LA based live band, Soundsystem DJs and producers ASHRR, mark their debut on Leeds label 20/20 Vision in fine style. Recruiting original dub pioneer Scientist to create a series of Live Dubs of ‘Fizzy’, with additional weight from Felix Dickinson on remix duties. Born in 2018 amidst the vibrant musical landscape of Los Angeles, ASHRR and is made up of Ethan Allen, Josh Charles, Steven Davis. Together they masterfully combine vocal harmonies that illuminate the euphoria of hazy 70s grooves. Here we get to know the exciting new trio on the week of their release.
Love to know about your initial idea for the band. How long has ASHRR been in the making, and what was your original intention with the band?
We got together in 2018 with the intention of making the best music we could make and having a blast doing it. There were no preconceived notions on what the sound was going to be other than our influences – post punk, psych, funk, electronic, space disco – would rise to the surface as the songs came to fruition.
What are you most proud of with your sound?
Nobody sounds like us when we’re making our music. The combination of our unique vocal harmonies and textures with a keen focus on the songwriting along with our production style really makes us unique.
Which part of being a band has been the most challenging to bring together?
We’ve made the last half of this album almost completely apart from each other using a program that allowed us to hear each other’s sessions in real time called Audiomovers. Ethan is on Pro Tools and Ableton and I use Logic but with the miracle of technology, we’ve been able to create without being in the same room until it’s time to record vocals.
How did your relationship with Ralph Lawson and 2020 Vision Recordings get started?
We asked Felix Dickinson (who did the Time remix on the Mordechai Khruangbin album) to remix Fizzy and he liked it and connected us with his manager Annie, who unbeknownst to us, had managed our favorite band Khruangbin for years. She heard our unfinished new album and asked if we had a label, and then connected us to Ralph who signed us to the label. Shortly after, Fizzy (Felix Dickinson remix) ended up on Crazy P Curate Vol. 1 series and that was our first contribution to the label.
Can you give us some insight into your collaboration with Scientist?
We love dub music and Ethan lists the Trojan box set as one of his desert island discs. Hopeton is an absolutely steadfast genius and completely owns the style he pioneered back in the day. We thought it would be epic to get Scientist to remix one of our songs. I just reached out to him, and he loved the track and said he would do it. We got to be in the studio and watch him do his magic which was epic.
With many years in the music business between you, would love to hear your thoughts on how the world of releasing music has changed over the years for the better?
Well, anyone can put out music that can be heard worldwide in literally a day or two. There are no barriers to entry which in a way is good, I guess. You only have your aesthetic and taste. The only gatekeepers that still exist are the Spotify playlists essentially. Otherwise, you can find your niche and thrive.
Do you think what it takes to be successful artists has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, or do you feel the fundamentals remain the same?
With the advent of social media entering the equation and the demise of the major record label system, it’s a completely different landscape than when we first got into the business. I don’t know or recognize the music industry today per se, I only know the act of people being creative, which is as it should be. You still need great music, and something that sets you apart from the millions of other artists competing today.
What drives you all to continue creating music?
Music is life and it’s a gift and blessing to be able to create music daily in this world, and to continue to find and define your artistic voice.
What frustrates you most about music today?
The music industry has fucked up completely focusing on social media numbers and algorithms to decide if an artist is great or not. If you look back, Springsteen nearly got dropped before his 3rd album Born to Run. It’s always been a tough game but now the focus has shifted away from real artistry and is failing because ultimately people will always want quality.
What do you think is the most exciting thing to happen in music right now?
We love the idea of people getting excited about playing live instruments again. You can see the rise of the guitar coming back and hardware synths, and keys. Combining real instruments with programming is the future for sure.
What has been one of your most important moments from this past year?
Signing with Ralph Lawson and the 2020 Vision label for sure! And creating all the music we’ve made during that process.
Where do you find the most inspiration when it comes to discovering new music?
“All the usual places, friend’s recommendations, shared playlists, Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and Shazam when we hear something we like.”
What are the values of ASHRR?
We make art for art’s sake. We want to make music that is held to the highest of standards and we are constantly trying to push ourselves into new territory. We also are like brothers and it’s an honor and thrill to be able to call these guys my friends, bandmates, and bros.
What is next for you guys?
The new EP is just a taste of what’s to come. We have several album tracks with amazing remixes coming including our own set of dance versions we made under ASHRR SOUNDSYSTEM. We’re working on the live hybrid show at the moment and can’t wait to start playing this music live on stage!