From the moment that the first notes of “T-shirt” float over you, you’re transported to a moment of longing and nostalgia. As Ashlinn Gray’s melodious voice tenderly dances with the acoustic guitar, you are lulled into your own memories of lazy days and longed for lovers. Ashlinn’s new single is a soothing balm for the soul.
“The song is all about knowing you can’t be with your loved one and wearing this T-shirt to feel closer to them when you cannot be with them in person. It embraces nostalgia.” ~ Ashlinn Gray
South African born singer and songwriter Gray, gives voice to these bitter-sweet emotions with a simple and poignant vulnerability. The music video for “T-Shirt” invites you into Gray’s fantasy bedroom, a bed flanked by colourful silk sheets twisting in the breeze, Gray in the centre surrounded by beautiful rolling hills as she pours her heart out.
The video was shot in the breathtaking location of Big Bear Lake, a few hours from Los Angeles, by Kingdom Kome productions. Gray originally met Kingdom co-founder Cameron Scott in Johannesburg when they were both still tiny tots.
“I have known Cameron since the age of 8. We used to do acting classes and competitions together and have been meaning to collaborate for a while now. I’m glad it finally happened!” ~ Ashlinn Gray
Scott was on hand to direct the video and play a midwife of sorts for Gray’s vision, trusting LA born Joshua Quintero as the projects’ director of photography to realise the visuals, editing and grade of the project. He puts the beauty and magic of mother nature to good use as a complement to Gray’s performance, a visual translation of the themes of longing and love in “T-Shirt”.
Gray, who is originally from Johannesburg, started her love affair with music very early on. By the time she started taking singing lessons at the age of 9, the music bug had long bitten and musical theatre and Madonna were some of her musical passions.
“My earliest memory with music is probably singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” when I was 5 years old.” ~Ashlinn Gray
However, her path to becoming the ethereal singer she is today was not without its obstacles. Gray admits that she isn’t a ‘natural singer’ and has had to put the hard work in to develop her voice and to learn to control it.
That hard work paid off when, in 2018, Gray moved to Los Angeles and finally realised a dream she’s had since she was 16. Since moving, Gray’s already booked a gig at the famous Viper Room, entered American Idol and been busy recording new music. As she’s grown in her artistry she’s been able to hone in on her style.
“I’m a left-pop artist who loves writing about feelings and what it’s like to grow up. I think it’s important to lean into our vulnerabilities as it gives us back the power and I explore that a lot in my music.”~Ashlinn Gray
LA, being the epicentre of the entertainment industry, has presented its own unique challenges. Gray is up against innumerable fellow dreamers also working to get their shot and determined to make it!
“It’s been hard, exciting, surprising and full of growth. It feels like you are constantly surrounded by people better than you, and it’s really motivating. As always, the biggest challenge is standing out. You’re one in a million out here and just because you’re originally from another country…doesn’t make you special.” ~Ashlinn Gray
Although her journey so far has tested her, Gray really enjoys the LA vibe and culture. One of her favourite things about living in LA is that it has been a place of acceptance, opportunity and inspiration for Gray, a place where she can take her art to the next level and be her authentic self doing it.
“It is so wonderful to drive or walk around seeing people be authentically themselves. People who are fake out here don’t last too long. It’s also crazy to think that a lot of people I look up to started here, exactly where I am and perform, as well.”~Ashlinn Gray
Even though Gray has bravely left home, it’s never far away from her mind. She credits South Africans and their idiosyncratic way of storytelling for influencing her music and her writing. When asked what she missed the most about South Africa she didn’t skip a beat.
“Everything. The people, the smell, the nature and animals. I miss it so dearly…but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss the food a lot too.” ~Ashlinn Gray
So, has this journey as an independent artist given her any pearls of wisdom to pass on to aspiring artists?
“Consistency is the biggest piece of advice I could recommend. Your audience will find you if you are consistent with the content you put out as well as the quality of the music. It is easier to grow a fan base with a consistent brand and following. Never forget to start now because tomorrow never comes.”~Ashlinn Gray
You can listen to “T-shirt” on ITunes, YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify.
You can follow Ashlinn Gray on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @AshlinnGray.