Concert Sutra Enjoys The Ashlyne Huff Ride
by terri sapp
Photographs by terri sapp
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
In the hottest days of Summer in Metro Atlanta, Georgia, the Concert Sutra stumbled upon the opportunity to check out a very talented young performer from Nashville, Tennessee, Ashlyne Huff. On June 25, 2010, Ashlyne joined up with the guys from another young band, Days Difference on the Jordin Sparks (past American Idol winner) Battlefield Tour. I have to say that when the chance to cover a show at Six Flags Over Georgia appeared, I was intrigued. This was a first in Concert Sutra history. Even though the temperature was in the 100s, fighting the large adoring crowd was tough, and the MARTA ride bumpy, the time spent with Ashlyne was worth working harder than ever to get the coverage! The show was full of wonderfully high energy, and the performers gave their all in the midst of debilitating heat. I earned an even higher degree of respect for anyone able to pull off the caliber of show while braving such extreme conditions.
With a strong start, from the self-titled debut album “Ashlyne Huff,” “Comeback” got the crowd going and excited to hear more from the newcomer on the pop music scene, Ashlyne Huff. The first thing that struck me when seeing Ashlyne do her thing was the smooth mix of vocal and dance skills. “Make It Rain” seemed a perfect request on such a hot and humid first day of the Battlefield Tour. With a more mellow tone, “Heartbeat” brought on the swaying. Asweet song with a message of not giving up on love. Having been written on iChat with a guy in Sweden, “Checklist” really gave the guys in the band time to rock it out!
Ashlyne then took photos of the crowd making hearts with their hands to post on Twitter. Followed by “Sweet Nothing,” which has an appropriately sweet melody that helps showcase Ashlyne’s vocal range. In that same vein, and as a part of Cover Song Fridays, with Brandon on guitar, Ashlyne sang a gorgeous rendition of The Script’s popular song “Breakeven (Falling To Pieces).” Even though I had never actually heard the song before Ashlyne introduced me to it, the audience was signing along. I found it to be a beautiful song and great choice of cover for her! As a part of her first single, “Heart of Gold,” Ashlyne asked her fans to learn a dance for purposes of a dance party feel on tour. She made a contest out of it, and the winning video is hilarious! You can probably find it on Ashlyne’s You Tube channel. FUN! Big ups to the guys in the band who rocked it out: Bryan Brophy on bass; Brian Barefoot on drums; and Brandon Hood on guitar. They closed their portion of the show with an almost techno feeling rock song, “Trippin’ It Up.” Out with a bang!
Visit the following address to view my photo gallery of my day with Ashlyne Huff at Six Flags Over Georgia: http://www.concertsutra.com/100625ashlynehuffcs/ and http://www.ashlynehuff.com/ for more on Ashlyne Huff. I also had the opportunity to speak with Ashlyne behind the scenes on the first day of her appearance on the Jordin SparksBattlefield Tour. Check out what she had to say to Concert Sutra below!
Concert Sutra: I picked up from your performance that you are a trained dancer. How long have you been dancing?
Ashlyne: I’ve been dancing since I was 7, but taking it really seriously since I was 9, which is not that much difference. I saw a Full House episode and saw her dancing to Motown Philly, Stephanie Tanner, and that was it for me. I’ve been doing it ever since. It was really my first love, and what got me into music in all genres. It was a good introduction into everything that I’m doing now.
Concert Sutra: Other than in the shower, how did you get started singing and performing in front of an audience?
Ashlyne: Actually, I tried out for Opryland, which is no more, they had a kid’s club, kinda like the Mickey Mouse Club. So, I tried out for it, not really wanting to sing, and I ended up making it, so it worked out, but I had to sing. I was 11, but I would have done it at any time, but at 11, you kind of just wanna play out in the yard (giggles). So, I did it, and I started to sing “When You Wish Upon A Star” every Friday and Saturday at the theme park, so this environment is close to home, this theme park thing. From that point forward, I started dancing at school, of course, still dancing. Eventually, it just became something that took over when I started writing.
Concert Sutra: Did you have vocal lessons, or did you just practice a lot?
Ashlyne: Well, I asked my Dad if he thought it would be a good idea, and he said, “I think because you are so young, I think you are very impressionable, so I think the best way for you to go about it is to get your hands on every type of genre of music,” which I was already exposed to from dance, but he said, “We’ll get you everything. I want you to learn how to sing it. Imitate it, and through that you will come up with your own style.” It was a really interesting approach. I just went along with what he said, and it worked out for the best. Now, I’m trained, and have vocal lessons for maintenance, because it is a muscle, but I love that I started out just loving to sing rather than keeping track of what my vocal coach was saying.
