When you think of amazing multi-hyphenate talents, Padma Lakshmi and Lady Gaga spring to mind. L.A. artist Ashley Miers belongs in that select group, too. She’s a successful songwriter/musician, actress, chef and meditation/recovery advocate.

It’s hard to image how one person – in one lifetime – can write fabulous songs, have a SAG card, host an acclaimed cooking show and find time to do an EP of Red Hot Chili Peppers covers (due in August). In short, Ashley makes most songwriters look like slackers in comparison.

We spoke with Ashley about how she manages to juggle all those things simultaneously.

You’re a real “Renaissance” person, having had success in acting, music and spiritual teaching. What projects are you most excited about at the moment?

The projects I’m most excited about at the moment are my new cooking show Dancing in the Kitchen, and some upcoming music releases, including a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover project entitled “Love Letters” and a collab of co-written original songs with friends/colleagues Elizabeth Russo and Ben Masters.  

Dancing in the Kitchen focuses on informing and uplifting its audience through nutritional education, mood-boosting healthy recipes, and is set to fun original music.  The concept for this show was born out of my own recovery journey that led me to start coaching women struggling with depression and other mental health challenges.  Through my coaching, I help women access support and learn to implement self-care and effective coping skills, all in service of helping them to love themselves and live in more complete alignment with their purpose and passions on this planet.

Elizabeth Russo co-hosts, and Octavia Klein films and co-produces the project.  We also include “Music Aftershow” content where we talk about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the music and show creation, and we invite guests on for interviews to talk about their experiences with creativity, nutrition/self-care and mental health.  The theme song of the show is a cover of  “Dancing In The Kitchen” by the band LANY.

My Red Hot Chili Peppers cover project “Love Letters” is an EP of 3 tracks including “Under the Bridge”, “Soul to Squeeze”, and a mash-up/remix of the RHCP song “Wet Sand” with the song “Bright Lights” by the band Cannons.

I decided to pursue this project because RHCP has been a huge influence for me throughout my life – both artistically and also as an example of recovery and a consciously lived life.  I wanted to express my gratitude through the musical language our hearts share, and I am doing so by reimagining their songs with female vocals and electronic instrumentation.  It was great fun to study their songwriting and arrangements from a creative versus purely consumer perspective.  I haven’t historically played in this arena much previously (covering the music of other artists), and I really appreciated all of the discoveries I made in studying their craft with such a focused and intentional approach.  This project is produced by Ben Masters.

Lastly, I’ve been collaborating and co-writing original music with Elizabeth Russo and Ben Masters, and I’m excited to release an EP of these tracks (as well as an accompanying music video) later this year.

I have many more projects in various stages of conceptualization and production, but these are my top three creative pursuits this year.  Certainly more than enough to stay busy and excited!

There’s a little touch of India in your cover of the Stones’ “Paint It Black” and your song “Priestess”. How has kundalini meditation impacted your songwriting?

 It makes me so happy to hear that you noticed this!  Kundalini meditation has been a profound influence on my mental and emotional health and well-being overall (so much so that I completed instructor training in 2018 with Sat Siri at Wanderlust Studio in Los Angeles), as well as on my awareness and ability to maintain a constructive perspective amidst the ever-present challenges that continue to arise throughout life.

I was very excited to include a Kundalini mantra “Adi Shakti” in the bridge of my song “Priestess”.  I’ve come to understand sound and vibration as the primordial creative substance of the universe, and thus a powerful healing modality.  I heard the quote recently (I don’t know whom to credit it to) “music makes you feel a thought”, and it’s so true. Music evokes visceral sensations, catharsis, epiphanies. I know that for myself, I have had powerful and profound emotional releases and realizations as a response to experiencing certain music.

In Kundalini, mantra is used as a tool to elicit such types of experiences and responses.  Yogic philosophy goes so far as to say that the process of repeating a mantra causes the tongue to activate pressure points in the palate (the same concept as meridians in Chinese medicine and acupressure).  When these points are activated with consistent practice, it induces a physiological responses that actually changes neurochemistry and thus one’s state of consciousness.

Incorporating the Adi Shakti mantra into “Priestess” was great fun because the song is a playful and sassy nod to the divine feminine force, and the mantra “Adi Shakti” is an invocation of that force.

Your song “Dark Side” is a moody masterpiece, in my opinion. Have you tried pitching that song (or others) to the movie/TV sync market?

Well, again, I am flattered.  And thank you!  In all honesty, no – I have not.  And I want to!  

For whatever mysterious reason, I have never been as committed and motivated as it would probably benefit me to be on the song-pitching front. Although I’m working to step it up in that arena now!

My partner Elizabeth Russo is a master at this (she’s had over 100 placements – we actually had our first placement together with our co-written song “Tangled” back in 2010 on ABC Family’s show Make It or Break It).  It’s hard to do everything by oneself, so one thing I’ve learned over the years is to partner with people who are strong in areas that I’m not so that we are each bringing – and combining – our strengths as much as possible to support one another’s success and mutually prosper.

Who were your musical favorites growing up?

Sooooo many. I trained myself to sing and rap by singing along with RHCP’s Anthony Kiedis on their tracks. Other favorites come from a multitude of genres from rock, to pop, to country, to dance: Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, NIN, Metallica, Fleetwood Mac, Paula Cole, George Strait, The Spice Girls (hey, I was 13 in the 90s). These days I’ve been vibing a lot to Grimes, Kygo, Kiesza, Dragonette, HAIM, Trevor Hall…and of course, still RHCP.  🙂