Having recently posted news of Ashley’s upcoming album ” Something Lovely” due for release on 9th October via Vacancy Records (https://www.bellesandgals.com/2020/08/24/ashley-campbell-brand-new-album/) it was fantastic not to only get a sneak preview of her new music ( you are all in for a treat, believe me!) but also have the chance to chat to her recently, meeting one another “virtually” courtesy of modern technology. Her passion for her craft shone through and the time flew by as she told me more about the album, how words from her father the late great Glen Campbell of course still guide her songwriting, her love for UK audiences and much more…
1. LH Hello Ashley and thanks for your time today… I’m always amazed when I can hook up with artists transatlantically like this. Technology has been a steep learning curve for me especially during recent months when we are relying on it even more …how good are you at coping with it?
AC Thank you for YOUR time! Yeah it really is crazy, I remember thinking when i was younger when i was going on flights with my Dad ” man, wouldn’t it be so cool some day to be able to watch movies on a little screen like this? “( she held up her phone) …I was like but that will never happen in my life time! I think i’m an average techie person, but I prefer analogue, hard copies and hard wires…
2. LH And of course with your new album to promote without being able to tour, technology is even more important for you. Were you lucky enough to have completed the recording process before lockdown restrictions kicked in?
AC We had the album totally finished before lockdown, we recorded in December 2018 and a little bit into early 2019. So it’s been ready to go for a while but i was reorganising my team, my management, all that and making sure we put the album out in the way it deserves …..and then of course 2020 happened!!
3. LH I’ve been lucky enough to have been listening to it and absolutely love it …it’s so dreamy, etherial and almost hippie ( Ashley looked really ecstatic with my description!) …I know many people are going to be so happy to see ” Remembering” on the track list, of course written a while back now, but what of the other songs? Were they all written especially for this album?
AC I’m always writing for the next album! The songs on this record are from a span of about ten years it seems. I wanted ” Remembering” to be on an actual album because it was really just a single and I re-recorded it in a way that’s very personal to me, I think it turned out perfectly. But yeah, I just write songs and keep them in my pocket…..I’m a firm believer in the album, so many people these days are putting out EPs and singles, throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. But i like to create a completed piece of art with a statement and vibe in mind.
(Here’s the single version of “Remembering” to which Ashley refers, released a few years back…)
LH And I guess the fact that you like to release your albums on vinyl is part of that? An LP has to be listened to in track sequence, which is there for a reason and shouldn’t be “shuffled”!
AC I totally agree, you craft the progression of an album so that the songs flow into each other so that it keeps you in a mood or pushes you along with the storytelling. I love vinyl in that respect . Everything is so accessible these days, you can just look up any artist and push ” shuffle play” but you’re not getting the picture the artist wanted to paint. Vinyl is a physical thing, you have to take it out, put it on, flip it over….it’s a very intentional way of listening to music and makes it more special. I listen to vinyl all the time, if I go to see an artist that i like I’ll buy their vinyl to support them its my favourite sort of collectors item.
4. LH So from song idea to finish studio version ( and sometimes video) …what’s your favourite part of the entire creative process?
AC I love hearing a song come to life. When I write a song it’s just me and who ever else is involved and our take on it on acoustic guitar or banjo on an iPhone. But when you bring in professional musicians with their own musicality you start hearing it in away that you can never have imagined. It makes it so special because it’s a collaboration of friendship and people who I admire …and I can listen to the album and not feel self indulgent or self praising, I can think things like ” Man, my friend Eli played that fiddle part so well, how cool is that?”!!. I’m a fan of everyone who played on the album.
5. LH Talking of the people on the album, your Godfather the legendary Carl Jackson’s name appears as both a writer and instrumentalist. I was watching the Stageit show you played together recently, you seem to have a really close understanding of one another and mutual respect, can you tell me a bit more about that please?
AC Carl is, and always has been ever since I’ve known him as an adult and a musician, a never ending source of love and inspiration. Any time I have felt doubt about myself and my abilities he has never even accepted that! He gives me strength and has always encouraged me to be better. So playing with him makes me feel like I can do anything. He’s the master of so many things so the fact that he’d want to spend time with me is incredibly humbling. I see him as a second father for sure.
