MY final interview of the day…
is with the wonderful Shlomi Ash. He has been telling me about his debut single, Taking Me Over, and what it felt like finishing it; if there is more material coming down the tracks – he reveals some songwriters that have been important to him.
Ash tells me when music came into his life; growing up in Tel Aviv; the advice he would give to artists making their first steps; how he spends time away from music – he provides the names of upcoming artists we should check out.
Hi, Shlomi. How are you? How has your week been?
Pretty tense but I have no complaints. I did quite a lot of rehearsals for upcoming shows and drank too much but also wrote a new song that I really like and started planning my first music video – so, things are going really well.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Absolutely. I am Shlomi Ash; a singer-songwriter from Tel Aviv. I write big, loud guitar songs as well as intimate, acoustic melodies. Above all, I strive to make sincere, melodic and poetic guitar music. I spent the past few months in England recording a debut album with producer Chris Potter which I’ll be releasing in the coming year or so. I also quite like wine… (smiles).
Taking Me Over is out. As a debut single, was it quite tough putting something together you felt was ‘ready’ for the world?
Very, VERY tough. I spent the past ten years or so writing the songs that ended up on the album, including Taking Me Over, so it was extremely tough letting it go. Ultimately, though, you get to a point where you say: “If I won’t record it now, I’ll probably never will”. So, you simply let go and make it the best you can and as truthful as you can.
What is the story behind the song? When did it start life?
The main riff came first, some eight-plus years ago, and I liked it so much that I played it repeatedly for several hours until the rest of the music just came into being. I was very much into Funk and American Delta Blues at the time (Robert Johnson mainly), so I tried to write lyrics that had this feeling. As far as I’m concerned, though, it could be about anything really. It could be about sex, or about music itself and its part in our lives - or about anything else. For me, the main thing is the feeling and vibe of the track.
Taking Me Over has already been included on playlists and is doing well! How does that make you feel?!
Well, fantastic! Getting such great feedback on a debut single is very exciting and I’ve been humbled by all the things people said about it. I think a lot of people (including myself) are really hungry for guitar music. For too long now too many people say that guitar music is dead but I don't believe it will ever be the case. When I hear a great guitar riff or a strong guitar melody, my heart just starts pumping, in the most primal sense, and this kind of feeling can never disappear. I truly believe so.
Is there more material coming along? Might we see another single before the end of the year?
Oh, definitely. There are lots of things in the pipeline and we’ll definitely be releasing one-two singles before the end of the year - and probably a music video or two as well.
Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there an artist or person who influenced that move?
Growing up, there was music coming from the radio in my house all the time - anything from Middle Eastern music to '70s Progressive-Rock. The moment when music became the main part of my life, though, was when I first heard The Beatles’ ‘Blue’ album. I was lucky enough to hear it for the first time at a very young age as it was one of the very few C.D.s my father had laying around. I became obsessed with it and still think everything you need to know about music can be found on that record.
Funnily enough, I also remember The Titanic movie soundtrack as another major influence at a young age. The big cinematic, symphonic sound never stopped exciting me since - and I’m still trying to add it to many of the songs I write.
In terms of music; what do you listen to when not recording your own?
I’m fascinated with great guitar music and great singer-songwriters. Like yourself, I love Jeff Buckley as I think he is a master of all domains – guitar playing, songwriting and singing. I also love American Rock and Folk legends such as Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan but my greatest love is definitely for '90s Pop-Rock music - Grunge, Britpop and anything in between. These guys knew how to craft great, timeless songs.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Getting the music out there is the number-one thing. I can't wait for people to hear the other songs from the album. So, doing shows and performing as much as I can is a good goal for 2018.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
My first ever band rehearsal was something I'll never forget...
I was fifteen or sixteen and just got my first band together. We didn't have a lot of money to spend on a proper rehearsal room so we went to the schoolyard at 2 A.M.; found an A.C. outlet near the basketball court, plugged in the amps and guitars and started jamming under the stars. Our school was in a highly-populated neighbourhood, so it wasn't long before someone called the cops and we had to run away with the amps and guitars and all.
We were good kids but, at that moment, we felt like true Punk-rockers! It was one of these great childhood memories that come to you sometimes and put a smile on your face years later.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Probably Nick Cave or Tame Impala. Both of them seem to have a lot of fun on stage so it would be great supporting them. I'm also a big (Bruce) Springsteen fan and his live shows are the best I've seen - so that would be a dream come true as well.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Send your music out there: you can never know who will like it and join forces with you. I ended up working with one of my all-time favourite producers only because I reached out to him and sent him my demos. Also; never stop writing, wherever you are and whatever you do. You never know when the next great song will come along.
Might we see you tour very soon?
Yes! We plan a tour in the Tel Aviv area in the coming months and there's a planned European tour for early next year. I love England, so coming back to do shows there would be fantastic as well.
IN THIS PHOTO: Pale Seas/PHOTO CREDIT: Hollie Fernando
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Chris (my producer) introduced me to a new band from the U.K. called Pale Seas which I’m obsessed with at the moment. They’ve made a remarkable debut album.
I also quite like Dr. Dog - they are not as new but equally as great. They’re an American band that has a modern Beatle-esque sound and a really nice vibe.
IN THIS PHOTO: Dr. Dog
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Well; I already mentioned wine...
Besides that, I really like watching stand-up comedy and painting - but nothing really beats Netflix these days, does it?
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
That's always fun. I would have to choose the great Mr. Buckley, then. Maybe his What Will You Say duet with Alim Qasimov - that's a strong one!
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