June’s It Girl was a godsend from one of our partners, Miptags. After hearing her story I knew that she would be a perfect It Girl… she is talented beyond measure, intelligent, charismatic, and relatable. Ashley Noel Jones is a singer/songwriter who funded her upcoming album on Indiegogo by relying on friends, family, and strangers who supported her vision. Ashley is full of inspiration and love. Her message is one of persistence, daydreams, hard-work and faith. Her EP, Les Reveries of Une Jeune Noire, is available now! Here is a behind the music view into Ashley Noel Jones… her hopes, dreams, goals, and daily grind!
By: Danae Edmonds
1. Tell us a little about who you are and how you got started singing?
I grew up in South Carolina and have been singing for probably as long as I can remember. But, I just came into my singer-songwriterness in the last few years! I had been just singing around the house, doing musicals and that kind of thing since I was in high school. But after living in NYC for a few years, I picked up a guitar, used it as a bit of break-up therapy, taught myself how to play and started writing songs.
2. What artists are you most influenced by?
There are so many that if I listed them all, this interview would go on forever and ever! I’m influenced by artists of all types. But as for musicians, Jeff Buckley is my biggest influence. I adore him and his music. And hope to be the kind of musician and singer that he was… One so vulnerable and open to his art that it’s electric with truth and beauty. I’m also hugely influenced by Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash, and my home church, Hillsong’s music. Lastly some current artists I love: Laura Marling, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Noah Gundersen, and JohnnySwim. (Just to name a few.)
3. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
I worked with my mom with her hair salons and businesses since I was little, so that started early. It was great being involved and seeing what being an entrepreneur is like which is a huge part of being an artist. You are your own business and brand.
My initial goals were nothing! And even to this day, I don’t have an endgame plan. I just wanna write and perform music and put it into the world and hope that there’s a crew of folks who like it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to be an artist soon whose main source of income is my art. So in that respect there is that goal. But what the journey to that looks like, I have no clue… which I am more than okay with. I just keep moving forward, not waiting for opportunities to fall into my lap, but working to create my own.
5. What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
Hmmm. I guess “it’s all gonna be okay. Better than okay.”
6. What skills have you learned from being a recording artist?
I have learned so much from the process. Lots of technical things, but also about the music business in general and how that is changing. One of the biggest things I have learned is to trust my vision and not to be afraid to stand up for that. I think as a woman, you can find yourself, shrinking back from your own ideas or thoughts, especially in male dominated fields, but I learned to always hold on to my vision and know that my ideas and thoughts are valid.
7. Where is your favorite place or environment to write songs?
I love to write anywhere. I write a lot in my apartment. But I also like to be outdoors… So often I’ll start things at home and then venture into a park in the city somewhere and finish things up. And I write on the go. Somehow, I always get the best ideas when I’m walking down the street, riding the subway or in the shower. Ha! So it’s always important to have my iPhone handy to record voice memo ideas! I have hundreds of them on my phone… just little song snippets. And it’s a cool experience to finish a song and then go back and listen to those original sketches and snippets and see how the song has changed and yet still stayed the same.
8. What is a typical day like for you?
Depends on the day. I work (my money making jobs) different days of the week. So a lot of times, I’ll get up in the AM and take care of whatever I need to do before heading to my restaurant job… Work a shift there and then when I’m off, I work on music things, or acting stuff. And I’m super involved with helping with the creative team at my church here in the city, so I spend a lot of time working on that as well as attending meetings and services. So my days are pretty busy… Which is a typical NYC life! Everyone is usually doing 8 million things, so I fit right in! I try my best to maximize the hours in the day as best I can to work to take care of my obligations, pursue my music and artistic endeavors, and serve at my church.
9. What was the biggest obstacle you faced while pursuing your dreams?
There are always obstacles and I’ve been through quite a few! I think the hardest obstacle is to just keep going. It’s so easy to give up. Or get complacent. Or feel the pressure of ‘life obligations’. But I’m continually pushing myself everyday to keep moving forward. Because I know my dreams are becoming more real every day. I’ve already seen so many of the things that I’ve desired come to pass. So just staying focused on those other big ones becoming true is the goal.
10. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I’ve gotten a lot of amazing advice. But probably my favorite has been from my mom which was “just do it.’ Seems simple enough, but so often in life we spin our wheels waiting and hoping and wishing, when the real thing we needed to do was to just do it. Just move forward. Because when we do we start to see opportunities open up.
11. When do you get your best ideas?
In the bathroom. Ha! And at night. I’m a night owl so my brain is usually moving and shaking in the early AM hours! I do a lot of brainstorming and writing around that time.
12. What is the soundtrack of your life like?
That’s a good one! My soundtrack would be a mix of a lot of artist. Like a life mix-tape. A little country music for when I’m daydreaming. Some Old Standards and Ella Fitzgerald or Gregory Porter when I’m thinking about matters of the heart. Some good ole rock and roll like Led Zeppelin and old school Kings of Leon when I wanna get pumped up! Some 90s R&B when I’m feeling nostalgic… And a good simple folk or bluegrass record when I’m just wandering through the city pondering life and dreams and my journey.
13. What inspires you?
People inspire me. New York City. Love. Art. Great movies. Great books. Lots of books. I’m a bit of a nerd about a good book. Nature. I love grass and open fields and the smell of saltwater in the air.
14. How do you unwind?
I love movies! There’s a small indie theater in NYC that I love to go to and see an independent films, grab some popcorn and a fountain ginger ale. I love spending time with my family and friends to take a break from everything. I love trashy TV shows. Ha! I can zone out with some good Housewives of… shows. A good glass of wine, well-made cocktail or some home-cooked southern food are always a plus.
15. What do you hope people take away from your album? (& where is it available?)
I hope that people will connect to it. That they’ll relate to it and it’ll be part of the soundtrack of their lives. I hope also, that people will be inspired to go after their dreams. This started as just this little nugget of a thing and it’s been such a journey. Having so many people encourage me and get behind my music project on Indiegogo has been amazing. I feel like it’s as much their record as it is my own, so I hope that people will think to themselves, ‘well, if this girl can do it, why can’t I?”. So much of the record is just about being in the moment, and living the life that you want to be living and not waiting for someone to give you the life that you desire… and the challenges and joys of living your life that way.
And it is available wherever you get your fave music (itunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc)The EP Les Reveries of Une Jeune Noire. www. ashleynoeljones.squarespace.com and follow me on twitter and instagram: @noelashley for updates!
Anything we missed that you would like to share?
I think you guys covered a ton! I’d just like to say thanks! I’m really pumped about being asked to be a part of this and think this is awesome! And such a great resource! I’m inspired by your gusto to just go after your own dream and creating this great mag. So for all the guys and gals out there, your dreams are valid. The ideas in your heart are not silly and there’s no better day than today to start pursuing them.
Download Les Reveries of Une Jeune Noire here.