You approach the bouncer and fumble for your ID that proves you are old enough to enter your first 21+ concert. You hold it up, and the bouncer waves you inside. You are confused when the person inside the door grabs your hand and stamps it with old, aging ink, as if she were issuing you some right of passage. You walk up a flight of dimly lit stairs and enter a room full of people, and you see the stage with a blue light shining down on a couple of guitars and a microphone. You grab a beer, and join the standing crowd of listeners. The concert is great. It is the kind of concert during which the audience is captivated and silent, lingering on the artist’s every melody. You are in awe. It ends. You leave that room very happy. When the cold air of the outdoors hits your face, you take a deep breath. You feel elevated - inspired.
These are the feelings that I experience when I listen to Ashton York’s newly released album “You Are My Sanity.” It is a soundscape that allows you to be in moments - moments of happiness, of sadness, and of solidarity as a human being. To be human is to feel. We have all felt the feelings and dreamed the dreams that Ashton vocalizes in this album. And he does it with such honesty and poetic success.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”
This quote is an on-point illustration of how real Ashton’s music is. Aside from the lyrical power of the album, the music is brilliant. The strong melodies are coupled with the softness of Ashton’s voice, leaving us wanting more. When I interviewed Ashton, I was interested to hear how he wrote the album, where he found his inspiration, and the grit and determination it took to make it happen.
What inspired you to write “You Are My Sanity”?
The album is a culmination of songs from the past five years of my life. I was writing the songs long before the concept of the album came to me. Two years ago, I began putting the pieces together and planning the project. It was my girlfriend, Sarah, who first suggested I record the material. She was the initial inspiration behind the whole thing.
Did anyone collaborate with you (writing/recording)?
I wrote all the music and lyrics. Sarah recorded vocals and cello. And I recorded all the instrumentation, a part from the drums/percussion, which was performed by my friends Tyler and Javier.
How long did it take you to record this album?
Tracking and Mixing took about a year. I crowdfunded some funds to help, and paid for the rest myself, so we took each day as I could afford it.
Who produced “You Are My Sanity” and Where did you record it?
Greg Francis engineered, mixed, mastered, and helped arrange the whole album. He and I produced it together. We recorded at “Discrete Studios” in the Hyde Street Studio building in San Francisco. We’ll definitely be back.
Do you have any plans to record an album in the future?
Yes! Pre-production starts in July for my next project. I will definitely be working with Greg again.
Do you have plans to tour?
There is nothing currently planned, but I hope to start playing live regularly by Fall. There is a lot of new material to play, but focusing on recording another record is my priority at the moment.
What keeps you going?
Every time I’ve tried to run away from music, I am not allowed to. Life will not allow me to do that. Sarah believes in me and reminds me that music is something I need to be loyal to, because it makes me happy, and I need to believe that what I have to share is valuable.
Ashton has created something beautiful. I admire how dedicated he is to his music, and that this album is a piece of art that took time to create. One thing that I learned from listening to the album and interviewing Ashton is that amazing things can be created, as long as you are patient with yourself, with the process, and give yourself and your art room to breathe. I know for myself, I get caught up in the idea of “this will never happen”, but Ashton is an inspiration that proves that it can happen, you just have to do it, and take whatever time is necessary to make it happen.