Nov 16, 2017

Session With Maxine Ashley

If you haven’t acquainted yourself with Maxine, now would be the best time to do so before drowning in an overwhelming amount of her later. Maxine’s career began with performing covers on her YouTube channel- a very humble beginning to a powerhouse vocalist. The most viewed video to date still being Maxine’s cover of Man Down by Rihanna, at almost 1M views. Through their popularity, her videos showcased a vocal range that would expose her to the likes of Pharrell Williams, who quickly desired to mentor Maxine Ashley as an artist at a ripe age of 17. Maxine is now back in The Bronx after taking time to develop her music while living in Los Angeles. I had the chance to sit down and quickly interview Maxine to learn how all of her current transitions are molding her into the artist, and more importantly woman, she is today.


Photographed by Laura Ciriaco with a mix of both film and digital shots (IG/Photo Blog). Makeup touch ups by Crystal Stacey. Looks set up with pieces in Maxine’s closet as a joint styling collab.


As a Bronx native, I feel super prideful of any of my other sisters and brothers from the hood that are doing great things in the creative industry. You are obviously one of the many gems that got to grow up around the Bronx culture. I think we have a very good sense of community out here, and I think it stems from family appreciation. Lobster (my favorite song of Maxine’s) is one of your tracks that is about your family. Did you write this when you were living in LA or out here chilling with your grandma eating lobster? 

I was not in LA, I was actually in London, and I was all alone and homesick. I was around people that didn’t understand my culture, and I was tired of being misunderstood. So I had to write about it [my culture].
So you sing about eating Lobster… are you still vegan?

No I’m not vegan anymore, but I still don’t eat meat. I haven’t eaten meat in like 11 years. 

The culture of LA is really pushing a vegan lifestyle right now. Is that what influenced you to make the decision to become vegan in the first place? 

Not at all. When I became vegan I didn’t even know what LA was. I was 12, I was too young for that. It was actually MySpace culture… Remember the bulletins on the side? People used to post a lot of animal cruelty stuff and I was watching it while eating sesame chicken. And I was like damn… I’m not gonna eat meat anymore.

A determined 12 year old! By the way, how’s your car doing? I saw you were trying to sell it right before your move back home from LA. 

I still have not sold my car, but it’s still over there available. It’s a BMW 1998 [DM for serious inquires only].

Ok boo so back to your family, you used your cousin as a subject to your new song and video titled Happy. She’s beautiful btw. 

Thank you. 

I love the fact that you’re representing all kinds of beauty. Now how do you feel about this song being the first to introduce your upcoming solo project/EP/album? 

It’s not an album yet, or EP. I’m not really sure what it’s gonna be yet. Right now I’m just in the process of releasing singles.

So how do you feel like your new singles that you’re slowly gonna start dropping differ from your first EP, Mood Swings? How do you feel like you’ve grown as an artist since then?  

Well I’ve grown as a woman since then, I was probably like 19 [confirms with mom], yeah 19, when it came out. As a 19 year old I wasn’t really going through what I’m going through now. I was really hardheaded, I didn’t care about peoples’ opinions, or how people felt at all. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to see in between lines I’ve never seen before. Now it’s all about writing all the stuff I missed that I didn’t quite understand then, but I’m starting to now.

Not too long ago you posted about leaving your label and move forward as an independent artist. What does this mean for the future of your music? 

That I’m way more available right now. It’s like being single! Single and ready to mingle, I’m not married no more. I’m open to meeting everybody and working with anybody cus you know… when you sign a contract, like a marriage contract, you’re not really allowed to choose. 

So did your label try to categorize you as an artist? 

Of course, just like anyone one that they sign… I was young. I didn’t really even have music out. I was fresh so it gave them the opportunity to try to mold me as what they thought they were missing in their label, what they thought they wanted me to be. Like, “Oh, this latin Bronx artist, let’s throw her these songs. I want her to sing this.” As opposed to being like, “Yo, what do you like?”