Concert Sutra: Do you ever go karaoke singing?
Ashlyne: (giggles) Actually, I don’t karaoke. I take it too seriously, so it’s no fun for me, but Ned (very nice guy inthe room with us who gave me a much needed bottle of ice cold water…THANKS NED!!!) is really good. Ned’s REALLY good.
Concert Sutra: I love karaoke!
Ashlyne: You know, I will karaoke to something…because it is what I do, I really think about the notes, so basically I’d have to do a rap song! Something I am totally not good at.
Concert Sutra: Rap karaoke is fun! (to Ned) What is your favorite karaoke song?
Ned: Heart of Gold.
Concert Sutra: Good answer…Heart of Gold by Ashlyne Huff!
Ashlyne: Or, Neil Young had one, too.
Concert Sutra: We’ll go with yours. I like the video, too! I took dance for a while, too, so I was immediately like “this girl is a dancer, I can tell!”
Ashlyne: What kind?
Concert Sutra: Well, all kinds. I started when I was very young, too, with the basics of tap, jazz, and ballet, and later went onto pointe, and in college did some modern and hip hop.
Ashlyne: You kind of have to learn all the basics.
Concert Sutra: Tap is my favorite, though. I am so spastic, I am good at it.
Ashlyne: I wish I was better at tap. I so wish I was better at it. I so appreciate it, though. It’s so hard, and fun to watch.
Concert Sutra: When you were growing up, was there a particular type of music you were exposed to?
Ashlyne: Once we moved to Tennessee from L.A., I was really around Country music, because that is what my Dad started to produce, but I grew up on Janet Jackson. And, I danced to the other stuff, so I don’t really think there was just one. I wasn’t exposed to Country at dance, because you don’t really dance to Country, so it was pretty well rounded exposure. I definitely got a lot of the Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts and LeAnn Rimes, which I think you can hear a little of how much I imitated them when I was learning. I would just sing them to myself, and think, maybe someday! So, this is a dream come true!
Concert Sutra: What was it, or who was it that influenced you now to get into the music business?
Ashlyne: Really a couple of different things…the idea that I really like to create started it all. I have 25 journals, and I talked to my Dad when I was younger, and told him I really want to write, but I didn’t really know what that meant! But, wanted to write in some capacity. He said, “You’ve got to have something to say. If you don’t have anything to say, it is kind of pointless, because why would you write without a point?” So, that made me really think about what I would want to say. I was really young, so I wanted to live more, so I went to school, and did everything I wanted to do to draw in from every aspect of life, so I would actually have some life experience to draw from. From that point, I realized that I wanna say one thing, and that is that it is ok to be exactly who you are. That particular thing made me wanna sing and want to say it out loud, instead of just be a physical writer. I got pushed through the song writing by my Dad, obviously, so, long story short, it was definitely my Dad who told me I could do it, but it was in a lot of other things that kind of came to an agreement in my head…it took a while (giggles).
Concert Sutra: You still keep a journal and all that.
Ashlyne: Yes, I’m on #25. It’s a little crazy! (giggles)
Concert Sutra: Wow. That’s dedication!
Ashlyne: I still love to write, but it’s not a job, just my famous hobby, I guess.
Concert Sutra: Do you play any instruments other than the vocals?
Ashlyne: No, that was one thing I started…the piano when I was younger, and I would just get up and turn on Janet Jackson before my Mom could hear me, and before the timer went off, because I had to practice for 30 minutesor something like that. So, I’d turn on Janet Jackson kind of low in the room and just dance until the timer went off. She was like, “Yeah, you probably don’t wanna do this.” (laughs) I really like it, though, because I get to dance, and am not stuck behind something, but, no, don’t play anything.
Concert Sutra: So, what is your writing process? I know a lot of musicians use their pianos or guitars or something to write their songs. How do you go about doing that?
Ashlyne: I start with the lyrics, with an idea. Sometimes it comes from something I’ve written. Sometimes it comes from one word, or two words. “Sweet Nothing” totally took on a life form of its own. I went in there, had an idea…I like to co-write, because I just like to be able to hear someone else’s thoughts, which, I think changes the whole thing, because they draw stuff out of me that I would never think being only one person. I only have just so much ideas, so when I bounce off of theirs, and start building, you can come up with a crazy…or simple song…whatever the case. So, I love to have something to say, and then figure out where it goes, just let it go. I have a lot of great co-writers who let me do that, and they are AWESOME!
