Ashe is ready to unlock a new era in her music. She’s ready to put her past self to bed and awaken a new, sultrier artist. The transformation will fully arrive on October 14 when she releases her second full-length album, Rae.
After securing a number of top pop hits (think “Moral of the Story” and “Till Forever Falls Apart”), she is delving into both a new sound and a new image for her next effort. Teased by three singles—”Another Man’s Jeans,” “Angry Woman” and “Shower With My Clothes On”—it’s clear fans and newcomers alike are in for a treat with Rae.
For her first album, she dubbed it “Ashlyn” after her first name. For her second effort, she titled it after her middle name “Rae”—which may seem like an obvious choice, but the decision goes much deeper than it suggests.
“As my sophomore record, it felt like Rae the only right answer as to what the title was going to be,” she tells American Songwriter. “While in many ways I feel like I know who I am, I also feel like I’m in this transitional era. [Rae] is a metaphor for always being in the middle, between life and death.”
She continues, “If Ashlyn was very buttoned up and a little more careful, Rae is pretty liberated and fairly unapologetic. I think I’ve always wanted to be that way, but have never truly felt it until this era. It’s a hell of a lot more fun.”
Despite only having one major album under her belt, Ashe has already garnered the reputation of an in-demand songwriter. She says that the hits she has written for herself—including but certainly not limited to “Moral of the Story” and “Another Man’s Jeans”—have all come together in different ways – which keeps things fun.
“The best part about writing is that it magically comes in a lot of different forms or waves,” she says. “I journal all the time and I’ll pull from that.”
Though one part of the songwriting process that seems to stay the same is the venue. She often starts writing by sitting down at her at-home piano, regardless of the eventual pumped-up production of the song.
“I often sit down at the piano to start,” she says. “I usually end up journaling something, letting it brew and then coming back to it a day later but, it’s always changing.”
Her latest release, also a cut from Rae, is the somber and spacey “Shower With My Clothes On.” The inspiration behind the track came honestly, amid a panic attack-induced shower—with her clothes indeed still on.
“Once upon a time, I was having an extreme panic attack,” she recalls. “I just felt like the whole world was spinning out of control, I was hyperventilating. I wasn’t getting enough oxygen so my hands froze and I couldn’t use my fingers.”
“[‘In Shower With My Clothes On’] I was describing that feeling of spinning out of control where sometimes the only thing you can do to ground yourself is to get a shower with all your clothes on. I feel like every great song is a love song so I attached that feeling to the loss of a relationship,” she adds.
The accompanying music video sees Ashe in a surreal state, sitting in a photo booth as people come and go beside her. Their happy, loved-up energy is in stark contrast with the singer who is stuck deep inside her emotions.
“I really loved the idea of all these different people from different walks of life coming in and out of your life constantly,” she says of the visual. “All these experiences and lives are happening around you that you’re not even paying attention to. In the video, I looked so sad, singing the lyrics to the song while there were people fighting with each other, there’s a mother nursing her baby, there’s a couple making out clearly in the beginning stages of hot and heavy lust and love and I’m so stuck in my pain that I can’t see any of it.”
She also believes all of her visuals—clothing, live show, music videos, etc—help to tell the full story.
“I think that clothing and costume is such a representation of your art and where you are at a certain time,” she says. “Even something I was wearing yesterday feels so dishonest today. You have that one pair of jeans that makes you feel good and then you put it on one day and you’re like, ‘I hate myself.’ It’s like the clothing is literally speaking to you.”
She goes on to say, “I’m an incredibly huge Diane Keaton fan, I have always loved her style. I really adopted that for most of my career. Then, I just felt in this new era, I was willing to experiment with more of my sexuality and more of my femininity.”
Another relatively recent release from the singer is the anthemic “Angry Woman.” The song touches on the societal standards placed on women to be cool, calm, and collected. No one likes an angry women, she croons out in the song before immediately shutting down the naysayers, I’ll do whatever I like.
When talking about the inspiration behind the track she first delves into her enneagram placement.
“I’m an eight, which is The Challenger,” she explains. “From the very first sentence of the descriptor, it says ‘has easy access to their anger.’ I don’t feel like a particularly dramatic person but I think if I get fired up about something, I can sort of live in that anger a bit.”
Serendipitously, the song was released soon before Roe V. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. A happenstance the singer says she feels was apt.
“I wrote it well before Roe V. Wade so there wasn’t that initial connection there,” she says. “But then the fact that it came out at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like there was this universal, energetic connection. Frankly, women, men, non-binary—we all have something to be pretty pissed about on this one, it affects us all. I was pretty proud that that record came out when it did.”
When asked what song she’s most excited about fans hearing from the album, she chooses the forthcoming single “Emotional.”
“The song that’s coming out next is called “Emotional” and it’s the anything but,” she said. “It’s arguably the funnest and fastest record I’ve ever written. We got really playful with this next one and it kicks off with this amazing harmonica moment.”
Across her career, Ashe has worked with the biggest names in music and garnered a long list of famous fans along the way—Diane Keaton, Brian Wilson, Niall Horan, Shawn Mendes, and Maggie Rodgers to name a few. Along with their friendship, they’ve given a few guiding words to have helped Ashe on her way to stardom.
“Diane [Keaton] has said, ‘Your superpower is being you,’ which she reflects so well,” she says. “I’ve also gotten similar advice from my friend Finneas. He’s always telling me ‘someone’s going to believe they know what’s right for you and your career and never once will they ever live a day in your shoes or have to live with those decisions.'”
She continues, “I just got off this pretty long tour and I’m so grateful for it but you have these people in your life saying like, ‘Oh, this is going to be amazing,’ while I’m thinking, ‘you’re not the one there on stage, night after night. You’re not the one screaming your heart out and crying.’ I think having Finneas come in say, ‘listen at the end of the day, you’re the only one who’s gonna live your life and your experiences so you have to be in charge.’”
Photo Courtesy of The Oriel PR