santa barbara mountains october 2018 // sarah took this photo and i think it may be the album cover for my next full length project titled  Ellwood Station

santa barbara mountains october 2018 // sarah took this photo and i think it may be the album cover for my next full length project titled Ellwood Station

There is a gentleman by the name of Harold Budd who frequents the restaurant I work at. I remember walking out of the kitchen and into the dining room one late afternoon several months back, and seeing Harold on Table 6 drinking red wine and enjoying chicken wings-alone. I knew he was an artist the instant I noticed him. Not because I could “feel the artist energy”, but because nobody in their apparent seventies dresses in hip clothing. He wore Toms, slender khaki’s, a slim long sleeve shirt, and the frames of his glasses were the kind of frames folks my age would wear.

Over the course of a month or two, I began initiating very short conversations with Harold. I was interested in who he was. A few weeks ago, I finally asked him about his music. My co-workers were saying he was a composer and I wanted to know more! He told me he was indeed a composer. I asked him something like, “what sort of music do you write?”, and he laughed and said, “just google me… Harold Budd.”.

Moments later, I retreated to the host stand and googled him. It turns out Harold is quite the accomplished composer, with a large discography spanning from minimal classical piano records to electronic records to “neo-classical” records (whatever that means). His music is almost exclusively instrumental, or without vocals. I’ve been listening to his music for the last few weeks. It’s absolutely beautiful. He seems to be well respected as a composer. He has released music with Brian Eno, and other famous producers.

Last night, Harold sat on Table 82 in the bar. He’s been visiting us more than usual lately. Harold has a very kind and welcoming demeanor, and we all love when he comes in. When I saw that he had signed his check and was getting ready to leave, I walked up to his table rather awkwardly. I said something like, “Harold, you’re more than welcome to decline the offer, but can I buy you a glass of wine sometime and can we sit down and chat? I would love to probe you about music and your career.” He said he would be flattered, and accepted my offer. I told him I’m off on Thursdays and Sundays and that we’d organize something soon.

So I’m sitting down with Harold Budd! I have a legitimate interest in his music, career, life, and story. I can’t wait.

Today, I wanted to attempt to summarize more of my story as we lead up to the release of my EP next week.

After Sarah and I relocated to Santa Barbara, my life and music changed a lot. That was probably the most difficult time of my life so far. Her and I really relied on one another and walked each other through a lot of pain, stress, grief, growth, etc. Our relationship grew strong in the year I spent in Santa Barbara with her. She worked two jobs, and I scrambled to pay the bills via music. I was driving up north, down south, anywhere I could get a gig. My gigs were few and far between. Sometimes, I would drive to Napa for $150 playing covers for wine club members. It was rough. I spent many, many nights alone while Sarah worked. At one point, some family friends had gifted me whiskey, and there was a span of a week or two where I stayed home every night, drank Knob Creek, and wrote songs.

It was during that time that I began forming my upcoming full-length project, Ellwood Station. I wrote two of my favorite songs in the same week. Brother and Steven. Sarah would come home and I would play her songs that were far better than anything I’d written. I remember those moments with fondness. I was exceeding my own expectations and falling in love with song writing… in the midst of a season that feels like a bad dream to recall. We lived just off of a street called "Ellwood Station”. I always liked how those words sounded, every time I would see the street sign.

Ashton York