Ashley Lawless, a Canadian YouTuber and musician from Toronto has recently partnered up with Lonely Kids Club to help spread our values and become one of our voices overseas to her 90k and still counting YouTube subscribers. We recently had a conversation with her about how she got to where she currently is, her influences, her upcoming self-released EP and what she loves about being part of the LKC family as well as many more questions.
LKC: So Ashley, you are mostly known for your covers on YouTube, how long ago did you get started and what made you decide that you wanted to start posting your covers and songs on YouTube?
Ashley: My mom always pushed me to sing and ‘share my gifts with the world’ but I was far too shy growing up. When I was in highschool Justin Bieber was blowing up and I saw that YouTube was becoming a booming platform where people of all ages and kinds of talent were able to share themselves. I decided to give it a shot because it was the only way I felt comfortable sharing, so I started making covers when I was about 16. Slowly but surely I gained quite the following and I still can’t believe I’m almost at 100,000!
LKC: When did you know that you wanted to become a musician? Were you doing anything else besides this?
Ashley: They ask you at such a young age what you want to be when you grow up… doctor, lawyer, teacher, astronaut. By the age of 10 I knew I wanted to someday be in a band and go on tour. It was always a dream of mine. Life caught up to me and I ended up pushing that dream to the background and went to university and graduated with a communications degree. Throughout that whole time I always felt in the back of my mind that school wasn’t for me and I should pursue music, but I ignored those thoughts to try to make my parents happy. I worked full time at an architecture firm for about a year but I realized I wasn’t happy. I decided enough was enough, I wasn’t getting any younger and I couldn’t die knowing I didn’t try. So here I am, it’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally here and I’m so happy to see the amount of people who are supporting me.
LKC: Is there anyone that inspires you? Like any musical influences, if so what do you like about them?
Ashley: I would say throughout high school, LIGHTS and Justin Bieber were my biggest inspirations at the time. Simply because I liked the way their music made me feel, they’re both Canadian, play guitar, and they also made cover videos on YouTube. They’re the reason I started making covers too. Hayley Kiyoko was a very important figure in my life because she opened doors for the LGBTQ+ community. She was the first artist I felt connected with on a deeper level because of my struggle with my sexuality and wanting to be my authentic self for so long. At this time there is so much music being created and so much that I like, I grab inspiration from everywhere!
LKC: How did you hear about Lonely Kids Club and what do you like about the brand?
Ashley: A few months ago I had a Skype call with one of my fans who had been supporting me through my Patreon funding page. The idea was to have a 15 minute call to say hello and get to know my supporters a little bit more. We ended up talking for over an hour – it was like we were already friends – we’ve been talking ever since. She told me about LKC and suggested the idea to collaborate. I love how the brand is passionate about gender diversity, local production, and spreading awareness about mental health. I find that the brand is honest. And I like that they make references to some of my favourite childhood TV shows and video games – very nostalgic.
LKC: Has there been any highlights in your journey as a musician?
Ashley: I’ve had a couple cool moments, but the cherry on top has gotta be the time Hayley Kiyoko watched my cover and reacted to it. She mentioned seeing my covers around before, and I died a little haha. Another moment is when I did an online performance and chatted with the band Hedley, that was super cool too.
LKC: How do you come up with songs to write and sing about?
Ashley: Normally I’ll write lyrics when I’m feeling intense emotions. I’ll record a voice note, a line or two. Sometimes I even try to think back to a time where I went through something significant, and really meditate and imagine the feelings I experienced. So far the songs that seem easiest to write about are when I feel heartbroken, when i’ve lost someone important to me.
LKC: How many instruments can you use and are there any that you would like to learn?
Ashley: I can play the guitar and the ukulele. I’ve also been playing the bass here and there. I would love to learn the piano and the drums!
LKC: How important is self care and mental health to you?
Ashley: I think self care and mental health is so important. Caring for yourself in general – physical health is improved by exercising and eating, right? Well with mental health we have to have the same idea. The mind and the body are connected, so if we aren’t thinking well or feeling good about ourselves mentally, our physical health suffers, and vice versa. I think with the prevalence of social media we can find ourselves trapped comparing our lives to others, striving for better, never feeling truly satisfied with what we have. We are our own worst critics and I believe it is important for us to talk to ourselves with the same care as we do our best friends.
LKC: You are an independent and unsigned musician, how do you manage to balance this all out? Especially with trying to release your first EP?
Ashley: (Sabrina Lee. LOL) uhmm it’s really really tough.There are so many things I’m learning on the fly that come along with making an EP that I didn’t know I’d have to stress out about -setting up my own website, posting enough on Instagram, YouTube, going to photoshoots and thinking about lighting, poses, aesthetic for that photoshoot, designing merchandise, planning where to get the merchandise from, how to ship my packages to different parts of the world, performing live, etc. etc. Working with producers over the Internet is probably one of the hardest things that I’ve had to deal with because it’s unpredictable and it’s hard to communicate when you’re not actually in the studio. I think it’s definitely a learning process that hopefully will become easier the more I do it. It’s all very exciting and stressful all at the same time.
LKC: Do you have any tips for anyone that is interested in becoming a YouTuber or a musician?
Ashley: Gain inspiration, but don’t try to imitate. Do what you like and that passion will attract people to you naturally. I think we get really caught up in trying to be “the best” and we paralyze ourselves trying to look and sound like somebody else. We forget that our uniqueness is what separates us from the rest. I think we’re allowed to become whoever we want through our music, so I think it’s even a place where we’re allowed to express a part of ourselves that we’ve hidden from society.
LKC: You are from Toronto, Canada. Are there any places you would recommend for any people that haven’t been and why?
Ashley: Kensington Market has got a great vibe. Such an array of food and little shops. You’re bound to see something that catches your eye. Queen Street West is pretty known for its music and fashion scene, as well as performing and visual arts. In the summer time I’d suggest checking out Center Island – you take a ferry to reach it and spend a whole day there. You can picnic, bring your bikes or dogs, hang out at the beach.. It’s really chill. The ferry ride back at night is beautiful with all the city lights.
LKC: What do you know about Australia? Any plans to come to Sydney, Australia soon and if so, what places are you most looking forward to checking out?
Ashley: To be quite honest, not much! I know that I’ve wanted to visit Australia since I was a kid.The accent and slang fascinates me. Honestly I just really wanna see all the animals that I’m not used to seeing around here! I love animals. QUOKKAS, ROOS, and KOALAS!
LKC: Lastly, if you could pass on some advice for the next generation, what would it be?
Ashley: Take a moment once a day for yourself, even just for a 5 minutes to decompress and breathe. It’s easy to get off balance in our busy ever-moving lives. Count the things that you do have and you’ll be surprised to see how much we forget to be grateful for. Think about the things that make you happy, the things that bring you joy. Prioritize them and give your time to those things. When we find our passion, it can inspire others to find theirs someday. Money and materials don’t make us happy, it’s the way people come to experience things together and the relationships we build that make life worth living.
– Sabrina Lee