LH Your banjo duet “Moustache Man” on the album is just phenomenal , and even more impressive when you said during that Stageit show it was a spontaneous write! I gather there’s video all ready to go for the track?
AC Yes and i added fiddle to the live video, to make it a little different …Eli Bishop who did all the strings on the album joined us. we are going to release that sometime in October i think.
6. LH The most recent track to be released is your latest single ” If I Wasn’t” which features the fabulous Vince Gill on vocals and guitar… how did that collaboration come about?
AC I’ve met Vince several times over the years …I’ve always been a little speechless around him as he’s such a legend! He was friends with my Dad and Carl, and when I had the idea of having Vince on the album I asked Carl to reach out to him and see if he’d be interested. And to my pleasant surprise Vince said ” of course!” …and what I’m amazed by is that he said yes before even hearing the song! I thought that it was so good he had faith in me and that I wasn’t going to ask him to sing on something horrible!
7. LH And off the tracks you haven’t made available yet, which are you most excited to put out into the world on 9th October?
AC ” Alice” …I’ve played it several times to a really small audience on my Stageit shows and got really good feedback. That song in particular is really personal to me, I wrote it in the aftermath of my Father passing away and it’s just about that feeling that you have when you lose something or someone you love, and you become aware that some day you are going to lose the people that you still have who you love very intensely. There’s a feeling of gratitude that you still have them but also this crazy fear. That’s where the song came from and it gets me a little bit teary eyed every time I listen to it.
LH It’s a really beautiful song for sure , a love story that paints a wonderful picture right from the start.
8. LH And the album artwork sees you wearing your Father’s stage outfit …do you still feel his presence when you are making music and performing yourself, and did he give you any career advice that you are particularly grateful for?
AC I definitely feel his influence and his presence when I’m playing music, especially when I’m playing music that just springs from the joy and creation of making music. He always told me to just do what feels right, to make music that I love and would want to listen to, that’s how you stay authentic to yourself. Don’t think about ” is this going to make money? Are they going to play this on the radio?” because that’s how you write crap! So that’s my basis for everything and what my Dad taught me to do.
9. LH And there’s a wonderful quote on the album artwork too which incorporates its title…” Make a space for light in this world and fill it. Create something lovely and share it. Take your vulnerability and wear it, proudly for all to see. No one ever learned to grow by pretending to be perfect. Our imperfections are truly, something lovely” …did you write that or did it come from somebody else?
AC That’s something that I wrote. when my friend Matt Chaitt ( LH sorry, not sure that spelling is correct) was designing the cover he asked if I wanted any liner notes on it, thank you and things like that. And when I sat down to write a thank you section that’s what came out …what I call a poem I guess as it rhymes a little bit . So I said this is all i want on the back, it’s kind of my thesis for the whole album and for who i am as a person.
10. LH How are you going to celebrate on release day….apart from maybe drinking a fair bit of red wine, maybe, do you have lifestreams or anything planned?
(Ashley then showed me a glass of red that had been out of camera shot til then and we both laughed!)
AC Oh gosh I haven’t thought about it! I’m actually hoping I’ll be in Croatia when it comes out, I’m meeting a very close friend there to celebrate and just have a little vacation …I may go onto Instagram live and play a few songs but I’m so excited for it to come out I just hope people enjoy it!
11. LH You’ve got a great fanbase over here in the UK and have played several shows here, what’s your overriding memories of those visits?
AC Only positive experiences. The crowds in the UK are just some of the best I’ve ever had, so attentive and they love music, the full album and not just the singles! They come back again and again, i see familiar faces no matter how often I play. It’s such a joy to play to people who truly enjoy music .
LH So can I assume we’ll see you back here when things permit?
AC 100 percent, I can’t wait! If I could do it tomorrow I would!
Pre-Order ” Something Lovely” here https://www.ashleycampbellmusic.com/shop
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)