If the sound of the steel guitar makes your heart melt and you appreciate the beauty of a good fiddle solo but haven’t heard Ashley Ryan’s music yet, you’re missing out.
A self-proclaimed lover of 90s country, the California native delivers a breath of fresh, yet familiar air on her first two singles “Reload” and “Hey Girl.” As heavy drums and loud guitars are combined with powerful vocals and driving fiddle, Ryan harkens back to a sound that has been absent from country music since Gretchen Wilson’s heyday, and would feel at home on an early Miranda Lambert record.
As she is using her down time in 2020 to write and continue work on her debut EP, we chatted with Ryan about her family’s support of her move to Nashville, the success of “Reload” and “Hey Girl,” her stylistic influences and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of your biggest musical influences that have shaped your sound?
Ashley Ryan: I have definitely pulled a lot of my style and sound from Miranda Lambert, Cody Johnson and Dixie Chicks, to name a few. I love the honky tonk, classic country vibe.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
AR: I’ve had a love and passion for songwriting for as long as I can remember. When I started playing guitar in high school, I began to develop a passion for singing as well.
PC: Your bio mentions that your family supported you in making your move to Nashville. What did their support mean to you as you were leaving to pursue your dreams? Were you feeling any pressure, internally or externally, to achieve a certain level of success in a certain amount of time after your move?
AR: Knowing how passionate I am with my music, my family was in full support of my decision. It was nerve racking at first to leave my family behind, but once I got settled in, I knew I was where I should be and was filled with excitement. There is always an underlying pressure of wanting to succeed and further your career, but that keeps me motivated. I would not be as confident if I did not have my family by my side. The moments where I do doubt myself, they keep me inspired and remind me why I started. I also understand that what I want to achieve does not happen overnight, and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get there and be patient in the process.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with your single “Reload”?
AR: I was so excited and over the moon to release “Reload.” I wrote it back in 2014 when I was a sophomore in high school, and watching it come to life in the studio and releasing it to the world was such a surreal moment. I am very proud of this song, and was eager to share my sound with everyone.
PC: “Reload” has gone on to earn over 7,000 streams on Spotify, and another 3,000 views on its music video on YouTube its positive reception. Is there a certain level of validation that comes with having that response on your debut single?
AR: Releasing music for the first time, I was nervous to a degree on what the response would be. As a singer-songwriter, you pour your heart into your music and hope that people will identify with it. Therefore, seeing all the positive feedback was definitely validating and inspires me to keep releasing more music.
PC: Your newest single “Hey Girl” is an empowering song about having standards for relationships. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
AR: As strange as it sounds, I was actually sitting in church listening to the worship band when the chorus melody just popped in my head. I went home that day, grabbed my guitar and a pen and paper and finished the song on a whim. I have always loved going out dancing with my girls and decided to build a story around that theme of getting hit on by guys at the bar. Eventually the song just wrote itself. I wanted to release this as my second single because it’s fun and upbeat, and I feel a lot of people can relate to it.
PC: In just three months since its release, the music video for “Hey Girl” has surpassed the total views of “Reload.” What was it like to see the song come to life with the music video and see it be so well-received?
AR: Filming the music video for “Hey Girl” was one of the best experiences I have had. We filmed it all in one take, which was a bit different then the way we filmed “Reload.” You had to be on it at all times, and if you messed up slightly, we had to reshoot from the beginning. With that, there was a bit more pressure to be perfect, but after the shoot and going through the editing process, the video came out just how I imagined it! It was so much fun to show the world not only my song, but two other things I very much enjoy: dancing and acting!
PC: Both “Reload” and “Hey Girl” tap into both contemporary and 90s country-driven sounds. Is it at all important to you to have that level of sonic versatility at this point in your career?
AR: When it comes to my sound, I want to be as authentic as possible. I take influence strongly from 90s country, but with a modern twist to make it my own. My heart melts with the sound of a steel guitar, and the fiddle is just about the most beautiful instrument my ears have heard. These more traditional instruments are what initially reeled me in to country music and fell in love with it. I want to preserve that classic style, because it ain’t ever going out of style!
PC: 2020 has altered many plans of artists so far. Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
AR: My plan is to write, write, write! That is one thing that 2020 could never stop me from doing. I am currently finishing up three more songs of my EP with my producer, Colt Capperrune. The release date it to be determined, but I cannot wait for everyone to hear what music has been cookin’! As the world is in the process of opening up again, I am so looking forward to getting back to performing and singing my originals. One thing I am also really focusing on is getting my band together and starting to book shows to go on the road. I am hoping that due to everything happening, that could be a possibility this year! Overall, I am very excited to release new music and get back to playing live shows!
*Images courtesy of Ashley Ryan website and Instagram page*
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