Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
I am not especially proud of anything I've done yet! I'm aiming for more all the time. I have not done much in terms of projects outside of my solo one so here is to making some pieces of work to be proud of!
What are you working on at the moment?
Just wrote a song called Don't Judge Me and am going into the studio to record my song diamonds and starting a few other side projects in the new city I found myself living in!
Analog or digital and why?
Well I had a friend who hired a real drummer for her album. Real musicians. Recorded Naturally....now please don't judge me here if I say stupid things cause I'm not very technical when it comes to the production side of things. But her album was recorded I am guessing you would call it in Anolog? Please let me know if I'm talking shit up my ass. Anyways, when she sent one of her songs to radio they said we really like when artists have real instruments not looped in instruments. This was a professional mistaking real instruments recorded being digitally created?! Goes to show either are good and if mastered right you shouldn't beable to tell the difference easily. If you can hire real musicians fuck ya do that if not no reason not to go digital.
What's your 'promise' to your clients?
I promise to lend you my voice and my mind to mold your project. I promise to take your direction and expand my repitoire to cator to your needs and wants. I promise to lend you the skills your lacking and hopefully learn from you the skills that I am lacking. I promise to work as a team and complete the project effortlessly, on time, and budget!!!
What do you like most about your job?
My job in music? Performing. There's nothing that can kick the shit out of me and give me an orgasm at the same time in this world and it's a funny feeling I am addicted to. Yes there's moments of uncertainty when I'm singing behind a guitar all by myself on stage. You read people's expressions. Do they like it? Did they notice I changed the entire second verse cause I couldn't remember the lyrics? Yes I feel vulnerable I feel naked. But I find beauty in that. At a tv televised performance I did recently I openly talked about my mental health in relation to a song I was featuring for the first time ever. The response I got was heart warming. Performing fills me with fear, love joy and a whole other wack of emotions that allows others to see me to get to know me without even knowing me. I perform for me and to achieve those feelings not to please others. Although that's cool to!!
What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
I've never had a customer! Bring me those questions folks!
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
I may be confused about the question but I think I understand what it means. The biggest misconception that people have about singers is that natural born talent is what made them good. For some sure. For me no. Yes I had talent but what made me more then just talent was practice hard work and dedication! I trained and worked my ass off for years. I went from a low alto when I started theatre school to singing all the lead soprano parts in the productions because I practiced. Talent is talent But hard work and practice makes a talented person a professional. Those are two very different things.
What questions do you ask prospective clients?
I ask their influences. To see where they got their sound from yes but also to creep new music I may not know ha ha!!
I also ask how committed they are. I've worked with many weekend warriors and its frusturating when your so dedicated. Yes we all have lives and I'm a busy bee but communication and commitment are key for me to make a project work.
What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
If a singer like me doesn't work on one of your songs try another song you wrote or produce another! If you stumble across an artist and something interests you in them then listen to that instinct. You may be searching for a vocalist or lyricist for this one track you have but if you like something in someone take them as inspiration!
If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
My acoustic, capo, some pics of course
I would take my keyboard-nothing like being stuck in a desert island to force me to practice piano!!
And that's all I would need. If this desert island had an audience and a stage I would throw in my self powered crate speaker I use for busking a mic and a stand! Some cords! Then I would entertain! If it was just me my piano and guitar are all I need.
What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
I have turned into a go with the flow type person. I went to theatre school and dove into it full on and had little success and a lot of disappointment. That led me to go full on into singing and songwriting which has been a struggle. I hope to make music my full time career. Unfortunately tho I don't wanna teach. Can but just not ready to yet lol. And the industry is just no good at all! I have come across so many scammers trying to take money away from the talent that don't make no money. It's really sad to see venues close and people not watching live music. There's not a lot of support. So I'm stuck doing other things to make ends meet. However, the little success I have doesn't change my dreams. I'm reaching out here to get involved in different areas and genres. I still see a vocal coach. I still write-lots. I still go see local shows. I play shows solo and with bands. I put myself awkwardly out there to make connections which has proven me very little success but hey! I'm trying here! I still keep my dream alive and do whatever I can to fill my life with music music music.
How would you describe your style?
Very edgy. I don't like going with the crowd I stand above it. I've always been the black sheep and I've embraced it. When I learn a cover song on guitar it doesn't sound like the same song. I've been judged on this in the past. People assume it's because I'm not good at guitar or don't know the song well enough when in actuality I don't want it to be the same. Yes, I do kind of suck at the guitar but when your turning a poppy electronic song into an acoustic song you can't really emulate that. So I change it up. I always love to spice things up and use different parts of my voice. I'm very dark. You won't see me in anything other then black probably. And my music reflects that in a lot of my songs. But like everyone who loves to write angsty dark songs I have sold my soul to write a few happy ones!
