VISTA — She’s inspired by the folk tunes of Mumford and Sons and the blues sounds of The Black Keys. But Vista resident Ashley Hollander said her biggest inspiration is her husband.
“He’s so hardworking,” said Hollander of her husband, Robert, who is a Vista firefighter. “He does what he does with his whole heart. There’s nothing more amazing than that.”
This husband-and-wife team is unusual for the music industry. Hollander is the talent, while Robert spends roughly 10 to 15 hours each week helping her book shows — that’s on top of his full-time job. He also critiques her work.
“He has an ear for what sounds good and what doesn’t,” said 27-year-old Hollander. “That’s invaluable for a musician. The feedback is honest — sometimes a little too honest.”
Hollander, a native of North County, said she practices her singing, songwriting and guitar-playing daily. She’s hopeful to release an album this year with songs she describes as edgy and honest.
“They’re all originals with a blues-rock feel to them,” Hollander said. “I have about 10 or 12 songs that I’m stoked on. They’re really honest about who I am as an artist and describe different moments in my life.”
The songs are also uplifting for the audience, she said.
“One song is ‘Stand Down,’” Hollander said. “It’s about how so often in life there’s negativity that can stop you from doing your calling or keeping you in one place. The song talks about breaking out of those negative chapters in your life and overcoming them.”
But Hollander isn’t new to the music scene.
The North County native began taking vocal and piano lessons when she was 7 years old. She said she and her parents realized her calling was music when Hollander showed a lack of interest in other activities, such as softball.
Hollander said her most memorable experience was meeting her music coach Kara Howard, an Escondido resident.
“I’ve always wanted to be a musician but I didn’t realize it until I had the tools to be able to expand on that,” Hollander said. “The lessons were life-changing for me.”
Two years later, at the age of 9, Hollander was hired to perform at a wedding. Years after that, she taught herself how to play the guitar and co-released a Christian album, writing three of its songs.
“It’s a passion,” Hollander said. “That passion led me to grow it and exercise it into what it is today. It’s therapy. It’s getting a high off of something you love to do.”
The goal for Hollander, who works full-time as a musician now, is to expand her following.
She’s played at more than 15 different venues in Southern California while raising money to release her second album.
“I’m doing a lot of shows to branch out more,” Hollander said. “I want to play a ton of shows so I’ll go wherever I can as long as there’s an open door.”
So far, listeners have been receptive to her music, said her husband of five years, Robert.
“They’re always in awe of her big voice,” Robert said. “They get teary eyed listening to her and it isn’t just family — it’s random people.”
That encouragement is driving Hollander to set high goals. She hopes to play nationally in a few years, but she’ll do so with her partner by her side.
“I sometimes try to see myself the way he does,” Hollander said. “My husband believes in me so much.”
Ashley Hollander will perform at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Belching Beaver Brewery in Vista. For more information, visit ashleyhollandermusic.com.