Ashley Lilinoe (better known as Ash, but not to be confused with the British band of the same name) is a 22-year-old singer/songwriter who grew Hawaii, lives on an organic farm, and writes super rad music. Her new single “Lover Friend” has a soothing R&B vibe and her voice melts perfectly with the soft track. I got to chat with this young up-and-comer about her new music, life on the farm, and more.
TYF: Let’s first take it back. What was your childhood like, growing up in Hawaii and all?
Ash: Growing up, my family lived down a lane. This was also where my grandmother was raised, so we have our family tree of her cousins, siblings, and their children spread around as well. The local culture gets together, has pupus (local snacks/appetizers), drink of choice, and parties it up all night with some kanikapila (to play music), and this is where I came in. I would watch my elders play, developed that skill, and became the one my family called out for a song or two a couple of times a week.
TYF: It sounded like the music was an integral part of the community. And speaking of music, what would you say the music scene is like in Hawaii?
Ash: When you say music scene, there are waves of “scenes.” I just think about the open mics we had with all of my musician friends, which all of our parties were at venues that we outgrew and newer things took its place.
As well as the musicians in the scene, I have moved on and so have everyone else in there calling. I would play in bars and clubs early on and so would friends. We would have fun going to each other’s gigs, calling or being called up to do a few songs. It was chill and a really fun era. The scene is a different pack of musical kids now, with some of the originals still at the restaurants gigging around.
TYF: What are some of your favorite music venues that I should check out next time I’m in Hawaii?
Ash: You know, I don’t really have a favorite music venue so to say, not even favorite music at that. I’d direct you to the ocean and listen to her calm and thrilling beauty. Then to the mountains to hear our ancestors through the voices of the valleys and through the song of the birds.
TYF: Did you get into music early on?
Ash: Yes, I was six years old when I started and when I was nine, that was when I really got the hang of it – “it” being the Ukulele.
TYF: Would you say there is some island influence in your music?
Ash: There is island influence in my heart, in the pallet of my DNA- I roar reggae when it comes through me, it is my flavor it is an element that is apart of the whole. With the music that is being seen, it does not strongly portray that island classic reggae vibe. But when I start jamming, I rip.
TYF: Now you are living in Kelowna, British Columbia. Why did you decide to move to Kelowna?
Ash: My beloved is from Kelowna. From there, our friends that we were meant to live in the community were the farmers in her grandmother’s backyard, which they lead us to our school bus that was parked on the main highway in the town for many years as well. All unfolding beautifully.
TYF: And I got to say, it’s super rad that you are living on an organic farm. What’s that lifestyle like?
Ash: Nurturing. Nourishing. No time. Just Love. Harmony. Unity. Community. Projects. Building. Learning. Growing. Caring. Playing. Sustaining. Reusing. Reducing. Plant-based.
TYF: What are five sustainable practices that our young readers can implement easily at home?
Ash: Bringing your own Tupperware/container, beverage container, and utensils with you while you travel through the city/world. Using a reusable cloth bag instead of a plastic or paper bag while you shop. When there is an option to not use plastic or styrofoam take that chance. Learn how to compost your food scraps properly. Take on learning how to plant, what to plant, and start your forest there.
TYF: Now let’s get back to the music. What is your writing process like? Do you find that words flow before the beat or is it vice versa or a mix of both?
Ash: Melody, groove definitely comes first. The vibration of the melody speaks, words are just a translator for that – portraying extra definitions of emotions to create the artist’s story.
TYF: I’m obsessed with the chill, laid-back vibe that your song, “Lover Friend”, has. How did you know your sound was leaning towards soulful R&B?
Ash: I actually didn’t know R&B is what it leaned into. I was curious to what I’d be labeled as. I’m not one for labels in this sense. I get lost in that translation. You see when I play the song, I feel the jazz, I feel the reggae, I feel the soul, I feel the blues. Production is cool and I am very glad to have met that part of myself that is the product track of “Lover Friend.” But I really enjoy telling the story at the moment that never repeating itself, and telling it again having it evolve in this light.
TYF: Can you tell us the story behind “Lover Friend”?
Ash: On the purest side of the Lover is one that embarks on a journey of healing their heart through loving themselves unconditionally and that is you being your greatest friend.
TYF: I read that the track “Lover Friends” marks a new era in your music. Can you talk a little bit about the shift that your music recently underwent?
Ash: It is the letting go on an era, “Lover Friend” has been written, recorded, lived, and now that it’s released so shall it be in my life. I will live and sing to share the beauty of what I live, but the mark of this era is to allow the new to arise and then to experience this cycle of letting go as the music is released for others to experience.
TYF: Will you be releasing any other new songs in the near future? If so, can you give us a little hint as to what they will be about?
Ash: Yes. Every song will always be written about the most important thing in the universe. It is the universe. It is us all. Love.
TYF: As a writer, I feel like I can keep editing and tweaking a piece for days on end. So how do you know that a song is finished?
Ash: Once a song is created, it is given a soul. That soul will never perish. It will continue to evolve, transform, shapeshift, and the story goes on. When we talk about a chapter of completion, that is an intuitive process of accepting that we can put something to rest and be done. At least for now.
TYF: If you could collab with anyone on a song, who would it be and why?
Ash: Wow, great question. I’ll just shoot out some names, Bob Nesta Marley, Shania Twain, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, and Selena. And why these artists? These are just the ones that came to me. They’ve all struck a chord in me enough to shine through to this moment.
TYF: As you embark on your music career, what is the best advice someone has given you?
Ash: “They just want you girl, raw, vulnerable, all that love in you.”
TYF: Tons of young artists are making an impact in the music industry. What kind of impact do you picture yourself making in the music industry?
Ash: Leading my brothers and sister into a kind world. By reuniting with and honoring our mother Earth, by loving and honoring ourselves and each other, and respecting the animals and all living beings of this world.
TYF: Lastly, do you have any advice for other young artists who want to break into the music industry?
Ash: Go play, have fun, do what you feel, follow the child in your heart, and may that all be in accordance with kindness and respecting yourself and others.
For more information on Ash and her music, visit her Facebook page.