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|Over the last few days, I was lucky enough to have a chat with Canadian singer-songwriter Ashley Fayth ahead of her performance at Live at the Oak on campus on November 5th. Having originally moved to the UK to pursue academia, Ashley took a bit of a break when she “got distracted” by writing and recording breakthrough single “Peanut Butter” which won songwriting awards from Universal Music and others. The lyrics are cute and playful, wondering throughout “If you were the book that I loved the most, or the peanut butter on my toast, or the swing hung in my apple tree or the sugar in my cup of tea…” and providing the perfect soundtrack to a sleepy breakfast or autumnal walk.Since then, Ashley has released an EP, an album and now a second EP – titled I Am the Bird after one of the tracks featured. Produced in her new home of Chester, it’s upbeat, punchy and showcases her unique voice brilliantly. A definite must-listen for anyone who’s up for some folky feel-good songs with some clever lyrics and a deeply interesting vocal.You’ve recently released your EP I Am the Bird – how has the experience compared to releasing Wonder Wonder?
It was a very different process. I played a much bigger role in the arrangement and production of this album, so it feels more personal. It was recorded very quickly . . . in about four days . . . so the whole experience was a bit of a blur, but very exciting. I think I Am the Bird was my way of testing the waters, stylistically. I wanted to try something a bit quirkier and little more folky. Although it’s still very pop, I think it’s a bit of a gateway EP for me.
What would you say had been your biggest achievement of your career so far?
Not too long ago I was invited to represent Canada on the International Songwriters’ Tour, and we showcased at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and College Music Week in New York. That was pretty crazy. Either that or learning to play a B chord!
You originally came to the UK to study for your master’s degree – was the decision to put your studies on hold a difficult one?
Not really. I loved my degree, but I really felt I was ready to try something different. I was in year 5 of my program, but had reached a natural break before beginning my MPhil. I had (and still have) every intention of going back into academia. Along with music, food, and volleyball, literature is one of my life loves.
What advice would you give to anyone facing a similar decision?
Finish your degree first; it can’t hurt, from a practical perspective. My degree has been invaluable, albeit in a somewhat indirect way. The experience you gain at university will help you in whatever field you choose, music or otherwise – even if it seems irrelevant. It’s still a kind of life experience.
How have you found living in England? Is it majorly different to Canada?
I LOVE England. Love. There are trains here. And curries. And theatres. I’m from a very small, isolated, and beautiful part of Canada called Random Island which couldn’t be more different. I like that I can ride my bike everywhere (because the nearest shop isn’t an hour away up an ice-covered incline) and that I can wear shoes all year round. I have a lot of great friends in England, and a fantastic support group. I kind of miss doughnuts, though.
What effect has your relocation had on your musical style?
Relocation has had a HUGE impact. I think landscapes and geography influence my writing more than anything else. The kind of music I’ve been exposed to on a day-to-day basis has also changed a lot. Country music is very predominant in my hometown, and it seems almost non-existant over here. I’ve listened to a lot of British folk music, and quite a lot of indie. But yeah. The weather. The people. It all finds its way into lyrics and music.
If you could meet any of your influences, who would it be?
Inevitable, but always my least favourite question. Living or dead, I’d probably say that I’d like a private audience with Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dorothy Parker.
What’s your favourite breakfast food? I’m going to be very upset if it isn’t peanut butter on toast.
SO tough! It’s my favourite meal of the day, so there’s a lot of competition. I do love peanut butter and jam on toast, but I like almond butter with grapes on toast more. Or baked sweet potatoes with ricotta, grilled peaches, blueberries, and sunflower seeds. Or lime and coconut oatmeal. Or boiled eggs with asparagus! I take breakfast very seriously.
Catch Ashley Fayth at Live at the Oak! on November 5th or check out her EP I Am the Bird on Spotify or from any good musical outlet.