A Conversation with Ashley Outrageous
Describe your path for what you’re doing now: how you’ve evolved from where you were to what you’re doing now.
I started my blog in October 2008, I was always the friend that people ask me what’s going on in music and I would be like “Oh, check out this video of this song on that website or this website!” I had like a gist of blogs, so I’d be like “go check out maybe DCtoBC or NahRight.” I started in 2008 because I always the friend to say check this out, check this out... and my friends were like why don’t you just make your own place where I can go because I’m not going to remember this site or that site to go to.
So my friend was like “Let’s make you a blog.” Then I was like “blog”!?
It sounded stupid… so whatever, I made a blog on Blogspot. It was very personal at first. I would post photos of my friends and I going out, and I would edit them in Photoshop trying to make it look cool.
I also posted about little events that I went to, mixtapes and videos that I liked, and back then I was using WorldStarHipHop… I was using their embedded players, and then I started to use Twitter a lot.
I got on Twitter in maybe November 2008, and then I just started following people that I liked and other artists that I saw on other blogs and just going from there and really using Twitter as a networking platform. So I could say Twitter helped me a lot. I used Twitter to its advantage.
I’ve always been an outgoing person even like in school and everything, so I would just talk to people… I would just be like “Hey! What’s up? I’m starting a blog.” I got cards made, my dad was like “Why don’t you just give out cards to people?” So I got cards made.
For a few years there I did that, then I relaunched on Wordpress. I wanted to take my blog pretty serious so I left Blogspot and got a domain name, went to Wordpress, got a full web redesign, and relaunched with the mixtape that had 21 songs. All original music from artists that I reached out to mostly via Twitter.
It was a headache to do, I mean it was 21 songs, but after that, I started to get on camera and do interviews. I always watched other people do interviews with artists and I was like “I could do that.” So that kickstarted me doing original interviews and create original content and review shows and then I got the opportunity to do a show with Curren$y out of nowhere. I had a week to plan it, I did that, I got Dom Kennedy on board with it, I had one week to promote it… I figured out I liked doing events, that was in February 2010, so I started an event company with my best friend in September 2010 and we brought Pac Div and Dom Kennedy for their first shows.
So then I started doing shows and from developing relationships with artists, I was getting the interviews myself and then I really started to travel. I went to SXSW my first time in 2010, ACL in 2010, Chicago for a showcase, LA for 2 weeks, and my sister was living in LA for the summer…
At that point, I wanted to be someone who wasn’t behind the computer, I wanted to be out there meeting people and showing them that I was more than just a blogger like “IM OUT HERE, IM REALLY OUT HERE!”
That was in 2008 and now were in 2014, and I want to get to the next level so I have to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve done listening parties, little launch parties and put shows together for Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, The Cool Kids, Dom Kennedy, Curren$y. With all of these shows and interviews, I put my name out there and I had a weekly party.
To get to the next level which is New York, the big city… I’ve been here for a month and now the whole plan is to build. I really want to reformat my brand a little bit and make a lot more original content weekly and really show my personality and how I am.
I’m actually friends with most of these artists, and when I speak them it’s normal. I could just be having lunch with Ab-Soul on a Thursday and then Saturday I’m chatting with Chuck Inglish. At the end of the day, they’re these huge artists, but they’re still regular, normal people. I really just give people a better look into my day-to-day… its still going to be music-focused but a little more but more original stuff rather than “Here’s the video from this mixtape, blah-blah-blah.”
So what is the average day like for you?
When I wake up I check my e-mails, I check my phone, I get up and eat I Eggos or egg sandwiches. I’m known for making egg sandwiches.
Then I look what I have to do for my freelance clients for working on projects, what the are plans are, social media updates, and trying to plan original content, taking meetings and seeing what’s next.
So you’ve been working with brands, how does the business side look for that—how do these partnerships come about?
I feel like I have to like the brand when I work with brands.
Because I’m in hip-hop all of these streetwear brands send me t-shirts all the time so I have a ridiculous collection of t-shirts. I have to tell these brands to stop sending me t-shirts. I’m not a tomboy, yes—I like to wear t-shirts from time-to-time but not that much.
So I tweeted one day, “I love when the homies hook me up with t-shirts but would love to get something from 80’s Purple or Nasty Gal…” praying that they would both reply to me. Fortunately, 80’s Purple did reply to me and they were super cool over there.
