3.19.19
Sarah sent me this from Copenhagen this morning

Sarah sent me this from Copenhagen this morning

Yesterday, I put a rough mix of “your Love is a light” on SoundCloud and it’s already garnered 165 plays… which isn’t much, but most of my SoundCloud songs only get 20 plays ever. It isn’t anything I’m proud of or anything, but it’s definitely an indication that I may be headed in a good direction. I firmly believe that “good” and “relevant” music travels. Yes, it’s good to have a marketing strategy and brand and all of that, but at the end of the day, music needs to be desirable and marketable on it’s own. And I feel as though I’m finding my niche. your Love is a light is just really different than anything I’ve done. It was created in a space of flexibility and flow and openness. I truly believe that I am capable of tapping into a sound and vibe that hasn’t been heard or felt before.

Sarah gets back from Europe tomorrow, but I won’t be able to see her until Sunday because of work. I am so excited to see her.

I’m serving tonight at the restaurant. I’m doing okay, but it’s definitely difficult for my brain to keep up when it gets busy, so I think I just need more experience with it.

I’m feeling drawn to a lifestyle of creativity, songwriting, producing, and living humbly with Sarah in Santa Barbara. I love LA and I’m staying here until February 2020 at the very least, but I’m slowly finding out who I am and what I want. I know for sure that I can build a career in writing music by being humble, hard working, and intentional, and once I get started on that path, I want to get back to my love and live in a beautiful town off the coast. Sounds cheesy, sounds stupid, but it’s all I really want. I’ve learned that I love Sarah more than anything and I’m looking forward to having some stability and normality with her in the next few years.

Ashton York
3.18.19
a forest in or near Brussels that Sarah explored just hours ago.

a forest in or near Brussels that Sarah explored just hours ago.

My last several posts have been wildly vague, so I’m going to explain my week back home a little more, and also talk about where I’m at personally, which affects my music.

Last week was interesting for me. I was really not sure what to expect being back home, after nearly ten months away. In the past, I’ve reached out to friends and family, letting them know I’d be around for the week, but this time, I decided to just lay low and see who was available when I got there. I spent a lot of time alone just driving around, eating my favorite Napa foods and enjoying Ritual coffee. I took a really awesome walk out in the country (and a wild turkey chased me back to my car). I saw my grandparents and a few other relatives. It was really nice vacation for me. Low stress. No real commitments. In a way, going back home shed some light on my personal growth. I just felt different there. I wish I could unpack that more, but I’m not sure I quite understand it all the way. So, I spent Sunday and Monday in Napa, and then I headed to Oakland from Tuesday to Thursday, and I stayed with some really sweet, hospitable friends in El Cerrito. While in the East Bay, I worked on a new song with my friend Greg, and I have to say, I really like what we put together. On Friday, I went back to Napa, and then on Saturday morning I drove back to LA. All in all, it was a really smooth, peaceful, and enjoyable week.

Okay. That’s what physically happened. Now I’m going to share some of my mental process with you.

I’m driving back down to LA, and I have this new song that I really like. Greg and I had a blast putting it together, and it just feels new and different. And I’m thinking to myself how I’ve really enjoyed being more open lately. I really like when people give me honest feedback. Because, I’ve just recently discovered that being open doesn’t harm you, it helps! So, I decided to send my new song to a few music friends, and I just asked for some general feedback about the song. I mentioned that I’m just sort of in discovery mode and learning more about my sound, etc.

The next day, I was talking to Sarah about this feedback thing and I realized something. Yes, I want the feedback and I’m open to it, but because I know myself a little bit, I can see that it is probable that I sent the song to these specific people because I wanted them to hear my improvement and I wanted them to say they liked it. I already know how I feel about the song generally. I like it! I don’t really need someone else to tell me that. Maybe, if I had a specific part in mind, it would be cool for me to send it to a musician and say “hey would you want to maybe lay down a part for this?”. Anyways. I don’t feel bad about sending the song for general feedback, but I probably won’t be doing that again.

I’ve been really baffled my how wise Sarah is. She really encourages me on my path to self-awareness. We talked about my general approach to music and she had some good advice. She basically said not to get caught up in one thing, but to just focus on one day at a time. For instance, this new song is really cool, but it’s okay to just let it be what it is, and when I feel ready to master it and release it, then I should. She thinks I should do an even amount of writing, producing, practicing, and attending events/shows. Once I let go of expectations and long term goals, my openness and flexibility will inevitably put me in the right places at the right times. In other words, relax and enjoy the ride! I really liked getting her input on all of this, and I feel that she is pretty spot on. I’m really lucky to have her in my life.

