Williss is a singer-songwriter who took a break from making original music back in 2013. She then found a huge creative passion and energy for DJing and pursued a DJ career for the past seven years. Williss performed at huge festivals such as Stagecoach and Country2Country and opened for artists such as Diplo, The Chainsmokers, and more.
Although she loved DJing and seeing people dance freely along to music, the artist still had a huge heart for creating music of her own. Williss had been in the works of releasing her own music, but it wasn’t really until the world had shut down that Williss finally started creating music to share with the world again.
“I was planning it for a long time and working with different people,” Williss tells Celeb Secrets Country, “but really the big catalyst was COVID because all of a sudden I didn’t have any DJ gigs at all. I was already planning on releasing original music and now it was like, okay, here’s my time.”
“Don’t Let The Music Die” not only has Dance and Pop music elements, but Country as well! After jumping into the DJ scene, Williss opened herself to a whole new world of musical possibilities, which influenced how she creates her music today. The singer-songwriter implemented her newfound joy for pop, dance, and EDM along with her rooted love for Country to create her unique sound that could appeal to all genres alike.
“Before I became a DJ, I never really liked EDM. I never liked hip hop,” Williss confessed, “Becoming a DJ literally opened my world to all new possibilities of music. I fell in love with all these different genres that I never paid attention to before.”
The new feel-good track was made solely for that reason. For listeners to feel good and optimistic about what’s to come in the future as everything slowly opens up again. The single serves as a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel and reminds others not to let the spark and spirit inside you die.
After being told by many labels and officials that she’s too Pop for Country and vice versa, Williss feels like she’s finally found her sound, and with DJ title under her belt, she’s unstoppable. “Don’t Let The Music Die” is only just the first step into her new era, and we are so ready for it.
When we asked Williss our signature question, asking if she could reveal any secrets about herself, the artist gave us an answer we definitely didn’t expect. She happily announced to Celeb Secrets Country that she is currently SIX months pregnant! Many congrats to Williss on the new single AND the baby on the way.
Check out our full Q&A with Ashlee Williss down below. Not only does she let us know more about the behind-the-scenes of “Don’t Let The Music Die,” she also revealed more about her pregnancy and how they filmed around her pregnant belly!
Celeb Secrets Country: Congratulations on your new comeback track, “Don’t Let The Music Die!” I know as soon as it’s on Spotify, I am going to add it to my summer playlist. This is your first original song since 2013. Was there a specific moment or reason that inspired you to start releasing your own music again?
Ashlee Williss: “I’ve been DJing for the last seven years full time and I just missed original music because my passion is singing and songwriting and performing as the front person. I was planning it for a long time and working with different people, but really the big, big catalyst was COVID because all of a sudden I didn’t have any DJ gigs at all. I was already planning on releasing original music and now it was like, okay, here, here’s my time. [There’s] nothing else to do, but go online and release music.”
CSC: Tell us more about “Don’t Let The Music Die.” What was the writing and production process like for the song?
AW: “I teamed up with a hit music producer named T.I. Jake. I got introduced to him by a friend and he loved my voice and he loved my sound because it’s a pretty unique sound that crosses lots of different genres. He heard my stuff and he’s like “You know what? I think you’re really talented. I think you just need, like, that hit single that’s going to make people turn their heads.” So he sent me a track that he was working on and I top lined it. I wrote lyrics and the melody on top and recorded it at my house. I had never recorded anything on my own before. So that was fully a new experience. In my apartment, I got a little microphone and equipment. He [T.I. Jake] told me all you really need is this audio interface. And so I bought it, figured it out, and recorded my vocals. Then all of a sudden we’ve got this amazing song that could be on the radio.”
CSC: Did you find it difficult to get back into songwriting after taking a break from it for a while?
AW: “No. No, it just comes natural. I think my music taste changed a little bit becoming a DJ. But I was always singing melodies in my head, thinking about lyrics. It was always swirling around in my head. I didn’t fully give it up. I was still doing it on the side here and there, but I didn’t push anything. I never promoted or really released anything. It just came natural. It wasn’t like, you know, in Nashville they have nine to five songwriters. You wake up, and you go to a songwriting session; you write a song every day. That is definitely not how I operate. All of my writing definitely has to stem from some inspiration, feeling, or vibes. It’s not as easy for me to just wake up and write a song about who knows what. It has to come from somewhere.”