So my friend Devin and I wanted to do something with 80’s Purple, and we brought the idea to them of shooting a lookbook and they were like “We love that!”
I really want to stay true to my brand and genuinely like the brand that I’m working with. Sometimes I reach out to brands myself with my own idea, present it to them, and most of the time they end up liking it.
Was there a point in your life where you decided to take a big risk to move forward?
I believe it was when I left college, I did not finish college.
How far did you go?
Not far! Haha.
Maybe 1 year, 3 months. I was not the brightest star in high school. So after that, I was not going to go a community college because I was like it going to be high school all over again and then I was definitely not getting into no damn university so I was like let me go to art school. I loved graphic design, especially mixtapes like the Hot Boyz with the fire in the background. I was like “This is amazing!” The Nas “Stillmatic” graphic design was terrible but I loved it back then.
I did graphic design in art school for a while, then back in 2010 when I went to SXSW for the first time, I got a lot of done from networking.
I told my dad I don’t want to go to art school anymore and plus it was expensive as sh*t. That was a big risk especially with college being a big deal but I wasn’t that smart. It’s not like I wasn’t smart, I just didn’t give it my all in high school as I should have. I was too wrapped up with hanging out with friends, being cool, etc. I just didn’t go fully into it like how other people I knew did.
I always said I wanted to go to college. One of my sisters dropped out of high school, the other one graduated but she didn’t do college, so I wanted to be the one to graduate from college. Just having that piece of paper was a big deal to me.
A diploma is very good, and sometimes I see people getting hired because they have more experience, they’re better at it or more creative, but I just thought college was holding me back from what I wanted to do. I took that risk; I took this full on and that’s how I feel where got to where I am today.
I was invited to be part of Steve Stoute’s dinner guests and it was a very small group of maybe like 10 people. It was on Wednesday, I paid for my ticket and everything, but that Wednesday I had a class and I had already missed 3 classes so if I were to miss 4 I would’ve failed so I didn’t go because of that. It wouldn’t have even mattered if I failed that class because I didn’t even finish then, so I definitely feel like that was a big risk for me. And now I feel this is the 2nd biggest risk because I lived in Florida my whole life and now I’m in New York doing a lot of stuff on my own. I feel I’m very much so of an adult now.
Sh*t’s scary. It took me two years to do this. I sold my car to come out here, I was selling my shoes on eBay to come here. I sold my clothes; I was just piling money to get where I needed to get. So it’s very scary, it was those two moments for now.
What’s the plan for the next 1–3 years?
I really want to become this brand and have brands want me. Like test out a car or show off new clothes, or shoot a lookbook, or be an art director, creatively direct something.
I’ve done the artist management thing, and I can see myself in five years where I have my own company that manages artists but I kind of don’t want to do the day-to-day stuff. I just want to be the boss, the girl boss. So it’s to get my name out there and really become this brand.
What would you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
I don’t know, I feel like I’m still like at the beginning stages so I don’t know what kind of legacy I want to leave. I just want my kids to be like my mom was freakin’ cool and she went on tour with Kendrick Lamar… you know I was at the Grammys hanging out with this artist and that artist… just like a cool mom.
Legacy, I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m at a good point of where I’m at, at my age. But I know exactly what I want to do without having to finish college and I know a lot of my friends that are in college and they’re still trying to figure it out.
I’m still trying to figure out what that high point is going to be for me, but this move will definitely feel like this going to help me find it.
Was there any advice that pushed you?
I was very fortunate to have parents that were very supportive of what my sisters and I wanted to do. They always told us to not be afraid.
“If this was what you wanna do, go ahead and do it full on.”
If it wasn’t for them telling me to not be afraid and just go for it, knowing that they were there for me, I’m not sure if I could honestly move to New York. I hated that sometimes because I didn’t want them as a fallback; I wanted to be independent. But I thank them for that.
I’ve realized that failing still puts you on the scoreboard. I’ve stopped myself so many times because things didn’t go perfectly right out of the gate but it’s like “If I fail, I still get to the outcome eventually through perseverance and persistence…”
Even if you fail—sometimes you don’t fail 100% and you could go back, make adjustments and then it will work. I feel like you have to take the risk. I’ve failed plenty of times and looking back, I could see what I could do to fix it next time. If you don’t take the chance and you’ll never know and then you’re like fuhhhhh… f*ck me.
For more on Ashley Outrageous:
Interview & Photographs by John Liwag
Transcribed by Christian Oba
Interview conducted April 2014