BrooklynButtah: I was listening to the EP again and I think “Conversations” might be my favorite track. I love how every track there’s something to easily attach yourself to. What was it like getting in the booth and recording these songs with a memory in mind?
Ashlee Bankz: I don’t want to say it was deeply emotional but honestly, when I was recording them, I was going through that situation at that exact moment. The beat kind of just took over and just did what it did. I was shocked that I even wrote about it and talked about it that way.
BrooklynButtah: How have you been looking at the work that you’ve been putting out and saying ‘alright, this is getting better and I need to work on this’?
Ashlee Bankz: Honestly, when I first dropped “I Called You,” that was the main turning point for me. “I Called You” was actually just a throwaway song. But when I finished it, it got on the radio, and the exposure I got from it, that’s when I was like alright you’re growing. Then, when I dropped the project and actually listened to all the songs I wrote and produced it was like yeah I came a long way.
BrooklynButtah: In your Civil Scope interview with Shawn Grant, I see you had a lot of references to your family. What is it about the relationship with your family that fuels you in your music career?
Ashlee Bankz: My grandparents inspire me. They showed me where I want to be and where I don’t want to be. They were really big on me going to school, which I did, but I didn’t go and complete my Bachelors. I pretty much just worked and showed them music is something that I want to do. I know that whatever I’m doing, I have to top them and be more successful than them to just show them like ‘hey, I can make this work.’ They keep me encouraged an inspired to want more.
BrooklynButtah: I like how your relationships really do fuel you in your passion whether it’s to prove you’re going to make it out on top or that you have the ability to do what’s best for you. What are some tips you might give someone who’s struggling to find the right relationship to help inspire them?
Ashlee Bankz: I actually live by this quote that my great grandma gave me before she passed. She always told me, ‘if your friends don’t treat you how I treat you then they’re not your friends.’ If your friends don’t inspire you or care to add to what you’re doing in your life to better you, then they don’t need to be around you. If you’re dream chasing and you have friends who aren’t pushing you, inspiring you, or just being there for you, then you know you just have to cut the negative energy out.
BrooklynButtah: That’s dope. What would you say to someone who’s probably in school because that’s supposed to be the track we’re supposed to follow to help them make that ultimate decision on whether to leave or stay?
Ashlee Bankz: I would tell them to go to school for what they actually want to do. So if you want to be an entrepreneur I would tell you to at least go to school and study business courses. Or if you want to do something with movies, go to school and figure out what you need to study. You don’t have to go and get a Bachelor’s degree, you can get an Associate’s. But at least get that experience because school helped me. I’m not going to say as soon as I got out of high school, I dropped out of school. I didn’t want to go but I was glad that I went because the experience I got from it ultimately taught me how to run my business.
BrooklynButtah: You describe yourself as experimental, what is it about you that you find to be experimental whether it’s in music or just your day to day?
Ashlee Bankz: I like doing new things. I’m a risk taker. So, any and everything that I want to do I just do it whether I know if it’s going to work or not. I just like trying new things and being around new energy.
BrooklynButtah: In running your business, how has that helped and hurt you in being this person that’s willing to just go for it and take risks?
Ashlee Bankz: It’s helped me because it taught me to believe in myself. It’s hurt me because it’s hurt my pockets. Even though it hurt my pockets, to be honest with you, it’s okay because I know when money comes it’s going to come.
BrooklynButtah: As an entrepreneur, everything comes in a form of a lesson whether it helps or hurts you. What are some major lessons that you’ve been carrying with you as you been working on this project and what’s to come for the rest of the year?
Ashlee Bankz: The biggest lesson has been to trust myself more and nobody cares about you more than you care about yourself.
BrooklynButtah: How has trusting yourself influenced your decisions in regards to working with other people?
Ashlee Bankz: You never know who you can trust when you’re doing business. When you’re doing business, it’s never personal. So, you may work with the millionaire from down the street but you know you can’t trust them, but because it’s business you kind of have to have somewhat of a little respect for ‘em. That’s how I go about it. I work with people all the time and I don’t necessarily trust them but I trust what they’re good at.
BrooklynButtah: What are some plans that you have for the rest of the year? Are you thinking about touring with this project?
Ashlee Bankz: I am actually. We’re trying to put together a college tour coming in the fall. I’m actually going to do a short film with this project, like a visual EP that I’m really excited about. Just to kind of tell the story of Leave a Message. I feel like you can listen to it and it’s dope but once you see it how I see it and you go through the experiences with me, I think it’ll make the project that much colder.
BrooklynButtah: I definitely like the idea of this visual message. What inspired that idea?
Ashlee Bankz: I was in Atlanta and I was talking to my mom. I let her hear the tape and I never let her hear anything before it drops. We were in the car with my cousins and I was like you know what, I’m going to play y’all this tape cause y’all having some relationship issues so I’m going to walk you through the six stages of a relationship; which are the six songs that are on my tape. I kind of explained it to them before each song and after I was like I need to do videos and just explain it so when people listen to it and watch the videos they’re like wow this is what stage I’m in.
BrooklynButtah: What is your follow-up from Leave a Message?
Ashlee Bankz: My follow-up is Message Sent. I don’t really know the theme of the project, well I have the theme but the title of Leave a Message is honestly a chapter in my life. So, Message Sent will be a follow-up but it might be a little more personal than just relationships. I might touch on different topics like family and friends. I want to hit everything with Message Sent. It might also be a little more up tempo and a little bit more fun. It just depends on the vibe.