Interview/Video: Ashley Henry

Ashley Henry

Ashley Henry is a gift that keeps on giving… Today, the 26-year-old SE London pianist unveils his new single “Between The Lines” along with a music video.

The new song lifted from his forthcoming major label debut Beautiful Vinyl Hunter follows the lead track THE MIGHTY, which was championed by the likes of Worldwide FM, Jazz FM, Clash Magazine and more.

Watch the Vikesh Govind directed visual for “Between The Lines” below.

The new cut features his friend MC Sparkz who Henry met when he lived in Leeds for University. Also featured on the track is GRAMMY-winning trumpeter Keyon Harold who toured with Henry last year on his UK and European tour. These collaborations act as an insight into the album as a whole, drawing on his influences not only from different genres but the artists he works with, making each track unique.

We had a little chat with Henry to talk about his upcoming LP, record shops, his musical inspirations, iPod classics, and his favourite albums on wax. Read our interview and head here for more info on the album.

Hey Ashley, how are things?

Hey! Yeah, thing’s are good thanks, been a crazy year so far! Been a crazy few years since the release of Easter. Toured the world with Christine and the Queens, supported Loyle Carner on his UK/EU tour as well as playing my own music in the States and Europe etc. Also been in the studio a lot this summer but I’m really looking forward to releasing my album this September!

Can you tell us a little about your upcoming major-label debut album Beautiful Vinyl Hunter?

“Beautiful Vinyl Hunter” is a reflection of my journey so far and my wide range of influences. The album also features some of the best jazz musicians from the UK and the USA that I’m fortunate enough to call my friends. You can definitely hear it in the record as there’s so much natural musical chemistry and a very organic feel to it so I’m really excited for everyone to hear it!

How would you compare your previous work to your forthcoming album? How have you and your sound grown since the 5ive EP?

I feel like I was in a completely different headspace when I recorded the 5ive EP, I was still studying at the Royal Academy of Music and the music I was writing at the time was very much more jazz focused with a touch of my musical influences in there. The Easter EP was a development from the 5ive EP and you could definitely get a clearer view of where I’m heading musically with the vocal tracks, production, arrangement, adding horns etc. You can also hear my influences more such as my influence of sound system culture, my Jamaican heritage and my hip hop influences as well as my jazz influences… And now with “Beautiful Vinyl Hunter”, it’s definitely me being much more brave and leaning more towards all of my influences but you can still feel the spirit of jazz throughout!

What is your most significant source of inspiration when writing music?

I always try and let my music be a reflection of society today. Being an afro Caribbean growing up in South East London, I feel it’s really important to tell my story and be honest… It’d be ignorant of me to not reflect on everything that’s going on whether it being positive or negative… I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to so many different countries, connect with new people and check out a lot of amazing music everywhere I go so that’s definitely a great source of inspiration too.

I was listening to Dark Honey (4 The Storm) earlier today, and it sounds and feels like a future jazz classic. What feelings do you want the listener to feel when hearing your music?

I’ll never forget the day when I was at my friends’ house after school, and he put a record on, and I fell in love with Jazz and the FEELING it gave me! Ever since then, I was baffled why everyone isn’t listening to this beautiful music, so I’ve always been on a mission to share that feeling and inspire others.

What’s the story behind the album title?

When I was a kid I started to collect music at a very early age, I liked vinyl because my dad had a HUGE vinyl collection and I loved how big the artwork was and how connected you feel towards it. I think the first record I owned was “They Don’t Know” by So Solid Crew! But when I got older vinyl started to become unpopular and now at a time where I’m fortunate enough to record and release my own music, vinyls started to become popular again! So I wanted to celebrate that because vinyl played such a big part of my life and is so embedded in the culture. Especially sound system culture which is very much of a Caribbean thing.

What are your five favourite vinyl record shops?

Jumbo Records, Leeds
Piccadilly Records, Manchester
DNR Vinyl, Croydon
Honest Jon’s Records, London
Jazz Dreams, Berlin

Which five records should everyone own on vinyl?

Off the Wall- Michael Jackson
Speak like a child- Herbie Hancock
Madvillany- Madvillain
D’Angelo- Voodoo
Stevie Wonder- Talking Book

What piece of equipment could you not live without and why?

My iPod Classic, because it has all of my music that I’ve been collecting since I was really young and I still go back to it. It’s nice to be able to use something to listen to music, that’s not my phone!

What’s coming up for you in the rest of 2019?

I have a tour in the autumn, will be travelling around Europe leading up to my biggest London show yet at Earth in Hackney on 19th November. It’s going to feature some very special guests so really looking forward to it

Beautiful Vinyl Hunter will be released on 6th September via Sony Records. Henry performs at EartH in Hackney on 19th November. Tickets available here.

CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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