Words by : Molly Mollotova
In what could only be described as an all-encompassing organic experience, Dallas-based artists Ashley Whitby and Jessie Frye have found a way to use both of their respective mediums to create a living, breathing collaboration of the soul. Their mutual respect for one another, as well as their constant drive to grow as artists can be witnessed in this Nakid-Exclusive editorial, “Queen of Something”.
Ashley Whitby is a force to be reckoned with. The 21 year-old Rowlett native has been toeing the line between whimsical design and avant-garde creativeness with her all-inclusive makeup and styling skills and because if that, she has managed to become one of the most in-demand creatives in the D-FW.
While many may doubt such a young artist’s abilities, Whitby’s resume speaks – quite loudly – for itself. By simply perusing her portfolio you will run into names such as RAW Artists, Univision and CBS Radio. However, Whitby is not one to rest on her laurels. While building her network, she manages to continue crafting her own ever-evolving style by delving into live events, high fashion, airbrush body paint and even sacrifice-themed events – so, there’s something for everyone.
Whitby also seems to have picked up a few notable supporters on her journey to success. The young renaissance woman credits local photographer,Sterling Steves, RAW Artist’s Sarah Badran and Brandy Adams of WAAS Gallery as being the driving forces behind her artistry and explains that she wouldn’t be where she was without their support and belief in her skills.
With no signs of slowing down, Whitby has temporarily turned her focus to makeup and styling live music events. As Whitby puts it, “I went to UNT for about a year-and-a-half. I was going for photography at the time and I joined up with a magazine called Method Seven Magazine. It was not associated with UNT, but it was run by UNT students and they had mentioned that they needed a makeup artist, I had a small kit at the time – and I ended up really loving it. Later on down the road I joined a haunted house called Zombie Manor and they taught me blood, gore and prosthetics, which has benefitted me greatly.”
Following the seasonal apocalypse, Whitby’s work was recognized by RAW Artists – a nationally recognized artist showcase – and the rest is history. Whitby has since been a featured artist in four separate RAW Dallas showcases, which has only lead to eve more opportunities, which lead to her full-time production gig in the Dallas area and her position on Jessie Frye’s creative team.
A few months back, Whitby was contacted by Brent Camp, manager of Denton’s leading pop-punk diva, Jessie Frye. At the time, Camp expressed his enthusiasm and appreciation for Whitby’s work and requested her services to be apart of Frye’s team. Whitby agreed and was enlisted to do the makeup for her upcoming album Boys Club.
On the heels of 35 Denton, SXSW, KXT’s Summer Cut and even landing her first major sponsor, MAC Cosmetics, it’s clear that Frye is a young performer on the road to stardom. Frye has been a staunch supporter of feminism, women in the music industry and positive views on sexuality; three things one wouldn’t necessarily think of coming from a small Texas college town, yet here she is. And earlier this year, Frye helped create a panel for 35 Denton, called Cherry Bombs, which focused on the importance of women in the music industry and featured other local songstresses who share the same views.
Aside from her activism though, Frye has been steadily living up to her her reputation as an all-encompassing entertainer by blowing away audiences each time she mans the stage. Now, her career is ready for yet another leap into the spotlight with the promise of her upcoming release of her new EP Boys Club on October 9. This past weekend, we here at NAKID had the opportunity to collaborate on an exlusive editorial with Jessie and let her tell us like it is.
Molly Mollotova: In your own words, tell me a bit about how you got started with writing your own songs and performing.
Jessie Frye: The cool thing about it for me was that it was never a decision, in terms of the emotional side. Of course, you get to a point when you get older where you decide that “this” is what you’re going to do with your life, professionally.
My mother was very, very nurturing when I was a child – and you know – had me dressing up as Madonna, dancing around the house, singing inappropriate songs at five years old- and the Cure has been my favorite band since I was an infant. And my mom introduced me to a lot of really weird stuff like the Cure and Nine Inch Nails.
