This past weekend I’ve been at FSA Fest where some fantastic UK Country acts were taking to the stage. However today I want to share with you one of my favourite interviews I’ve ever done which took place last weekend at the Summertyne Americana Festival in Gateshead. There was a fantastic lineup across the three days but the person I was most excited to see was Ashley Campbell daughter of Country music legend Glen Campbell. Now my Gran and Grandad were big fans of his music and as I grew up my Gran introduced me to some of his records so when I first heard that his daughter was a musician and that she was coming over to the UK to play I had to see her, that was back at C2C 2016 on the Town Square Stage and her banjo skills were so good it inspired me to take up the banjo too (I am terrible though!) But I was excited to see Ashley over a year later and eager to talk to her about her music and when her album would be coming out. Read on to find out what she had to say.
Growing up your dad must have been a huge influence in you life and in getting you into music, but at what point did you decide you wanted to be an artist yourself?
So growing up music was in the family, it was all around the house, we’d go to my Dad’s shows as little kids and my parents started me and my brother on piano when we were very young. So we’ve always been playing music but it wasn’t until I was in college that I started playing Banjo and that’s when I turned to more of a professional route. I fell in love with the banjo, something clicked inside of me, it turned me on to my creative side as far as music goes.
So of course your dad’s music has influenced you, but who are you listening to at the moment, who are your favourite artists?
Right now I’m actually getting into Father John Misty, Dirty Projectors, and I love Punch Brothers because I love the musicianship and that’s what was really inspiring to me as I started playing Banjo, hearing that kind of amazing sound quality and melody. I listen to a very wide variety of music.
When it comes to Songwriting where do you draw inspiration from there?
I look back towards the classic country, I draw inspiration from Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, even my dad and Jimmy Webb because I love that classic songwriting style and the format and how simple it is but I like to add a modern edge to the lyrics, a modern experience.
So lyrically you draw inspiration from your own life experiences?
Yeah it’s usually very personal or at least funny experiences.
So a few silly questions now, what is the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Oh! Lets see, I wrote a song, it’s funny I was just telling Eli my fiddle player about it, I wrote a song about a girl named cauliflower, its a love song to her from the perspective of a man in love with cauliflower. And then I also wrote a murder ballad, it was an old American murder ballad about a guy who kills the girl he loves because he couldn’t marry her and then he gets eaten by a bear. Bear Karma!
And when you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander, what are your mid-gig thoughts?
I try to be completely focused or I try and let the song and the music overtake me that’s when I really feel my best when you let it take you on a journey but there have definitely been times, and I’m sure every musician or artist will say this, where you wonder if there’s any good Indian food tonight, but I hope that doesn’t happen, I try not to let it happen!
Now I heard you studied Theatre at college, do you still pursue that?
I still love it for sure, my brother and I were warming up for today with a song from music man and I would love to do some acting again some day but for now I’m just focussed on music.
Do you take any influence from that when it comes to songwriting?
Absolutely, when I was in college I was driving to hollywood to improv classes, I wanted to do sketch comedy so I was taking writing classes as well and that was before I was writing songs so I took that philosophy and carried it into songwriting, which is telling a story, you’ve got to know where to forward a story, where to advance and where to put feeling into it so I took those notes and applied it to songwriting.
I was going to ask you about improv comedy, how did you first get into that?
I think I just loved Saturday Night Live so much and I auditioned for the improv troupe at my university in my freshman year and I didn’t get in and I thought that was so much fun, I want to do that and I’m not going to let this stop me so I signed up for a place called The Groundlings in Los Angeles and that’s where a lot of people from Saturday Night Live started so I was happy to be there and I fell in love with it.
Going back to your music and performing and touring, do you notice any differences between the crowds over here and the crowds back home in the States?
I don’t want to knock American crowds at all but it definitely seems like they’re more easily distracted like sometimes you’re playing and you’re like, are they definitely listening? I like though that on BBC Radio they play album cuts or entire albums and not just the singles because usually my favourite songs on other peoples albums aren’t the singles so I appreciate that.
What’s next for you?
Well I have a cover of Jimmy Webb’s Highway Man coming out on July 27th on Amazon Music so I’m really excited about that, I love that version, I think it’s about time a woman sang that song. And I’ve been working on a new album, it’s mixed and everything so we’re going to put that out as soon as possible, it’s my first album!
Can you tell us about any of the songs on that album?
Well some of the songs are from years ago and some I’ve written in the last year so it’s a really cool journey of my songwriting really from when I started right up to now and all the things I’ve learnt so I’m excited about it and there’s a banjo instrumental on it as well.
So there we are, we eagerly await her debut album and we will keep you updated with release dates for that! In the meantime check out Ashley’s beautiful song Remembering which she wrote for her father when she found out about his illness. And we continue to keep Glen, Ashley and the rest of her family in our thoughts.