It’s no secret that Portland’s music scene is one of the richest in the country, nay, world. The music that comes out of Portland makes an imprint on the music industry. And the local bands that grace our venues are here to entertain us every night and make the music that soundtracks our time spent in our beautiful city.
The true beauty of our music scene, though, is that it is ever growing. There’s always a new band in this city or a new song to listen to—even from the newcomers.
Ashley Xtina (pronounced X-Tina), a New York resident and soul pop/rock artist, just recently made the move from the Big Apple to the Rose City. At only 23 years old, she’s already gathered a lot of experience, formerly a member of the rock band Queen of Wands and now fully launching into her own solo career.
With an EP and single in hand, and a new album on the way, Vortex took the chance to talk to Xtina about influences, experience and new music in the wake of her relocation.
What bands or artists would you list as your influences?
Ashely Xtina: There's quite a mix of them, but lyrically I'd go with Adele, vocally and melodically I'd go with Joss Stone, and just in general would love to think that I'm as badass as Grace Potter.
What kind of a musical surrounding did you grow up with?
I grew up with a good mix of things being that my parents are such different individuals. When my mom was home, I'd hear beautiful Latin songs of heartbreak from ballads to mariachi, and in the car with my dad (being the ex-punk rocker that he is), I would hear more along the lines of The Clash, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Eventually I started listening to the radio on my own and got into pop and R&B. Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson and Destiny's Child were my heroes (and probably still are to some extent). [Laughs]
How did your time in Queen of Wands shape yourself and your solo work?
Being in a band is tough, especially when you're playing with two other wonderfully talented ladies that I had the honor of creating music with. Why? Because we all wanted to shine (rightfully so) and sometimes that's not so easy to make happen. Being in Queen of Wands not only made me a better musician but also a better person. Though we had a short run together, it was a successful one and it definitely got me writing more and more of what I want to be performing. Sometimes it helps to have another set or two of eyes and ears on your work. It keeps you in check and I will forever be grateful for that experience.
What should we expect to hear on your first record, Moonstone?
A lot of thought has gone into what I want my first album to be, what it's going to sound like, what I want to name it. I've chosen the title Moonstone for a very simple yet deep reason. I love my moonstone ring. I bought it here in Portland when I was really struggling with life in New York. The owners of the little shop noticed I was indeed very lost, they pulled me over to the side and they said: "Moonstones help manifest new beginnings," and immediately it hit me that moving to Portland was my new beginning and poof, here I am three months later. Moonstone is going to be a mix of fierce, upbeat songs and ballads, with lots of honesty to them.
Can you talk a bit about the song "Streetcar"? What's it about and what inspired you to write it?
I wrote "Streetcar" in a state of pure disappointment and confusion. It was one of those cliche (but hopefully not too cliche) moments that anyone who has ever been heartbroken has where you look in the mirror and say, "I'm too good for you, I'm not waiting anymore, so goodbye and sorry not sorry." I was planning out my move to Portland so I figured why not make it about not going back from this new beginning. To this day, it gives me a great sense of empowerment and I hope it can do that for whoever is listening too!