Vancouver musician Ashleigh Ball on her new song ‘Vultures’

Ashleigh Ball. Jeremy Cox photo.

Ashleigh Ball is a founding member of Juno-nominated Vancouver indie-pop trio, Hey Ocean!, a voice actor (My Little Pony), and solo artist. Recently, she released a new single/video. Recorded with local Grammy-winning producer Chin Injeti (Dr. Dre, Eminem, Drake), “Vultures” is said to be about “the intimate connection of lifelong friendships and the importance of women strengthening each other.”

We talked to Ball about the single, what else she has been up to, and her plans.

Watch Ashleigh Ball’s video for “Vultures” here.

Q: You came into the studio to with your flute, is that right?

A: Yes. I had met [producer] Chin Injeti, who’s produced lots of things in Vancouver and also works internationally, he’s someone who’s been on my radar for awhile. We’d always talked about working together. Last spring I started going to his studio and we started writing together. He’s represented by Warner Publishing so he’s constantly getting requests for music for tracks, or just songs for albums, by Warner artists. So he was getting emails from Justin Beiber’s camp and Selena Gomez’s camp. As an activity, we tried to write a pop song that somebody like Justin Bieber could sing, which is a fun thing to do. And then we worked on some new music for me. And I brought my flute in, and Chin was like, “This is great; we should write a song with some weird jungle-y flute in it.” Then he looped in some beats and created this song over a couple of sessions.

Q: Were the lyrics written after?

A: Those were actually written before the session. I carry around a notebook all the time and write down little fragments of lyrics ideas or little clues for songs. A friend was going through some tough stuff and we went out for drinks and ended up talking ’til the wee hours. I woke up with these lyrics in my head and just wrote what we’d been talking about.

Q: Do you also keep track of ideas on your phone?

A: The voice memo app is constantly overflowing. I constantly have to organize them. So I do use my phone for melody ideas. I’m the crazy woman on her bike singing into my phone. But I like to have my lyrics on paper. There’s something about pen-to-paper and writing things out.

Q: How did the songwriting for Justin and Selena go?

A: Oh man. We submitted something. I knew it was a huge long shot. It was more an exercise of trying to get in the mindset of what Justin Bieber would be going through. The notes come in, and it’s like, “Justin Bieber’s newly married, and he has this new relationship with God,” so you kind of have to put yourself in that kind of mind-frame. And we’d get notes like, “He wants some kind of acoustic-y vibe, downtempo stuff.” It was fun to do it. But there’s been no feedback. I’m sure that caliber of artist is getting thousands of submissions.

Q: Are you planning a solo album?

A: Yeah. Last year I was feeling a bit creatively stuck and I ended up reaching out to a couple of guys I knew who play in a Winnipeg band called Royal Canoe, Matt and Matt—Matt Schellenberg and Matt Peters. and asking if they were free to do some work. At first, I thought I would send them some tracks and we could work remotely. I ended up flying to Winnipeg and spending three days at Matt Schellenberg’s house and writing with them. And then I just kept going back. I actually made an album that I’ll put out at some point. I don’t know when.

Q: Does it sound like “Vultures”?

A: I mean, there are aspects of it…  They were really excited that I played flute. I would bring in new instruments every time. At first I brought my ukulele, then my flute, a kalimba [an African instrument]. We would just loop certain instruments. I brought this pocket sax that I found online. I thought, “This is going to be great, I can totally play this,” and ended up not being able to play it at all. So that was a bit of a bust. But it was a really fun process. It was nice to get out of Vancouver and just focus on music. There are so many distractions. Well, there used to be! [note: this interview was conducted following the covid-19 outbreak.]

Q: So what’s happening with the band [Hey Ocean!]?

A: Oh, the band… We’re on pause. Dave Beckingham is in the process of working on an album, and Dave Vertesi is working on one he’s hoping to release soon. We went through this before, where we stopped for three years to put out our own stuff, then got back together. It seems like we’re in the period again where we’re doing solo stuff. It’s an ebb period.

Ashleigh and the two Daves in Hey Ocean! circa 2018.

Q: What about voice work?

A: That’s been kind of slow There are lots of things coming up, some Netflix series coming out that I’m on, like The Hollow for Season II (starts May 20). Lots of little things that are still happening but nothing huge.

 

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