Independent Artist of the Week: Ashli
June 29th 2022
Photo: Jacinthe Lau
Ashli’s debut single ‘Only One’ has been making waves since it was released in March of this year, with places on Spotify’s editorial playlists as well as the music video being featured on Rage and MTV. Ashli is our Independent Artist of the Week, and she called in to FBi to speak with Lill Scott on Up For It! about ‘Only One’, influences, and what’s next in her fledgling music career.
While nominally Ashli has been labelled as an R&B artist, her influences and sound are far reaching and eclectic, with nods to her upbringing and heritage. Ashli listed some of her sonic influences to Lill Scott as follows:
“Songwriting wise, I’m a big swiftie… I love 070 Shake, I love Smino, Saba.. Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones. I love Spanish music… It’s like fitting an elephant through a pipe with my music taste.”
Some of these influences are immediately apparent to the ear. The sonic palette of Smino and Saba can be felt in producer and co-writer Oscar Sharah’s production, with pillowy synth lines backgrounded with trap hi-hats and 808s.
But turning to the elephant in the room (or maybe the elephant in the pipe, to use Ashli’s words), the nod to Springsteen and reggae may feel like an odd choice, but for Ashli it’s an acknowledgment of her upbringing in New Jersey, where she lived until she was 11, and to her father, who is Jamaican. Speaking about the influence of her upbringing, Ashli had the following to say:
“Having that experience made me a lot more open”
But if one listens past Ashli’s incredibly smooth tone and introspective melodies, they will be met with the introspection and detail more common to the aforementioned Taylor Swift. In the first verse Ashli sings “know they’re your favourite pair of jeans/ but you don’t know my name.” It’s the kind of lyric that picks on a small detail but in a way that feels expansive, which certainly falls within Swiftian school of songwriting. This feeling of expansiveness was clearly the vision behind ‘Only One’, as Ashli explained to Lill Scott:
“It was inspired by a sonnet I was reading… I wanted it to feel like how you feel when you’re 14 and you have a crush on someone. I think sometimes we can lose the magic of that when we’re older… I just wanted to give that feeling justice because it swallows your whole world.”
The sonnet, if anyone was wondering, is sonnet 138. Ashli even seems to appropriate the opening couplet: “When my love swears that she is made of truth, /I do believe her, though I know she lies” into “My love lies to me/and whispers things untrue.”
Have a listen to Ashli’s chat with Lill Scott up top, and stream ‘Only One’ below. If you want to see Ashli live, you can catch her Thursday night (tomorrow!) supporting Nick Ward at Mary’s Underground. Following that, make sure to listen out for her next song, slated for August 5. And as always, you can catch ‘Only One’ on FBi’s airwaves all week.