This Americana jazz album was written in a converted laundry room
In the new series Making Space, we’re going behind the scenes with Ashley Wilson whose debut album, Paint the Sky, was just released on Spotify. While writing the album, Ashley lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her husband in San Francisco where she converted their laundry room into her music studio proving you don’t need a lot of space to create something big.
Name: Ashley Wilson
Passion project: Writing her debut album, Paint the Sky, now on Spotify.
Hardest place to make space:
“Most of us are taught or pick up that we shouldn't do certain things, especially if they don't make money right away. As a result, we deny ourselves and the world the gifts that truly light us up. Let's work to not do that and make it okay to bring forth whatever we feel called to do.”
Small Space, Big Taste Survey:
What did you want to be when you were a child? What did you end up doing?
I wanted to be an actress/performer and author. While my path got a little windy there and took me into studying journalism and doing tech marketing for nearly 10 years, I guess I'm now living out what I intended as being a singer-songwriter which is this awesome combination of performer and writer.
What passion or creative project are you making space for in your life?
Being a singer, writing songs, learning to play the piano—basically everything related to the art of self-expression through song form.
Before you got started, what was holding you back? Was there someone or something you were waiting for permission from?
Oh so much held me back. I got introduced to competition at a young age, having danced seriously starting from the age of 4 and then attending a performing arts high school. I learned to compare myself to others and to be quite critical of myself, and how I stacked up. Attending dozens of auditions over the years didn't help. In many ways, what held me back was the story that I wasn't good enough to "make it." I was waiting for external permission to validate what I secretly dreamed of doing (singing, performing, and, later, playing piano and songwriting). Luckily, following the book The Artists Way, helped me see that all of this was just a story, and I could change it! Once I started admitting to myself just how big my dreams were, I couldn't ignore them any longer and I started to give myself permission to be my true self.
What was the turning point that made you decide to make changes so you could pursue your passion?
Feeling burnt out at my startup job; asking myself why I wasn't doing what I loved as a child (performing, singing, writing); going to shows and secretly wishing it was me up on stage. All of things came together in 2014 to make me see that I shouldn't and, more importantly, couldn't ignore my feelings if I wanted to live a full and authentic life.
How are you making space for your passion in your home?
In my previous space, before we moved, I was very clear to myself, my husband, and the universe, that I needed a dedicated music space. And it happened! It was a laundry room of sorts, but I turned it into this magical little space with my piano and mementos and we put a bunch of plants there. That's where I wrote my first album, Paint The Sky. In my new apartment, I have the piano out in the living room. It has it's own corner, with shelving for all my notebooks and some art work that's meaningful on the wall. I like that it's in the living room because seeing the piano reminds me how much I want to play it. And having it in an open space means that I can share the music with guests and my family.
How are you making space for your passion in your budget?
I am working a lot in my day job (running a tech marketing agency) to afford my music passion. I have a monthly budget I've allotted to myself and that I discussed with my husband (since we share our finances together) that allows me to take lessons, do rehearsals, and, when needed, record in the studio. Although I still feel guilty sometimes spending my money this way, I remind myself, hey, you work hard in your other job to make space for this job too.
How are you making space for your passion in your calendar?
This is the most challenging one. I've found that I have to block off days of the week to do music. Otherwise, my marketing work takes over, along with general life things. It doesn't always work out, and sometimes I have to be very fluid with my schedule, but in general, making dedicated time on the calendar is the difference between creating and not.
What is the result? What are you creating? What are you most proud of?
I'm post proud of the album I just released! I decided in early 2017 that I would make it, not knowing how it would happen or where it would go. Week by week, I chipped away at it, along with a lot of mentoring and support by my producer and piano teacher Art Khu. And lo and behold, two years later, I have a completed album launched and released on Spotify, with some great reviews from press and bloggers to boot! Next up is another EP release with some songs that didn't make it on this first album, along with writing and exploring more creative ideas for the future albums to come.
What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?
To trust my intuition and to not second-guess how things will turn out. My path has been totally all over the place, but it feels completely right just as it is.
Anything else at all? What would you like SSBT readers to know?
The permission thing is huge. Most of us are taught or pick up that we shouldn't do certain things, especially if they don't make money right away. As a result, we deny ourselves and the world the gifts that truly light us up. Let's work to not do that and make it okay to bring forth whatever we feel called to do.