Concert Sutra: How do you travel when you are on the road? Are you always in a bus?
Ashlyne: For longer stints like this, we are on a bus, because we drive from place to place. If they are more spread out in time, we fly to avoid going across the country and back and forth. Right now, we are on a buss, and it’s nice. I love the people on it.
Concert Sutra: How do you pass the time when you are riding around?
Ashlyne: Sleeping on over nights, obviously. I bring my journal and my book. I am always reading something to get into someone’s head, and research what’s going on out there. I love to watch things on YouTube, and just kind of brush up on stuff that I’ve been missing when I’m on the road. Very little TV, because there’s no time for it. Just mainly hang out with the band, and get to know everyone on a different level. It’s a good time.
Concert Sutra: I could imagine! Do you see a solo tour in your future any time soon?
Ashlyne: I sure hope so. I don’t know when.
Concert Sutra: Have you done that, yet?
Ashlyne: I haven’t. I’ve been opening thus far, and I love opening. I love getting to learn after I’m done. I hope to in the near future have my own tour. It’s in my sights.
Concert Sutra: Well, you are doing really well getting your crowd out there, with your website, the social networking, the YouTube channel. I think the internet these days is the way to go, for sure!
Ashlyne: Thanks! I love being on Twitter and those social networking things, because it helps put you on a different…you know…if your fan is in Indonesia, some of my fans are, and we can talk! We wouldn’t be able to do that without it. They wouldn’t be able to call me. I wouldn’t be able to call them. It’s just really difficult, so it makes everything come into one place, so everyone can chat! That’s all I want to do. I want to get to the fans. That’s the only reason I’m doing this at all. To be able to have that personal connection with them.
Concert Sutra: Tell me about recording your first album, and how you went about getting it out to the public. Also, tell me about your process of recording this next album you are working on.
Ashlyne: The first one I wrote…I graduated college, and went straight out to Los Angeles for a week…scared to death…and with some really great writers…right before I left, I wrote this song with this guy, which was my first real co-write, and it was “Trippin’ It Up.” So, right out of college I started writing for the album, and we narrowed it down to the six we have on the album. The writing process kind of went into the recording process, because instead of just doing something on a guitar into a recorder, we really went into the studio and put a lot of detail into it. Then, we went back in there after we decided which ones, and polished everything. It was a different approach, because most of thetime, like in my Dad’s studio, they come in for three months or so, and they don’t do anything besides do that. But we did it kind of…we would go back a lot and fix and change and polish. To me, it was the best approach I could take, because I always want to change things, and try to make them perfect, and better and better and better. You don’t have to settle, you can keep on going back in there and revisiting, so it was great.
Concert Sutra: The studio is FUN!
Ashlyne: Yeah, it’s really fun! So, that was that album, (called Ashlyne Huff) and we put it out in Wal-Mart, on walmart.com, and on iTunes. It is in those places at the moment. And, I am starting the writing process all over again, writing, recording, and hoping to get something out as soon as possible, cause that’s what we do! (giggles)
Concert Sutra: Probably get a solo tour quicker that way!
Ashlyne: Right! Right! (laughs)
Concert Sutra: Do you still live in Nashville, or have you migrated to L.A.?
Ashlyne: Currently, I still live in Nashville. I will probably get a place out there just so I can be there more often, and have a place I call my own. I’ll live in dual places. Family is in Nashville.
Concert Sutra: Is Nashville where your recording studio is?
Ashlyne: Both. It depends. Basically, wherever I write is where I record. We typically try to do it that same day, and really start working on it. I was in Sweden for “Make It Rain,” so it’s really just wherever the producer is.
Concert Sutra: Get on it while it’s hot…sounds like fun!
Concert Sutra: Eeeewww, yeah, I bet. Do you have any pets?
Ashlyne: I do. His name is Charlie, and he is the love of my life! He’s a Yorkie, and he lives at my parents’ house.
Concert Sutra: (looking around) Where is he??
Ashlyne: Well, I want him to be able to run around, and we have a really big yard at my house. My parents take really good care of him. They take him on walks and stuff, and I don’t want him to get cooped up, or get a bus cough, you know! (in a slightly baby voice) He has allergies.
Concert Sutra: (giggles) Aaaawwwww! That’s very selfless of you, Mom!
