Dan had a chat with Ashley Campbell whilst she was in the UK last week to discuss her new single, upcoming album and C2C appearance:
Hey Ashley! It’s great to have you back in the UK – how’s the jet-lag?
It’s really lashing out at me!
You seem to be making the UK a second home now – you did C2C last year, Nashville Meets London in July and you’re coming back for C2C next year. How have you found the whole experience of playing shows here?
I love coming to the UK, every chance I get. I’ve got some friends over here, I love the food, I love the people. It’s wonderful.
Talk to me about Nashville Meets London – the weather was AWFUL that weekend but it says a lot about the loyalty of the UK fans that they stuck it out through the rain.
Yes, definitely! Anyone who will stand outside in the rain for that amount of time for live music has got to be a dedicated fan, and there were lots of them!
You’re coming back in March for C2C, which you’ve played at before, but this time you’ll be on the main stage at the O2. Is that a nerve-wracking prospect for you or are you super excited to get out there?
I’m more excited than nervous. I just can’t wait, it’s gonna be so much fun to play on that stage in front of so many people.
You’re going to be doing a tribute to your father – what can we expect from that? Will you have the full band with you?
I’m going to have a couple of musicians with me – we’re gonna rock it!
Let’s talk about your banjo abilities for a second. Everyone knows what a phenomenal banjo player you are but tell us what drew you to the banjo and what inspired you to learn?
I’ve always been drawn to the banjo but never really thought it was a thing that I could do until I was a theatre major at Pepperdine University and I got into a play in my junior year. They needed someone to learn banjo, so they asked me if I could do it and I said yes!
You didn’t actually commit yourself to music until you were in college did you?
No, I wanted to be an actress.
That’s quite surprising because being a Campbell, everyone would just assume that you were born to be a musician!
They actually did assume that! I showed up for my first day of college and they’d actually put me in all music classes because they assumed I was a music major even though I was fully a theatre department student!
What was the moment that changed it for you and led you down the music path?
Well I fell in love with the banjo and really got into that. Then right after I graduated, my Dad was going on tour to Australia and New Zealand and I asked if I could go along and treat it as a vacation. He said “yes, of course. Hey, you should play in the shows too!” and that’s how I got started. I just got the bug!
That’s very cool! And you’re here at the moment promoting your new single ‘A New Year’ – a song about learning from the past and moving forward. What does that song mean to you personally and why was it a good fit for the new single?
‘A New Year’ is just about finding that love or that passion that makes you want to be a better person. It makes you want to rise up and be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. It’s a very optimistic, uplifting and hopeful song.
It’s the lead single from your upcoming album ‘The Lonely One’ which will be released on Friday 9th March. You co-produced the album with your brother, Cal, so what made you go with him and what did he add to the project?
I’ve always admired Cal for his musicianship and he’s an excellent engineer and producer. I’ve always been more of a roosty, folky, acoustic kind of person but I wanted to create a country album with edge. I’ve got my roots, bluegrass vibe but Cal brings in a new perspective so I thought the collaboration would be really nice.
Tell us what we can expect from the album because you’ve always been quite eclectic when it comes to your solo material haven’t you?
Yes! It’s definitely got all of my influences with different vibes, all the way from country to Americana to pop and there’s even a banjo bluegrass instrumental on there so it’s very eclectic but it all kinda works together. It’s a representation of me as a musician.
Does it feel like a weight off your shoulders to finally have a full body of work to put out and show the world who Ashley Campbell really is as a solo artist?
Yes it does, I’ve been waiting for so long and it’s finally the right moment. I’m very excited!
You also had your brother Shannon on guitar who co-wrote ‘Looks Like Time’, and I was going to ask you about that track because it’s a quirky one that could really become a fan favourite!
That one always goes over really well live. It cracks people up! Everyone has had that moment with someone where they get a little bit of gratification for seeing karma catch up with them.
Once the album’s out, what’s the plan for next year? Do you plan to tour heavily?
Yes, I hope I can tour a lot and play as many shows as possible!