When Ashley Suppa was only six she found herself in a recording studio, singing on an album by KISS-member Ace Frehley.
It ignited a love for music, both creating it and performing it. As she demonstrated on her self-titled EP last year, she has the goods.
Eight terrifically crafted songs and performances – with a whirlwind production by Alex Salzman – set tongues wagging.
Salzman is Grammy-nominated producer, engineer, composer and overall virtuoso.
Ashley grew up around rockstars. Her father played lead guitar with such luminaries as Ace Frehley (Kiss) and Mike Starr (Alice In Chains).
She started taking music seriously in middle school, where she had exceptionally personable instructors at the “School of Rock,” according to her Facebook page.
Ashley, 19, is also a member of the all-girl band Plush and is on tour with Alice In Chains and Bush.
“Plush, Moriah Formica and Bella Perron are phenomenal performers and extraordinary people. I am looking forward to the development of this project and contributing to the future chemistry and success alongside my bandmates,” she says.
The New York Independent met with Ashley for an exclusive interview.
NYI: That Ace Frehley story is just amazing; what do you remember about that session? Did you even know who KISS was at that juncture?
Ashley Suppa: “This was the moment that had really ignited my passion for music and made me realize that this was exactly what made me feel fulfilled.
“I was six years old, and I remember the headphones being extremely big on my head! After that session, I would lay awake in bed rewriting and singing my favorite songs, and when teachers at school handed out assignments asking, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would draw myself with a microphone or a guitar and write that I wanted to be a musician.
“I was well aware of KISS because my dad has been friends with Ace for many years. As a kid, I thought that the makeup and the outfits were really quite astonishing.”
NYI: Tell us a bit about your dad; what music did he introduce you to?
Ashley: “My dad is a guitarist who has played with musicians like Ace Frehley, Mike Starr from Alice in Chains, and many more. He has always been my role model, he would very often take me to concerts with him and introduced me to a plethora of great music. I don’t recall a time of silence in my house as there was always a record by Alice in Chains or Tears for Fears playing in the background, which are still some of my favorite artists. He also exposed me to the culture and realities of being a touring musician early on in my life, which helped me when I started touring myself.”
NYI: You met your future producer Alex Salzman there; tell us about that meeting
Ashley: “When I sang backing vocals on Ace’s Anomaly [solo album] I naturally had no idea what to expect! Alex did anything and everything to make me feel comfortable. I remember singing along and clapping to the tempo of the song with him. This session happened at an incredibly formative time for me, and to this day I am grateful to Alex for making this experience such a positive one. “
NYI: Your EP is just great; we love “Trouble,” “King” and “Want Me.” Tell us a little about each of them.
Ashley: ”’Trouble’ is a song about giving your all to somebody who will never give it back to you. On the surface you feel like you are chasing something that is beautiful and chaotic. But once you look past that it is entirely destructive and consuming. It’s dangerous but it’s a definite thrill.
‘King’ was written about the detachment that technology creates with emotion. Social media acts as a distraction from our struggles as individuals, a connection at the cost of a disconnect. It puts this impossible pressure of perfection on people. It may allow you to be seen the way that you want to be seen, but it will never see you for you.
“I wrote ‘Want Me’ about someone who was once very close to me. I naively trusted words without intention and held on to deceit because it felt right. When somebody hurts you, repeatedly, what was once a mistake becomes a decision. I eventually realized this, which was difficult simply because I cared so much. It felt like I had let this person slip away. But in the end, it truly empowered me to walk away.”
NYI: The EP’s production is just so sophisticated; each song stands on its own. Tell us a bit about the recording process of it.
Ashley: “When I was 15, I started writing and recording my own songs. I set up a mini studio in my basement, which consisted of my laptop, a microphone and some instruments. Some days I would be in my basement for 18 hours a day, writing and recording vocals and instruments. I sent a couple of demos to Alex, he loved what he heard and suggested that we gather more material to consider for my debut album. I had many demos ready on my laptop and I would bounce the tracks to Alex, then we would spend many hours working on arrangements, ideas and parts, eventually adding some great studio musicians for the final sessions.
“Recording vocals with Alex is always a blast! He is a phenomenally creative producer and musician, and I am so happy with the sound that we have created on this album. I am excited to again collaborate with him on my new material later this fall.”
NYI: Your role in Plush is also quite sensational; tell us how that came about.
Ashley: “Moriah Formica and I had been playing music together for a while. The idea of an all-girl rock band was something that we truly believed in and when it became necessary to bring in another musician, Lzzy Hale from Halestorm reposted an ad on social media to help us to search for a female guitarist. That’s how we found Bella Perron. When we first started touring it was this exhilarating time of change, as within a few weeks I went from graduating high school to playing our first show opening for Daughtry! Since then, we have played alongside acts such as Mammoth WVH, Halestorm, Evanescence, Slash, and more.”
NYI: And you’re on tour right now; opening for Alice In Chains and Bush. That should be fantastic.
Ashley: “My childhood soundtrack was essentially the music of Alice in Chains and my dad was very close with Mike Starr, the original bassist in Alice in Chains. One of my earliest memories is talking on the phone with Mike when I was around 7 years old. I really could have never imagined that touring with my favorite band is what I would be doing some years later. It is an especially exciting lineup to be a part of as Bush and Breaking Benjamin put on a show that is simply incredible.”
NYI: What are the next steps in your solo career; we hear there’s a video in the offing?
Ashley: “There are a lot of very exciting things happening behind the scenes! When I am not touring, I am always working on writing and demoing new solo material, and I look forward to sharing it with the world in the near future.
I just recently had an amazing fashion photo-shoot in New York City. Fashion is something that I am very passionate about, and I feel fortunate to be able to express myself through it and connect it to my music. There is indeed an upcoming video, which I very much look forward to; it is to begin filming in October. There is also something special coming up with the amazing team at ConAir Beauty, which I cannot wait to share with you, stay tuned!”
NYI: Your inspirations are just great. Are there any others you want to add?
Ashley: “David Bowie, Lady Gaga, The 1975, Dua Lipa and Bruno Mars are artists that I find to be deeply inspiring. I am also a huge Paul McCartney fan and admire how his career has adapted throughout so many iconic eras of sounds and visuals. When writing songs I aim to write lyrics that are relatable and reflect personal experiences. Each of these artists set those standards in their own unique way which is an important element that draws me to their music.”
Check out some of Ashley’s music below, and drop by her Facebook page and her personal page AshleySuppa.com.