JoJo has plenty to ask recent itunes single of the week artist and one time helicopter pilot wannabe, Ethan Ash.
Can you describe your music, in your own words, for anyone who may not be familiar with your music? Someone recently described my music as ‘acoustic soul infused folk pop’, which I suppose just about covers most genres! I like soul music an awful lot so I particularly like the description.
And a little history of how Ethan Ash got into music? I was given an acoustic guitar as a present at age 6 and have been playing ever since. I had my first gig when I was age 12 and have been gigging solo and playing in bands since then. Music has dominated my life, and my studies, and I decided about 18 months ago to concentrate on playing music full-time. I’m now consumed with doing everything necessary to establish a successful career but at the same time being realistic enough to realise that it may never happen.
Who are your musical influences? I have lots of influences because I have a massive passion for music. I pretty much listen to anything but the people I really like are Eels, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews Band, Amos Lee, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Buckley, and John Martyn.
As far as I’m aware, you’re still unsigned. Have you faced any difficulties getting your name about without a label? Some people know who I am but most of the population don’t and the hard work lies in actually getting the name out there and known but that’s a problem most artists face who haven’t got the support of a label because they may not have people around them who can help, they’ll also miss out on a lot of other opportunities which come from being with the better known labels. Writing and gigging takes up a lot of my time but I’m fortunate to have some people to help me who understand the media and power of the internet. However, despite lots of hard work it will still require some luck to get my name and music better known.
I believe you’re from Cambridge? What’s the local music scene like down there? Cambridge used to have a vibrant and busy music scene a few years ago and there’s no reason to doubt it’s changed too much lately. There are some good people involved in the music scene and several good venues but I don’t keep in touch with the local scene too much as I’m gigging elsewhere most of the time. Although I have a good fan base in the city I only play a maximum of two gigs a year there now.
You’ve already supported Nick Harper and Newton Faulkner, is there any artists you would like to gig with? Probably Amos Lee, Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper and Mark Oliver Everett (because I really respect their musicianship and the way they produce their songs….but that’s a very unrealistic dream at the moment!! Maybe one day.
This year you played the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, did you catch many other acts whilst there? No I’m afraid I didn’t as I went to Edinburgh and back in a day. The Fringe Festival is a great time in the calendar and a fantastic time to be in Edinburgh so I hope to be able to go next year and stick around for a few days to enjoy Edinburgh and everything the Fringe has to offer.
You also performed at the Secret Garden Party this year. I was reading that they had some interesting things going on there, such as Asstrology (like astrology but reading your bum instead of your palm!). Did you get involved in any of these strange activites? Asstrology!! No I didn’t ha ha. I did see some very interesting and crazy stuff though. I was there for the full four days and spent a lot of my time watching other acts and rocking around in an electric golf cart type buggy taking photos of people as well as people onstage. Everyone loved getting their photo taken and I got some strange poses: it’s nice to have a library of photos which convey the feeling of the festival.
Best gig played and best gig attended? That’s really tough. I played the Cambridge Corn Exchange when I was a teenager in front of 1000 people which was great. Festival gigs are always fun, particularly the quirky Secret Garden Party, but my favourite gigs are smaller venues that get packed out. I love playing a night called The Living Room, which is run in Cambridge and Ipswich. The venues hold no more than 80 people and I’ve played both recently and they were rammed; they were genuinely fun gigs and so intimate which made it more intense.
Your new EP, No Early Nights, was released earlier this month. How has the launch been going? Getting good reception from people? The launch gig itself was great, I did it in Cambridge and it sold out. It was so much fun I could have played all night, in fact I nearly did! Most of the feedback I’ve had about the EP is good, so I’m happy about that. I’ve played a few gigs around the UK to promote it and each has been good in its own way, in fact I’ve been asked to play encores. Who prepares for an encore?
The title track from your new EP is iTunes single of the week, that must be really exciting for you? Yeah, it’s really exciting and a great feeling to see one of my tracks so prominent on the iTunes site. I’ve got many positive reviews for it, which is good. Not everyone likes it, which is expected given that music is so subjective and iTunes hosts so many genres, but it’s amazing just to have that opportunity and that type of exposure. It’s a really good week. I’m a lucky, lucky boy.
Have you been watching X Factor? If so, do you have a favourite? What do you think of this as a way to get into the music industry? I don’t watch X Factor too much. I generally try to stay impartial about how I feel about the programme and the people on it but as a full-time musician I believe people should pay their dues and gig and learn their craft without trying to have a quick fix on a TV show…but for some people it works so fair enough.
If you were to have a dinner party, and were allowed 5 guests, dead or alive, who would you invite? Ahhh this is tough. Maybe John Lee Hooker so he could ask for “…one Bourbon, one Scotch, one Beer”!! Cee Lo Green, because he is just far too cool. Mark Oliver Everett (Mr E) because I have massive respect for him as a musician and he is probably one of the least pretentious people I have ever seen. Neil Young because it’s Neil Young!! I feel like I need a lady in this mix, but I am leaning more towards Bruce Springsteen or Sam Cooke, either one…..whoever got to the door first.
If you could have written one song from history, what would it be? That’s another really tough question. There are so many songs I have massive love and respect for but if you insist then probably ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ by Jeff Buckley because it’s a really nice song.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? For some years I wanted to be a helicopter pilot in the Army but I think I was going through a phase with that one. I have always been interested in the Law so maybe a Criminal Lawyer.
Have you got anything exciting planned for Christmas and New Year? I’ll spend Christmas with my friends and family. I love Christmas time so I will just chill out and do all the typical Christmas things people do. New Year is still in the planning stage but whatever happens it’ll be a very late night!
What’s coming up in 2011 for Ethan Ash? Plans at present are to continue to increase my fan base, raise my profile, record and have a very full gig list with hopefully some decent support slots.
Finally, a JoJo favourite, what colour socks are you wearing? I’m liking the sock question!! I have a strange habit of normally wearing vivid coloured striped socks, sometimes odd ones. It actually started at a festival I was playing a few years ago and has continued.
And two FnS regulars, favourite flavour of crisps? I’m partial to Prawn Cocktail flavoured Walkers.
… and your five desert island tracks? John Butler Trio – ‘Treat Yo Mama’; Dave Matthews Band – ‘Shake Me Like A Monkey’; Amos Lee – ‘Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight’; any Stevie Wonder track but maybe ‘Master Blaster (Jammin’)’; the Peter Green instrumental ‘Supernatural’
Many thanks for taking the time to do this Ethan. JoJo
Ethan Ash MySpace