Updated: May 18, 2021
Ashley Alisha is a K-pop producer, singer, songwriter and multi-talented creative for K-Pop girl groups Loona, Itzy, and Weki Meki.
Creative Chats are weekly Clubhouse talks where we invite creatives to speak about their creative journey, lessons learned, and industry tips.
This Creative Chat is for you if...
You love music
You're an aspiring singer, songwriter, or producer (or all three!)
You want to break into the music industry
You want tips on how to deal with impostor syndrome
In this Creative Chat, we asked...
How would you describe your collaboration process with other artists?
It depends, but I would usually get an email asking to collaborate and then I’d check them out. What I really look for is whether our music tastes match. If I vibe with their music taste, I ask for them to send over a couple tracks, choose the one I like best, and I’ll send over a rough draft. If they like it, then I go ahead and record the entire thing with full vocal production. Finally, I ask how they’re going to market this and if they need any help.
A tip - just email a bunch of people!
In the beginning, I used to feel bad saying "no" to collaborations. However, at the end of the day, if you force it and it doesn’t even sound as great as you thought it would, then you could just save your time by saying "no" to the collaboration. Just be honest!
How did you get started with your music journey?
I don’t remember because I was always singing and dancing ever since I was little. I started studying music when I learned the violin. This was when I started sight reading, learning harmonies, learning how to stick to a note, performing, etc.
I started off by singing other people’s songs. Eventually, I realized that I should write my own songs, so I began writing my own music and it took off from there!
Were there any moments when you questioned your path or did you just go straight into this?
Being Asian, it’s common to have those tiger moms who always emphasize studying. Anything other than studying looked like a waste of time to them. This was a constant negative bump along the road.
More recently, as I got into the K-pop songwriting business and singing in commercials, one of the main things that turned me off were shady people -- e.g., people who don’t pay you on time or try to scam you. People also have different definitions of how much they contributed to a song and it’s tricky figuring out how to split the credit. A lot of people have different views and perspectives and it could get ugly. However, I got over this by only working with close friends and people that I trust.
Other than this, I never questioned my passion. I liked music so I told myself I was going to keep doing it.
Do you have any advice on how to heal from wounds of self-doubt and to just trust in yourself?
Whether you’re saying negative things to yourself or someone else said it to you, for you to hold onto those negative words is just you working against yourself.
With music, everyone has very different tastes. Just because someone says “You’re never going to get anywhere with this” doesn’t mean your song won’t be super special to someone else. If one person thinks it’s trash, that doesn’t mean that the whole world thinks it’s trash. There’s a person out there who really needed to hear your song. You just need to do your due diligence and put it out there for them and hope that they find it.
If you have voices in your head telling you that you’re not good enough, my advice is to just ignore it and keep going. If you keep going and never give up, you’re bound to find success in something. Then, you bounce back from that and use that as momentum to keep moving forward.
The key is to snap yourself out of those negative thoughts. If I find myself alone with my negative thoughts, I literally just snap my fingers. When I physically do this with my hand, it clicks in my mind that I am working against myself. That snapping action will prompt me to do something else and shift my mind towards something more positive.
What are your tips for creatives on how to navigate and maintain good relationships in the industry?
If you’re dealing with contracts, then just hire a lawyer. You’re better safe than sorry. This is one way to avoid shady people who like to throw contracts at you.
If it’s a job where someone wants you to sing a song, then what I do is I ask for a 50% down payment (via Venmo or PayPal, for example) for them to show that they’re equally invested in the project as I am. If they give me a 50% down payment, then I will give them 50% of the project. If they like the direction, then they can pay me the other 50% and I will send over the rest of the project. It’s a give and take situation. Just be very communicative.
There are also websites you can use as a medium for your projects. I use Fiverr, Upwork, and Soundbetter -- these platforms hold the money for you and mark the job as complete for you when you’re done.
What are some tangible steps in getting your foot into the door or how to get started?
First, If you know anyone who is a full-time musician and on the career path that you want to be on, I’d recommend reaching out and asking if you can be their intern or to shadow them. That’s what I did starting out and I learned a lot.
Second, I would get my finances in order because finances are what’s going to back you and your craft. You will need to pay rent and bills and you don’t want to worry about that when you’re working on your craft.
I would also put a lot of my work up on YouTube and Soundcloud and share it as much as possible. Just let it be known to everyone what you’re doing. It’s like advertising for yourself. You need to be in front of people’s faces all the time so that when they need a producer or songwriter or designer, you’re the person that they call.
How do you know if your portfolio of work is objectively good? How do you overcome bumps in the road?
When I’m working with clients and don’t know if something is good, it’s better to just send it off to the client and have them tell me what I’m missing. Make sure you’re learning from that so you don’t make the same mistakes. Then, you just hone your craft little by little.
There’s no one in this world who has it perfect right off the bat on their first try. When the client gives you feedback, be very receptive and don’t take it to heart or think negatively of yourself. The feedback is just what that client wants from you, and chances are that another client will want the same thing, so you just learn from that.
There’s a difference between having a heart to learn and become better vs. staying in the same pool of self-doubt. It’s an actual choice for you to leave that pool of self doubt, overcome your fears, and accept that you need to learn to become the best version of yourself. You know that it’s a path. It’s about shifting your way of thinking - "I just need to learn and that’s okay."
When you’re a freelancer, how do you know how to do business? Did it come naturally for you and do you have any tips?
It didn’t come naturally for me because I was so emotionally connected to my work that if there was any feedback that I didn’t agree with, I would get kind of offended.
Here's how I juggle all the different hats you wear when you're a freelancer. In the morning, I would just take care of all my business emails. In the second half of the day, I would just work on the creative project. After that, I don’t touch emails. I will reply the next day during business hours.
For me, it took time to learn to be strict and set boundaries for myself. Once you do that, things get clearer and your emotions and boundaries are more protected. I’m going to protect my boundaries and my time.
What do you think the key to your success is?
I don't think I've achieved success yet, but the key is to keep going and always have a heart to learn -- read books, watch YouTube videos, etc.
One thing my instructor told me was, "If you’re not growing, you’re decaying." If you are not using every single day to learn something new or try something new, then you’re not getting anywhere. As long as you’re learning something, you’re getting closer to succeeding in your goals.
What is happiness to you? What are some things that keep you grounded?
Happiness to me is a specific feeling of contentment. It’s like a thermometer; you have to gauge what happiness, excitement, or sadness means to you. It took me a while to understand what happiness meant to me and it’s just contentment. For example, if I died right now, I would be pretty happy with where I am.
The way I stay grounded on a day to day basis is by setting boundaries (e.g., not checking my phone after a certain time). Everyone can get triggered by the content they see on social media so protecting myself from this type of stuff and setting boundaries helps me keep myself grounded, stay on track, and stay in my lane.
Don't try to force a collaboration. If it's a match, then it will feel right.
If you keep going and never give up, you’re bound to find success in something. Use that success to bounce back and keep moving forward.
The key is to (literally!) snap yourself out of your negative thoughts.
Put your work out there on all sorts of platforms. Just let it be known to everyone what you’re doing.
Hone your craft little by little. There’s no one in this world who has it perfect right off the bat on their first try.
If you're not growing, you're decaying.
The key to success is to keep going and always have a heart to learn.
As a freelancer, remember to protect your time, emotions, and boundaries.
Follow Ashley Alisha! @ashleyalishaofficial
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