Which artist would you like to work with and why?
I would love to co-write a song with to many artists i can't choose. I seriously have wrote and deleted a few artists and paragraphs as to why. I have three big idols I would choose if I have to but seriously!! So many more people I could add!
Shirley Manson cause she's so nitty gritty in her lyrics I feel the pain she feels and I know we could write some very angsty lyrics together!
The sisters of Heart-having Nancy rip a solo right before Anne hits the high harmony over top of a big held nite like in Alone would be a dream come true!
And last but not least Lzzy Hale-I adore her voice her attitude and her song writing. Shes just a real woman with a real big attitude and I have really focused my solo project to emulate her in some ways. She's a natural born rockstar who made her way to success using PURE TALENT! Which is very rare. She has been asked to sing along side of the greats already in her short career because she's absolutely incredible. Her voice is just gravy baby and I wish I could be her lol.
Can you share one music production tip?
What sounds good to you doesn't always sound good to others. I have no skills on the production side of music beyond songwriting but from my hands on experience with producers I have to say taking critism will only make a stronger song. Other people's ideas can be so beneficial in your project. Producing a peice of work solo? Let friends and family listen before you release it. Take into consideration what they say. Take note of what they like. You don't have to change the song but getting to know what people like and don't like in a song will make you a better writer. If your producing a song for someone else though you need to listen and don't get offended if they don't like something. Everyone is different but that is their song your working WITH them to mold the song. Creating a good song and a successful artist both take one thing beyond talent in my mind-a good team. I made the mistake of getting an EP produced mixed and mastered by one dude-didn't even hire studio musicians. I realize now if I had a separate producer, mixer, and masterer and other musicians on the the tracks that they may have turned out the way I wanted to. The bigger the team the bigger success in my mind.
What type of music do you usually work on?
It's been rock and pop from here on but I want that to change! Here is to expanding my horizons!!
What's your strongest skill?
my strongest skill in singing: my vibrato-it's unique, I can control it, if it's not wanted it's gone, if it's wanted I can manipulate it to different wave lengths and speeds to suite he style of music at hand. Vibrato isn't a popular thing but I aim to change that!
My strongest skill in songwriting solo-creating a structure. Structure is the story line. If there's no structure your message is lost. I have worked with artists who do not agree with me and fight me when I want to change the structure of a song lol. BUT I think it's what makes a song. My single Paradise went over well at open mics and to family/friends but when I went into the studio me and the producer realized how much it was missing. Originally it was Verse 1-Pre-chorus(which at the time I insisted was the chorus but oh no me wrong)-verse 2-pre-chorus-verse 3-pre-chorus-out to (Ashley wailing he he) I thought I had it all figured out but no this song was missing a hook in the chorus a real one and it was missing a bridge. We added the bridge after the second chorus and came up with a sweet chorus! We then stuck this chorus at the beginning of the song. It was an actual song now! Since that day I am really serious about structure and don't ever wanna go into the studio again without the right structure and content!
My strongest skill co-writing: I take on leadership roles well so I always take a leading hand when it comes to co-writing. I give what is needed to push the song to the next level and am good at staying on topic and can get a little wee bossy when off topic but when your a professional I find that very important. Not being bossy but staying on topic! Being a leader also allows me to push my peers to think outside of the box. I ask the right questions to get what I need out of people which can be great when writing with people cause some are shy and can't get their emotions out on paper. I'm great at prying that out of people.
What do you bring to a song?
I am a very very almost embarrassingly emotional person and incredibly sensitive to others emotions. It's very weird I like critism. Although I may cry for a moment I always wake up and realize the truth behind it and even if I don't agree I use it to benefit me. To make me better. I love critism. But I can't give it. Hurting someone's feelings gives me anxiety. It's a tough life. That being said whether I am writing on my emotions or that of someone else's I use my gut to write and my favourite songs are written while I was in absolute despair agony and torment in my head. It was the only way to get it out you know? So raw emotion is a huge thing I bring. You can hear it through my vocals you can hear it through my voice and in a live setting you can see it in my eyes. I live breath and bleed emotion!
I also have tons of musical theatre and acting experience. So I have that ability to play characters. I can write lyrics about going to the club getting hit on by guys and be all sassy even tho it's not being written from experience. I could write lyrics for a song that's not mine playing the character it's being written about. I love to manifest others characters flaws and emotions to assist in some lyrics. Cause people don't always wanna hear how much pain and torment Ashley Weir feels.
