GROWING UP IN KENT WITH A LOVE FOR MUSIC I CHAT WITH MODERN SOUL SONGER SINGWRITER ‘SAMUEL ASHTON’ ALL ABOUT HIS INFLUENCES,INTERESTS AND HIS LATEST ON HIS MUSIC, GIVE IT A READ NOW!

What is your name? 

My name is Samuel Ashton.

What is your genre of music?

I would describe my music as a kind of modern soul, it feels as though there is a new genre of soul influenced music emerging and I feel that that is where I fit in. Artists such as Paolo Nutini, Leon Bridges, Michael Kiwanuka and Nathaniel Rateliff among others exemplify that genre combining modern songwriting with a soul sound.

Give us a little bio about you.

I was born in Kent and grew up with both sport and music as big parts of my life. From a young age I was exposed to different cultures and parts of the world as I travelled frequently with my parents. I am sure that was an influence on my later travelling as I have since spent years travelling the world and exploring different landscapes and cultures. Spirituality is a big part of my life and that also formed part of my travels, all of which influenced the way that I write and perform music

What made you go in to music?

My father was a huge influence on my musical taste and would share music with me from as long as I can remember. I remember my parents bought me a little tape deck with a speaker built into it and a microphone attached when I was very young, around 7 or 8, I could play tapes of music I loved and sing over them and even record myself singing over the top and playback and listen to what I had recorded. At the time I didn’t think that I was making music and I didn’t feel it was a serious musical activity I just saw it as a toy and fun, it wasn’t until later that I realised that it was here that I really found my voice for the first time, I always found joy in singing and I have been singing ever since.

Are you a signed?

I am not signed, so to speak, however I work very closely with a small independent South-East based UK label, 2728 Records, my debut EP “Spreading Light” was produced by 2728 Records and they have been so generous of spirit and so helpful in my establishment of my sound and musical trajectory.

You have your debut release ‘Send Me Angels’, tell us more about it. 

Yes, “Send Me Angels” has been around for a little while, and in fact is the only track on the “Spreading Light” EP that features takes from a previous session 6 months before the eventual EP sessions, I had written the song before my return to the UK in 2017 after over 4 years travelling and it was adapted further after frequent jam sessions with my younger brother Ben Ashton who laid down all the electric guitar parts at the Anchor Baby Studio Sessions in October 2017, before being developed fully in the sessions with 2728 Records.

What was the writing process like?

There is actually an interesting story behind the writing of “Send Me Angels” I had spent a long time travelling through Latin America and had gone weary of life on the road and whilst I still enjoyed the travel there was a certain melancholic feeling developing within me and that was impacted by the departure of my then girlfriend with whom I had travelled the past few years back to her home country, I had been travelling alone for the months preceding the writing of “Send Me Angels” and I felt a darkness rising deep inside me, a loneliness, a fear, something had never been there before. I had become used to busking as a way to make a living whilst travelling and so it was a fairly commonplace circumstance I found myself in whilst busking in the streets of Trujillo in Peru. I had been working on the melody for a while but suddenly one day with those isolating feelings stirring in me I had a heavy heart and the lyrics to “Send Me Angels” came pouring out and I sang with all my heart even though the majority of the passers by wouldn’t have understood what I was singing, perhaps that feeling still came through.

What was the recording process like?

Well I was fortunate enough to have met one of the directors of 2728 Records whilst performing at a small stage on the high street in Canterbury. He offered to do a recording session with me, I was very intrigued to see what we could come up with and we seemed to have an immediate musical chemistry when we stepped into the studio, I had first laid down the song “Love is in the Sun” and we collaborated in finding a sound that complimented the song and the vision of what that sound was seemed to be manifest in both of us, so what was supposed to be a one-off, one-track recording session developed into a full 5-track EP, much of the EP was recorded in the same way with the producer and I collaborating on the development of the sound of the songs and each adding our creative input and laying in different parts, “Send Me Angels” however as I mentioned before already had the skeleton of the song laid out in the sessions at Anchor Baby and so those parts were used and then the song was re-developed and incorporated; fresh vocal takes and new overdubs of both guitar parts and lap steel parts until it acquired the sound that we were looking for.

What is the message you want listeners to take from the single?

