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Meet Molly’s Music student Aly Ashford: multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and band frontwoman. Anyone can learn from her perseverance. At 10, she picked up a guitar for the first time, and within three years, she’s blossomed into a well-rounded burgeoning artist. We have no doubts that Aly will go far, but that isn’t to downplay her accomplishments so far; she’s already a member of two music groups (one acoustic and one electric), a student at prestigious Orange County School of the Arts, and a graduate of Impact Foundation’s artist development program. We got the opportunity to pick Aly’s brain about what it’s like to be a 13-year-old star-in-training. Read our interview here:
MM: You write your own music. What does that process look like? Where do you find inspiration?
AA: I usually sit down and write the music first, and then the lyrics to all my songs. The inspiration comes usually from the chords I come up with and what instrument I’m playing. Most ukelele songs are upbeat and happy songs, and most guitar songs are pretty much about love. I sing all day long and create melodies in my head all the time, and I love to record my ideas on my iPhone. Sometimes, my bandmates or manager give me lyrics to songs I’ve never heard and asks me to re-write melodies for them, which is fun, because I really enjoy creating different-sounding melodies.
MM: What’s your experience with playing in groups?
AA: I’m in 2 bands. 5 Minutes Late is my first band. We started it at Project Rock Band Camp in Fullerton two summers ago, and we’ve been together ever since. I sing vocals and play the electric bass for them. We play 2-3 shows a month. We’ve gotten to play at the Slidebar Cafe in Fullerton, The World Famous Coach House, DiPiazzas in Long Beach, Chino Hills Towne Center, and we’ll be playing at Fusion Music Fest this summer.
I started my acoustic trio, Orange Circle, with my best friend PJ, who’s also the drummer in my first band. I wanted to start writing more of my own music and performing with my acousitc guitar, so we created a trio with Summer, another guitarist from 5 Minutes Late.
I have band practices every week, but which band I practice with depends on who has a show coming up. We have lots of shows coming up that we are looking forward to playing. I particularly love the Orange Park Acres 4th of July parade, where 5 Minutes Late gets to play off the back of a float.
MM: Do you have any tips for someone who’s afraid to get on stage? How do you stay natural in front of people?
AA: I just think, well, I’m never going to see them again so I might as well put on a good show. The more shows I play, and the more I practice my songs, the more comfortable I am on stage. I actually perform better when there are more people in the audience. If you are afraid, I would suggest imagining the crowd in underpants.
MM: Ideally, where would you want to be as an artist in five years? What do you think you’ll have to do to pursue that goal?
AA: In 5 Years, I would love to be a professional musician and get paid for shows. I have a goal that I want to play at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, and also write great songs that might hit it big. I would love to open for Taylor Swift, especially at Staples Center; I just can’t imagine playing for that many people, but it would be awesome! To pursue my goals, I’ll have to work hard and just keep performing as much as I can, while learning different instruments and styles to really see waht suits me. I always want to learn new songs and cover all sorts of styles of music.
MM: Name five of your top artists or bands
AA: Ed Sheeran, Corrine Bailey Rae , Imagine Dragons, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, and Taylor Swift
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