What's your typical work process?
Basically if a song I'm writing doesn't get some what finished that day it gets discarded and rarely looked at again unless that inspiration strikes again. I am a fast writer and melodies flow out of me like bad diarrhea. My favourite songs were written in minutes and although took months to perfect were made from pure emotion. That's how I prefer to write.
However, with experience writing for and with people I write on inspiration from other things not so much what I'm feeling. I feed on the person or persons I'm co-writing with and their story or our ideas we come up with together.
My buddy shows me a song he made and I write lyrics within minutes for it about him and his baby mama staying together just because of the babes. It was called Seeds. He didn't have much of a chorus musically tho and was a very hard headed guy who didn't take direction-it happens no judgment! So long story short I never touched that song again, even though I really liked it. I honestly couldnt even remember the original chords he had for the song but I ALWAYS keep my lyrics. You never know when you need to pull a song out your ass and old lyrics can be your saviour!! Well years later the same situation happened to me. I had a kid with a man I barely new and we stayed together for the babes for a while. When we split up I really wanted to write a song about it. I came up with this super catchy very generic pop chorus that i deep down hated but knew would get stuck in people's heads! I played the song several times at open mics but the verses were weak and needed work. I then remembered the old lyrics I wrote about my friend who was in the same situation that I found myself in now. I searched very long and hard and was able to recover them. I fit those old verse lyrics that were so strong and put them with the catchy chorus and it just worked perfectly! I've done this several times with old lyrics. Nothing i write is ever disposed off!
I went to a songwriters retreat and got the opportunity to co-write, record and perform a new origional song. They gave us a few words to choose from to write around. Stay and This time. So every group had to choose one of those sayings and write a song about it. Whether it was just the titl of he song or the words were in it once or a bunch that's what we were given. I was and always am a bit of an outcast at these things cause they cator to folk artists and country artists. Country artists love their co-writing lol! So I was called the Dark Angel of the group because of what one of the coach called my obscure lyrics. I got grouped with a lovely singer from my hometown who I knew well who was very folk and a gentleman from Calgary who was in an emo type band. We chose the words This Time. We decided the route we would take for writing is to create a story. We discussed what issues to bring up. I ended up taking a little bit of the lead role in the process which we needed. Being the dark gruesome person I apparently am I brought up the story of a young girl who's mother left her at a young age and her abandonment issues lead to drug addiction that led to an overdose. Her father who because the mom left was very disconnected from life and their relationship was non existence. We harped on a few other ideas but a story that powerful they couldn't turn up lol. I drew the story from personal experiences but when their ideas came into play it took a different direction. We started with putting the name of the song This Time in a circle in the centre of a price of paper. Then we started creating words and coming up with phrases we wanted to use. Different words to use for the generic words always used in songs. Any metaphor we could come up with went on that sheet. Then we came up with a cool riff thank god we had one of he best guitar players I know. We started writing and singing and it all came together. We won best song that night. When I told people what it was about they laughed and said of course you would choose an intense story to write about like that. But the song didn't come across that way. It was empowering and everyone could take what they needed from it without knowing what it was written about. The moral of the song is that when she almost died her dad found her and brought her back to life. She knew after almost dying that she would never let her mom leaving affect her and he woke up and was able to let it go to.
I'll break free of the shackles you gave me
I'll leave you like she left me
I've been drowning coming up for air
I'm finally treading the waters clear
I'll walk away."
What's my typical work process you ask? Well I like them all! And I'm opening to learning new things!
Tell us about your studio setup.
Well I just moved from Edmonton to Vancouver so right now nothing but my laptop, my iPad with some sweet gadgets for recording and my guitar. But I have equipment of my own on route here and local access to a studio!
At the beginning of a project I would just send a rough vocal track recorded at home where we can begin to dissect it. I am open to critisism and prefer it. So sending a rough sample of what I've come up with is always a great way to start. I myself would critique every aspect of my vocals and fix where I'm a little flat or sharp and map out every breath I take. I would also map out any harmonies and add on vocals needed.
From my past experiences in the studio recording vocals I didn't do any of this and regret it!! You spend lots of money in the studio and I realize now the more homework you can do at home the better. I am even working with a vocal coach on my new single for my solo project to ensure that every note is prestine.
