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Interview | Questions & Answers With ash.ØK

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ash.ØK
ash.ØK 
talks with us about his debut album ‘The Unraveled’, which is a hodgepodge of emotions and different elements of Electronica, Indie, and Pop. Therefore, he makes his alternative music even harder to define. However, everything he creates is pretty enjoyable. Besides that, he’s also a fan of making films, so you can’t miss watching the video for the first single, “Holding Sand”, produced by the artist himself.

1 — How has 2018 been for you so far?

Surreal is probably the most accurate way to describe 2018 for me. My album dropped at the beginning of this year and it still gets me every time I hear anyone talk about this music. For the past two years prior to the drop, I was pretty much holed away in my studio without a single ear listening to what I was working on. So yeah, it’s still hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this music is being listened to by anyone, let alone fans on the other side of the globe.

2 — Since when are you passionate about making films and music?

I’ve always been really obsessed with the details that lead up to a final piece of work. Even from a pretty young age, I would dissect songs on the radio to figure out a certain bassline or riff, and then try to cobble it all together into my own version of that song. I could still sit for hours watching behind-the-scenes footage of how an album or film came together. I’ve always geeked out over movie and music facts – sometimes, I get more of a thrill out of hearing how a particular song came together more than the actual song itself. I think that curiosity lends itself to being passionate about your craft and wanting to focus yourself on the act of creation.

3 — What’s your favorite song on your recent debut album ‘The Unraveled’?

Bruh don’t ask me to pick between my babies…😄 lol. In all honesty, I think the album is varied enough that I’m drawn to different songs for different reasons. The title track is probably the most emotional one and it was the catalyst for the rest of this. I love the mellowness of songs like “Bitter Herbs” and “Holding Sand”. From a producer standpoint, the harmonies on “Breathe Me In” get me every time. And tracks like “Don’t Say Xie-Xie” and “Just Freedom” have a totally different energy than the rest of the project. Not trying to be cliché but I’ve spent so much time obsessing over each track that it’s ultra-hard trying to pick which one I’d want to call my one and only.

ash.ØK interview
4 — What was the reaction of your family or close friends when they heard this album?

I honestly wasn’t sure what the reaction was going to be. Not because of the music being good or bad, but because I kept so much of this under wraps for so long. To me, it’s just too difficult working on anything when anyone is over my shoulders especially if there’s any negativity or doubt being injected, it just kills the creativity. So I kept what I was working on pretty much to myself and a handful of folks. The first release off the album was “The Unraveled”, which premiered on HuffPost with a really powerful video. Just because of the basic content of that story dealing with suicide, it just floored everyone and began the whirlwind of questions around this album and what it was all about. In the end, the reaction has been so positive and amazing and I really couldn’t have asked for a different response.

5 — How many artists collaborated with you on this project?

Easily over two dozen vocalists and instrumentalists contributed to this album. About half of these were listed as featured artists, but so many people outside of this had a hand in the final outcome. I had some pretty amazing talent on this album and there are versions of some tracks that never made it outside of my studio which I’ll probably release at some point.

6 — What is the one thing you’re proudest of ‘The Unraveled’?

What really grounds me about this album is that it started with me telling the story of a very close friend who tried taking her life. Since the album came out, I’ve had so many people reach out to tell me how much “The Unraveled” spoke to them, how they were going through something similar and that this music actually meant something to their own story. It can get overwhelming at times, but I’ve built some really meaningful relationships because of this single project, in ways I definitely would not have been able to do otherwise, and I think that brings me the most sense of completeness when thinking about this music.

7 — Were you inspired by a historical event for your latest music video “Holding Sand”?

Not so much a single historic event, but I’ve always been drawn to stories from Medieval or the Dark Ages, which are almost always morose and full of heaviness, broken hearts, death, etc. We drew much of the inspiration from Braveheart, Game of Thrones, etc. and wanted to create a storyline that fell in that world. I flew out to Eugene, Oregon from Philly to film this video – the dense forests and the general dreary tone of that day really set the mood for the final video. In thinking of the visuals, I just wanted to see something from that realm juxtaposed to music that was really bass and synth-heavy, just two totally different ends of the spectrum.

