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Ashley Waterman, aka Azure, on stage

A balancing act


Go for a wander at Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Strathfield Campus and you might rub shoulders with the next Avril Lavine. If, that is, you’re there during the window in singer-songwriter Azure’s schedule when she’s in Australia, not performing or in the studio, and in between lectures.

Azure, or Ashley Waterman, started her Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) in 2022 and is studying it alongside her career thanks to ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP), which is designed to give high achievers the tools they need to attain balance across their active and academic lives.

For a woman who in her first semester at uni headlined a sold-out tour, played at Torch Fest, and travelled to the US to meet Mod Sun while recording new music, that support is crucial.

“I’d always been really interested in studying psychology but been nervous to do it because of my workload in music; it’s an around-the-clock thing,” Ashley explained.

“It’s silly that I’m studying now because that workload is more than ever – and the workload in honours is so insane – but I just think, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. And I really love psychology, and I really want to learn, so I said, ‘I’m just going to do it!’ 

“Everyone thought I was crazy, but it’s been awesome so far. I feel really supported. The lecturers and teachers are all so nice and helpful, and the grounds are beautiful. I just love it.”

It’s never too late

Ashley knew she was made for the stage at age three. That was when she started dancing and, according to family lore, “I’d tell them I was going to be a rockstar.”  

She got into singing and acting soon after and was scouted by Los Angeles (LA)-based music executives at 15 – an age when most teens are just starting to go to concerts. 

In 2018, after years of going back and forth to the US making connections and working on her music, Ashley released her debut single Too Late. The song took off in the US, reaching number 17 in the Billboard Dance Charts and soaring up the Billboard’s Breakout Chart to number two. 

“It was the weirdest thing ever – I got scouted, I went over, I wrote it and it blew up,” laughed Ashley, who was 23 years old at the time. “That’s literally how it happened. Then I came back here, and I released Bad – another one of my songs that was on Home and Away – and Hello, which was a pretty big moment for my career. 

Hello just came out and that’s why I’m heading back [to the US] for a couple of months. I’m meeting with Mod Sun, a huge artist over there.”

That meeting is massive for a performer who describes her sound as “dark pop with a bit of punk”, whose lyrics are fearlessly honest, and whose major influences are Billie Eilish and Avril Lavine. 

Azure on stage

It also lands during Ashley’s final exams, but she’ll sit those in LA. And that’s OK for this musician with an impressive work ethic.  

“It’s a grind, that’s for sure, but it’s been good,” said Ashley. “I never have a day off. I literally can’t remember the last time when I had a day when I didn’t work on music. I even work on Christmas.

“Whether you’re in rehearsal, song writing, marketing, having meetings, doing your social media, writing for other people, making connections, doing covers – whatever it is, you just never stop. 

“It’s a lot of work and I work really hard, but I love it. It’s the love of my life.”

From the stage to the clinic

Ashley is only one semester into her studies. What’s it been like so far to blend the staid, bookish world of academia with the whirlwind life of a muso? She said it’s been a welcome addition.

“I love it! It’s such a nice balance for me, because music and the performing arts industry is the opposite of everything I do at uni. Music is a lot of shows, and touring, and interviews, and radio; a lot of really late nights and a lot of that whole world – grit and glamour. And uni is not … that. 

“I feel like I’m a lot more balanced as a person. It’s a huge workload, but I love it. I mean, I don’t really get to do anything socially anymore, but I’m really happy. I feel very privileged to be here.

“And I feel like, even with music, I’m performing and writing better than I ever have because I have all new experiences and I’m using the other side of my brain rather than just the creative side.” 

There’s precedent for artists working while they study, and Ashley is confident she’ll ace it.

“Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, went to uni at the same time as she did those movies. She’s my idol from childhood. I figure if she could do it so can I.”

It’s a decision that will also allow Ashley to cultivate her passions well into the future. 

“I want to be a clinical psychologist once I stop touring in 10 or so years. I would love to own my own practice and help people.” 

There are many pathways to studying at ACU. Find the path for you. 

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2022 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G