Ashes and Dreams
THE amazing duo Ashes and Dreams certainly…
distract one’s mind from the cold and wind with their hot single, Havana. It puts the mind and body in the Cuban capital and erases the sensation of a cold winter. Lisa (from the duo) talks about their formation and what other music we can expect from them; the sounds and artists that have influenced their own music; the festivals and dates they are involved with this/next year – what Ashes and Dreams hope to achieve next year.
I find out whether the guys will perform in the U.K.; whether the long-distance duo (they are split between the U.K. and Canada) have any ambitions already for 2018; some new artists we should get behind – and some useful advice for any ambitious songwriters coming through right now.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello, Sam! Our week has been fantastic – thank you.
We just finished performing our Chillout Groove Experience show at Selkirk’s Holiday Alley on the weekend with bass player Kris Kosie and keys player Paul Claxton (an outdoor festival – even frozen fingers and lips didn’t stop our performance!).
Liv and I also released a new episode of our Indie-Dance/Deep-House podcast, The Dream House…and we are, of course, busy promoting our new album, Havana.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
We are Ashes and Dreams; an Electro-Chill project originally started by myself (Lisa Saunders) and my lovely, talented bandmate, Liv Mircea. I live in Winnipeg, Canada - while Liv lives in Weston-super-Mare, U.K.
Despite the distance, we make our project work (and communicate daily).
Havana is the new track. What is the tale behind it?
Havana is the tale of two lovers dreaming of an escape to the sunny city of Havana. Lyrically, it’s based around a real-life trip my partner and I took to Holguin, Cuba, a number of years ago. Since then, we’ve had two children - and leisurely escapes to exotic destinations aren’t as often. It’s a wistful song of reminiscence.
Musically, I love hearing Liv’s influence, as he grew up in a one-time communist country (Romania) - and his father was a great admirer of communist leaders like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
It seems the track implores people to get away and experience something hot – like being in the Cuban capital! Was that thought in your mind when writing this?
The lyrics were written during the biting-cold Canadian months during a challenging day...
I felt like grabbing my partner by the hand and taking him on a last-minute flight to Cuba to get away from here for a bit. However, that’s not so easy when you have many obligations. We probably went skating or tobogganing instead. L.o.L.! Musically, even though it is a Chillout-Dance track; Liv said he channelled a Led Zeppelin vibe into the production of this song.
Will there be any more material coming from you guys? What are you working on?
We have been experimenting with more of a Deep-House sound this past year and hope to debut some of that work in 2018. We’re also busy lining up our 2018 concert-season and will be looking forward to playing the festival circuit next summer. It’s so much fun taking our music on the road: you really do get energized by the crowd.
Aside from that; we’re super-busy with our podcast, The Dream House.
Can you tell me how you guys got together at the start?
Liv and I were originally in a different band together years ago - when we both lived in Toronto, Canada. I have so many fond memories of hanging around with Liv, rehearsing at Wallace Studios; writing and hanging out at his place with his then-partner (both of whom are fantastic cooks). We reconnected in 2013 and decided to start a new project, Ashes and Dreams, as a long-distance songwriting collaboration.
Liv and his new partner, Ana, are our best friends.
What sort of music did you grow up with? Do you have quite varied tastes?
Liv certainly does! He counts Eagles, Queen; Rachmaninov, Led Zeppelin; Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky; Yes and Genesis as major influences growing up.
Personally, I was raised in a family that treasured harder Rock & Roll music (my dad and older sister loved Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd; Heart, etc.) and for my mom, Christian music (I must know the lyrics to hundreds of Christian hymns). We would, literally, have Christian programming like Focus on the Family airing on the kitchen radio; then Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman) blasting out next in the living-room. However, one day my dad played a record by Kraftwerk (The Robots, purchased from a garage-sale), and I was immediately scared, intrigued and hooked.
I love Electronic music and was more drawn to Devo, The B-52’s; then Depeche Mode, Kate Bush; Bronski Beat...anything that created a sonic atmosphere with innovative synths and melodies.
I am interested finding out what is the music scene like in Canada. Does it vary a lot depending on state and province?
As Canada is a mosaic of many different cultures; you can find literally any kind of music being performed here. That’s one of my favourite parts of living here. We have a francophone festival (Festival du Voyageur); multi-cultural festival (Folklorama - with the Indian pavilion being my favourite) and Winnipeg Folk Festival that showcases artists from around the world - from African to Australian acts.
In the Canadian Prairies, where I live, a lot of people like Country and Western music, Classic Rock; plus, like everywhere else in the world, Top-40 music. But, we also have a great E.D.M. scene and quite a few Electronic music festivals scattered throughout the country like Connect Festival in Saskatchewan - that Ashes and Dreams performed at last year - and MEME Festival here in Winnipeg.
IN THIS PHOTO: Skreamz
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Oh! Where to begin?
Liv and I are doing a new podcast where we dig up new treasures to listen to. For new Indie-Dance acts, we really like Mert Omd and Skreamz’s new C.D.s; plus Mr. Agabiou, Ragasur and Chinmayi Tripathi.
IN THIS PHOTO: Nora En Pure
If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?
Liv says Relayer by Yes - but can’t explain why. Knowing some of Liv’s work as a painter; I can see why he’d select a Progressive-Rock album.
I find this such a hard question to answer - as there are so many. If I had to pick one, though, it would be Reach the Beach by The Fixx.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have lined-up?
We are taking our Ashes and Dreams Chillout Groove Experience show to the St. Amant FM Café on Feb. 2 and Portage la Prairie Concerts in the Park series on Aug. 2. Still signing the ink on the rest of our upcoming shows - but you can follow us on BandsInTown as we add them.
Do you plan on coming to the U.K.?
Yes. We were there in 2015 for a trip to Liv’s daughter’s wedding. Hopefully, will be there soon to play some concert dates.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Liv says: “Work, work, work! No pubs, no cinemas; no holidays, no booze; no drugs. Be ready for a lifelong battle. Haha”.
Dedication definitely is a virtue when it comes to creating music. Please make time for your music, despite life’s challenges and your own self-criticism. Embrace the fact it is so easy to record music now and do it!
This is the spirit of our song, Voice Inside.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you both have plans already - or will you be busy working?
Liv will be taking the time to get some work done - especially as he was just home to Cluj in October I can’t wait until my sister, Christina, gets here with her three boys - so we can enjoy a big family Christmas at my sister Julie’s place.
Do Ashes and Dreams have a plan for 2018? What do you have in mind?
Work as hard as possible to promote our new album, Havana; perform as many gigs as our schedule will allow, song-write for our next album; produce our monthly podcast and explore more collaborations with fellow artists...
On a personal level: approach each day with gratitude.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Liv: Say My Name – ODESZA (ft. Zyra)
Lisa: Litany - Bedroom
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