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Ashley Kutcher is Creating Her Own Comfort Zone

The Baltimore pop star transitions from online fame to real world relationships.

by Daniel Hartmann

Photo by Grace Campbell

Upon taking the stage at the Drake Underground in Toronto for her Canadian debut,  Ashley Kutcher was warmly welcomed by a passionate crowd. It was the Baltimore-raised singer-songwriter’s first time anywhere outside of the US, yet she seemed at homejoking with the audience, hugging fans in the front row, and showing off her impressive vocal talents.

In 2020, Kutcher was on her way to becoming a nurse, finishing up her degree and working shifts at a hospital, when her breakthrough hit, “Love You From a Distance,” went viral on TikTok. As the track quickly amassed more than 20 million views, she saw an opportunity and seized it. She pivoted towards a music career, and soon she was signed with Darkroom – the label that discovered Billie Eilish. Like many artists who made waves online during the pandemic, Kutcher’s introduction to the music industry was surreal; she suddenly had a large following but could not perform, so instead, she connected with fans through TikTok and Discord.

Now on tour and performing for crowds of fans she has only previously interacted with online, she is still processing her new reality. “It’s been insane,” she remarks. “It’s one thing to see people buy tickets or interact with you online; it’s another to see them all standing right there in front of you, in person.”

Though it was never Plan A, Kutcher always loved music. In the basement of her family home, her dad built a makeshift music studio; throughout her childhood, she used the space to perform and record songs. During university, she would decompress by writing tracks and performing at local bars in Baltimore. Now, music is not only her career, it’s her life; a massive shift that led to her developing significantly as an artist in a short period. “Making music all the time pushes creativity,” she says. “It pushes you out of your comfort zone.”

“Making music all the time pushes creativity.”

So far, she has released two EPs, the most recent titled Survive My Own Mind. It’s a record that digs deep emotionally, addressing her thoughts on past relationships and her mental health. Her latest single “Everyone And No One” reflects on one such relationship where she felt her partner had hidden her away from their family and friends. “Relationships are great when they’re private, but I don’t think they’re great when they’re hidden from everybody,” Kutcher says. “It made me super upset that I wasn’t invited to family events or parties like I used to be. That’s just how it felt for me, and that’s shown up in other relationships after that. So I thought this is an important topic to talk about that I think other people will relate to.” 

Judging by her fans’ response, Kutcher was correct on the relatability front. Her songs are deeply personal, and the vivid quality attached to them due to being heavily based on lived experiences has helped her garner an audience. “I think what’s cool about my music is that people take away a lot of different messages,” Kutcher says. “I hope people take away a feeling of connection.” 

She has a unique bond with her fans, communicating virtually with many of them and occasionally involving them in her creative process. She even uses their stories as inspiration for songs, like “If I Could” off her first EP. “A lot of people are making their own group chats online and coming to these shows together. Or they interact on my Discord and then they all meet together in person,” Kutcher says. “I’ve talked to a lot of people online for a while, so to then see them in person is so nice.”  

At her show, she would set up a song by giving her opinion on a type of relationship or feeling; immediately someone from the audience would enthusiastically shout out in agreement. The whole concert had a communal vibe, with Kutcher taking selfies and signing arms. 

With her tour ending, Kutcher is headed home and preparing for an eventful rest of the year. “Expect a lot more music,” she says.  “I’m working on my first album. I’m working on a lot of collaborations and planning on doing a lot of shows.” The rising star feels more excited for this year than any one prior, and we’re excited to see what she comes up with.