C2C Interviews : Chatting With Ashley Cooke

Following on from our recent article about Big Loud/ Back Blocks Music artist Ashley Cooke ahead of her appearances at C2C (https://www.bellesandgals.com/2023/02/21/road-to-c2c-festival-1-ashley-cooke/) it was great to have the chance to chat with her over Zoom about her upcoming visit, new music and much more! Such a live wire and all round talent who will no doubt make a fantastic first impression with UK country music fans!

1.LH Hi Ashley, thanks so much for your time today! How’s things in Nashville this morning?
AC It’s a pretty crappy day out here so I’m trying to make my own sunshine!
2. LH But it’s not too long now before you head over here to play our popular and prestigious C2C festival… dates in London and Glasgow… how are you feeling?
AC I’m so excited! I’ve never been to anywhere in the UK, I’m excited to see what it’s all about as I’ve heard it’s such a beautiful country and the fans are so awesome and attentive.
3.LH I was actually going to ask you what you’d heard about our country music fans here and whether you were even aware how popular the genre is. Plus we have a lot of talented homegrown artists several of whom are playing the festival?
AC I kind of did, I dated a guy once from London! So I’m really excited to experience it. One of my favourite artists growing up was Ed Sheeran,  I’ve always loved that sound and the songwriting aspect, I grew up writing songs acoustically. In the States we tend to play with a full band so I’m looking forwards to playing my songs and sharing their stories,  it’ll be fun! I love that  I’ll maybe get to hear artist I haven’t heard before as we are from different worlds in so many ways.
4. LH So in both London and Glasgow you are playing a ten minute slot on the Arena’s Spotlight Stage. How tough is it to pick songs that best showcase your music for that type of set?
AC So hard!! I’ve been trying to it narrow down, trying to think what would show people what I do and who I am.   I have so many songs plus I’m working on an album right now with a ton of songs on it so it’s really tough to figure out. I’m playing acoustically so some songs are better suited, but I want to give people different varieties of stories, what I talk about and sing about, three really different sounding songs is really important.
LH I’ll be there in London on Friday so will be interested to see what you decided on!
5.LH But also in London you have a longer set in the afternoon on the BBC Radio 2 Stage and you’re playing the After Party that night too . What can we expect from you at these? Are they with your band?
AC I think I’m acoustic at both of them but I’m so excited and will mix in some of my released music with some of my unreleased music from the album that nobody’s heard yet …it’s a fun way to kind of try it out! And maybe mix in a couple of covers. I think I’ll mix it up between those two sets, incorporate different things. I’m pumped!
6. LH So is it a whirlwind visit or will you get any time for things like  sightseeing, shopping, trying out our food/drink?
AC I was hoping to get a Guinness or something! But I think it’s a bit of a whirlwind to be honest, as I’ve never been there before there’s so many people I want to meet, press I want to talk to and all of that stuff. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back to the UK and do all the tourist stuff.
LH So you’ll be keeping your business brain on this time!
AC In the music industry business brain and play brain are kind of combined anyway! We’ll have a good time no matter what.
7. LH While 2022 was an incredible one for you, 2023 is shaping up well too! You touched on the fact earlier that you’ve been in the studio recording your debut album, how’s that coming along?
AC It’s really getting there! I think we’re looking at a Summer release, there’s a lot of songs ( basically a double album) which I’m really excited about. My label’s been really great  about that.
I think we’re done with vocals, into the mixing and mastering process, so we’re getting there!
8 LH Will there be a lead single before the entire album drops?
AC I think so…..as soon as we have all the songs in a big chunk together we can look at it, figure out track listing, branding of it all….and say hey I think this song would be a cool front runner to put out. There’s some really cool collaborations on it too!

LH I was going to ask about that, after you ones with Brett Young and Jimmie Allen… obviously you can’t spill tho…

AC Ha no but there’s one on the project that I’m extra excited about as it’s with someone I’ve looked up to my entire life, someone I idolised growing up so it’s like a full circle moment. It’s a massive project and there’s something for everyone.

9. LH You co-wrote the majority of your EP , is that the case for the album?
AC I have. But you know I’ve always been an artist who really believes in the art of songwriting so if I’m pitched a song I feel like I wrote I can feel I have to cut it. So I’m excited, it’s a good mixture. 
LH It’s great that, as you’ve said, we may well get a sneak listen to some of them at the festival !
10.LH And looking at your touring schedule for the rest of the year, it’s totally insane! I was looking at it and wondering if you ever actually rested! 
AC That’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve had to figure out this past year! I’m such an extrovert, I love to go talk to people at my shows but at one point last year I was just “hold on, I can’t do this !” You just have to learn how to rest in the midst of the craziness… I always thought rest was in my couch watching a movie but really you could be in any city and just take a 20 minute nap, you learn to find rest along the way. But yes, this year I’m out with Brett Young on tour then with Luke Bryan, and play a bunch of festivals… a crazy year but I’m really excited. 
11. LH And before all of that you’re back on the Opry stage next month… your second time there? 
AC YES that’s so great!! I’m curious as to how that’s going to feel as my debut was such a massive thing. People play the Opry every month, every week, will it feel just as epic after my debut? 
LH And your at the Ryman soon too with Breland, have you played there before? 
AC I have! I opened up for Cole Swindell there, my debut there  the same week I made my Opry debut! It was like what is happening!! 
12. LH When you’re out in the road and away from what do you miss the most? 
AC Good question. Honestly there’s a bar down the street that makes the best espresso martinis, they’re so good, and also there’s a sushi place…. I miss the food in Nashville! Plus my parents moved here a couple of months ago and live down the road so I get to see my dogs all the time…
13. LH Just time for a quick final question, will we see you back in the UK for some headline dates? 
AC 100%! If people like me over there! 
LH Why won’t we like you?? Your music is amazing and you’ve got such an infectious personality , you’ll be a real hit here  I’m sure!
AC Thanks a lot! We’re just branching out and trying to build that presence around the world. As soon as the album drops we’ll be announcing my first ever headline tour, whether it’s worldwide or States I don’t know, let’s see what happens but hopefully I’ll be back over there very soon. 
LH Brilliant, thanks again for chatting and I’ll look forwards to seeing you at C2C for sure. 
More artist information at ashleycooke.com 
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)
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