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28 Apr 2018

Stagecoach 2018: DJ Bad Ash Rebounded From Heartbreak to Become One of the Country World's Top DJs

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DJ Bad Ash: “It’s really just about having fun. If you’re enjoying the mix, that’s honestly what it’s all about.” DJ Bad Ash: “It’s really just about having fun. If you’re enjoying the mix, that’s honestly what it’s all about.” Kevin Fitzgerald

DJ Bad Ash is a well-known club DJ in Los Angeles—and at Stagecoach, she’s taken her talents to the Honkytonk Dance Hall.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Ashlee Williss, stopped by the press tent on Friday and told me what inspired her to become a DJ.

“I’ve always been a singer-songwriter,” Williss said. “I’ve done amazing things in my career, but I’ve never made it. Several years ago, the day I released my big single, my boyfriend at the time passed away. It kind of broke me for a while, and I gave up music for about a year. I couldn’t get out there and sing and give my heart. Somehow, I was missing something and needed some type of music back in my life. An agent of mine suggested, ‘Hey, why don’t you DJ?’ I was like, ‘Oh, no! I’m a singer; I play guitar, and I come from the country world!’

“I thought, ‘I need to open my mind.’”

After taking a DJ lesson, she was hooked.

“It was so fun, and I was a natural. Honestly, it brought my spirit back to life. It made me want to get back out there and learn about all these kinds of music I never enjoyed before. Now, I’m really excited, because I get to incorporate the country music part as well as being a DJ. Now I’m unique, and I’m the first female country DJ who has been in the festival scene. It happened by accident. It was the element that was missing all along, and it was so fun. I’m really excited to be at Stagecoach, and it’s a dream to perform here.”

Learning how to DJ was a challenge, she said, but she has gotten better at it.

“I will say that the technical part—it’s still horrible,” Williss said. “It’s just like a computer, and you don’t know when it’s going to say, ‘I’m not going to work right now.’ It can freeze in the middle of a set, and that can be very scary—and everybody is looking at you like you messed up. The more you do it, the more you learn. It’s best to just get out there and be forced to figure it out. That’s what I did.”

Is country music becoming more popular in the DJ world? Williss answered with a resounding yes.

“Since I started singing years ago, I was always doing a dance-y and sexy kind of thing. Nobody ever understood it before. Now, they get it,” she said. “Now I think because I’ve added just the DJ element, people are starting to understand it. You can remix country, and I think it’s the next big thing.”

DJ Bad Ash also plays music from genres beyond country.

“Most of my gigs in Los Angeles are not country. There aren’t a lot of country events in Los Angeles or Las Vegas,” she said. “When I get the country gigs, it’s what I love and what I know best, but there are a lot of EDM and hip-hop gigs that I’ll take around the country.”

DJ Bad Ash given just released a single.

“It’s called ‘Rodeo,’ and it’s country, but a line-dance kind of country: fun, sexy and cheery,” she said. “I feel like it could become a country anthem for girls. It’s very powerful, female-driven.”

DJ Bad Ash had advice for anyone who wants to get into performing.

“It’s really just about having fun. If you’re enjoying the mix, that’s honestly what it’s all about,” she said. “If you’re having a good time and playing good songs, people are going to love it also. Let your passions come out. For any kind of artist, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about money or fame; it’s about doing what you love.”

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