CSC: What do you hope listeners will take away from listening to “Don’t Let The Music Die?”
AW: “This song is just a feel-good song. It’s not supposed to be the deepest song in the world. It’s really just supposed to make you feel good. Especially during COVID, I felt like music had died. Music venues died, gigs performances. That was part of the inspiration. Music could relate to anything. It could mean don’t let the spark inside of you die. Don’t let your spirit die. Don’t give up on things. I just hope that they take away some positivity, some light at the end of the tunnel, that we’re not going anywhere. The world is starting to come back. Music is coming back, we’ve got good vibes happening again. I just really hope that’s what they take away from it.”
CSC: As you said earlier, when you weren’t releasing your own music, you were DJing for seven years. You also mentioned earlier how your music tastes have changed. Do you think your DJing experience has influenced the way that you create your original music moving forward?
AW: “Absolutely. Yes. For sure. Before I became a DJ, I never really liked EDM. I never liked hip hop. I was just a little singer-songwriter. I loved country and pop, but mostly folky ballads. Becoming a DJ literally opened my world to all new possibilities of music. I fell in love with all these different genres that I never paid attention to before. Seeing the reaction of people dancing, it’s like shoot, man. I don’t even want to play guitar anymore. I want to make fun songs for people to dance to but also have some type of meaning behind it. So we shot a music video and I included a bunch of different individuals of all different walks of life, shapes, sizes. It was really fun to bring in a bunch of different people and share my hope of inclusivity. The world is changing. We’re becoming more accepting of people and different things. And I love that. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
CSC: How was the creative process like with DJ’ing music versus creating your own?
AW: “It’s totally different creating music from scratch. It kind of just comes to you and whereas DJing, you’re playing beats, you’re playing music and you’re making people feel good. When you’re creating music from scratch, it’s a whole different process. You really have to think about lyrics, melody and the production. There’s so much more thought process behind creating [your own music], DJing is pretty simple, to be honest, for me as a musician. I just place a blend into the next song and maybe add some cool effects and sounds. Writing a song is a whole other animal.”
CSC: We took a look at your Instagram page and noticed that you did like a little bit of rebranding. You went from your DJ name, DJ Bad Ash, to your actual name, this is like a new era for you. Do you think you can describe your new era in three words?
AW: “Three words. Holy moly. Probably, evolved, authentic, and carefree.”
CSC: I think it’s safe to say that you have made us a fan of Country EDM music. We really love the song. Do you think you could recommend any songs for any newfound listeners of the genre? Because it’s a very niche genre.
AW: “There’s not many [artists] doing it [Country EDM]. I will say it’s becoming more of a thing for the younger country artists, like Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini. There’s also Lil Nas X, even Diplo did a Country EDM album. But, it hasn’t really taken off yet. I think Nashville audiences are probably hesitant about it, but the younger generation loves it. Yep. I’m hoping that they take to it because I’ve got a whole slew of songs just waiting to be released, in the same type of fun, Pop, EDM, Country genre. My heart has always been in Country to be honest. But from the very beginning, even when I was just a singer-songwriter in Nashville, the labels and everyone would always tell me I’m too Pop for Nashville. So I went to LA and everybody would say, Oh, you’re too Country for Pop. I always landed right in the middle on this line, I wasn’t accepted by either genre. It was really frustrating. To be honest, I feel like that’s still kind of a thing. But I’m hoping now to break that a little bit, because, well, now I have DJing under my belt, so I can do it all and it’s okay to be all of it.”
CSC: For the final question, since we are Celeb Secrets Country, are there any secrets you can share with us about you or any future projects?
AW: “Well, I mean, okay. Should I tell you now? I don’t know if I should tell you now, because I was gonna wait until after I’ve released the song, but it’s actually a huge secret. I will just go ahead and tell you now because you’re asking, a big secret is I am six months pregnant right now! A lot of exciting things are coming up. So yes, we’ve done all of this, the music video, photographs, and everything, while I’ve been trying to hide a belly.”