Ashlyne: I love him, and I just want him to be the same when I get back, and it gives me something to look forward to.
Concert Sutra: Charlie! I love Yorkies! They are SO cute!
Ashlyne: Yes, Charlie…he is the coolest one…I’m just telling you…
Concert Sutra: I’ll bet he is! With a big yard in Nashville, how could he not be??
Ashlyne: Yes, he gets lost in it!
Concert Sutra: I heard you like to read books and watch movies. What is your favorite book, and your favorite movie?
Ashlyne: My favorite book…I feel like I’m reading it right now. This author, Elin Hilderbrand, and the book is called The Castaways. The way she writes, it’s just cool to me. She starts out with a big thing, and then she unravels it as she goes. It’s kind of like a murder mystery, possible murder mystery, you know, kind of like a girly book, but whatever…girls like that kind of stuff. So, Castaways is the book, and I really like, as far as cinematography, I really like The Notebook, which is also from one of my favorite authors Nicholas Sparks…I got confused, I was going to say Jordin! There’s just something about how he tells stories in a book that translates so well into a movie, and I’m a big book person, so it’s good to go from book to movie. So, yeah, The Notebook, and The Castaways.
Concert Sutra: OK, so, do you have an opinion on Team Edward or Team Jacob?
Ashlyne: I haven’t seen the second movie…
Concert Sutra: What??? Where have you been…on the road or something???
Ashlyne: Yes! I was on the road that whole time, so I missed the whole thing, so it was out of the theatres, and then I missed it again.
Concert Sutra: OK, you have to catch up.
Ashlyne: I saw the first movie, and of course, Jacob wasn’t really in there. What I like about Edward is that he’s really mysterious, but I loved Jacob there, because he’s a little more normal. I gravitate towards the normal when I look for a guy.
Concert Sutra: When you get a chance, you really need to read the books. I never thought I would hear myself say, but I broke down and read them recently…
Ashlyne: I will. I have read the same thing from a million people…I don’t know where I’ve been! In The Castaways, I guess.
Concert Sutra: You have been on the road and in the recording studio, and that is just fine!
Ashlyne: (giggles) I’ll get on that.
Concert Sutra: Just let me know… So, tell me a little more about the Feed Projects.
Ashlyne: It’s an organization I am really interested in…in general for myself. I have a couple of feed bags, and every time you donate something, you get something back to show what you’ve donated. So, I have a feed bag that says 2 on it, and it puts 2 children in Kenya through school for a year. It’s like an instant…you know you did something, and you can show everyone what you’ve done. I think it’s a great organization for young men and women to get going, because when you buy a bag, you may as well have helped someone, or if you buy a bear to sleep with, you might as well have helped somebody when you do it. I just like the idea of getting something and giving something. I just want to get all the people I can involved with it, because I have food, and I had food growing up. I want all the children…I know a lot of people who had food growing up, but there are so many people out there that don’t, and they can’t get to the next level if they don’t eat. I think it’s very important, and it’s a little bit lost, because we sometimes just take for granted that we have food everyday.
Concert Sutra: A really smart strategy to get folks to give with the give and take concept, I think.
Ashlyne: Yeah, I think they had a great idea with it. I fully support Feed Projects. Visit http://www.feedprojects.org/ for more information.
Concert Sutra: What advice would you give to all the young kids out there who dream about getting into showbiz?
Ashlyne: I would say if you want to do it, you have to go for it! The last thing you want to do is regret not going for it. My main suggestion is to go to school. And, go all the way through school. I have a college degree, and I didn’t miss a thing! You don’t have to be a super star when you’re 15, or 16, or 17.
Concert Sutra: College was fun!
Ashlyne: Yeah, and you learn so much about yourself! And, reverting back, I really feel like I learned what I wanted to say during those formative years, so it really helped me out. I just think education is really important, just to have. If you have the means to do it, go for it! All the while, be cooking up what you want to put out there once you’re done, and you’ll have two things to show for it when you’re done…your diploma, and your career. It’s also just really believing in yourself.
Concert Sutra: What did you study in college?
Ashlyne: I studied Business Administration, with an emphasis on Music Business, so basically my job.
Concert Sutra: So, you studied the Music Business, so there you go!! Excellent! Pretty smart…pretty smart!
Ashlyne: (giggles) It was so well worth it. I loved college.
Concert Sutra: Alright, well, thank you so much for talking with me, for your time, the pictures, the CD and the autographs…I love autographs! I will be on the look out for your imminent solo tour! Good luck, and see you next time!