NMV Sit Down: Ashlee Bankz
Dynamic and driven emcee Ashlee Bankz speaks on releasing her new project, developing her songwriting abilities, and wanting to see originality and authenticity come back to the music industry.
We were lucky enough to get in depth with Miss Bankz as she discussed what is ahead for her in 2020 as well other short term and long term goals for her career as an artist.
SM: Steven Mainzer
AB: Ashlee Bankz
(Editor's Note: This interview took place before Ashlee's project 'Ash'N Woodz' was released.)
SM: Hey Ashlee how’s it going what have you been working on lately?
AB: As of lately I’ve been reorganizing my business and securing my brand. Ive been writing for a lot of people as well as working on my own music. Aside from that, I’ve been working on a collaboration project with Sunny Woodz titled, 'Ash’N Woodz' scheduled to drop soon!
SM: How did you start writing for artists on RCA, Sony and more?
AB: Actually I just got into songwriting maybe about a year ago. My brother, Epikh, who is a producer that I work with closely, pitched the idea to me. He was like you should write for others and expand as a songwriter. He basically showed me the ropes of what to do. I always wanted to write for others but I never knew how to go about doing it. I work closely with Velocity Music (a group of talented producers) signed to Polo Grounds in New York, they just did a few joints on Young MA’s new album, as well as Chris Brown. I been working with them pretty heavy trying to get placements. They actually got me my first placement with Fuse TV. Other than that I’ve just been networking my way around.
SM: What are you most excited to drop this year?
AB: Ending 2019 with a bang, I have three singles I’m aiming to drop depending on when 'Ash’N Woodz' is released. But I’m excited about 'Ash’N Woodz' -- its a different project coming from me, 2019 has been a year of lessons and evolving. I'm ready to win.
SM: Do you have any particular goals for 2020?
AB: My goals are very personal; one of them is to run Chicago. A lot of people know me in Chicago but people don’t really know me and know what I’m capable of. In 2020 every door that was slammed in my face I’m coming back because you can’t deny me. I’m very excited to see the tables turn next year. My biggest goals is to solidify my brand and create a legacy. I want to create the dopest music, look great while doing it, and honestly make 2020 a life changing year for the better. The year 2020 is my “boss up year” -- I’m really giving it all I got. My goal in 2020 is to change my life & those around me.
SM: Who were your biggest influences growing up, non-musical and musical?
AB: Non-musical it would be my Grandmother, I always looked up to her growing up. She’s always been a bomb/strong ass woman to me no matter what life throws at her and I admire her for that. Musically, it would be Jay Z, Missy Elliott, Michael Jackson, TLC, Aaliyah, the list goes on and on. I always looked up to bosses/culture changers. I always looked up to people who inspire me and where I want to be someday in life, that’s about it really.
SM: You are closely tied to a lot of music professionals in the industry. What is something you wish you could change about the music industry or scene?
AB: I wish I could change the authenticity of it. I don’t like how nothing is original anymore. I was just having a convo with somebody --- when it comes down to it, 5 years from now from this generation, who is the superstar that is going to stand out? There are certain artists in the hip-hop and the rap world -- but who is going to stand out? A lot of people make music and I think music is taken for granted. I definitely want to see the originality come back, creative vibes come back, and dope videos that explain the art/message in the music -- that’s personally what I am working on. I definitely hope to be a part of the change which is what I’m working towards.
SM: What would be a dream collaboration of yours?
AB: I would have to say Chris Brown, The Dream, and Drake. I really like Chris Brown and I think he’s one of the greatest artists --- his work ethic is crazy. Drake is Drake so I know it’s coming soon, Ashlee Bankz featuring Drake, or Ashlee Bankz featuring Chris Brown is mostly what I am excited to see. I have faith its going to happen. Also, The Dream that’s just self explanatory as a writer. But there’s a lot of people I would love to work with, those are just a few.
SM: What are you currently listening to besides yourself?
AB: I listen to a lot of Nipsey Hussle. His music to me is more so spiritual for me. It’s like an open book to anything that I’m trying to do. Besides Nip, I play A lot of 90s music, Chris Brown, and whatever catches me to be honest.
SM: Favorite thing to do away from music?
AB: Travel. I love to travel.
SM: Where have you gone?
AB: Ironically every place I have ever been has been because of music, besides Jamaica. I went on a cruise for the first time when I was 18, very dope different culture -- got to visit Bob Marley’s house, smoke some weed, eat some jerk chicken and more. I’ve been to LA. I Iove LA -- probably one of my favorite places in the states, Miami, NYC, ATL, I’ve been a lot of places, I been around.
SM: Would you plan to move out to LA in the future?
AB: I would definitely move to LA if the opportunity presents itself, I would love to have my own spot in LA. But I’ll always be home would as long as my grandparents stay in Chicago I’ll always be here. I’ll just move back and forth.
SM: Last meal on a desert island, what are you having?
AB: I would say my Uncle’s hot wings.
SM: You have a couple records you dropped recently. What is your writing process like?
AB: When I write I write about about what I’m feeling at the time -- in my music I display certain scenarios I’ve experienced in someway. My process is complicated because if I don’t like the beats and they don’t speak to me I don’t force the vibe. I make organic music so everything you hear from me is what I’m feeling at the time.
SM: Can you talk about any of the singles that you are dropping?
AB: Definitely I got a lot of dope music on the way, I’m dropping a dope project in 2020, I’m very very excited about it, its going to be well put together. Not only that, the singles I’m dropping are crazy and they’re not even on the project. They’re just singles to show off my artistry. The singles are pretty much to tease you before the actual content for the project drops – I think you can tell that I’m in a place of growth, and that’s what I’m most excited about and that’s what the singles reflect -- owning who Ashlee Bankz is and not being shy about it.
SM: Can you pinpoint any experience that has driven you to where you are today?
AB: Hmm I can name a bunch but I’ll just say life. I do a lot on my own, Ive been through a lot, not to mention I’ve been doubted like crazy. My pain has driven me. I fuel off of fire and knowing all I have is myself and I can’t fail me no matter who else has. So yeah, I wasn’t raised to quit so I keep going and you’ll hear it in the music. Pain is the best teacher. That’s how I get to where I’m going.
SM: What is a piece of advice you would give to up and coming female artists?
AB: Be confident. Because female artists comes with so much. Believe in yourself and most importantly be at peace when yourself. Stay true to yourself and you’ll always win.