Ash Taylor Talks Bakersfield Sound, SongTown, and Finding Her Place in the Industry

Most artists start out with the specific goal in mind of someday performing in front of people. Ash Taylor is an exception to that, having taken a somewhat circuitous route to becoming the artist she is today, a path that no doubt benefits her when it comes to the quality of her live shows and recordings, like her new EP, The Acoustic Sessions.

Taylor played instruments in Bakersfield while dabbling in songwriting, and then learned about engineering, moving to Los Angeles to study the craft of making things sound great. But songwriting kept calling her name, and with the encouragement of legendary songwriter Clay Mills (Darius Rucker, Trisha Yearwood), she decided that moving to Nashville was the next step in a career that has culminated in her becoming an artist in her own right.

“I started to play guitar when I was a teenager and also got into piano, bass and mandolin,” she said, “playing in church and experimenting with songwriting. But right out of high school I went to audio school in Bakersfield, and then I got a scholarship to WAM, Women’s Audio Mission, and I was studying audio and working in studios in LA. But it wasn’t creative enough; it was people telling me to make something this frequency, bring this up, bring this down, and while I really enjoyed the recording aspect, I wanted to be involved in actually making the music. I wanted to make it the way I heard it in my head and not the way someone else wanted it to sound.”

“Then I stumbled onto SongTown, the online songwriting community Clay Mills and Marty Dodson (Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney) started,” she said. “I was trying to figure out how to write better songs, and I joined this community. Through that, Clay offered me an internship at SongTown, so I hopped on a plane to Nashville. And I also got a job my first day in Nashville at the Guitar Center on Thompson Lane.”

“I spent my whole first year in town focusing on writing songs for other people,” she said. “But then a bunch of different people told me that I was an artist. Everything started to click, everything made sense. This is what I’m supposed to do in music. So it’s been an interesting journey, having lived a couple different lives in music to figure out where I fit, where is home for me. I love being an artist, there’s nothing like it.”

On The Acoustic Sessions, Taylor doesn’t stray far from her roots of the California oilfield country sound she grew up with. “I veer a lot more towards traditional country,” she said, “but I absolutely mix a little rock and roll into it. I would say it’s my own modern take on the Bakersfield sound. I grew up in Bakersfield, all that music, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, was always around me. I never thought of it as country music, but as just that this is who we are here, what we listen to for everyday life. My grandma listened to nothing but country music, and the first song I ever heard was ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ by Loretta Lynn. So Loretta and Buck and Merle, that’s just what I grew up with. My husband Chris (DeLisle) is my guitar player and bandleader, so we joke about how I’m a modern day Buck Owens and he’s Don Rich.”

In addition to playing in rooms like the Bluebird and the Commodore, and getting ready for some upcoming work in Florida, Taylor hosts a livestream, “Ash Wednesday,” every Wednesday evening. You can follow her at

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