Check out our interview with talented country artist from Beckley, West Virginia Ashley Rose Lilly. She grew up performing folk music and as she began seriously songwriting as an artist, transitioned into the realm of pop. Now Ashley has crossed over into the world of country music by paying homage to her roots while maintaining her modern pop flair. She hopes to both pay tribute to older country music as well as push the boundaries of what new and modern country music can be. Ashley tells her life stories through her music and it is her own way of navigating the world around her. Each of Ashley’s songs have their own unique story behind them and she hopes others can find a part of themselves in those stories as well. Through her songwriting, sound, and stylization Ashley is truly creating her own mark in modern country music.
Follow Ashley @ashleyroselilly
Hi Ashley, please tell us a little about you?
I grew up in the small town of Beckley, West Virginia and have had many musical influences from a young age. My grandfather was a known bluegrass musician and I also grew up watching MTV so it was certainly an interesting combination. I feel that when I found my way to the country I was finding my bluegrass roots again while still having that bit of pop flair that was inspired by the pop culture of the early 2000s and MTV music videos that I would watch.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Determined, bold, and motivated.
How did you get started in the business?
I got started at the age of 8 when I asked to join my father’s bluegrass music group and would get to perform one or two songs on each of their sets as a featured singer.
How has this changed your life?
It changed my life by helping me find my passion and love for music performance. Now it is all that I want to do.
We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?
I got started in more of the industry when I began songwriting at the age of 15 and seriously writing songs at around 17.
Describe your sound in 3 words?
Eclectic, country, and evolving.
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
I definitely feel influenced by my dad and grandfather because I grew up watching them do music and it made me want to as well. I also am heavily influenced by the earlier 2000s (and still current) pop stars such as Lady Gaga and Avril Lavigne from when I would watch them and how incredible they were on MTV. I wanted that kind of magic spark that they had.
Do you play any instrument?
I play a bit of guitar and piano, but vocals are my main forte.
Do you ever get nervous?
I do get nervous sometimes, especially now that I am doing a lot of solo stuff. Before with my dad’s band he was in charge and I just had to show up and do a good job singing. Now that I am doing some more independent musical ventures, whether or not I have musicians to play with, an audience, a decent soundcheck, and equipment ready to go all kind of depends on me. It’s a lot of responsibility and I definitely get a bit wired before my solo shows especially because I always want to put on the best show possible and with all these variables it can be incredibly nerve wracking. That being said I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but to answer the question in long form yes, I absolutely get nervous, but also super beyond excited.
Tell us about your new singles “The Whiskey Tapes,” and “Ripped Skinny Jeans?”
“The Whiskey Tapes,” were inspired by some of my bar culture experiences. Both songs tell a different story, but both are stories that I have seen and/or experienced in one way or another. They were set up to be like a record with an A and B side, thus why there are two songs. Having that little vintage reference was important to me because they were also a project of building a bridge between modern and new country music. I feel that lyrically the content is more modern in how it is stated than much of that of older country music and has a lot of sass. But I also wanted to pay homage to the older sound and I did this with some of my instrumentation choices and by adding the echoey effect on the vocals to emulate an old microphone and get that classic country sound. Ripped Skinny jeans is much more of a contrast to both of the songs on The Whiskey Tapes as it is a ballad and it is much more somber. The song was originally written on acoustic guitar, but after playing it on piano I preferred that sound and wanted the piano as one of the primary instruments.
What’s the story behind the songs?