So, performing and being kind of the center-of-attention was something that I was really into as a kid. Not in a pageant-y way though. When I was eight, my mom put me into voice lessons and I loved it – that’s also when I started to write poetry – a lot. I wrote some really shitty songs, just vocally, because I didn’t know how to play an instrument.
Then when I was 11, my mom introduced me to Tori Amos. So, when I saw her perform I realized that was the missing ingredient, and I learned how to play the piano. So, learning the piano, I was classically trained, and learning it is really how I started to really write songs and really explore music theory and understanding how to write songs and stuff like that – on an educational front.
From there I just kept taking lessons. I got a job at a music store when I was 16 and I met some people in the music scene that way – I started teaching music when I was 17. Kind of around 18, I was at the point where my songs weren’t totally shitty and in 2008 I released this little EP called The Delve. Then in late 2008, I submitted my music to SXSW to perform at the festival that spring, in 2009, and I got accepted.
MM: You mentioned that your mom has been a huge influence on your musical taste, but who would you say are your biggest musical influences or mentors?
JF: Totally. I met my friend Michael Garcia when I was like 14 and he was the first person I shared my music with. He encouraged me to pursue my ambition of wanting to start a band one day. So, he’s a large reason as to why I had the guts to do that. I’ve been lucky enough to have support and belief from everyone in my life, but he was an active role by being there with me – he even gave me my first studio time.
MM: So, you’ve got a new album coming out soon. What can you tell us about it?
JF: My new EP, Boys Club, is coming out on October 9 and The premiere of my single “One In A Million” should be any day now. It’s a five song EP – I just really wanted to write a really fun record that conveyed our energy live. We’re pretty rock live. And this is the first record where I feel like I’ve definitely found the direction that I want to go. And I don’t really care how many songs are on an album anymore, I just care about how strong they are.
I called in Boys Club, because I read in an interview somewhere that the music industry is just one big boys club. And I thought it would be kinds of funny to name a record that. I think sexism in the music industry is getting better in a lot of ways, because the “girl power” thing is coming back – and look – we’re never going to get rid of it, it’s always going to be here. It’s just how you handle it. And I think in the rock world, at least, I have mostly male fans because I kind of cross the line, image-wise and sound-wise, of sometimes heavy rock and pop. I mean I grew up listening to fucking Gwar and Nine Inch Nails, so of course guys are going to be into my music.
So, I love that I have a large male fan base, because I grew up with an older brother and I’m a tomboy and I love dudes. And to me – feminism is about including people, not being exclusive. That is why I have a large male fan base; because guys respond to that kind of energy – and a lot of females put up a barrier. So, I just thought it would be kind of fun to call my record Boys Club for a multitude of reasons – for feminist reasons, for personal reasons of being a tomboy and a commentary on the music business – plus it’s a catchy name.
MM: So, what’s next for Jessie Frye?
JF: Basically there’s going to be a lot of content. We’ve got Oaktopia coming up, I’ve got a lot of music videos coming out, I’ve couple of MAC tutorial YouTube videos and we’re planning on touring in 2016.
MM: As far as your musical career goes, where do you see yourself in five years? What image are you trying to portray?
JF: Playing stadiums! To be totally honest with you, I advocate feminism; I created a panel called Cherry Bombs for 35 Denton, at which I spoke on the importance of sexuality and women and sexuality in the music industry. So, it’s definitely apart of what I do, but that’s not all I am. I think the best way to say it is that feminism is a part of my personality and when it comes to my music, that’s going to be clear in the way that I dress and how I speak.
But when it comes to what I want for my band and where I want us to be in five years, I want us to be a band that people follow and have a hardcore loyal fanbase full of people who feel like they’re apart of something. I’m more concerned about creating a fan base that doesn’t just care about the music, but is interested with who I am as person and can connect with me that way.
Creative Director: Ashley Whitby
Artist: Jessie Frye
Photos by: Charis Kirchheimer
Wardrobe courtesy of: Circa 77