8 — How was it possible to produce those relaxing vibes and melodies?

The original production started exactly how it’s heard on the final track, with that single reverse piano line. As much as the cello takes the center stage, the simple piano melody was really what started the song for me. I went in and laid down the cello line against that. At the end, though, it really was the bass kicks and rolling synth organ that set this into something that was more modern. I wanted to do something super 808-style heavy in there to balance out the rest of the lighter notes. The other instruments on the track, like the erhu and Native American Bass, were just sounds I really wanted to hear over a more EDM/electronica beat, just for the contrast in genre and tone.

9 — Will you continue to experiment with different genres of music in the future?

In all honesty, there’s really no way I can keep away from experimenting between genres. I create music in the same way I consume it, without boundaries or categories. Even if I tried making a standard, genre-specific track, it’ll still ultimately morph into something that bleeds into another category.

10 — Do you have any final words you would like to say to our readers?

I’m truly humbled at the support I’ve received from folks from so many parts of the world for this project. In addition to people reaching out from all over the US, the album has been picked up by a number of stations in Europe, Japan, India, etc. and it’s incredible to hear back from people who discover my work. I often write directly to fans that this is a one-man show with no corporate support or backing, and it’s 100% true. Doing this grind solo makes it that much more meaningful when someone gives an indie artist or producer like me a spot on their playlist. I don’t take any of this for granted, truly humbled and grateful that I’ve created something that made its way into another person’s music collection.


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Hi, my name is Erick Ycaza. I have a BA in Advertising & Graphic Design. This blog is to provide you with daily music news and share my personal style.

Interviews

Blind Mutation Discusses Experimental Music Video “Shadows”

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Blind Mutation music

If you’re into hypnotizing Ambient Techno tracks, then Blind Mutation should be on your radar. Her latest experimental music video “Shadows” was awarded and this exclusive interview explains it all!

1 — If I’m not mistaken, electronic music is your passion. How does this interest has come about?

I actually think my dad’s taste in music really influenced me a lot. He used to put on a lot of quality electronic music for me when I was a child, from classic Depeche Mode to more underground experimental electronic How to Dress Well. So, my interest in electronic music started growing from a very young age. When I became a teenager, my mental health started to get worse, and I started to relate, and thereafter, listen to darker and gloomier electronic music like dark ambient, triphop, or hard warehouse techno. That’s basically how my music taste was formed, and why I love electronic music.

2 — When exactly did you become Blind Mutation?

In theory, I think I became Blind Mutation pretty much as soon as I started producing and composing music which was 2 years ago. I began writing tracks with an emphasis on cinematic melancholic sounds that translated my deep intense emotions, and I still continue to do it exploring more and more ways to express my feelings through music. But, officially, let’s say, I became Blind Mutation when I released my first DJ Mix called “WAVE/PHONK MIX” on SoundCloud almost a year ago.

3 — Musically speaking, who is your biggest influence or inspiration?

I love to answer that question 🙂 I would say that my influences/inspirations have been changing throughout the years. When I was 14-16 my favorite band was Coldplay. I loved their not-that-well-known tracks which were more on the electronic/ambient side, like my all-time favorite “Midnight”. As for now, I very rarely listen to Coldplay. Now I am more into experimental dark emotional stuff like Techno, Dark Ambient, IDM, and Trip-Hop. Some of my inspirations/influences at the moment are Aphex Twin, Arca, Trentemoller, Clams Casino, Hans Zimmer, I Hate Models, and Crystal Castles.

4 — Congratulations on winning Best Experimental Video at the Indie Online Film Festival. Did you ever expect this result?

I was hoping for it 🙂 But I don’t really like expecting something to happen, especially when it comes to receiving awards. Because if you think you would win the prize, and then you don’t, you would probably get upset. But if you don’t really think about it and just let it happen, you get more excited if you win, and don’t really care if you don’t get an award 🙂

5 — Tell us more about how your collaboration with All Around came about.

