The music that truly resonates with us is often derived from real pain, and nothing is more relatable than heartbreak. In fact, 80% of people have had their hearts broken. It makes sense then, that we can’t get enough of breakup ballads. This unquenchable thirst has led to the rather rapid rise of newcomer Ashley Singh.
The East London singer-songwriter began by posting a mixture of covers and original songwriting snippets on TikTok, quickly gaining a loyal following. After releasing his debut single, ‘Keep You (Acoustic)’, it wasn’t long before Warner Music signed the rising star and his breakthrough single ‘10 Summers’ landed, amassing more than five million streams on Spotify alone. In November, his EP ‘Between Love And Lonely’ arrived, the songs spanning a dying relationship and subsequent painful break-up.
Although Ashley Singh might seem to have appeared out of nowhere, he’s been finding his voice for years. Picking up the guitar when he was 14, Singh would sneak off to the music room at school most mornings to practise, following videos on YouTube. Naturally, he fell into writing his own songs, and eventually worked up the courage to perform at a school concert. “That feeling was like nothing I’ve ever felt before,” he tells Clash. “I knew from there that I wanted to keep having that feeling and never stopped.”
Singh credits Coldplay as one of his greatest influences, most importantly their emotive ‘Parachutes’ album. He also notes The Beach Boys’ more experimental work for leaving a lasting impression on his sound, and more recently, Fleet Foxes and The Lumineers.
It’s clear to see how Coldplay’s endeavouring understanding of human emotion and experience has translated into Singh’s deeply personal yet connecting work. “It’s super, super painful,” Singh says of his writing process. “Most of the songs come from journal entries. I find in the heat of the moment that it’s really difficult to sit down and write because I’m just [feeling] too much. But I’ll write in my journal, and then maybe a couple of days later, I’ll come back to that and there’ll be lyrics in there.” It’s through this process that Singh is able to make sense of how he was feeling and turn it into art.
“A lot of the songs are really difficult, because I’m always trying to be as honest as possible, which kind of forces me to position myself in quite a vulnerable way,” Singh expands. “But once they’re done, and you can see people relate to them, it makes it all worth it.”
“If I haven’t listened to a song for a little while – a few weeks – it can throw me straight back into that moment. But a lot of the time, when you listen to it, it is helpful rather than damaging, because it makes me think, okay, I made sense of that moment. And I’m trying to move through it. And I made something out of it.”
Due to the nature of Singh’s music, and how much it resonates with people, he often receives DMs from fans pouring their hearts out in the hope of finding solace in someone who understands their pain. “People send me really personal stories about their lives and how a song has helped them through that. I have to really think about responses… But I’m always really glad that a song has helped, especially when it’s written at a time when you’re in pain yourself. The fact that you can actually help someone through [something] even though you’re talking about your pain is strange, but kind of beautiful as well,” he muses.
Singh has already begun work on his sophomore EP, which is “about the process of moving on.” Sonically, the tracks will still carry the stripped-back, raw emotion he is quickly becoming known for.
At the rate he’s going, it won’t be long before Ashley Singh is driving in the same lane as heartbreak crooner Lewis Capaldi. “If any support slots come up, if Lewis Capaldi is reading this – bro, come hit me up,” Singh laughs.
Enjoying well-earned success he may be, but Singh’s feet are still on the ground – for now. “This is just the beginning for me,” he affirms. “I still feel like I’m just getting started.”
Ashley Singh’s ‘Between Love And Lonely’ EP is out now.
Words: Aimee Phillips // @aimeephillips94