You don’t need to leave your desk to F it.
I know a lovely girl with a big dream and a great band and she’s right in the middle of establishing her dream in the evenings while working away at work in the days.
She’s given me a great view into that impossibly big place in the heart where passion and dreams come from.
Nikki Ashworth doesn’t have memories before music. She’s been singing since as far back as she can remember.
I picture the delivery room breaking out in a chorus of Let’s Dance with her the moment she was born.
In highschool, her and her piano playing friend made a band. “If you can call it that,” she says. They’d practice away in her basement and did the highschool talent show.
The non-band was called “This Side Up”, or sometimes “Viewers Like You”. Given her thought process behind naming bands with common phrases, it makes sense that her now-band is The Jilted Lovers Club.
“I always wanted this. Always. And even when I was in university, even when I was in high school, it was always in the back of my head that I’ll be in a band.”
She didn’t want to go solo. She didn’t want to be Nikki and the Somethings. She wanted to perform with a band.
It wasn’t easy finding one. But was determined.
She searched and tried and tried again right throughout university to no avail.
“There were many times when I would think I was joke, or I was just kidding myself, and why should I bother.”
I never really thought about it before, but I guess it’s a lot easier to bring out a guitar and jam than approach musicians and be like “Hey, can I sing with you?”
While most musicians tend to organically find people to collaborate with, Nikki put a band together from scratch, with Craigslist.
She got rejection after rejection.
“One guy even told me my voice was unrecordable.”
When things did work, they fizzled out. But false leads, wasted time, and even put-downs couldn’t kill her dream.
It broke her down, but never enough to beat the inextinguishable voice inside her telling her she had to perform. This was part of her identity she was born to realize — combined with the rising sense of suffocation in a 9-5 job, it’s no wonder she wouldn’t quit trying to find her band.
“You know, some people know they want a child. They might not be ready yet, but they know they will become a parent. It’s in their core, and in their heart, and in their chest, and they have that gut feeling: ‘I will have a child’. That’s how I felt with the band, which is kind of silly, but it was just always gnawing at me that I wasn’t complete.”
I’m amazed by her determination and her certainty that this is what she’s meant to do. Her drive to perform got put through the wringer before she even got on stage.
Fast forward a few years, through a ton of hard work, and we have The Jilted Lovers Club (est. 2009).
They’ve been playing venues all around the city — sometimes a super late night weeknight slot at a small club, sometimes a prime-o weekend evening at The Horeshoe or Rivoli.
During the day you’ll find Nikki working in TV, and in the evenings rehearsing, managing, and playing shows.
Her vision of success? To pay her bills with music.
The attitude that will get her there would do us all some good, whatever we’re going for:
“The main difference between someone who actually made it and someone who did not, is that the person who made it kept going. The person who made it never gave up. There might have been luck and other factors involved that you cannot control, but the one thing you can control is your drive.”
Luck’s a lot of it. But the longer you persist the more chances you get to get lucky.
What about her critics?
“I try to focus on the people who do like what I’m doing, rather than the people who don’t.”
And her fears?
“For me the real failure would be not trying, and I’m not going to let myself down that way.”
She describes herself as not very strong, but I’m going to tell her next time I see her that she’s very full of poopski.
My favourite part of the whole interview, even more than conducting it with one of her three cats in my lap, was when I asked her what it feels like when she’s doing her favourite thing — performing. What does she feel when she’s on stage with a microphone in her hand?
She looks at me with a super smile, and says softly and straight from her heart:
“Just happy. There’s nothing else.”