Lead singer, percussionist and now front-woman for her own band, Chastity Ashley, has a lot to talk about when it comes to creating and making music. Her latest venture is with her band Beauty In The Breakdown, which combines their love of electronic music fused with catchy, pop beats. As noted in a recent press bio, Ashley has worked with a slew of celebrated musicians in the industry, including Duran Duran, and her previous debut EP, Neon, received positive reviews from publications like Music Connection and others.
Ashley is of Native-American (Apache) and Mexican descent and combines her heritage and ethnicity into her music. Read our interview with Ashley about her role in her band, how she includes her heritage in music, upcoming album and tour plans with Beauty In The Breakdown, and much more.
AXS: What led you to pursue music as front-woman, instead of solely playing percussion?
Chastity Ashley: Funny you should ask because when I first started playing music professionally I loved the fact that people assumed I was the lead singer but when in fact I was solely the drummer. After a while though, it became apparent that I wanted to do both because of my personal vision, art and message that I wanted to share. Being a poet and a songwriter always felt empowering, so I knew that I had to take the extra steps to ensure that I could share my authenticity and perhaps affect souls on a deeper level by coming to the front.
AXS: What's the idea behind Beauty In The Breakdown?
CA: This is where I feel people find out who they really are and what they are truly made of. When you experience ultimate loss, defeat or hopelessness it's then and there that you discover your ultimate beauty. It humbles the soul in ways that allows us to find clarity and humility in a way that we otherwise wouldn't see. And that is where you find beauty in the breakdown of your inner being. It's this message we want to share and why we adopted the name for our movement.
AXS: Your heritage is very cool! How do you and the band incorporate familial aspects that you grew up with into your music?
CA: Well, for me, percussion embodies both sides of my culture. For both my American Indian and Hispanic upbringings. From congas to timbales to the djembe. In my culture, the drum is the doorway to discovering truth as it rumbles and resonates through your body. It's become a defining characteristic for what we do not only in our recorded music but especially live. Being surrounded by percussion through my childhood from drum circles to live concerts really resonated in my heart. And it's why I also feel it's important to share this part of me and for others to see the spiritual aspect of what we're sharing. Ian has strong flamenco influences that also has to do with his Hispanic upbringing which has made a tremendous impact on his musical contributions.
AXS: You've worked with many heavy-hitters in the music scene (Alice in Chains, Duran Duran, many others), and self-dedicated yourself to getting where you were and are....what motivates you, and what kept you going amidst discouragement?
CA: What kept me going and what motivated me is that music truly is my life. It's the air to me. It's the light that shines down on me and gives me energy. When I started playing music the motivation was always to move people. Becoming rich and famous was not ever my motivation. Feeling my body vibrate with electricity after playing a solid groove, connecting with my fellow musicians and moving people became my ultimate addiction. I have always known since I was 10 years old that I would play music for as long as I lived. I also came to realize that there wasn't anything else that I wanted to do to support myself, except playing music, so I didn't ever create a plan b. Plan A was and always has been my music.
AXS: Your band recently released "Firebird"...is there any upcoming album and/or tour information you can share with us?
CA: We are so thrilled to finally share this track as we couldn't of shared it at a better time. This planet is undergoing so many changes and I feel a positively strong energetic shift happening. That's what "Firebird" is all about. To rise above and to attain the very best version of your human spirit as you rise like a Firebird. The single is off of our forthcoming second EP, The Movement, that we have yet to release. We will be sharing our live video for "Firebird" that we filmed on top of a skyscraper in Downtown Los Angeles filmed with drones. It was a pretty amazing experience, so of course, we're stoked to share it with the planet earth. It's due to be out in the coming weeks so be on the lookout. We are also in the midst of planning our fall tour as well so please be on the lookout for that as well.