnation, or you can use online aggregators like Ditto and Tunecore to get your music into stores and onto streaming services. Anyone and everyone can now listen to your music. One it’s out there, people want to experience it in the flesh with you and that’s where live performance comes in. It’s important to first create a home base and then slowly start increasing your circle’s diameter. I feel like once a month at a specific venue is more than enough. You want people to be excited about watching you perform and not know if backwards. What’s cool about other platforms like Youtube and Instagram is that you are able to show your song in a different way, for example by doing an acoustic version or a lyric video. It’s all about maximising one idea – the song – and finding new ways to explain it and for the audience to relate to it.


In terms of the above, is there a gap between what you envisioned and what you are experiencing now? Does it matter, and if so, how do you close that gap?

There will always be a gap in the beginning. If you want to create a huge production, we will need a lot of money to make it happen. Also, finding the right team to work with is so important, because everyone interprets ideas differently and you need to find people who interpret your idea the closest to the way you envision it.


What is the story behind Best Friend – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?

The song is about self love and realising that you can only love another person once you love yourself. It started off as a song about losing a best friend until I realised I don’t need someone to make me happy. Sometimes all you need is yourself. Abe Dertner produced it as well as co-wrote it with Cara Salimando and I. It was such a fun song to write.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]