This week we dive into the world of Alameda Ash. On his Spotify profile he is described “as a six-string slinger who conjures up otherworldly West Coast cowpunk with gritty vocals backed by raw, shock inducing sounds erupting from his SG”.
Alameda Ash is Ash Khajvandi. He teamed up with Greg G. Felix and Audy G. Felix to work on his debut album. The self-titled debut album ‘Alameda Ash’ was released in May 2020. ‘Kerosine Dream’ was released as a single and is currently #2 in our chart.
Ash did a fair amount of moving as a kid, but grew up mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area on the island of Alameda. “The Bay is a hot bed for a mashup of all types of cultures and ethnicities. People from all walks of life within 7,000 square miles. It’s the biggest reason why I fell in love with it. It definitely helped broaden my view of what “home” really means and how we as the human race can live side by side on this planet cohesively.”
About the band name… “I’ve always revered the blues and all the cool cats who bore the torch before me. They had some of the rowdiest sounding names like, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Lefty Dizz, etc. But other artists named themselves after their homes, Memphis Minnie is one example. Now, I’m not gifted with creating amazing nicknames on the fly, so I went with “Alameda” and my name. The combination sounded pretty decent to me.”
It’s clear that Ash likes the blues. He explains: “Now I’m VERY much into bluesrock, rootsrock, outlaw country and dark surf stuff. It wasn’t always the case though, my taste is always changing. My fascination with outlaw country started around when the pandemic hit and I wanted to listen to something fresh.”
His earliest musical memories include watching Michael Jackson’s ‘Black Or White’ and The Bangles ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ on MTV. He remembers being enthralled by both songs, especially the guitar in ‘Black Or White’. The first album Ash ever bought was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park. He really liked the harder, crunchier guitar stuff. And so he decided to take guitar lessons after advice from his father. At that time all he wanted to do was learn Metallica’s ‘One’. Later on he also learned to play tar, a Persian instrument to honour his Persian roots.
When did you decide to pursue a career in music? “A lot of the artists I look up to, my friends, and music instructors inspired me to pursue a career in music. But the point of no return was after I watched ‘School of Rock’ in theaters at 13. That was it.”
So far Ash hasn’t made a financially successful living off music, but to him it is profitable in the joy, fulfillment and meeting cool people. However, in 12 months he hopes to live off music comfortably. “If I can afford a tiny house and live off the grid somewhere, I’m good.” Let’s hope his recently released album turns out to be a huge success. Can you tell us what the album is about?
“I wanted to put a record together that got a real grassroots type of approach. Something that’s sounds familiar, but new at the same time. The whole thing is supposed to sound raw, in your face at times and chill other times. I wanted listeners to hear it and think it replicated a live experience. The whole thing became an introduction of what’s running around in my head. I suppose right now ‘Kerosene Dream’ does a good representation of me as an artist. It’s got a groove that’s fun and infectious.”
In his Instagram bio Ash describes himself as a “rustic minimalist”. Besides climate change and basically anything planet friendly related, Black Lives Matter is also something he is passionate about. Are world issues something that inspire you to write songs?
“If I’m really passionate about world issues, you’ll definitely hear me write it. But I try not to “overdo” it, because I want my music to help facilitate an escape for people far, far away from their world. They hear enough about activism all over the media as it is and I don’t want it to invade this space as well. They don’t need me forcing my views down their throats through music. What you’ll most likely see from me is posts through social media and going to protests, if need be. For instance, I find protesting in front of San Francisco city hall for climate change, which I’ve done, more practical than making a song out of it. Most people may even interpret a song on veganism (Ash is vegan) or climate change into something completely different, which is totally cool. It’s just that art can be seen differently; it’s all in the eyes, or in this case ears, of the beholder. People put their own spin on music they like as a result of life experiences and what not.”
Do you have any hobbies that contribute to your music? “I have a few hobbies, but the ones I believe contribute to my music are meditation, yoga and tennis. Yoga and meditation really help me stay focused and really keep my mind sharp, but also see things I wouldn’t normally see artistically speaking. I guess I’ve become more metacognitive as a result. And the tennis just keeps my heart and lungs healthy enough to continue singing the way I do. Though I’m not sure how long I can keep up the way I wail. That’s rock for ya.”
How do you balance music with your other obligations, such as your family and work? “I balance very poorly. I try to plan and schedule every little thing, but it’s not possible. It’s the nature of the business. Things happen on the fly for me, especially because I have my own family.”
What has been the greatest challenge? “The greatest challenge for me so far is the juggling of the entire thing. But at the same time it’s super fulfilling. Something that can be so daunting is doable and when it’s done, I’m always proud to have accomplished stuff that befuddle most people. All artists should be proud really.”
What’s the best of advice you’ve been given? “I’ve been given a lot of great advice from a lot of lovely folks. But right now all I can remember is: “Cowboys are the only ones who stay in tune.” And don’t you ever forget that.”
We have quite a few teenage musicians in the chart at the moment. As a thirty-year-old do you have any advice for them? “My advice for younger musicians and any musicians for that matter: Listen to you. You know what you want. You know what you need. Don’t second guess yourself because your friends are all off being “grown-ups” and starting families and have 401k’s and blah, blah, blah. Just do you. Do you…hard. And you’ll be glad you did. Actually, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do you sooner?”
Ash is currently working on different music with a band he has started with his brother. What can we expect? “Real good stuff in the works. I’m excited for y’all to hear.” Well, we can’t wait to hear it.
We know Ash likes the rock and blues. Can you guess his favourite song in the Cool 20? We can. No surprise, it’s ‘Dirty Pool’ by Rogue Proxy.
Want to find out more about Alameda Ash? Check out his profiles on:
Bandcamp: Alameda Ash, by Alameda Ash
Bands in Town: https://www.bandsintown.com/a/15159009-alameda-ash