A Few Minutes with… Katy Ashe of Last Daze

NORTH CREEK – Katy Ashe, with her latest release “Countess of Chaos” on October 1st, has produced an incredibly captivating track. Starting off, MIDI drums and sub bass immediately set the song’s sinister but siren-like vibe. The vocals soon enter, along with synth pads heard in the background. As the song enters a breakdown, the vocals drop a bit, and the synth raises.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of the tune is when it gets to the bridge. At this point, a completely different synth pattern begins, almost like an ostinato. With the drums dropping out, and ambient backup vocals heard in the distant background, it almost feels as if the song has a paradoxical anxiety-bearing yet calming sense to it. Soon after, the intro vocal motif returns, as well as the instrumentation shortly before it finally concludes.

The track, in and of itself, makes quick work in grabbing the listener’s ears. A tune that is largely reminiscent of other innovative pop stars currently on the market, Katy does well to carve out its own special uniqueness, especially with the vocals. There’s no doubt about it from this listener’s point of view: Katy Ashe has written a terrific song.

It was this writer’s pleasure to get a chance to sit down with the artist and discuss the song, as well as influences and other projects. Continue reading on for this interview, and be sure to check out the track by following the link at the end of the article!

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Cover Art for “Countess of Chaos”

Lucas Garrett: Katy, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me tonight.

Katy Ashe: Thank you for having me.

LG: Tell us a little bit about your new song, how you wrote it, how it came to be.

KA: So, I was introduced to this person who was a self-described chaos witch. You know, I’ve always been interested and fascinated with witchcraft and things like that. But, she was really serious and she knew her stuff. She’s like, “you know I bring the chaos, but it’s usually what you’re looking for, in the chaos.” I felt like that was me as a mom, and me as a teacher, and as a person, you know? It’s always in the mess you somehow know right where to find things. There was just a lot going on: we were and still are in the throes of COVID. You can make all these plans and do all the right things, and nothing’s guaranteed. I spent a good portion of my life being a very compulsive planner. I would get excited when I got a new calendar and fill it up with as much stuff as I possibly could. Then, COVID took that away. I feel the societal struggle, like we’re trying to get back to normal. What even is that anymore?

LG: Do you think normal is something we should get back to? I know for me, personally, COVID has completely changed how I want to navigate the industry going forward.

KA: Yeah, absolutely. It took the emphasis off of the live show for such a long time, but it also made audiences so hungry for it again. I saw you last weekend (at the Clutch Concert), and that was my first show since the pandemic started. I know a lot of people that went back to shows way before then, and I was tempted. It’s hard because I have two little babies at home who didn’t get the opportunity to be vaccinated yet because they’re not old enough. I knew Empire Live was really strict with their policies there, so, I felt safe enough to be there. I was pretty pleased with how responsible people were being in that situation. It was like a religious experience: being in that room, and hearing music, and all those people again. I was emotional; I knew I would be. Being at that show made me miss being on stage so frickin’ bad. I crave that.

LG: You’ve released some pretty great material outside of Last Daze. How did this new, solo direction start?

KA: I started my solo stuff because I couldn’t get with my band. My bass player has been going through chemotherapy, and I’m way too exposed – I lovingly work in a germ factory – so, I can’t risk bringing anything to him, not even a cold. I was in a position where I had to record. I remember “Mother’s Isolation” came to me really fast. I was writing and producing because I had time: the baby was inside and the toddler was little. I would wait till he went to bed and then I’d be sitting in my dining room; tracking and doing vocal tracks, and producing and doing MIDI tracking. In one of my songs, you can hear Alistair throwing a lego, and I couldn’t edit it out, but, the take was so good that I was like, “screw it.”

LG: Part of that lockdown aesthetic!

KA: Right!? Like, this is what you get! This is where we’re at! Doing these solo tracks by myself has been really liberating. I’ve found that rather than putting out an entire album, there’s nothing wrong with creating something, then releasing it. For me, I’m having much more success releasing things as a single, than I am as an entire album. Most people can’t give you 35 minutes of their time, but they can give you 2 minutes and 52 seconds of their time.

LG: Two minutes and 52 seconds?

KA: Well, ha, in this particular case (Countess of Chaos’ song length).

LG: When I first heard of you, it was in Last Daze. I was doing a show with you.

KA: Putnam Den!

LG: That’s right! Putnam Den (now Putnam Place)! Your music now is so different, and very interesting that it’s not at all what I expected. Why don’t you tell us some of your influences behind the music?

KA: I feel like Last Daze and that music is this side of me that is kind of dark. Almost like I get in touch with things that are uncomfortable, or painful, or whatever. Lately, I feel what Last Daze is writing now is heavier in nature; Chris is writing a lot more with me. The Katy Ashe stuff that I’ve released thus far, I feel encompasses a lot of my influences. They are so different, even though it’s the same writer. The production is so different for me. I’m just embracing my inner Trent Reznor.

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Photo of Last Daze, photo credit: Todd Bissonette

LG: That’s funny because I think we all hear influences based on what we personally listen to. When I heard your material, I heard a lot of St. Vincent.

KA: Who I do love. I’ve always considered her to be an innovator: there’s nobody that sounds like St. Vincent. I’m aspiring for that too. I want people to turn on the radio and say that’s unmistakably Katy Ashe. It’s been a cool outlet when I can’t be in the band and the band aesthetic and with my guys.

LG: Do you have any more plans after Countess of Chaos?

KA: Oh yeah. I’ve got a few tracks that are half done. It’s just finding the time. I’ve been sitting on Countess of Chaos. I’ve had [it] done since May. I’ve been getting a lot of nice feedback from the track. I feel like people are definitely liking it. It’s definitely a vibe!

LG: I feel like that vibe is in right now!

KA: Right?! I would say like Tyler the Creator, and Billie Eilish and Phineas.

LG: Billie Eilish is incredible!

KA: Yeah, but Phineas is extraordinarily incredible and I don’t think he gets the credit that’s due ‘cause he writes all those songs, and he produces all those tracks, and he does all the instrumentals. Think about it: had there been no Phineas, there would be no Billie Eilish. There’d be nothing setting her apart from any other singer-songwriter who’s broken and messed up.

LG: That’s a good point and you’re doing it all on your own! You don’t have a Phineas.

KA: It’s definitely been a learning process and it’s been a lot of fun, especially when I’m doing mixing. Like, I do a mix, and do the test: in my phone, can I hear the bass? Then, the most important test is in the car. Countess of Chaos had three mixes before I got the final mix.

LG: Well, thank you again for sitting down with me tonight. It’s awesome talking to you and I can’t wait to hear what you got next!

KA: Thanks, dude, I really appreciate it and I appreciate the coverage!

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Relevant link:

https://katyashe.bandcamp.com/track/countess-of-chaos

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