The month of March has arrived and spring is finally here. Flowers are blooming, temperatures are (slowly) rising and we have decided to award the title ‘Brummie of the Month’ to a blossoming artist going by the name of Ashley Zeal.
The young singer/songwriter has achieved so much this past year, from amazing performances all over the UK, to fantastic yet original songs and even gaining recognition from established artists .
We just had to dig a little deeper! So we grabbed ourselves a quick interview to find out more about the rising star from Witton.
Q: Hey Ashley, so to start of how old are you and when is your Birthday ?
A: I’m 19 and my birthday is the March 14th (#PiscesGang).
Q: When did you start singing/ realise that you could sing?
A: The ability was always there but it wasn’t something that I saw as a serious thing as I thought everyone could sing. It wasn’t until I was in Year 9, at the age of 13/14 when I realised I had a talent that not everybody is accustomed to.
Q: You definitely have a talent. How long have you been pursing your singing career and when did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
A: As for knowing that I wanted to do music. It became a thing in 2015. This is when I realised that when I’m coming up with songs, it’s happening with ease and whenever I’m involved in creating music I’m at my happiest. It never feels like work and I would say I’ve discovered my passion.
But with pursuing music, it’s technically just over a year. Throughout 2016 I was getting a feel for it as in releasing audio on SoundCloud to see what response I would get, trying to appear at open mics and see how strangers would react to me as an artist.
But I’d say 2017 is the year I’m truly pursuing music as I’ve found my sound, I’m comfortable with my image and believe in me as a product. I also understand what needs to be done for me to reach success and how I’m going to approach things.
Q: Which is?
A: Always think ahead and have a follow up. Also prepare for the worst.
Q: Who are your idols and why?
A: I don’t have idols as such but definitely people I watch to take pointers from such as beneficial business moves and marketing strategies and also the best ways to entertain an audience. For example: Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars to name a couple.
Q: Moonwalks on your next performance then? Seeing as we are apart of the Birmingham squad and Brummies do it best. Who is your favourite Birmingham artist and why?
A: My moonwalk is certified.
But to answer your question, it would be Dapz On The Map. I enjoy the way he is able to write and sing a story about his personal life. I like that he is versatile when switching between singing and rapping whilst making it sound simple. ‘Okay’ is the prime example of this.
Q: You briefly mentioned open mic nights but where was your first ever performance, what song did you sing, what was the crowd’s reaction and most importantly how did it feel?!
A: As a solo artist it was Talented Tuesdays Birmingham at Strilings Bar & Lounge. I performed my song ‘Ride Or Die’. I feel I was in a good place to perform as a soloist for the first time. From watching people before me I understood what it truly was. It is a platform to share your talent so there was no need to be nervous. As for the crowd’s reaction, I believe elements of surprise and shock where evident. Due to the fact that more times not many people believe that I’m a genuine singer songwriter and may beg for me to prove myself. They took to me well and made me feel confident as the performance went on and they began to take their phones out to record. The final response when I finished is something every artist would wish to hear which is cheers and praise towards them. The host himself even attempted to sing the song which highlights the song itself is a good piece of work.
Q: What a fantastic experience! Why didn’t people believe you were a genuine artist and where else have you performed your music?
A: It’s possible that my presence may have told them something different about me.
But I’ve also performed at; KOKO London, Nottingham Carnival 2016 at Victoria Embankment & Millennium Point which are the bigger venues but as well as them: Live Vibe Birmingham, Snatch The Mic Nottingham which are two places that will help an artist’s confidence and give them an understanding of how to perform.
Q: Whoa you’ve definitely traveled around. You mentioned you have performed at KOKO London that was with Capital Xtra’s music potential. How did you get into that – what was the experience like? Give me a run through of the day, like who did you manage to meet in the industry and how did the whole experience benefit you?
A: I firstly signed up online to be part of one of their boot camp days which is basically the selection process and from attending that I was told that I had been selected for the course.
As for the day of the Finale, we had to wake up and be ready for 9am for a quick tour and also breakfast at Global Radio. From there we made our way to the venue to sign in and get prepared for a sound check and briefed on how the day would run. For me this was an insight of what could possibly be a regular occurrence due to the fact we were treated like artists. By being given dressing rooms with food and drink prepared for us to help ourselves to when we felt like it. Even though this would be the biggest crowd I’d ever performed to, the feeling I had was excitement instead of nerves and I feel that helped me go on to show what I can do as an artist now and also showed that I most definitely have potential. Which is clearly the purpose of this hence the name. I believe my performance went well but like with anything you do there’s room for improvement.
Once the music potential group had performed it was then time for the ambassadors to perform who were: Anne Marie & Wstrn. As I was allowed backstage I took the opportunity to go ahead and meet the artists and share small chat with them. From receiving compliments from all three guys from Wstrn, it gave me the belief that as long as I put the work in and prove myself, it’s all a matter of time before I see success.
Q: Bigged up by the ambassadors of music potential you know yass Ashley!! If you could do the whole experience again what would you change?
A: To be honest there’s nothing major that comes to mind. I could easily repeat the day exactly the way it was. I didn’t leave the stage disappointed with myself and the crowd went as far as singing my song back to me so I can only be happy.
Q: What would describe your sound as?
A: I’d call it modern R&B, a current sound with a mixture of old school.
Q: What is your favourite genre and how has that played a part in your sound?
A: Reggae & House. With reggae I feel it’s about talking about what you know with clarity but then adding the feel good vibe to it. I feel House music has the same concept. These are definitely factors I think about and include when I am creating music.
Q: Where would you like to see yourself going in the industry?
A: I’d like to be able to stay true to myself and build a loyal fan base who will support me. Doing this whilst sticking with my sound and being firm with what I believe is right for me. I would also like to reach a level where I am the go to guy for hooks as I believe I’m versatile and can vocalize tracks across genres.
Q: The go to guy huh? So who would you like to collaborate with if you could choose anyone?
A: Krept & Konan.
Q: You have the videos for ‘Wine Slow’ and ‘Bonita’ that are currently out now. What have you got in store for us next?
A: Visuals for a song that I am going to re-release called ‘Hold It Down’. In this I want to allow people to see a glimpse of my life and maybe share personal topics as I am an individual who keeps himself to himself but I would like people to understand me and this specific video may help me achieve that.
This video is one of many on the way along with more new quality content.
Q: I did a bit of preeing (my favourite hobbie) and your video ‘Wine Slow’ has a lot Brummie involvement as the director and producer are from Birmingham, how important is it to support local talent?
A: Supporting local talent is something I feel strong about. I feel there isn’t much inspiration within the creative industry for people from Birmingham and that is something that has to change. I feel the only way for that to happen is for us to change it ourselves. I say if we support each other, we rise together and will most likely start a wave for people behind us to believe in themselves and also push for unity. But if they don’t see the unity with artists from the same place supporting each other then they’ll be no progression.
Q: Very true, speaking about hobbies what are yours?
A: I don’t really have hobbies at the moment. I just try and discover new things about myself and also work on my craft.
Q: Swiftly going back to the topic of the videos you have released: ‘Bonita’ has been out for a week now, how do you feel about it reaching over a 1,000 views on Youtube already?
A: To be totally honest, seeing that people are watching the video just opened my eyes to the fact that I can actually go somewhere with this and that I’m most likely on the right path now.
Q: Finally…three words that best describe Ashley Zeal
A: Talented, Passionate & Creative
You can listen to Ashley Zeal’s music here on soundcloud or if you love your visuals like us watch his latest video below 👇🏽
Ashley Zeal – Bonita (Acoustic version)