Dreamstate Artist Spotlight – Ashley Smith
It is no secret that the trance industry is a male dominated domain
Not just trance, but so is the entire electronic music scene dominated by male. Currently there are a strong handful of women who are beating on that glass ceiling, and one of them who is sledge hammering through it, is Ashley Smith. She has hard pounding beats in her veins, and hailing from Scotland, she is keeping the tradition going. Her productions are top notch and getting airplay around the horn. Ashley Smith might just be the full package to break down the glass ceiling and I think she is primed for it.
Thank you for taking the time to sit with me and congrats on making your US debut at Dreamstate. How nervous and excited are you for your back-to-back with Maria Healey tonight? How did you two ladies prepare for this set?
Hey, thank you. I am so happy to be over here in LA! A big thanks for giving me the chance for the interview too. I am pretty nervous but also really excited. This is one of the biggest shows I have played in my career so far! Maria and I had a few session in my studio back in my home city in Glasgow, Scotland. We spent about 8 hours selecting tracks and practicing together to make sure we had a solid selection, flow and most importantly a great vibe.
I feel that it is much harder for women to break through in the trance scene, but you are doing it. Why do you think that is? And what sets you apart?
I agree. I think it is a lot harder for females to get the recognition they deserve. I said this before in a previous interview. I think it’s the solid drive and determination I have that is helping push me along. I have worked in a male driven environments for years now and I really enjoy.
I think what sets me apart from the other girls right now is that I am coming in from the engineering side. I was a music producer for years before I was gigging. I also have a raw tech edge to my sound and style! I think it is important we all have our own styles.
Scotland is known for producing some of the best tech trance producers our scene has. Is it safe to say it is in your blood? Who has been the biggest influence for you?
Scotland, strangely does have a lot of good solid music producers for the size of the population. It’s probably the only thing us Scots are good at lol. Except from drinking! I think the weather has a lot to do with it. It is so cold over here we spent a lot of time indoors!
I think my biggest influence has to be Jordan Suckley. I love his vibe, his edge and also his sound. He is giving me the opportunity to release some of my most creative sounds on his Damaged platform.
Also another mention here would be Joey Riot, although he is not a trance Dj/producer, he is more involved in the hardcore/hardstyle scene, I have so much respect for his talent and what he is doing for that scene.
You are a software engineer by trade, so did this make it easier for you to transition into a producer? Since you started as a producer before you became a DJ, which do you prefer more and why?
I think yes it does. I am a proper geek at heart. I think to sit and spend hours and hours in front of a computer you need to be. I find it really easy to adapt to new pieces of software and tools. Sometimes though, I have way too much screen time averaging at around 10 hours per day.
It is a hard choice as they are two totally different aspects producing and performing. If i had to choose i would say producing and the main reason for that is that when you are in the studio it’s a solo connection you have. Just you and the music. No distractions. You can really get inside the music. However, I totally love performing too, when you play live you are truly living in the moment!
You recently made a post about needing surgery on your left ear. First of all I hope everything is ok. Will this have any effect on your hearing? What do you use to protect your hearing while you are both attending and playing events?
I noticed an issue last year with my left ear, at first I thought my studio speakers were broke as one sounded really quiet. I had to turn the volume gain up on one side. It prompted me to go and get a hearing test. They told me that i had lost 30%-40% of the low end frequencies in my left ear. I was devastated as they are my most important tool I have.
I never used to take hearing protection seriously until now, thinking it would never happen to me. Now I do not go to events without some sort of earplugs. I have custom fitted molds for my ears made, but I really struggle to use them when I am performing. It’s a double edged sword! I have now learned to adapt. It’s not ideal but it could be a lot worse.
Finally, if you could only live by one motto, what would it be?
I have always said work hard for what you want and never give up! Life would be boring if it was easy.