Ripped Skinny Jeans is a very personal song of mine about a breakup that I went through. It’s definitely one of those things where when you fall in love with a person everything reminds you of them, even after they are no longer in your life. When that relationship ends you are kind of just left with the memories and those memories often have places, people, and things attached to them and you try to move on, but often find yourself going to different people, places, and things in an attempt to forget about it because it is too painful. That’s really what the song is about. The Whiskey Tapes are much more light hearted. Mr.Whiskey and Coke is about a man I knew who would often go to the line dancing bar that I would frequent. He would only ever order a Jack and Coke and would incessantly flirt with all the much younger women, including myself. Night after night he would act absolutely absurd, but think he was a real hotshot. This song is about him and all the many men that I always see that are like him. It’s definitely a pre-midlife crisis type of vibe. Whiskey Drinkin ‘Song is a song about my lack of maturity at times when handling breakups and acknowledging that. I really like it because it is both blunt and unapologetic. I feel that we as a society often frown upon not doing everything with perfect poise and grace and while poise and grace are wonderful things we also need space to be messy, after all we are human! Life is messy, breakups are hard, and that is what this song is about. Don’t be ashamed, just own it.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
There are so many rewarding parts to my work. Certainly when people relate to my music and support what I do is extremely rewarding and means the world to me, but if I had to choose one thing that is the most rewarding it would be when I have gone through something and I finally write the song that for me perfectly sums up the situation and my feelings towards it. When I do that I am able to find a level of closure and relief. Almost as if the situation was a giant mess around me and I am now able to compartmentalize it into a small box. While the box may be there and I can’t get rid of it, it certainly makes it a lot less big and scary. Being able to tell my experiences though music has also been incredibly cathartic because sometimes we can’t always tell people how we feel for various reasons, but through my music I can always be honest and it makes me feel both satisfied and validated.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
“You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
Probably to always be true and authentic to yourself. This is a lesson I still continue to learn because we are all human and sometimes I do still allow critique to get to me, but at the end of the day everyone is going to have an opinion and while there is nothing wrong with taking some constructive feedback and learning, there is a problem with allowing your self esteem in who you are and what you bring to the table rest on the validation of others. Always be confident in being true and authentic to yourself because at the end of the day you are the one who has to live your life, not anyone else.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
I would tell my younger self not to rush growing up and I would also tell her to learn the guitar because as a kid all I ever wanted to do was grow up and now I just wish time would slow down and also I wish I was a guitar prodigy, but hey it’s never too late to start.
How would your best friend describe you?
Music obsessed, creative, outgoing, and kind.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
I would want my title to be UnFinished because I wouldn’t want it to end and I always want to continually evolve.
What’s next for Ashley Rose Lilly in 2022?
There are so many exciting things! I finally have more shows lined up now that everything is reopened as well as a single “Anaheim” releasing on the 25th of this month (April)!! I also really hope to do some awesome co-writes with others, share much more of my new songs, and just create as much as I can.
What is your favorite healthy food?
I love freshly pressed juices! Especially if they have some ginger and lemon mixed in with the greens, it gives it a nice kick!
And your favorite cheat food?
I have never dieted nor do I plan to so I kind of eat everything, but I guess something that those who do diet would consider a cheat food would be anything with potato-mashed potatoes with tons of gravy, potato chips, and fries. I am utterly obsessed with potatoes.
How would you explain your fashion style?
I would describe my fashion style as authentic, bold, chic, and flirty.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Being satisfied and content with where I am, who I am with, and what I am doing.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Marilyn Monroe because I think she is a phenomenal talent who did not get nearly enough credit for her creative genius.
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
I would love to visit Paris with my best friend.
Best advice ever given?
To stop always asking the opinion of others, especially regarding my artistry.
Do you support any charity?
I do a lot of volunteer events, most recently performing at parties as various princesses and singing for children in financially underprivileged communities.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I see myself on a national, hopefully world, tour sharing my music and my stories as well as constantly writing, recording and releasing music. All definitely with some amazing musicians…in a perfect world maybe even a Grammy nominee.
Favorite song? Why?
I have too many and it is ever changing so honestly I can’t decide.
What do you think of Social Media?
I find it can be both extremely negative or extremely positive. It had a huge impact on our society for better or for worse. I think it is all about using it responsibly and like everything in moderation…I am still working on that second part though.
Where we can follow you?
Book: The Handmaid’s Tale
Quote: “Always forward never back” or “The comeback is always greater than the setback,” though I am unsure who said it first.
Movie: A Simple Favor
Tv Series: Gossip Girl
Favorite Food: Pasta
Travel Destination: Paris
Sports Team: Celtics