Nashville, Tennessee, is home to some of the most gifted musicians in the entertainment industry, leaving dream chasers to hit the town running in order to reach stardom. However, suppose one has the drive, passion, and talents. In that case, a notable name might see their “it-factor” and be eager to collaborate before they become one of many A-listers paving the future of country music.
It was Ashley Cooke’s go-getter attitude, impressive vocal range, and cleaver songwriting abilities that captured the attention of multi-platinum artist, Jimmie Allen. The emerging country songstress penned the breakup ballad “Good Goodbye” alongside Blake Pendergrass. The outcome of the heavy lyrics and complex notes encouraged Cooke to call up Allen to assist her on the romantic track.
“Jimmie just put out a phenomenal collaboration album, just won ACM ‘New Artist of the Year,’ and on top of that, he has so many hit songs. It’s safe to say he’s absolutely crushing it, and I’m honored that he wanted to collaborate with me,” shares Cooke during an exclusive Country Now interview. “That speaks volumes on his character to “help the next one in line,” so to speak, and it opens a lot of doors for me as a new artist,” she adds about her musical journey in Music City.
Allen’s buttery tone and Cooke’s playful vocal inflections create chilling harmonies, as they deliver the heart-wrenching storyline about a couple soaking up the last moments of a relationship that’s already over.
“Good Goodbye” is one of many love story-inspired tracks that scored placement on her upcoming debut EP, Already Drank That Beer. The South Florida native is set to drop her eight-track collection on Aug. 27.
“I’m 24-years-old, and love/relationships are a big part of this age for me. Being in and out of relationships that weren’t good for me, losing love, wanting love, not wanting it, etc. I think most people in their 20’s are trying to figure out what the hell love even is, and naturally, those emotions have reflected in my songwriting and songs I’ve deeply felt understood by,” reveals Cooke about the inspiration behind her very first EP.
“There’s a wide variety of sounds and emotions on this project. From a flirty up-tempo to the first-dance type of ballad to a heartbroken lonely mid-tempo, and that’s why it represents me. I’ve been through all the phases and written along with them; I’m all over the place, and I’m okay with that!.”
The highly-anticipated project is produced by Jimmy Robbins and has a star-studded lineup of writers, including Nicolle Galyon, Craig Wiseman, Matt Roy, and Hunter Phelps. As fans wait patiently for the blonde powerhouse to release the four new songs, they can buy tickets to see her live and in-person this September with BRELAND on tour.
Country Now recently caught up with the TikToker turned country newcomer to chat about her career milestone with Jimmie Allen, to hear more about her upcoming EP, and how she’s preparing to hit the road with BRELAND in the next few weeks.
Read on to find out more about Ashley Cooke in this exclusive Q&A below…
You and Jimmie Allen are gearing up to drop “Good Goodbye” come August 6. How are you feeling, and how are you preparing for the release?
“I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve loved this song since the day we wrote it, and I can’t wait for listeners to make it their own. As far as preparation – I’m mainly creating social media content that gets everyone excited. With this song, the music video that’ll come shortly after the song release, all of the visuals we’ve gotten, and overall friendship Jimmie and I have developed – it’s going to be a really special release.”
“Good Goodbye” was originally made for your vocals only. So, what inspired you to call up Jimmie Allen to join you on this track?
“I always heard this song as a duet. Music – especially country music – is very story-driven, and having another storyteller on the song gives listeners a whole other perspective; I think that’s really beautiful. Not to mention, a storyteller as incredible as Jimmie Allen with that buttery tone, vocal inflections, riffs, etc., added so much to the song. I really couldn’t have asked for a better person to be on this with me.”
Would you consider this collaboration with Jimmie Allen a career milestone?
“Absolutely. Though I’ve been in the music industry for a long time, I’m a newer artist on the scene. Jimmie just put out a phenomenal collaboration album, just won ACM New Artist of the Year, and on top of that, he has so many hit songs. It’s safe to say he’s absolutely crushing it, and I’m honored that he wanted to collaborate with me. That speaks volumes on his character to “help the next one in line,” so to speak, and it opens a lot of doors for me as a new artist. This year has been really insane, and I’ve gotten to knock so many goals and dreams off of my list, and I genuinely can’t wait to keep growing.”
What was it like to record with the multi-platinum artist? Have you received any valuable advice from Allen?
“Honestly, I love how real the guy is. We recorded vocals at my producer Jimmy Robbins’ studio here in Nashville and took most of the time just to hang out. He’s so dang good at what he does that the vocals only took him a few minutes, and then we got to hang out simply. He likes to think different than the norm as often as he can and doesn’t allow anyone to put him in a box, which is really inspiring to anyone – artist or not.”
How would you like your fans to feel when they listen to “Good Goodbye” for the very first time?
“Reminiscent, bittersweet, hits-you-in-the-heart. This song is about needing to say goodbye to someone you love when you really don’t want to but have to. It’s like, “we’ve only got one memory left to make, so let’s at least give each other something good to hold onto.”
