Be Patient, TikTok Singer-Songwriter Ash Tuesday Works Best On Her Own Time
By Nia Tucker
On her Soundcloud, rising bedroom indie artist Ash Tuesday (she/her) writes in the bio “assume everything on here is unfinished. I cannot play guitar do not ask.” I asked for her sign during our time over Zoom together, and she revealed she’s a Virgo with an Aries moon and Capricorn rising. It’s clear her earth sign tendencies are why she’s doubly so hard on herself yet so intent on releasing as many demos as possible on TikTok and other platforms.
With around 20k followers on the video-making platform and 40k streams on Spotify for her debut single, “Calypso”—a midwestern emo-esque lo-fi track about a love tainted by Stockholm Syndrome, like that of the relationship between the siren Calypso and Odysseus—Ash remains humble in the face of her rising popularity.
She began writing music as a teenager, posting snippets of songs on Tumblr with inspiration from her favorite band, The Front Bottoms, and just a ukulele. Hailing from Macon, Georgia, home of Little Richard and Otis Redding, she says she grew up around music but it wasn’t that influence, or even The Front Bottoms, that necessarily brought her to the bedroom indie genre. “I just like attention and posting up there [TikTok],” she says, “I get feedback from that and so that would say as far as background I don't have much musical background. I come from a pretty musical family though. My aunt sings, my mom sings, my grandpa was in a band, and my grandma was in a band.”
I tried to pull it out of her what those Tumblr-era songs sounded like back then and she admits she was obsessed with the emo penchant for slant rhyme and vague sadness of the bands she favored then, which also included Modern Baseball. “Calypso,” her only officially released single at the moment, is reminiscent of this era, but is elevated in her knack for storytelling and well-written lyrics. Back in those days, I would have instantly reblogged lines like “I’m sick with Odyessus / He’s been pissing me off / I’m so Calypso / The flame and moth can’t be stopped.” It’s not even her favorite song of the ones she’s written; she says she can’t listen to it the way she does with her other demos.
She says “it was like one of the fastest songs I wrote. I wrote that like within a day and I was like I knew I didn't have like the production skills or like things that like I wanted in a well thought out song…I didn't want to like make them sound not to my quality and, my standards, but I was like fine with that, and that was kind of a throwaway song from being honest.” Her favorite? An unreleased track titled “Dreamt We Were Closer,” that you can hear on TikTok. It’s going to be on her first EP coming out on an undetermined date, which is being worked on with a producer named Mina. “She's great. She's super talented, “ she says, “so I'm not worried about that one anymore. I'm really excited and happy that it's in good hands and not mine. My grubby, grubby ones.”
In the same vein as similar singer-songwriters on TikTok like Jensen Mcrae (she/her) and Leith Ross (they/them)— both mutuals of hers who have released new projects and have songs on the horizon this year and the past—it’s Ash’s plan to release a full project; but she’s in no rush.
I ask her about the pressure that TikTok gives to artists like this, especially when they have certain 60-second songs that go viral. Ash laments, “I, personally, I feel bad for [people like] Leith because they have such a large following saying ‘release this now’ whereas I’m like…no.”
She acknowledges her large following saying: “I care so much more about how it sounds and I don't think people really realize how long it takes. Even if you want to get on a playlist or something, you have to wait longer, and if you want pre-saves…blah blah blah.” As a result of the long-winded songmaking process, Ash takes to TikTok to post demos and song ideas, but she can be critical of herself nonetheless.
She admits, “none of the songs I ever put out on TikTok are ever finished until someone is like ‘finish this’ and I’m like okay. I get a lot from the community, I guess, and I get inspired a lot. It helps me to know that people want it done, because I don't really think any of my things are worth finishing until somebody else says it, which is not good. I should probably go to therapy.”
So what will this new EP bring fans? A lot of “yearning, shaking and crying,” she jokes. Much like the songs of hers available to stream on SoundCloud and Spotify, she isn’t stepping too far out of the unexpected, but wants us to anticipate music with better production and even more emoness.
For now, as you wait for Ash’s next release, she says to listen to some of her favorites at the moment—artists like June Henry, tofusmell, Nectarine Girl and even local Boston ensemble Dino Gala.
You can follow her on Instagram at ashkills, Twitter at ashwiipe and Ash Tuesday on other platforms.