Face the Frightening Waves


I’m sitting here writing this a few days before my first music video release in over two years as an independent musician. I’ve spent the last four years working on my second album. I’ve experienced some pretty extreme ups and downs through it all. We literally had to scrap an entire music video this year because it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would...the way I wanted it to...the way I needed it to. So much goes into these projects that my audience will never know about. For this song specifically, it’s taken over a year to create this three-minute experience. Probably much longer if you’re counting the years of unhealthy conditioning that caused me to write the song in the first place. 

“Feel So High” may come across as a seductive and fun song at first listen. The video for it is even quirky, adorable, and it will definitely give you a laugh or two. As much as music has been a form of therapy for me for most of my life, so has my sense of humor. Silliness helps break up the intensity of the deeper emotions that many of us are afraid to face. But regardless of how this song and video is perceived, it came from a place of deep vulnerability. It’s my art. Art that stems from deep hurt in various forms and I created it to help heal myself.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been involved in relationships with and have been surrounded by unhealthy people. People who could go from hot to cold in an instant without warning. People who made me feel like I was never good enough. People who let rage, fear and an obsession with control freely influence their behavior towards myself and everyone around them. People who had no boundaries.

I thought this was completely normal and ok. I expected it in everyone I met. It was normal for me to have to work so hard to please someone that I loved. It was normal for me to be mistreated and disrespected. If love wasn’t a tumultuous roller coaster, something was wrong. If friendships didn’t deplete you of all of your energy, you weren’t doing it right. I feel like I got to this point where I became addicted to it in a way. I needed to be around people who didn’t approve of me so I could work to win them over. It was the only way I could feel validated. If mean people liked me, then I was truly likeable.

I became aware of this toxic mentality years ago and yet I would watch myself fall into it over and over again. I would let people walk all over me and constantly ask myself, “Ashley, why the hell are you doing this again?” Last year, I found myself slowly starting to slip into another situation that I knew wasn’t good for me and I was so angry with myself that I just sat down and started to write. The opening verse literally spelled out how my emotions would force me to miss red flags and warning signs. Afterwards, it remained unfinished as I began to set boundaries in all areas of my life.

About six months later, I took it into the studio to finish writing and producing it with two of my favorite humans, Brock Berryhill and Evan Coffman. I had a blast tuning into that angst while still keeping it fun. While we were in the studio, Brock and I started joking about what the music video would be. He started on some nonsensical rant about a cat friend who decided to move out with his knapsack and I was totally into it. I decided I wanted to surprise him and actually go through with it. We found an artist in Japan (Housetsu Sato) who actually made wearable cat heads and I had to have one in the video. I took the concept to a director based in Jacksonville, FL (Carl Rosen) and with our teams and powers combined, we brought it to life!

Now I’m here and the project is finished and ready for delivery. I’m absolutely terrified. My stomach is in knots. I fear failure and judgement just like everyone else. As much as you want to say to yourself, “Just be yourself! Don’t worry about what people think!” It’s just not that simple. This is such a deeply personal project that I’ve invested so much energy, time and money into. I’m an artist and in a way, I belong to the rest of the world. My job is to be vulnerable. To risk people emotionally crushing me for the sake of telling my truth so that maybe it might help someone else out there in some small way. Whether I eat or not depends on if someone likes what I create or not. As much as we all like to feel independent, we all depend on each other. Artists just have to go face to face with that reality more often than others.

As I face the frightening waves that come with letting go and letting this song out into the world, I guess I have to bring myself to trust. Trust that I did my very best with what I had to work with. Trust in my support system and community. Trust that my dog will continue to let me cry on him when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I have to trust the universe and believe that everything is a lesson and even failure is progress. It’s also relative so if I decide that even just releasing this project is success in itself, then that is what it will be.