Could we expect to see a music video for “Good Goodbye” anytime soon?
“Absolutely! I truly cannot wait for you guys to see what we did with the video. We took a different spin on the reason behind the goodbye.”
How do you believe your upcoming debut album, Already Drank That Beer represents who you are as a singer and songwriter?
“I chose the title Already Drank That Beer for the project because it encompasses the story from top to bottom. I’m 24-years-old, and love/relationships are a big part of this age for me. Being in and out of relationships that weren’t good for me, losing love, wanting love, not wanting it, etc. I think most people in their 20’s are trying to figure out what the hell love even is, and naturally, those emotions have reflected in my songwriting and songs I’ve deeply felt understood by. There’s a wide variety of sounds and emotions on this project. From a flirty up-tempo to the first-dance type of ballad to a heartbroken lonely mid-tempo, and that’s why it represents me. I’ve been through all the phases and written along with them; I’m all over the place, and I’m okay with that!”
— Ashley Cooke (@theashleycooke) August 11, 2021
Out of all eight tracks on your upcoming EP, which ballad was the hardest to write and why?
“There’s a song on the project called “Never Til Now” that I wrote with my friend Matt Roy. We wrote it pretty effortlessly, but I’d say it was definitely the hardest for me to write because it’s about something I haven’t experienced yet. The song talks about finding your person, reminiscing on who you were before them and how much they’ve changed that – it’s basically a first dance song at a wedding.”
What is one behind-the-scenes secret about your eight-track collection that might surprise us fans?
“The first track, “Gettin’ Somewhere,” originally wasn’t on the project! We actually added it only a few weeks before release. I kept listening to the project from top to bottom and felt we were missing such an important vibe, which is that FGL, windows-down kind of music that I grew up listening to and draw inspiration for my sound after. I had loved that song since day one and always wanted to cut it, I just didn’t know for sure if it would make it on this project, but I fought for it!”
What was it like to work alongside award-winning writer and producer Jimmy Robbins?
“Jimmy is one of the best humans I know, truly. Just hanging with him, you’d never know he’s as accomplished as he is. He’s such a chill, humble, funny human, AND of course, he’s so damn talented. He just knows how to bridge the gap of communication between artists and studio musicians. For example, suppose we’re recording a song in the studio, and something just feels off to me. In that case, I can say, “it just feels too… happy,” and he immediately knows how to communicate what is making me feel that way/what to change to the other musicians in the room. He’s such an incredible mentor and has become a really great friend. I’m blessed to work with him and can’t wait to keep creating together.”
Come September, you are hitting the road with BRELAND – what was going through your head when you scored this gig?
“I’m so excited for this tour. BRELAND and I have become friends over the last few months and funny-small-world-enough, he was good friends with my cousin in college! I was so pumped when I heard I got the gig and immediately started planning the set and band and even outfits – I just can’t wait to get out there.”
You are currently dominating the ten-year town, is there anyone you would like to thank for your rapid rise to fame?
“Well, first of all, thank you. It’s funny you say 10-year-town because it was exactly ten years to the month between my first visit to Nashville and when I met my now manager, Rakiyah Marshall. She actually started her new company after finding me on TikTok and has been my biggest champion and support system since then. It takes a village, especially for an independent artist like me. Though my village is small right now (I’m still independent for record label/publishing), they’re the most hardworking people I know, and I’m so grateful for them.”
You recently appeared on The Bobby Bones Show could you tell us about your memorable experience?
“As an independent artist, getting the call that Bobby Bones wants to interview you is pretty damn cool. He’s been a big supporter of my career and was actually the first person to play my music on the radio. I will say I can understand why people love listening to his podcasts/show because he asks real, raw, genuine, sometimes tough questions. He didn’t ask the typical “tell me your story, where are you from, what are your influences” kind of questions – he asked the deep stuff and was genuinely curious about my answers. At the end of the interview, he told me he believed in me and to keep crushing it, which means insane amounts coming from him. I’m really grateful for him and his team’s support.”
What does the future look like for The 615 house? As the creator, do you and your members have any exciting projects in the pipeline?
“To be totally honest, we’re trying to figure that out! We started The 615 House during quarantine when there weren’t a lot of Nashville/country creators on the platform and when no one was all that busy because of the pandemic. We had the time to get together and create weekly. Now a lot of the original members of the house are signed to record labels, on tour, extremely busy, etc., so it’s been a challenge trying to evolve with the world opening back up – but all good problems to have and the project is very much still active!”
Where do you hope to see yourself at this time next year?
“You know, I’ve tried to refrain from planning too much. One of my favorite lessons learned from this last year is to put the work in and see what doors open from it because you never know what could happen. That being said – in a year, I’d absolutely love to have a song on the radio, be on a large tour, maybe even play at an award show. We’ll see where this new music takes me!”
Fans can keep up with Ashley Cooke on Instagram.