We met a little more than 4 years ago in college in LA. He was a directing major, and I was an acting major. We’ve been very good friends since that time, and we’ve done small projects together here and there in college and just for fun. Then, when I switched from acting to music and started releasing my DJ Mixes, he began doing all the visuals for them. So, when I was ready to release my debut track “Shadows”, I knew that All Around would be my director, cinematographer, and editor. We have a similar vision when it comes to art (music/video/films, etc.), and so it’s very comfortable and fun for us to work together.

6 — Would you interpret this clip as a short horror film or is it something else?

Shortly, I would say, yes, it could be interpreted as a short psychological horror film. To elaborate: it’s interesting that when we showed the music video to our close surroundings, a good amount of people said that “Shadows” looked more like a short horror film rather than a music video. “Shadows” indeed has a much slower pace than a usual music video. In terms of cinematography, it’s also shot more like a film rather than a music video. But I think I would still call “Shadows” an experimental music video rather than a short horror film, because, in my opinion, it still has a dynamic of a music video, and our initial idea was to create a music video not a short horror film.

experimental music video
7 — What tools, instruments, or software were part of the production process of “Shadows”?

Well, the track itself was produced, mixed and mastered in Ableton. As for “Shadows” music video production, My friend All Around who I collaborated with, has an amazing RED Komodo camera, the music video was shot on it. Also, my face, chest, neck and my arms had to be bandaged in the shot all the time. We needed special bandages, the ones that stick to the skin and to each other. We had 3-4 shooting days, and not all of the bandages could be reused. So, I had to buy lots of them. Was driving from one CVS to another buying the entire available supply of those specific bandages 🙂

We also had a chance to work with an amazing super professional makeup artist, Darya Kholodnykh, who did the make-up for the “demon’s” hand that appears in the music video. She managed to find a creative way to make the hand look realistic and creepy although we had a very small budget.

8 — What can we expect from Blind Mutation next? Are you keen on exploring science fiction themes?

I love science fiction, and I would like to explore themes connected to it in the future. But as for now, I think I’m more focused on expressing my inner feelings and emotions through my music, and treating producing/composing/creating DJ mixes more as a therapy for myself. I’d love to dive deeper into the psychological aspects of our lives and have an influence on people’s emotions and their unconscious through my music. That’s what my next release will hopefully do! It’s a dark ambient track called “I come with the rain”, and it’s coming out in the beginning of January! I’m also working on a new dark warehouse techno DJ mix which will also come out around the same time.

9 — What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t an artist?

I’ve always loved to think about this. I am very interested in psychology, so I would definitely study it in college, and then probably become a psychotherapist (do not mistake with psychologist or psychiatrist), I would do scientific research and come up with new more effective therapies.

I would also love to direct and shoot (be DOP and operate camera) my own film(s) in the future! It’s a big dream! Plus I got my first degree from a film college, so I am familiar with that stuff. By the way, I’m also super interested in graphic and game design! Would love to try doing that in the future too!

And just to top off the list with more geek stuff: if I had another life, I would become an astrophysicist to study and explore space.

10 — Lastly, do you have any specific goals for 2023?

The most important and clear goal is to get the artist visa in order to be able to stay and work in the U.S. Speaking of my artist goals, I would love to get my first DJ gig in 2023! I would also love to explore new music genres in my productions (like trip-hop or hard dark techno)! Finally, I have so many things I still have to explore and discover in terms of production, mixing sound design, etc. So, another very important goal is to just continue learning!


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Interviews

Bubba Brothers Talk Last Summer And Tribal House EP ‘Basstribe’

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Bubba Brothers
Bubba Brothers
continue to take the Electronic Dance music world by storm. Their latest release, ‘Basstribe’ was well received by listeners all over the world, marking a new milestone for the duo. Alongside impressive releases and powerful live shows, the duo recently celebrated their anniversary by playing at important venues all over the summer.

We found time to talk with them about their summer season, what they were up to and what was coming for them.

1 — Hello Bubba Brothers, how are you?

All good thanks. 😊

2 — Summer is now over, what have you been up to this past season?

This was a fantastic summer… we had great moments. A big thank you to all our fans all over the world.

3 — You released your EP ‘Basstribe’ around summertime, can you tell us more about what it was like working on this production?

