The track highlights the playful beginnings of a summer fling and serves as a perfect sunny anthem.
While discussing the song, Willis explains that “[she] grew up close to the beach, [and] summer is by far [her] favorite time of the year.”
“I wanted to write a feel-good song that takes people there immediately. I get transported in my mind to a beautiful beach, falling in love with a moment, a person, a feeling. It’s so visual I can almost feel the ocean breeze blowing on my skin every time I hear the song. It just makes me happy all around,” she exclusively tells Celeb Secrets.
This new track follows THE REMIXES – the compilation of 5 reimagined versions of her latest hit dance track “Don’t Let the Music Die.” The fresh renditions of “Don’t Let the Music Die” all embody the same integrity of the song – an upbeat, dance-inspired tune. The project features a Dance remix by Benvy, a House and a Tech House remix by DJ Mel V, a Tropical remix by DJ Bad Ash (Ashlee Williss), and a Club remix by DJ Erik G.
Born out of a life of trials and tribulations, Williss is a singer-songwriter who needed music to escape – and turned that escape into her purpose. Seamlessly blending genres of pop, dance and country, her sound and story immediately connect with audiences who crave that same escape. Seeking out more than her humble beginnings had to offer in Jacksonville FL, a move to L.A. at 18 quickly saw promising opportunities including notoriety on ABC’s The Bachelor and Fuller House, several song placements on TV/Film; singing, songwriting and voiceover work for all 12 episodes of Netflix hit show Absurd Planet; Gibson guitar endorsement; performances at The GRAMMYS® and American Music Awards gifting suites; and even a song ‘on hold’ by country superstars Rascal Flatts.
After tragedy struck in 2013 (Williss’ boyfriend passed away the day she launched her debut single), Williss took a creative detour into the world of DJing. She found herself at the board as DJ Bad Ash, opening for acts like Snoop Dog, Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine, Diplo, and Cardi B (among others), and taking the stage at festivals like Stagecoach, Tortuga Music Festival, and Country2Country. Though the venture made Williss fall in love with music again, she says that “[she] missed playing [her] own songs so much.”
“I saw this as the perfect opportunity to re-embrace that exposed singer-songwriter I’d put aside for so long,” she shares. She partnered with hit producer T.I Jakke, and this began the launch of several new works from the artist.
Celeb Secrets sits down (virtually) with Ashlee to see what she’s been up to since her last release, how “Summer Jam” differs from “Don’t Let The Music Die,” and how she’s juggling it all while being very pregnant.
Make sure to read our full Q&A below and don’t forget to let us know what you think of “Summer Jam” by leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by tweeting us at @celebsecrets.
Celeb Secrets: Congratulations on “Summer Jam!” Could you walk us through your writing, production, and release process?
Ashlee Williss: “Thank you so much! Each song’s process is a little different. This one started as a track that my producer T.I Jakke (multi #1’s, 3 billion streams on Spotify, currently has the hit song “Kings & Queens” with Ava Max) made for me. We discussed the sound I was going for, a pop song with Country and EDM elements. He knocked it out of the park, basically the exact track he first sent me is what you hear now. I just wrote lyrics and melody on top of the track. I recorded it at my house and voila! Summer Jam was created! Now for the release, that’s a whole other topic…you basically have to put together a team of people to help you launch.”
CS: Last time you were with us, you discussed your single “Don’t Let the Music Die.” You explained that “this song is just a feel-good song….[and that] it’s really just supposed to make you feel good.” Does “Summer Jam” have similar intentions? What drove you to write it?
AW: “Yes, both are very much feel-good songs! ‘Summer Jam’ was specifically written with extremely visual lyrics, taking place at the beach. Summer is by far my favorite time of year so I just put myself in that place mentally to write the best song I could. Imagining all the joys Summertime brings….new love, playfulness, sunshine, bikinis, adventure.”