I can see why that’s frustrating. So did you get to write these singles you’re dropping? Or was it the label that sent you lyrics? 

No I’ve never sang a label’s song. All my songs I’ve written, the songs I have now. I’ve written everything.

What's your favorite song you've written so far? Why?

A song that’s not even out yet… actually, a song that’s already out and I’m really proud of my writing is Perpetual Nights.

Is it because you pushed your writing since you were recording it with Pharrell?

Yeah, of course. It wasn’t only Pharrell. I had such a high exception of myself. I wanted to show people why to like me… I wanted to be number 1. It’s the same as wanting a position at a job, you gotta show your ass off. So anyone around me I wanted to show off like yo I’m lit.

You mentioned to me before our shoot that you’re Maxine now, not Maxine Ashley. This is a very bold move, we’ve seen many of these single names move toward household names; Beyoncé, Zendaya, even Pharrell. Is this another by product of becoming an independent artist to ground your presence in the industry?

It’s both. Maxine and Maxine Ashley. It’s Maxine for when I’m known enough to just be Maxine and Maxine Ashley for searching purposes. It’s a way of solidifying who I am and when it sticks, you know…

You’ve become a popular muse amongst the fashion and beauty industry, most recently becoming the face of Pat McGrath’s new line available in Sephora. But one of the first things you told me was that you’re not a model, you’re an artist. Do you feel like all of the visual work you’ve put out has changed your image from just a vocal artist to a multifaceted brand? Or do you feel like the focus has been shifted away from what you truly desire?

Oh no, I think the stuff I have out now shows that I can be a brand. When fashion designers/brands look at artists they’re looking at ‘can you sell my stuff though’. Especially since I’m not as well known as I want to be yet, it’s good to be multitalented in many different things. So say you don’t like my music, but you like my face, you’re still gonna book me haha.

So with that being said, what’s your ultimate goal as an artist? 

There is no ultimate goal really. Always have multiple goals. There’s hit a mil, after you hit a mil then hit another one. Work with this person, go here, do tours around the world. After that tour finishes, do another tour again with this person. At the end of the day, I guess the ultimate goal for any artist that has control of all of their art is to be able to have a team that knows what they need and want to make it easier. Instead of it being such a struggle alone.

If you could collab with any other artist, who would it be?  

Obviously, all the popular ones… gotta get that CLOUT YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING… nah haha… I really like Slump God he’s really dope, I love Kendrick— he’s amazing. I know there’s a lot of other artists that I don’t even know about that would be amazing to work with. So that question is really hard since my mind is so clouded with my own songs.

So is Cardi B on that list too? You know that Bronx pride kicking in. 


To rap it up, any word of advice for any of your followers or fans out there that enjoy your music and want to follow their dreams as well?

Really take into consideration how much work this takes to do, and don’t get discouraged even if you don’t reach as far as you wanna reach. Just keep going. Just keep on doing what you love. Don’t get sidetracked by doing something else. Say you wanted to fully invest in yourself and music, but you can’t because of your 9 to 5… you gotta let that go and fully invest into what you wanna do.

That’s awesome. Well that’s all for today boo, thank you for your time!

Aye! Nice, this was fun.


Be sure to check out to Maxine’s new video Happy, and drown in the depths of her beauty, vocals, and message.

Oct 19, 2017



My brain is overactive at night. I adjust slowly to reality when I wake up. I can still see the dimensions of my dream world, it allows me to implement it’s lessons. What sticks to me most is colors and the way doors lead to different settings beyond our capable lifetimes. What you see is a visual translation of the world that keeps me captive at night…

We are strangers, yet it seems we’ve known each other for a lifetime. We plot for world domination, but we are stuck in this matrix with limitations. Gravity keeps us pulled to a common center— one that has been built, tainted, expanded, exploited, and explored by centuries of habitation. Yet, we still believe our purpose is to triumph our predecessors.

What we forget is that we all wear the same. We only impact those we serve time to/with. And when we’re gone, what remains is what we build to leave behind.

