Maxine Ashley moved to London alone at 13 to pursue her music career
Maxine Ashley is just a Bronx girl who moved alone to London at age 13 to start her music career because a video of her singing went viral on YouTube.
The singer was raised on the London music scene before moving back to the states to continue her career. Now, she’s the face of Pat McGrath cosmetics in Sephora stores, has been named one of Tidal’s Rising Artists, and has a new music video releasing today on the music streaming service.
We sat down with Maxine to discuss her new music, her time in London, her natural skincare routine, and her love for all things New York City.
Check out the exclusive interview and photoshoot below!
How did you first get into music?
I always sang as a kid and watched my parents perform, but I knew I wanted to make it a career when people starting requesting covers and videos. It made me happy that people enjoyed my voice. So I took it more serious, starting writing my own songs at 11 and got discovered by a UK label at 13 and kept going from there.
How did your YouTube channel help launch your career?
The first video I ever posted got me discovered. It went viral for what viral used to be when YouTube was starting.
What was it like moving to London so young?
It was amazing. I’ve always wanted to get my life started. I never was comfortable staying at home, going to school, doing regular things. I wanted to travel, I wanted to see more than the Bronx, I wanted to experience all the shit I used to see on TV.
Favorite thing about London’s music scene?
What I love about the music scene in London is that it was the first scene I’ve ever experienced. I was 13 running around and performing in dingy bars, clubs, and underground warehouses.
I made a name for myself at 16 with a song called “I’m In Love.” I didn’t like the song so I told them not to put my name on it. I didn’t know it would be number one for so long.
What was it like working so hard at such a young age? What’s a difficult obstacle you overcame back then, and how did you get over the hurdle?
To be honest, I was just enjoying myself, growing up, crushing on people, making music everyday, being broke as fuck, and scrapping up money to take a bus to Camden to shop for docs. I never got to experience college but I felt like London was like my college experience.
It almost made me super stressed. I was alone, no one who understood me or my culture, sometimes I’d wake up and be like oh shit, where am I? (laughs)
I got shingles at 15. By the time I hit 17, I went back home. I didn’t have a visa, either.
What do you think about labels that put artists in boxes?
It’s all a game. You have to learn how finesse your way through, control how you want things and not let anyone make you feel shitty, because THEY WILL!
Don’t allow them to put you in a box. Before even THINKING about getting signed, know who you are and what you want to stand for and I promise, it’ll be easier for you mentally.
Tell us about your song that was released through Tidal this week!
Quentin Tarantino, old Latin love, hate, messy, heartbreak, drugs, bruja, santeria, bachata, hip-hop.
How would you describe your music style?
A Bronx bitch who’s seen the world.
What upcoming projects are you working on? Can you tell us a bit about what to expect stylistically and lyrically?
I’m working on videos for songs I have ready to drop! Next one is called, “Rager.” I’ve performed it a few times. Heres the opening line – “Lately I’ve been feeling I can’t get up from my bed. It’s all the pounding in my head. Lately I’ve been drinking off my demons to forget. But they keep reminding me instead.”
I’m speaking my truth. The songs after are about the frustration and depression I was in.
You’re moving into the beauty world now, too. You’re currently the face of Pat McGrath’s newest collection in Sephora. What’s your favorite new beauty product right now?
I’ve got a bunch of Revlon and Pat McGrath products right now. With a secret sauce, Fenty beauty *wink, wink.*
Best beauty brand and why?
Shea butter and cocoa butter cause that shit really keeps me glowing!
Are you big into masking? If so, what kind of masks are you using?
I’m a natural girl. I use oils and hand make face shit with aloe.
Top 5 beauty tips you’d give someone?
1. Wash your face
2. Drink your water
3. Relax with the foundation
4. Smile even if it’s fake
5. Say good things to yourself in the mirror cause you are all you got and no one can make you feel more beautiful than your reflection!
Bonus. WORK IT!!
What’s it like living between LA and NYC? Which city is your fave?
NYC ALLLL DAYYY!! LA for the sun and the work. NYC for the love and to toughen my skin.
Which city has better nightlife? Food?
NYC. LA is way too weird for me. I don’t care to party with a basketball player. I’d rather drink with my friends and my mother and talk shit.
Both cities have good food, to be honest. NYC for culture, LA for vegan.
What can we expect from you next?
Art and love.
Photos by Danielle DeFoe
Makeup by Robert Rumsey at Cloutier Remix Agency using Pat McGrath Labs
Hair by Johnny Stuntz at Crosby Carter MGMT