It was really exciting; the timing was perfect and it was great to see and hear DJs playing the tracks live around the planet, so yes… ‘Basstribe’ was really fun. 😊

4 — Have you got any summer highlights?

So many… playing in Ibiza, having Oxia at our anniversary party, and sharing the decks… many good moments. And as said, we are very grateful for that.

5 — Which artists were on repeat for you during this summer?

Hahaha… great question! Tube and Berger, Dennis Ferrer, Kolsch, Themba, and many others. 😊


6 — Did you develop new projects or ideas during this season?

Yeah… just came back from Iceland, and a new track is already in the horizon. So, stay tuned! and also 2 finished tracks will be launched in a few weeks.

7 — What’s the last thing you learned over the summer?

To stay focused and humble. Keep your feet on the ground.

8 — Aside from performing, what other activities did you enjoy doing during the summer season?

Like any Portuguese, the beach and anything that involves the sea is our thing 😊 Missing summer already.

9 — What are you looking forward to doing next summer?

Playing in Europe as much as people book us and I hope they will do, a lot!

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Country-Pop Singer Taylor Sanders On New Song “Firecracker”

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Taylor Sanders

Taylor Sanders gained great popularity for her stunning renditions of hits by artists like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline. Last month, she released her Country-Pop single “Firecracker, whose lyrics put female empowerment at the forefront. Learn more about this song in our latest interview.

1 — First of all, what makes you smile, and what scares you the most when creating new music?

It makes me smile when I create a clever line or the lyrics just feel exactly right, then you know you’ve got something that really vibes.

At the same time, writing can also be scary from the uncertainty of effectively relaying my message where the listeners can understand. That’s why I love co-writing because I get to bounce ideas off others first.

2 — What are your goals in the music industry?

I want to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, go on a world tour, sell out the Madison Square Garden, write and record a theme song for a Marvel or Disney movie, have a number-one single, and win a Grammy!

3 — What do you enjoy the most about writing lyrics?

My thoughts can roam free.

Taylor Sanders
4 — How long have you been working as a singer?

Almost my whole life! I started singing when I was 5. At the time, I sang the national anthem at my kindergarten graduation because my teacher noticed I was singing it in class, and she went to my mom to ask her if I would sing for our graduation and my mom didn’t even know I knew the song or could even sing. After that, my mom put me in vocal lessons when I was 8.

5 — What’s the inspiration behind your latest single “Firecracker”?

A.) I wanted to write a song about me and my personality to introduce myself to the music world and talk about self-confidence and letting your light shine.

B.) I wanted to tell a story of how my husband and I really met. We met at a pool party while in school and I realized he matched that ambitious energy I carry.

6 — What came first the vocals or melody?

“Firecracker” as a title was pretty much determined from the get-go. When I was introduced to the co-writers, they were like, “Wow, she’s a firecracker!” and I guess that felt good and stuck. It was kind of perfect. The lyrics and melody came together all at once. The producers and lyric writers were all in 1 room and we all fed off each other to push the song concomitantly.

7 – Tell us more about the top-notch team that was involved in the production of this single.

My cowriters and producers have written songs for Jennifer Lopez (“Waiting for Tonight”) and Celine Dion and Carrie Underwood. These are icons I looked up to and I couldn’t have asked for a better collaboration.

8 — If you could choose a location to perform your new track “Firecracker,” where would it be?

The Grand Ole Opry, of course. But then also I see it being performed at a big rockin’ New Year’s Eve party right before the ball drops at midnight. I can see it so vividly, all the lights and fireworks going on with the song as I sing “Light it up, light it up!” That would be epic!


9 — Who would you dedicate this song to?

I dedicate it to my husband, not only for inspiration but also because he is such a big supporter of my dreams and really wants me to succeed. He’s a northern boy and so when we first met, I told him I was moving to Nashville after school and if he wanted to be with me, he’d have to come along. So, he’s here riding this crazy roller coaster with me.

10 — Where do you see Taylor Sanders in the next 5 years?

I hope I’ve built up a community of people who can appreciate the art I’m putting out there and that it can help brighten and change lives. I want to be valuable to people and bring enjoyment into their lives during hard times. I also hope to get into acting as well, and for my personal life, I see myself starting a family.


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