CS: Where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from? You have experienced a lot, and we would love to know how your experiences have shaped your music and how you hope to spread these messages to others through your music?
AW: “Experience and age both shaped my writing, it’s changed a lot over the years. I use to only be able to write about my feelings, or a relationship gone wrong. The older I get, the more I wanna hear happy songs or songs that tell a story. DJ’ing has also driven my writing to become more feel-good. I love being able to make people happy and dance and enjoy the moment.”
CS: What kind of challenges do you face while writing music? Were there any while you were writing “Summer Jam?”
AW: “Sometimes lyrics just flow so easily and sometimes it takes lots of revisions. With Summer Jam, the track immediately gave me a loving feeling and within 15 minutes I wrote a cool verse and chorus about falling in love. I sent it to my producer to get his thoughts and he said, “it’s good but I don’t think that’s it. Try again.” So I went back to the drawing board, took the same melody and feeling but completely shifted my plot. Once the words “Damn, you could be my Summer Jam” came to mind I screamed because I knew that was it!!! Then it was just about tweaking and finalizing the story.”
CS: Your music is truly a unique blend of pop, dance, and country; How do you hope to bring different audiences together through these varying genres?
AW: “Thank you, I love to blend genres because each group of listeners are such different types of people and it’s really cool to be able to speak to all them with one song!”
CS: In discussing different genres of interest with us back in May, you explained that in LA everybody would tell you that you are too Country for Pop, and that you “always landed right in the middle of this line…[you weren’t] accepted by either genre.” Do you still feel that is the case? What would inspire people to want to explore that line?
AW: “From the record labels, I do still get that feedback. But from listeners and fans, they love it! So until a major label wants to get with the times, I’m just gonna keep doing what I already know is cool & unique to me. I think the industry will come around, but they’ve always been scared to jump on anything new.”
CS: How has your taste of music evolved and what environmental influences have shaped this growth?
AW: “My taste is music use to be so limited, until I started DJ’ing! That literally opened up my world! Also traveling is a great way to expand your mind and musical taste! It was incredible to learn that in other countries, they actually have more notes in the musical scale than we do in the US. I found that fascinating! And it’s definitely widened my love for music.”
CS: When you were with us a month ago, you revealed the big news that you are expecting! How has pregnancy both inspired your music, and altered your production process? Is there anything you want your children to take away from your music?
AW: “Yes, I’m in the home-stretch now, only 5 weeks away from having this baby! I’m pretty sure my writing will change after I have him, who knows, maybe I’ll make a kids album one day. As for right now, I have a follow up single about motherhood….actually it’s the story of my own mom’s selfless love for me. It’s by far my favorite song I’ve ever written, just because it’s so personal. I want to show my own children the kind of love my mom showed me and I want to be an inspiration to them to work hard and never give up on their dreams.”
CS: Earlier this month you played at Daylight Vegas, along with a great lineup of country artists. How does it feel to be performing again after months of lock down, and what kind of performance opportunities do you hope to see in your future?
AW: “That was such a fun gig! First, it was the first time performing for a big crowd since Covid started, so it felt incredible to be on a big stage again, like the world was finally normal again! Second, I was rocking my baby bump on stage for the first time too, in a bikini none-the-less because it was 110 degrees outside! And the crowd showed an overwhelming amount of love and support! I was a little nervous about showing off my baby bump at first, afraid people would think I looked gross or something. But I was wrong, thank god, they cheered me on like I’ve never gotten cheered on before! It just goes to show, being authentic and true to who you are is ALWAYS something to be proud of!”
CS: Since we are Celeb Secrets, are there any secrets you can share with us?
AW: “Well I’m very much looking forward to being a mom! I’m not gonna lie, I’m terrified about birth and breastfeeding though. But I know I’ll get through it, like every other rockstar mom! Cuz that’s exactly what they are, rockstars! Also, I really can’t wait to release my song about my mom! I think people will really resonate with that one!”