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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Jun 18, 2020

Mark interviews Ashley Joanisse, a Canadian Country Singer-Songwriter who writes songs about politics, love, and life.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares comments from recent episodes, welcomes new patron Krista D. Ball, thanks patrons, and reads a word from this episode's sponsor, Findaway Voices.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In his personal update, Mark shares a new StoryBundle that he is a part of, which launched on June 18, 2020, as well as a pair of videos he recently released focusing on how to pronounce his last name.

In their conversation, Ashley and Mark talk about:

  • Where Ashley's love of music first started
  • The fact that Ashley always payed close attention to the lyrics of the songs she listened to
  • The strong desire to write her own music rather than cover someone else's songs
  • The little journey that Ashley kept since she was about thirteen years old, constantly jotting down poems, notes, song lyrics, and other things that inspired her
  • Writing a chorus that might stay in the journal for several years before the lyrics for the rest of the song came to her
  • Ashley's introduction to music in the 8th grade, and first learning how to play chords on the guitar
  • Playing by ear - she has not yet learned how to read music
  • The first guitar class Ashley was in where the instructor laid out a rule that nobody was allowed to play "Smoke on the Water"
  • The very first song that Ashley nailed, which was "Outsider" by Taylor Swift
  • How Mark learned about Ashley when she was putting out a collaborative call for people to submit video clips for a forthcoming video release
  • Ashley's first single, "Hey Bartender!"
  • How the song reminds Mark of a classic tune like "Piano Man" from Billy Joel
  • The way that the music video was partially inspired by the clips Ashley received from friends and strangers
  • How "Hey Bartender" was written and recorded two years ago and was produced about one year previously and the depression and circumstances that delayed the release
  • The way that the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic inspired her out of the funk she had been stuck within
  • The logistics of how Ashley created the video for "Hey Bartender" completely on her own
  • How Ashley pulled off a video where she played two different characters (bartender and patron) in the same shot (and the way she learned how to do it)
  • The difficulty for an artist when you put something out and you get virtually no response to the effort (something that is common for writers, musicians and other artists)
  • (A little mix up where Mark's Google device starts playing a song)
  • Ashley's latest song, titled "American Dream" which is a song inspired by tweets from the 45h president of the United States
  • How this song allows her to express something she feels so intensely and how listening to the song can perhaps help others who feel the same way
  • The way that "American Dream" is like the Arkells song "People's Champ" in that it's a powerful and catchy song, but there's an underlying meaning that some listeners might not actually pick up on
  • How Ashley felt so strongly about releasing this song that she went out and bought professional equipment to produce it
  • The mechanics of how Ashley recorded the song and produced the video for "American Dream"
  • Why it's important to actually sing instead of lip syncing when you're trying to lip sync to an audio track for a music video
  • Mark's impression of how bad the lip syncing on Grease 2 was
  • The way that feedback from her two recent releases has further inspired her to want to continue to write and record more songs
  • The irony of two negative things (a global pandemic and a narcissistic president who feeds on ignorance, fear, and lies) that inspired art, and got Ashley out of the depression she had been in
  • Why Taylor Swift is a major influence on Ashley
  • The advice that Ashley would give to her younger self
  • And more . . .

After the interview, Mark reflects on two of the things Ashley spoke about. The idea that if you stop, you'll never ever write that song that might move people, and how writing and music is a way to allow people to have a voice, to say things they are thinking and feeling about, which can empower writers/musicians and readers/listeners.

Links of Interest:


Ashley Joanisse is a Canadian Country Singer-Songwriter who writes songs about politics, love, and life. She is an activist for human rights, and feels that we need to take a stand against hate and injustice anytime we can!

Ashley has always had an interest in music since she was a little girl and her passions remain music and writing. Ashley grew up in Mattawa, Ontario a very small that helped her to become who she is today; just a small town girl living in a lonely world.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0