Any changes made I would re-record the rough vocals so we have somewhat of a demo. THEN I would hit up one of my connections for a studio. I also have friends that could edit vocals if needed. Lots of access to resources in both my home town and Vancouver. I'm also very willing to travel and learn. My voice is a difficult one to record and edit I've been told because of the dynamics and power but I know how to use the mic well so that helps the process.
What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
Your ready for a rant ha ha. I'm sorry I talk so much music really turns me on.
Well I have way to many influences right now so I can't sit here naming them all ha ha. I grew up with rock and it's what inspired me to get into music: Started with SuperTramp and Motley Crew went to Metallica and Pantera now is chick hard rock singers like The Pretty Reckless and Halestorm but my influences are forever changing.
Anne Wilson was probably the first female singer I idolized. Not only have people compared my voice to her (I don't see it she's so good!!! Ah) but her and Nancy inspired me to chase this dream! I sang Alone by Heart for my first ever singing competition my first year of vocal training and was a life changing experience. The ability to capture a great belt at the end of the song. That peircing belt resonating while delivering intense emotion got me hooked! I've been going to the goal ever since!
I'm always in search of new muses to drive me. Although I am open to starting and writing lots more rock music my main focus is to dip into electronic. So in that case I'll stick with who's influencing me now in that genre.
My original influence in electronic even though it is very much considered Alternative was Garbage! They were so different for their time. The way they brought the synth into their sound but we're still considered rock/alternative made me happy. To me they were the first to do it in a way I took a liking to. I know lots of people would disagree but we all have that band that did it for us. What a unique sound this band has brought on every album I've been obsessed since me a little one. Shirley Manson is a unique beauty who writes very obscure and dark lyrics but the production makes the songs able to cater to many different audiences. But just read her lyrics- what a tortured soul I love it! Shes not a powerful singer but her stylings and melodies are money. And but of course we all know that Butch is just an incredible producer. If you are not familiar with Garbage I am SURE you are familiar with some of the projects that he has been involved in. He does a fantastic job with making their sound dynamic and different enough but still catchy! I love his ups and downs. I love a song that is constantly changing and bringing me on a journey. They are just an amazing duo! Ahh!!!
I am obsessing over Flume and Chainsmokers right meow. If I was to choose a style that I'm aiming to be apart of right now it would be them! I actually have been listening to Flume for awhile I'm very happy to see they are finding success. Love their singers and Lyrics and sound just fantastic all around!!!!!
I love Robert Delong cause he does what I call alternative electronic I guess ha ha (I'm terrible at pinpointing genres) but he's a one man band man that DJS plays drums and guitar! Any DJ or electronic synth pop duo whatever that incorporates real live instruments gives me a hard on. For example Dear Rouge, The Big Gigantic, Odesza to name a few I've seen live to discover the all around talent and pizzazz makes watching an electronic performance that much better!
As for the chicks that are inspiring me to get into this electronic thing and to find a producer to work with is Lana Del Ray, Aluna George, Banks, Lorde, La Roux, Charli XCX, Dragonette + Halsey. I've read up on all of them and a majority of these leading ladies saving grace was finding a producer! So hear I am!
Some synth pop duo peeps that give me a hard on are: Chvrches, Ms Mr (love the way she incorporates her voice in the instrumental part of the track) PHANTOGRAM PHANTOGRAM PHANTOGRAM AHHHHHH Purity Ring (they from my home town!) Dear Rouge (they are from a town close to me!) Chromatics, + Crystal Castles.
Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
I have very little experience but aiming to change that! I offered vocals for an electronic project a long time ago for a good friend. He didn't even end up using the vocal part I wrote lyrically just used my vocalizations in it lol. He told me he still uses those vocalizations I recorded that day in some songs hes producing. He just tracks them in and adds effects and uses them to create a base which I think is so cool! I also offered some hip-hop vocals for another producer friend for a rap project he was doing. It was the feisty chick singer on the chorus and it was just so much fun! The whole team loved it (unfortunately it never got released) I didn't write the lyrics but he was recording some demos for me so I did him the favour of offering my vocals. Aside from offering my vocals, I do know from co-writing on several experiences that I am great with coming up with a structure and catchy hooks vocally. Working with my band I can push my guitar player to take that one riff he came up with to an entire song within minutes. I take pride in that ability. Cause a lot of musicians are great at the music but weak at the songwriting. That's my strong point. I am a leader by heart and tend to lead the songwriting process to higher and better places. Anyone that has co-wrote with me is always asking to get together to write more! I am very into using the English language to my benefit when writing lyrics. I always have a dictionary and thesaurus within arms reach to find less generic words to use.