Interview by Michael Alexander
Photo by Jasmine Baker
Name: Dear Ashton
From: Austin, Texas by way of Henderson Tennessee
Influences: Prince, Tina Turner, Kelis, Gwen Stefani, Kanye West, Beyonce, Pharell, Muse…I could go on and on.
What prompted your start for your career path?
Growing up an only child in Austin, I loved anything that required imagination. I would dress up in my mother’s clothing and wigs and plaster flyers (complete with Clipart!) all over our apartment complex announcing concerts that I’ d put on in the breezeway of our building. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I actually had the nerve to charge people for tickets!
From there I went on to graduate from Clark Atlanta University with a degree in Theatre. After college, I moved back to Austin and my best friend convinced me to enter a singing contest. Alas, my career was born!
Who first recognized your talents and what it meant to you?
As good southern girls know, Mama’s always right! So when my mom noticed I had a penchant for performing, she would give in and cart me around to talent searches. She can spot a scam a mile away, and I like to think some her street smarts rubbed off on me.
It took me a while to get comfortable with my singing voice and an ex-boyfriend encouraged me to nurture my talent. While we are no longer together, I’m grateful for the support he provided in this area of my life.
First problem you have come across?
Wow, well as you can imagine problems are everywhere but I like to think of them as hurdles. The first and largest hurdles for me are time and money. It takes money to make money so trying to find a way to balance a day job while trying to become a full time artist is tricky. Being a woman in this industry is also a little tough for various reasons also but I’ve had lady parts long enough to know that its par for course, in fact there’s a little magic in it.
As an up and coming artist what was it that you’ve seen that you needed to improve on?
Gosh, there is so much talent in this world which can often be pretty intimidating. I realized early on that my strength lied in my live show as I leave it all on stage, however, the technicalities of being an artist can be tough. I took a few voice lessons to improve my breathing and really curate my sound. That’s helped a lot since my band and I are pretty active on stage. I also need to improve my Social Media presence… I low key suck online.
How will you make an impact given a chance? Why should people take notice in your work?
My goal is to empower women with my music. My song “Kitty Rules” was written with that in mind. One of the lyrics says: “I got the Kitty, so I make the rules.” The “Kitty,” BTW, is not just what you think, it represents the thing that makes you special, and you’re “swag” so to speak. I feel like we live in a time where real is shunned and fake is praised. We have to get back to loving our true selves instead of changing ourselves to “blend in.” I hope that the message of empowerment (plus an electric beat) and dope video resonates with both men and women.
What are your top 5 albums or mixtapes of all time?
Prince – Purple Rain, Jay Z – The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse, Kings Of Leon – Only By Night, Andre 3000 – The Love Below, Nirvana – Sam Smith
Where do you see your career in the next 10 years?
I’m focused man and my ambition gets stronger by the day, so I’m going to keep working hard and telling stories with my music. I’d like to produce a few albums and hopefully a dope modern stage play. My dream would be to work with Pharrell Williams. He is such a creative genius so to be able to get some sort of mentorship from him would be epic! No matter what happens, I know I will keep putting in the work.
Watch Dear Ashton’s video “Snapped” below: