For LA hip hop artist Wowashwow (Ashley Greenwood), music has always been a part of her life. Growing up in South Jersey and Philadelphia, she started writing music at the age of 6 and had an early career as the lead guitarist and singer of punk rock band, Rise from Ashes. This led to a tour that saw her opening for The Ramone’s drummer Marky Ramone and she recorded her first album under the direction of Steve Albini. From an early age, she was influenced by gospel music, punk rock, rock and roll, emo, grunge, and hip hop, becoming really immersed in the underground NY hip hop scene during her college years. Her time in NY greatly influenced her stage performance, as well as her approach to songwriting from witnessing what she calls lyrical magic by the artists in these underground clubs. In 2021, she released her debut album I’m A Hashole, describing it as a full representation of who she is and not a representation of what she thinks people want her to be. The album includes “HEATWAVE” and “PU$$I POWER”, both of which she and her creative team filmed fun and amazing music videos for. Greenwood is an also an activist in the cannabis industry and aims to break the stigmas around cannabis consumption. She has headlined cannabis conventions and expos, and was a 2022 Orange County Cannabis Award Musician of the year nominee. She’s played over 15 shows in two years, opened for Snoop Dog and Travis Barker, appeared at the Soul Train Awards 2022, charted #115 on the Hot300 List and has been featured in SXSWPop, Earmilk, Divine Magazine, Shoutout Atlanta, Artist on the Rise, Upcoming 100, Rap Fiesta, to name a few. She will soon be releasing her new album The Algorithm, which she sees as a continuation of her evolution as an artist. On February 24th, the first single from the album, “Class Enrollment”, was released and gives listeners a taste of the direction and energy the album is going, and March 7th saw the release of the music video for the single. Greenwood’s main focus for 2023, aside from her album release, is to tour. Having really cultivated a fun and captivating live show, make sure to connect with Wowashwow via the following links to stay up-to-date with all upcoming music and tour news!
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You were born and raised in South Jersey and Philadelphia and music has always been a big part of your life, with you writing your first song at the age of 6. What can you tell me about your childhood and having a family that was so involved with music, as well as the music you grew up listening to?
Music has always been a part of my life, before anything I can remember. My first childhood memory I can think of is me lining up all of my stuffed animals in a row and performing full out concerts for them on top of my mom’s glass coffee table. Then I remember my mom fussing at me to get off the table because I would get hurt, only to have my grandma interject and say, “let that baby give her performance,” but also under her breath, “get off the coffee table Ashley.”
All I can remember growing up is looking at the family photo albums and seeing my family legacy be displayed between art and music.
You started performing at local churches and county fairs at a young age. How do you think those experiences, as well as starting a punk band at the age of 17 and opening for Marky Ramone, shaped you as an artist? What did you learn about yourself and the kind of artist you wanted to be?
All of these experiences completely shaped me into the main character energy I’ve always envisioned in my head when I step on stage. Growing up and performing in both of these environments, with such a juxtaposition in the atmosphere, was more beneficial to me than I could have ever realized. Both of these scenes had two things in common: the absolute freedom of self expression and raw passion. To me, that was a very intoxicating feeling.
During your college years in New York you have talked about being heavily influenced by hip hop, going to a lot of underground shows to listen to lyricists and to their approach and to then go back home and practice. What was the New York underground scene like at that time and in what ways did attending the underground shows help you to develop your own style?
The faces may change in the underground scene in NYC, but the vibes have been the same since hip hop was born. Hell, even before I was born. You pull up to a spot somewhere in a deep cut of Brooklyn, the Bronx, or in Jamaica, Queens and you listen to people share just straight up lyrical magic. A lot of times, I would go to these events and post up with an L, and just watch these lyricists who have perfected their craft and stage presence to become great.
Having grown up with gospel music and then getting into punk rock, rock and roll, and hip hop, how would you describe your evolution in sound as an artist?
It fully cultivated the sound that you hear today. Because I’ve taken elements of all of those genres that I’ve created in, it has all sort of melded together into a flow and style that’s truly authentic to me.
What can you tell me about the importance of empowering people with your music? Who are some artists that have helped you to feel empowered?
It’s everything. It’s why I create and do what I do. I want the music I write to make someone feel inspired to win in whatever aspect of their life that they dream about. There’s been so many artists that I’ve looked up to that embody this energy, but the main person that’s inspired me the most in this aspect is, Missy Elliot. She exudes style, individuality, and is an overall bad ass woman.
How did you get your start in activism in the cannabis industry and breaking the stigmas around cannabis consumption? In what ways have you used your music and social media to relay your vision? What can you tell me about your experience headlining cannabis conventions and expos, as well as being a 2022 Orange County Cannabis Award Musician of the year nominee?
I got started in the cannabis community through the Philly Norml scene. It was hearing the stories of war vets who used cannabis to treat PTSD issues and parents who were finding relief for their terminally ill children and still running the risk of losing their child because the thing that brought relief to their child was illegal. In terms of headlining shows and events at these conventions, it’s been an absolutely amazing experience to share the stage with some absolute legends. However, a lot of these events have lost sight of the culture and community that has always been an integral part. It’s all turning super corporate, and there’s something weird about it now.
You released your album I’m A Hashole in 2021. You have described it as a full representation of who you are and not a representation of what you think people want you to be. How do you feel the album represents you as a person and artist? Have you had to push back against others trying to turn you into the kind of artist they want you to be? What is the importance for you about staying true to yourself and keeping it real?
I’ve been blessed to have surrounded myself with creative people who really hear me as an artist, and have a desire to make the dreams and visions that I have swirling around in my head come to life.
What inspired you to write a script for the album, saying that the biggest project you want to do for the album is to write a really dope movie and produce an entire film for it? What can you tell me about the concept?
I wrote a script for my 1st album that bounced back and forth between real life and this parallel universe that all of the songs are displayed in. It takes moments from my childhood experiences, and the fantasy of how I see myself at the peak of my career, and puts them into a fictionalized world seen through the perspective of this dope female character. I wanted the story and energy of the album to come to life in a way that no one had seen. It will take a lot of funding to make this happen, but once it does, it will be absolutely dope.
What can you tell me about developing your live show, which you have said involves you moving about the stage like crazy, a 7-piece live band, and dancers? Sounds like a lot of fun!!
It’s basically the ASH WIND AND FIRE SHOW, lol. Every time I step on stage I feel that the crowd should be transported and taken through an experience. There’s so much more than just doing the songs and walking off the stage. I want them to experience joy, breakthrough, a break from the monotony of the daily grind, even if it’s for one hour. All of those elements help to cultivate that energy.
Yourself and the entire cast and crew of Hornatia recently got nominated for Best Music Video in the Short Film category at the Cannes Film Festival! What can you tell me about the music video, the experience of making it, and the cast and crew?
Whew Chile! That was a very fascinating experience. It’s a surreal 8 minute experience that takes you on a journey of self expression, pushes the boundaries of body expression in a beautiful and positive way. I’m grateful to the artist of this song, Love Bailey, for inviting me on this project, and pushing me to explore outside of my comfort zone to make something insane, in your face, and beautiful.
You will be releasing your new album ‘The Algorithm’ soon! What can listeners expect from the album? What can you tell me about the album’s first single release “Class Enrollment”?
You will hear the continuation of how I’m evolving as an artist and I’m so excited to share that with y’all. “Class Enrollment” just dropped and that is a teaser in terms of the direction and energy this album is going.
Aside from your forthcoming album’s release, what’s next for you?
TOUR. TOUR. TOUR. AND TOUR. That’s all I want to manifest going forward in the 2023 year.