When The Darkroom wanted to sign Ashley Kutcher, she knew that working with the forward-thinking record label would take her music to the next level. Fast forward and Kutcher has now graduated from nursing school, has over 20 million streams on her breakthrough hit “Love You From a Distance”, and has seen fans resonate with her songwriting by creating their own expressive videos to “LYFAD” on TikTok. Originally from Baltimore, Kutcher has now made Canada her second largest streaming market as fans continue to connect with her acoustic-pop driven love songs.
What compelled you to start writing music and performing?
My first live performance was at my high school talent show when I was 15. I remember that being the first time I knew I was in love with performing. But, I was always a very busy and social kid involved with sports, school, and clubs. That didn’t leave me much time to really sit down and write or play music. When I got to college and the busy life of high school was over, I felt like I was just missing something. College is when I really started writing music and eventually booking myself for gigs all around Baltimore. As for writing, I don’t know what exactly compelled me but I found myself just having things to say and so I started writing it all down. I have probably hundreds if not thousands of note pages with phrases, just words, or full songs I’ve written over the years.
As a songwriter, who do you look up to for inspiration? Any favourite lyrics in particular?
Lennon Stella’s vocal style and tone has always been a huge influence on me and my style. I also love basically any artist who involves acoustic guitar such as Hozier, John Mayer, James TW, Ben Howard and so many more. I have so many artists that I listen to that have absolutely nothing in common. I go from singer-songwriter to rap to reggae, it just depends on my mood.
You graduated from nursing school while “Love You From a Distance” was blowing up online. Was choosing to pursue music a difficult decision?
This was a weird but exciting time for me. I was raised, like many who love music, to not pursue music as a career but as a hobby. I’m so glad my parents raised me that way because I didn’t go after music as a career, I just did it for fun because I loved it. I spent just as much time on school as I did my “hobby”, and that’s how I turned my hobby into a career. It was funny though, on the day Love You From a Distance came out I was charting on iTunes and Apple Music Pop charts. Then the next day I woke up at 5am and went to the hospital for a 12-hour shift. I think my opportunity was a combination of hard work and luck, like being in the right place at the right time. But because I worked hard when my lucky moment came, I was ready for the career change. But if it didn’t work out like it did, I think I would have been a pretty good nurse.
With almost 3 million likes and over 33 thousand videos using your music, which TikTok trends have you enjoyed most?
All of this traction from my music happened during COVID. The comments, videos, and interactions with my music online have been the only way I’ve been able to see others relate to my music. It’s very surreal to see people use my song and say how it has helped them or just express how much they like the sound. I’ve never physically been able to interact with really any of the people who listen to my music other than my friends and family. But, I did play an outdoor gig just the other day at a local bar and a girl drove over an hour to come see me. When I was introduced to her, she started crying and could barely look at me and I was like, “What’s wrong?” and she was like, “Nothing I just love you, you don’t know how many nights I’ve spent listening to your music and how much it’s helped me” and then of course I started crying. There’s something about that that’s just so special. It was my very first experience with actually meeting someone who was passionate about my music who didn’t already know me. I’ll never forget that girl.
You’ve signed a record deal with The Darkroom who notably launched the career of Billie Eilish. What makes you excited to work with that team?
I absolutely love Darkroom Records. The energy the whole team brought and continues to bring to my project is unmatched. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to sign or not, I just wanted a team that shared the same passion I had for my music and that’s what I found. I met with a lot of labels, managers and teams big and small. It was all really cool. But the Darkroom team flew out all the way across the country from California to Maryland with a three-hour long powerpoint of EXACTLY what they were going to do for me. I found that almost every label has a big artist signed to them but it’s really not about who they’ve signed, it’s about what they’re going to do for you.
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