Ash Ainsworth is a singer, songwriter and producer from Toronto.
Interview by Rebeccah Love
What was life like growing up with two musical parents? At what age were you first attracted to music making? How do you remember the trajectory of your life as a musician since then?
Growing up with musical parents was great. I was exposed to a lot of music and it absolutely pushed me in a creative direction. According to my dad, I was already recording music before I was 4 years old. I was in my first real band in grade 8. It was a rock band and I wanted to play guitar and sing.
Who were some of your earliest musical influences? What were you listening to as a teenager?
I loved Bon Jovi and Queen as a kid. I got really into rap and metal in grade 5, you know Metallic's Black Album had just come out and rap just seemed so new and exciting to me. I loved Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys. These were probably the first musical purchases I made.
How has the way you consume music changed? How do you find changes in audio formats have affected your music listening experience?
It hasn't changed much to be honest. Music is easier to get now. For me. But I spend most of my time listening to old jazz records.
In 2007 you started the Tape Deck Bros with a friend and music collaborator. You played Wrongbar, The Social, Andy Poolhall, The Mod Club. Your shows went up every weekend and you attracted a huge following. Can you tell me a little bit about that experience? What types of ideas were you exploring in your music? How would you describe the scene surrounding you?
The scene at the time was crazy, it was just before everyone in Toronto became a DJ, so for a minute we were a big deal. It was a great time to be a electronic music producer. People couldn't seem to get enough of the parties. I think ultimately the party scene over shadowed the creative music being made and thats kind of what turned me off and made me shift my interests.
While performing as the Tape Deck Bros you sometimes wore large boxed computer-like heads. What did these faces mean to you and your music?
It started as a way to stand out. Turns out, it wasn't a great move. Nobody cared who was under the box, lol those box heads got a lot more famous then I did. Oh well, people loved it. So I guess it wasn't that bad.
What other musical projects from your past have stood out to you?
I was in a rock band called Animal Clinic. We had a loyal following and rocked pretty hard.
What types of feelings are evoked in electronic music that make it unique from any other genre?
I don't look at electronic music as a genre anymore when Im composing. Its just a way to write music. I can make score music, pop, rock, dance using my computer. Im layering real instruments and vocals over top beds of electronic back tracks. The feeling that comes along with my method of production is freedom. Im not bound to one sound, genre or style.
Even for someone who grew up in Toronto, building an audience can be challenging. What have you learned from your years as a musician about reaching out to audiences and building a fanbase?
Getting people to listen to your music is the toughest part. Its also the most rewarding. What i've learned over the years about audiences is the size doesn't matter. It's the passion. If people passionately support your music, just a few can really inspire you.
Do you think Toronto is an artist-friendly city?
I think Toronto is friendly enough, I don't have anything else to compare it to. I've always lived here. I've always been able to play shows and share music.
Earlier this week you launched your new album, Ainsworth Returns. This album marks a big change from the darkness of the nightclubs you used to play in the oughts. 'White Sky' 'Miami Touch', 'Dream'...so many of these songs propagate an optimism, a dreamy hopefulness. How long have you been working on this album? What themes were you wrestling with?
I made this record over the past 4 months and have just really just been loving life. Im a happy dude now. I'm married, I grew up.
What music have you been listening to recently?
Surprisingly nothing that sounds like my record. Considering its a happy, kinda of goofy take on 70s and 80s pop and dance music. New stuff I like is Majid Jordan, Vulfpeck. Lorde.. ummm. Lots of Jazz.
What type of working environment is your ideal when composing and producing music?
By myself, at my desk, surrounded by instruments.
What are you looking forward to?
Making a new record before the end of the year, playing some live shows, and doing more collaborations.