Interview by MEG MASON
s a student of communications in Melbourne, Ash London didn’t take the radio subjects. “I just thought, ‘ Yep, that’s not for me…’ and now here I am,” laughs the 32-year-old who helms her own national radio show, Ash London Live, and has just made a high-profile breakfast radio debut. London began her career on TV, winning a talent-search competition for a hosting gig on The Loop, before graduating to host of the Top 40. Whatever the medium, music was always her passion, sustaining her through difficult teenage years and, as she tells Stellar with signature candour, a fullon 2017. But that has nothing on 2018: not only has London recently gotten married and opened a meditation studio, she’s also filling in for Em Rusciano on Sydney breakfast radio and will soon co-host Network Ten’s new show Game Of Games with Grant Denyer. You’ve made a career out of your love of music. Where did the passion come from? I spent my formative years in the Philippines, where there wasn’t a huge expat community, so I watched a lot of cable television. MTV was my best friend; from 11,
I knew that’s what I wanted to do. When I was 16, my father passed away and we moved back to Australia, and I still had my music.i was listening to Silverchair’s Diorama the week he died and whenever I hear that album, I’m right back there. Music has been a constant in my life. Last year, on radio, you made a passing reference to Louis Tomlinson’s facial hair – describing it as “ratty” – and received death threats from militant 1D fans. What is it like being in the centre of a social-media maelstrom? To begin with it seemed ridiculous but then it became so real and I realised, this is actually really serious. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. As performers we want people to like us, but we’re definitely putting ourselves on the line every day for people to judge and that was the first time things were being said about me I knew weren’t true. Some were empty threats, but that was when I learnt what proper anxiety and panic felt like. I shut down really quickly, went off social, and tried not to replay it over and over in my mind. It’s not the real world, but we all know the internet brings out the worst in us. The anonymity lets us say things we would never say to anyone’s face. It was really horrible and I wouldn’t put it on anyone, but it was also a really good lesson for me. Since then, you’ve become active in mental-health awareness, having firsthand experience of anxiety. Is it something you’d struggled with all your life? No way, that’s the weird thing, I was never an anxious person. But that was a really big year; I moved cities, bought a house, travelled constantly, and even though they were all wonderful things, it was a lot of change and it led to me not feeling like I had the same amount of control I was used to. I had always been really aware of mental health, but I couldn’t stop beating myself up over it, feeling like I was being so stupid, but when I stopped doing the things I enjoyed, that’s when I realised it was robbing me of the joy of life and I needed to address it. With so much on, how do you find time to fit it all in? I love to nap. Even in the office, it’s like, “Oh, Ash is having her 4pm.” I refuse to feel bad about it. The best performer I can be is a happy, rested, joyful performer. But it’s not all perfection. I’m definitely not the queen of getting it right, but I’m making an effort. If you can be on Instagram for two hours, you can find 10 minutes to breathe, meditate, write in a journal. In the middle of it all, you got married to Adrian Brine in May. Where do you meet anybody when you work radio hours? Through work! We saw each other at an event and it was like a movie. It was really lame and now we’re that gross couple who are so in love. Our friends are like, “Here we go…” but whatever! The world needs more people who are in love with each other. You’ve already started a business together, a meditation space in downtown Melbourne. What’s it like working side by side? We’re totally yin and yang. He’s the doer, so he’ll be on his hands and knees filling holes in the floor or hauling plants upstairs, and I’m the creative thinker who has long lunches and does the social media. Meanwhile, you’re also co-hosting the new Game Of Games with Grant Denyer. Grant is an absolute legend and this show was a dirty, messy, glorious experience. I’m Grant’s sidekick, so he does all the heavy lifting and I get to do all the fun stuff – like dancing with audience members and throwing giant lubed-up fit balls at people. How do you prep for this kind of role? I watched a lot of Ellen Degeneres’s version on Youtube. I’m now also very good at fitting harnesses and safety goggles, which might come in handy in the future. You seem unusually wise at 32. What do you put that down to? Losing my dad at a young age forced me to make a decision early on. Was I going to let it define me as a victim, or fuel me to have the best possible life I could? My mum raised me to believe that I could do anything. And I guess I’ve done a lot of hard work. I saw a psychologist for the better part of my 20s, surrounded myself with good people who call me up on my bullsh*t. I’ve read a lot… and I listen to whatever Oprah says.