Below, you can read our interview with artist Ash Hayward and listen to his album Sideways. Check out our full music review of Sideways here.
Q: Great to be speaking with you Ash! Your roots run from South Africa to New Zealand to the US. Has each place had an impact on your musical journey?
A: It certainly has. I got into songwriting while living in a small mountain town in Colorado as a 19 year old. Being in such a beautiful place made it possible for me to tap into my creativity. I would sit outside staring at the mountains and play my guitar. It was easy. All the different places I have lived and traveled to have influenced my songs in different ways.
Q: Your recent release “Sideways” is your first full-length project since “Maybe Later” was released in 2004. Are there any common threads between those two albums despite the time between them?
A: I was really just a kid when the songs for the “Maybe Later” album were written. Young, naive, wild and free. Twenty years later, I’m a different person but the main similarity between the two projects is that the goal is the same. To be truly original and have my own style. I feel I’ve managed to achieve this. Both albums sound completely different to each other which I am pleased with, otherwise it would be boring.
Q: How long did “Sideways” take to record? What was the process like?
A:. The sideways album took several months to record. There were many all night sessions as I find I’m most creative at 3am rather than 3pm. The process wasn’t always easy. The songs were all recorded many times over and each time I would listen back, I’d find something I didn’t like and need to do it all over again. So it got frustrating at times but that’s part of the process for a musician or artist. Finishing each song, however, is incredibly rewarding and is like a natural drug.
Q: You’ve moved to using music samples as the foundation for “Sideways”, due to health issues preventing you from playing guitar. How (if at all) has that shift changed your creative process?
A: Serious back problems have unfortunately limited the time I can spend on the guitar so I considered myself retired from music. Earlier last year, I started to get interested and involved in music production. I realized then that I could create music and write songs from a sample foundation. This time around, I felt like a conductor of an orchestra deciding what instruments would get played, where and when. It’s been really exciting.
Q: Your songs are pure instrumentals, which often results in a songwriting approach that is different than artists who have a lyrical focus. How do you choose to approach composition?
A: The “Maybe Later” album had all vocals except for one track. So this time it was a different challenge. I had to make each song sound interesting enough that it didn’t need vocals to be a good song. I spent many hours going over different sounds, beats and once I found a cool sounding hook I’d build each song from there and just let things unfold naturally. I felt each song had to tell a story without using words. This was hopefully achieved with interesting and varied sounding melodies.
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways. What does that look like for you?
A: Creating music and songwriting is a funny thing. For me, I get waves of creativity and may come up with a bunch of tracks over a few weeks. Then I may not be able to write anything decent for six months. I don’t plan when the creativity comes, it just seems to appear.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A: David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. The emotion he can get from his guitar is out of this world.
Q: Your favorite album of all time? (Yup, you gotta choose one.)
A: That is tough to answer. I really have a different favorite album every year. This past year, it’s been the late “King Von” with his “Welcome to O’block” album
Q: Your favorite song of all time? (Again, only one!)
A: This also has a different answer every year. Overall though, I’d have to say “Wonderwall” by Oasis. It’s so catchy.
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: Probably that all I care about is wanting people to listen to my music. I’m not in it for money or clout but just hope to touch people with my songs.
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: Shout out to my friends who have encouraged and supported me with this project. You know who you are.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Thanks for having me! Another new project is also in the works. Out soon.