So now I’m going to go play music on the pier.

Don’t forget who you are, where you came from, and how special you are.

Ashton York
3.17.19
view from the studio in West Oakland 3.13.19. i had such a good time making music this week, it was magical. that’s pretty much all that matters i’m realizing.

view from the studio in West Oakland 3.13.19. i had such a good time making music this week, it was magical. that’s pretty much all that matters i’m realizing.

I talked to Sarah for a long time today before work, and she helped me reflect on a lot of cool things that I don’t have time to unpack right now. Basically, I’m just growing a lot. It’s really uncomfortable to become more self aware and mature, but also, it’s been leading to a lot of liberation and just a better life experience. I’ll talk more about this tomorrow, since I don’t have time to elaborate.

Ashton York
3.15.19
a photo Sarah took while at the botanical gardens in Amsterdam today (or yesterday i guess)

a photo Sarah took while at the botanical gardens in Amsterdam today (or yesterday i guess)

Today was awesome. In fact, this whole week back home has been mostly tremendous. It’s taken a few years, but I’m learning how to approach my visits. I feel good about how I’ve spent my time and who I’ve spent it with. I didn’t feel pressure to over-commit or insert myself into stressful or awkward situations. I was a little stressed about the trip for a few reasons, but again, I feel good about the outcome.

Aside from uneasy feelings about seeing family and friends, I was anxious about my time in the studio. My songs were written and arranged ahead of time, but they weren’t conceptualized, so I was approaching the studio with very little idea of what I wanted my songs to actually sound like. This leads me to a breakthrough I feel i accomplished this week.

Style. Sound. Production. Branding. What does Ashton York sound like?

EXACTLY.

I think largely, I haven’t really defined my sound and because of that, I haven’t been sure how to brand myself. It’s also really difficult to make a record when you literally have no idea what direction you want to go in.

So I’m starting from the bottom. My voice. I don’t believe I have yet found a way to produce my vocals in a way that is complementary to my range and tone, as well consistent and definable. If you’ve listened to my last full length project, this might make sense. I feel like that record doesn’t compliment my voice. It’s like I’ve been trying on different outfits for my voice, but I just haven’t surrendered to it’s naked vulnerability and beauty. So that’s what I’m doing now. Defining my sound.

My quick thoughts on a popular word called branding. Don’t start with the brand Ashton! You can’t fucking conjure up an idea of your image, sound, brand, etc. BRANDING STARTS WITH THE CRAFT. CRAFT DOES NOT START WITH BRANDING. In other words, have something real and honest and natural to offer, and that will define your brand. It starts with the music, not the image. You’re welcome. It took me like five years to realize that. But I finally did. This last week.

Okay, that’s all for today.

Don’t forget who you are, where you came from, and how special you are.

Ashton York
3.9.19
Sarah sent this to me this morning from Oslo

Sarah sent this to me this morning from Oslo

Tonight, after work, I’m driving up north. I won’t be off work until midnight or so, but I need to be in Benicia, CA by 11am tomorrow. I don’t know why I do this shit to myself. I’m sort of frustrated right now because my car is costing me so much money and stress lately. I spent 2k just maintaining it last month, and now my headlight is out, and my back tire has a leak, and I’m late for registration, which is costing me $900 because of parking tickets that I never took care of in Santa Barbara. Obviously, these things are totally my fault, and I’m just frustrated with myself and also annoyed with how much it costs to have a car in California. Anyways. It will be fine. Everything’s fine.

I’ve just looking forward to Monday when I can relax and enjoy family.

I have to go to work now. But I wanted to post the lyrics to a new song I’m working on in the studio this week.

out the window

i can see the cat

as she plays in the yard

what does she know?

nothing or everything?

drifting below

i can feel a soft aching

desperate for air

i have nothing

to say to grief

just as i am losing

headlights through the blinds

your Love is on time

come in alone

i want to feel your body

against mine at ease

not that i’m home

not that i’ll ever be

through the window

i can hear the cat

as she howls in the dark

you’re still on top of me

anything but human

just shy of divine

your Love is a light

hey

i’m a stupid man

for making you wait

time and again

hey

would you understand

if i wasn’t

caught

in a storm

in a lie

in a darkness

my whereabouts

would be wherever you are

and if i could only say to you

your Love is a light

Ashton York