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From “The Rabbit Hole” To “Ashlyn”, Get To Know Ashe, An Artist That Stays True To Herself

Born Ashlyn Rae Willson, on April 24, 1993, in San José, Califórnia, Ashe started playing piano and writing songs at a young age, and went to Boston, Massachusetts, to study composition and production at Berklee College of Music. 

After graduating, Ashe moved to Nashville for a year wanting to become a songwriter, but halfway through the year, realized that wanted to perform her own songs. From there on, Ashe found herself in the EDM world, singing on Sleep Alone, by Ben Phipps, a Swedish musician and producer that reached out after listening to her demos. She then collaborated with other DJs and producers, such as Shaun Frank on Let You Get Away, the duo Louis The Child, which she worked with on the song Right to It and a tour, job that she also did with Whethan.

Later, Ashe went to Los Angeles, signed a deal with New York City-based independent record label Mom+Pop, co-wrote You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore, Demi Lovato’s second single for their album, Tell Me You Love Me, toured with Lauv, and played at Coachella with the band Big Gigantic. Her musical career had officially started, and she went on to work on her own material, with her own sound.

She released Used To It, her debut single, in June 2017, Girl Who Cried Wolf, her second single, in November, and, a year later, her first EP, The Rabbit Hole, came out. Justin Gammella and Dan Nigro worked in the production with Yves Rothman, and also did the job of songwriting with Ashe and FINNEAS. All seven songs from the EP were described by her in an interview as “one psychedelic collective sound that represents me, dipped in weirdness and soaked in love.” 

Ashe has always been very open on social media about her biggest inspirations, mostly singer-songwriter Carole King and actress Diane Keaton. According to her, King and Keaton are both “incredibly humble women of character,” “they love what they do and deflect some of the love pointed towards them. I take that as them saying, ‘I’m simply a vessel for my art.’ And that’s how I want to be seen.” And, just how she feels when listening to Tapestry by King, she hopes that, when people listen to her songs, they can “feel like they have one more person on their side.”

Taking inspiration from her own life, almost in an autobiographical kind of way, Ashe’s style of songwriting is very focused on the storytelling element, and all her lyrics are honest, vulnerable, and relatable. Because that’s Ashe. She wants her songs to convey the message that whoever is listening is not alone, she wants people to feel like they have a friend and that someone gets and understands them, “I’m weird and sometimes I feel alone, but I know I’m not,” she said in an interview. “Music heals when you feel like nothing else can. That’s what I want people to take away.”   

Ashe released Moral of the Story Chapter 1, her second EP, on April 5, 2019, not long after she filed for divorce, something that definitely influenced its creation. On June 17, she announced her Mom’s First Headline Tour, after going on six support tours, and her third EP, which can be considered a continuation of the second one, Moral of the Story Chapter 2, came out on August 9 of the same year.

Co-produced by Doug Schadt, FINNEAS, Noah Conrad, Big Taste (also known as Leroy Clampitt), Justin Gammella and Ashe herself, all eight songs on both EPs were written by Ashe, sometimes with the help of the producers and Casey Smith, and very clearly talk about relationships, in one way or another. 

The title track, Moral of the Story, was heavily inspired by her divorce, as were both the EPs, and was, arguably, the reason for the breakthrough moment of her career. When the song was released, more than two years ago, on April 3, 2019, Ashe didn’t even plan on it being played on the radio, she told Billboard, “you hope good things happen to your music, but we weren’t going into that session writing to make a hit.” 

Cut to February 2020, when the movie To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You came out. The sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before featured the single on the soundtrack, and that changed everything. Not only was the song being played on the radio – Ashe posted her pure and wholesome reaction on social media – it started to gain in numbers, reaching over 250 million global streams, landing at number five on the Billboard digital charts and earning RIAA gold and platinum certifications. 

After the success of the song, Ashe worked with Niall Horan in a new version of Moral of the Story, all through screens in the middle of the pandemic, after being linked through a friend that works with him. The remix was announced on June 13, 2020, came out four days later and peaked at #74 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for three weeks. The collaboration also led to Ashe’s first late night TV performance and a participation on Horan’s live-streamed show at The Royal Albert Hall, London’s most iconic venue.

Also, continuing her partnership with the movie franchise, earlier this year, she wrote The Same for To All The Boys, Always & Forever, which also features Real Love, a song from her debut EP The Rabbit Hole.

Ashe’s debut album, Ashlyn, came out on May 7, 2021, and it reached the #194 position on Billboard 200, making this the second time Ashe has entered these charts – Moral of the Story Chapter 1 peaked at #157. The album has fourteen tracks, including the remix of Moral of the Story with Horan, and seven singles, including Save Myself, which can be seen as the precursor to Moral of the Story, and Till Forever Falls Apart, a collaboration with FINNEAS, described by him as “a love letter to friendship,” and that includes the one him and Ashe have cultivated over the years. Overall, Ashe’s debut album is all about her life, about her experiences, the good and the bad, which makes the title of it, the perfect one.

Now 28, Ashe has announced her tour – The Fault Line Tour, and after not even two months of her debut album being out in the world, and less than two months since the pre-sales started, most of the shows are already sold out, including the 2021 European part in its entirety. 

All in all, be it for her art, for her personality, for her genuine heart – always remember her words, “take care of eachother” – Ashe may not have been in the spotlight for long, but she’s already proved herself as someone worth paying attention to. 

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The article above was edited by Laura Ferrazzano. 

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Laura Okida

Casper Libero '21

Journalist. Music, series, books, pop culture, in no particular order.
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