Interview with ambient-electro musician Tom Ashbrook

What happens when you mix ambient electro with classical music? When you’re Tom Ashbrook, pure magic. The producer has just released his new EP, Sines on 29 November via The Other Songs. Featured in the EP is Ruby Duff’s impressive vocals on the track ‘Not My Love’. Pairing this together with the theatrics of classical music, the listener is taken on a journey throughout the EP.

With past memories and experiences strongly influencing Tom Ashbrook, he finds a way of expressing them with an upright piano, analogue synthesisers and strings. With support arising from CLASH Magazine, Music Week and even our sister blog Reverbs, Ashbrook and his works are guaranteed to be catching the publics attention.

Curious about the man behind the upright piano, we sat down to learn a little bit more.

 
 
Describe your sound for us. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music? 

 

I think I’ve always just tried to produce something true to myself and create/ layer sounds and atmospheres that remind me of certain things that I’ve been through. Hopefully, the harmonies and melody will trigger thoughts with listeners. My love of the upright piano and acoustic strings blended with the use of electronics has been the main focus, developing an organic and sound true to myself.

Which 3 artists have influenced you the most growing up? 

I listened to a lot of ministry of sounds, Mike Oldfield and Pat Metheny and Bill Evans growing up and the amazing film scores from composers such as John Williams. A mix of dance music, jazz and classical music showed me how much you can get across through instrumental music in melodies and harmonies.

How did you discover your particular sound? 

I think naturally playing around the upright piano and also sat at the Fender Rhodes with the Juno 60 synthesiser urged me to improvise and work with atmosphere and textures. Also luckily being surrounded by great musicians who are also great friends helps as its so natural to collaborate and send each other material and help develop each other’s compositions.

What are the most important pieces of equipment to you? 

The upright piano to sit at and just play straight away drawing out ideas.

What is your personal favourite track on your newly released, Sines EP?

I think my favourite track is ‘Not my love’ actually. Just from the crazy process of this track and the journey it’s been through, from Ruby’s voice note recorded in a bathroom! Been super proud of the finished product and how both of us worked so effortlessly together.

What was it like to work alongside Ruby Duff?

Meeting and working with Ruby has just been so natural and like meeting my younger sister I never had! Both hailing from Yorkshire we hit it off from the get-go and chatted about the industry and how hard it is to work with people sometimes. Having clicked so well and sharing the same freedoms in writing, I reckon we came up with something so great in ‘Not my love’

What outside of music inspires you to create? 

I think, like anyone, so many personal things in everyday life; be it family or where you are in your life and what you’ve been through inspires sounds and melodies for me. Also, seeing amazing other musicians inspires me to try new things and approaches.

Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far that you will take with you forever?

Think playing at Red Rocks and The Royal Albert hall and having my family in the audience will always stay with me. Also, playing an instrumental piano solo in front of David foster, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black was also a highlight.

If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist living or passed, who would it be? 

I would love to sit next to Jon Hopkins and collaborate at the piano or write a song with Joni Mitchell

Most artists say that if they weren’t artists they would be mailmen/women… what would you be?

Definitely a chef, it’s my other passion… Nearly went that road but stuck with the piano!

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about? 

Another EP on the horizon to form a complete album, with another exciting collaboration with Julia Church. Also recording a concept EP with Mike Halls completely improvised one hour piece and video. Hoping to create a concept for a live performance to a small audience and record.

 
 

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