I implore you to become more than your past. I implore you to create in the world that you serve. I implore you to value this linear time frame and understand that the only thing that matters is right here, right now. I implore you to question, discover, and calculate— and respect those in your path doing the same. I implore you to take the first step and to trust that what you see can be a physical manifestation. I implore you to move past your frustration and anxiety— we are serving time in a vessel that can build skyscrapers, airplanes, and develop cures for disease. I implore you to use this world to your advantage without leaving a trail of destruction in your wake.

This set is dedicated to all who inhabit this Earth. We are beyond gender and labels. That is why in this set Oscar and I wear the same piece, as individuals. We represent the movement of fashion— one that is conservative, multifunctional, and individual to the self. We represent individual uniform. We represent the future.

All photos are captured on film by the brilliant Cherry (Instagram // Photo Blog).
Wardrobe consists of Y-3 F/W 2017 pieces and Raf Simons footwear.
Looks styled by me, Shelly Isabel. Featuring Oscar Medrano.

Oct 3, 2017


The only way to achieve greatness is through practice, patience, and consistency. There is a stigma in our society that drives creatives to want to be the single greatest person in whatever it is they're investing in. This idea has driven the notion of teamwork into dust. Who wants to be a part of Destiny's Child when they know they have what it takes to be Beyoncé? Who wants to be in Jackson 5 when you can be Michael Jackson? No one really. If you are an exception to the rule, we're onto a positive start. Nothing that's ever been created has been done without the help of anyone or anything. The idea of being Number 1 has diminished the value of greater outcomes that is introduced by sharing ideas. Stop being so afraid of what the world may take from you without credit. Remind yourself of what you take from the world without it asking for anything else in return. Humble yourself and you can achieve the unimaginable. Elevate the world with your wisdom by sharing it.

This set is dedicated to Allie for allowing Laura and myself to experiment and play dress up with her.
Photos shot on film by Laura Ciraco (Instagram // Photo Blog).
Allie styled by me. Custom pieces by me.

Allie wears (1) Custom EyeFWTVision Puffer Coat, Alexander Wang x H&M sports bra, Vintage sport jacket skirt, and Y-3 Kohna Sneaker. (2) Model's own turtleneck, American Apparel bodysuit, Custom EyeFWTVision Levi Jeans, Y-3 Fannie Pack, and K & K Sunglasses.

Sep 28, 2017


Name: Shelly (Isabel) Alvarez
Origin: Dominican heritage, raised in The Bronx
Horoscope Sign: Capricorn(y)
Current Occupation: Team member of Y-3 Soho, and founder of
Desired Occupation: Creator of multidimensional self made brand that saves the world and the fashion industry
Dream Destination: The fourth dimension, I want to bend time and space. Also, anywhere on Earth that I have yet to explore. I can't choose one place, I want to see it all.
Favorite Runway Show(s): Versace Fall 1991, Azzedine Alaïa Fall 1992, John Paul Gaultier Spring 1994, Christian Dior Spring 1998
Must-Have Fashion Item: A comfortable, form fitting bustier in leather, polyester, or nylon. A cropped or ankle length (faux) fur jacket. High waist french terry cotton trousers. A pair of weird sneakers (think Y-3) that you keep clean for the rest of your life but not really because you wear them all the time because you love them so much. Black pumps that are tolerable enough to always come to the rescue. A pair of broken-in Docs.
Most/Least Liked Trend: Track suits.Track suits.
What is your intended purpose within the world of fashion: To reintroduce the glamour of the supermodel back into fashion. To continue to innovate and simplify, without eliminating the aspect of self expression. To remain educated about the past and bring important elements into the future of fashion. To help create a sustainable future for the fashion industry.

Photos taken by Laura Ciriaco (Instagram // Photo Blog). 
Wearing Butler rain jacket, American Apparel bodysuit, and Y-3 PureBoost in triple white.

Sep 21, 2017


Listen to women, they are beyond reason and normality. Women are gifts, receive them as gracefully as they appear. 

A collage of inspiration by me.