I hope that listeners will connect with the feeling in which the song was written and I hope that it can be an uplifting message of hope, that even when you are at your lowest point, “walking with the devil and living like a ghost” you can look for salvation and healing.

Describe the single in two words

I find it difficult to simplify things in that way, particularly when it is your own work, however I guess I could say Brave Salvation.

You are also set to release second single ‘Love Is In The Sun’, tell us more about this single.

Yes ‘Love is in The Sun’ was the first track that I laid down in the recording sessions for the “Spreading Light” EP and it started from wanting to have more songs that had that flow and groove to it, and once I got the vocal melody that forms the chorus it really opened the potential of the song up, the recording of the song being the first time that the producer and I had worked together was very experimental and we really used the song to hone the sound we were looking for which set the tone for how the rest of the EP developed.

We will also be seeing your brand new EP ‘Spreading Light’, tell us more how the EP came together.

Well as I touched upon earlier the eventual recording of the EP came about following a chance meeting with one of the directors of 2728 Records, however the EP had been in the making for some time and I had plans to record an EP I just didn’t foresee it coming together in the way it did and I am thrilled by what we achieved in the studio

Who did you work on the EP with.

Essentially there were only two of us working on the EP, excluding the song ‘Send Me Angels’ which borrowed takes from a previous session and included parts performed by my brother Ben Ashton.

You also had the launch party on the 19th Jan, what was it like?

The EP Launch show truly was an overwhelming experience, we held it in a beautiful church in Canterbury, St Paul’s provided the perfect setting; we had a stunning art installation of projections by South Korean artist Seungah Lee and some fabulous support acts. I couldn’t have asked more from the band who made their debut appearance on the night and were absolutely fantastic, the 2728 Records team provided great sound and lighting but above all I was blown away by both the turnout and the response from the audience, it was a full house, a sellout show with 130+ people packed into the church and they gave us so much love with their enthusiastic applause and cheering, it was a magical experience.

Did you have support, if so can you tell us who?

Yes we had great performances from 3 Kent based acts; Nancy Okai, The Grand Merci and The Maywaves, all of whom gave great performance which really added to the occasion.

Do you have any more shows or a tour in planning?

Yes I would like to spread my music as far and wide as possible and I am currently planning a tour of the south of England and there are talks of some shows in the North but we shall wait and see.

What else can we expect from you this year?

Well. I hope that the band and I will make some festival appearances, the writing of the follow-up EP is already underway, I am excited by the direction the development of the sound is going, the new songs are sounding great and I am hoping to make it into the studio soon. Aside from the new EP I will be playing bigger and better shows.

What does 2019 hold for you as an artist?

I feel like my sound is maturing and this year will be a big year of growth and I am excited to see how the second EP sounds and where it takes me

Do you have any collaborations coming up with any up coming artists? 

Musicians are constantly collaborating, it feels as though music is one ever-growing collaboration. There are a few artists out there who I am intrigued to work with so watch this space but I wouldn’t like to say at this stage.

Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact? 

Of course like I said, music is a big collaboration and I am always up for collaborating with other musicians, they can always contact me directly via my website.

Do you play any instruments?

Yes I play, guitar, bass, a little bit of piano and harmonica.

Who are your influences?

I feel that my sound takes influence from modern soul artists such as Michael Kiwanuka, Paolo Nutini, Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff, however my influences stretch much further than that into many different genres.

How do you get inspiration to write songs?

Inspiration for songs often comes in different ways but I find that when a song wants to be written it just comes flowing through you, even if you sit down with the intention to write a song, you can come up with lots of ideas but when the song arrives you know, it just feels right.

What’s the best advice you have ever been given?

A good friend of mine who is a great musician once said to me that you create your own value, and you set the bar for what you can achieve; for example if you think that all you are worth is to be a busker and play in the street then that is most likely what you’ll achieve but if you believe you are worth more then you can aim higher and if you stick to it and allow yourself to believe that is what you are worth, with hard work and dedication, you’ll make it.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?

Keep playing, keep singing and do it for the love of music.

Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?

Yes of course, listeners can follow me on Spotify or alternatively on

www.samuelashton.co.uk

www.facebook.com/samuelashtonmusic

https://www.instagram.com/_samuel_ashton_/

https://twitter.com/samuelashton_

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5en6zJOqyjNe9djR5UVcpz

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