When she first came onto our radar in early 2020, Ashley Ryan proved herself as an artist to watch with a knack for witty lyrics and a country-rocking, fiddle-heavy sound. The kind of sound that would’ve made the likes of Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson proud.
Fast forward to mid-2022, and Ryan has unveiled the long awaited follow ups to her two debut singles. With more two years of songwriting experience under her belt and a desire to present songs that moved her both lyrically and musically, Ryan is back and better than ever with her two newest singles, “Reno” and “Hillbilly,” and if the streaming success of the two songs is any indication, listeners agree.
We caught up with Ryan to talk all about both singles, more new music, five years in Nashville and more!
Pro Country: Your single, “Reno,” was your first release in more than two years. Leading up to its release, how excited were you to release music again?
Ashley Ryan: In the two years since I released my last single, I have been working so hard on writing songs that really spoke to me and moved me, not just lyrically, but musically as well. I wanted to incorporate a more western sound in my style, so when it came time to release again, “Reno” was the first in the running to bring to the studio. It was very exciting to show everyone something new, but still have that country sass and grunge I have always had!
PC: “Reno” has earned nearly 50,000 Spotify streams in just a few months since its release. How encouraging was it to tangibly see the success the song had, especially being your first release in a few years?
AR: I was so blown away at the response to “Reno.” It quickly became a favorite when I played it live at my shows. There is always a little bit of pressure with releasing music you love, because you want everyone else to love it too, and I think I achieved that with “Reno,” which is really encouraging and validating.
PC: You released your newest single, “Hillbilly,” about a month ago. Why did you feel that “Hillbilly” was the right follow up to “Reno”?
AR: When I was going back to the studio to record, I had to go through a lot of songs to see which ones inspired me and made me come alive. “Hillbilly” was a no-brainer. It still has that sass like “Reno,” but a big reason I wanted to record it was because I wanted a song that had a lot of rootsy bluegrass elements to it, and I am very happy with the end result!
PC: “Hillbilly” is a song that features wordplay throughout the chorus. Can you take us in the writing room and talk about the inspiration behind the song?
AR: The funny thing about this song is that I was totally against the title in the beginning! I wrote it with Elton Boller and Eli Gable. Eli came in with the title and I was not a fan at first, but after a couple minutes, the three of us started creating this story of this guy named Billy that was too big for his britches trying to win this girl’s heart with his daddy’s money. You don’t see a lot of storytelling in modern female country today, so it was fun to write something a little different.
PC: “Hillbilly” is featured on the soundtrack for the Prime Video series The Summer I Turned Pretty. Can you take us through how that came to be and how excited you were to have the song land on a major series?
AR: When “Hillbilly” got added to The Summer I Turned Pretty playlist, I was so excited because I had been really working hard to push for playlists on Spotify that would grow my monthly listeners and gain fans in the process! That playlist has helped me so much to get my music to a wider audience, and I am very thankful for that.
PC: With two releases already under your belt this year, is there more new music that listeners can expect this year? If so, what information can you give about it?
AR: I could not be happier with the response to “Reno” and “Hillbilly,” and I am beyond excited to announce that there is a lot more music to come! I plan on releasing one of my personal favorite songs I’ve written, “Hush Little Baby,” within the next couple months, and more to follow that!
PC: It’s been three years since you released your debut single, “Reload” and five years since you moved to Nashville. During that time, what has been the biggest thing you’ve learned/learned about yourself as an artist?
AR: It’s hard to believe that it has been five years in Nashville already! I have learned so much from my time here. I think the best advice I have ever been given is that it is not about who you know, it’s about who knows you. You really have to grind, network and write your butt off in this town. It can get very discouraging at times, but you have to believe in yourself and never give up!
A good friend of mine also told me that “everyone is worthy of being known.” I have always loved that and try my best to make people I work with feel seen and important. I love knowing the names of everyone behind the scenes, because without them, you wouldn’t get the final product! So much goes into the creative process of a song, and I always believe that every member of that process should be given the notoriety they deserve.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2022?
AR: I have a lot of new music I plan on releasing in the next couple months, and I couldn’t be more excited! I have explored new styles and incorporated more of my musical influences in country music with these next projects, so stay tuned!
*”Reno” and “Hillbilly” are featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*