We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Zucker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, how do you think about risk in life and in business?
Taking risks is absolutely necessary in business and in life. Even though the unknown is scary, it’s essential to try new things to grow and continue to learn how to trust yourself.
During the height of the pandemic, I decided to take a risk and move from New York City across the country to Los Angeles. I learned how to skateboard and surf, met an amazing group of shredders through a collective called Grlswirl, and I fell in love. I’ve snowboarded my entire life but learning how to surf was honestly terrifying. My first friend in LA, Bret, would take me out to Malibu at 6 in morning and give me lessons. It was so humbling! But the joy and satisfaction of catching waves is incomparable. Surfing and skating taught me that having a safe space to experience and face your fears can translate into the rest of your life and change how you deal with challenges. The goal isn’t to catch a wave, it’s to show up and try your best.
A year into my new life in LA, I was recruited as the Head of Music Community at a new company called Reach: a live streaming artist community and audience growth tool that allows you to connect ALL your socials at once to do ONE livestream, collaborate with other creatives, and have a direct line to your fans via text messaging. It’s truly changing the game on how music creators connect with their community and grow their audiences. Joining a new company was a risk but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to challenge myself while helping artists be seen and heard. I know how important creating and consuming music and art is for my life and I aim to be in a position where I’m helping other artists grow and reach the people who need to hear their art to be comforted and inspired.
I loved my life in New York but none of this would have happened if I didn’t take the risk and move to California. This decision came from a place of love for myself; to support my mental and physical health by living in sunny California and leaning into its year round outdoor, active lifestyle.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’ve been writing lyrics since I was 14 years old. My journal has always been my sacred space where all emotions were allowed, especially the ones I didn’t know how to deal with as a teenager who experienced trauma. Years later, music is still that to me; a space to be completely vulnerable and creative but it took me a really long time to arrive at a place where I could create with other people. I was afraid to be truly seen, to risk looking like a fool; but that’s really exactly what is needed to live a full life.
In 2019 I had a spiritual awakening, my heart cracked open and for the first time in my life I just allowed the feelings to flow through me. I developed a new curiosity and started to channel and reflect on emotions and triggers by creating visual art (paintings + collages) and music instead of using common escape routes.
When the pandemic happened, it was a final wake up call that it was time to start doing the things I wanted to do and especially the ones that scared me, like learning to play guitar. I put in the time and dedicated myself to learning guitar and used Fender Play as a guide. It was so challenging and didn’t come naturally to me at all! But I pushed through the resistance of hating the feeling of sucking and learned. For me. That process truly shed light on how critical I was being of myself before even learning my first few chords.
I’m still learning to shred but being able to write chords to my lyrics makes me feel really f*cking proud of myself. My healing journey has always been intertwined with my creative expression and I’m still learning the balance between being gentle with myself and practicing compassionate disciple. I’ve learned so much through therapy, plant medicine, and mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga and I absolutely believe that creativity and healing are intimately intertwined.
In 2021, I worked with the amazing songwriter, vocal coach, and actress Rainee Blake and producer/songwriter Zeke Reed.
Both of them incorporate mindfulness exercises like meditation and body awareness in their sessions and I finally felt safe to fully express myself with others through music. Now collaborating with other creatives feels so natural and so much fun. Lately I’ve been writing with my partner Branden Belajac who is an incredible musician. It’s been a really beautiful experience to share my inner world through music with him.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Michael Poselski is an incredible photographer who hired me for my first job after University as a journalist for a music publication in NYC. My first assignment was covering a music festival on a cruise ship called The Groove Cruise. It was one of the most insane experiences of my life and it opened so many doors for me in the music industry. I interviewed my idols, traveled the country reviewing concerts and festivals, and rapidly grew my network.
I’m so grateful for Michael’s mentorship and all the opportunities he gave me early in my career!