22-year-old North East singer-songwriter, Conrad Ashton, is set to release his new single ‘Anna Jean’ this August so Lee Allcock caught up with him to talk about his inspiration, anxiety and depression, and Elvis Presley.
What or who inspired you to get into music and write your own songs?
I remember hearing ‘Pinball Wizard’ on a cassette in the back of the car one day when I was about five or six and it stuck with me and just the sound of that acoustic guitar and then that electric cutting through was magic to me. As soon as I got the chance to learn guitar, aged 10, I jumped at the chance. In terms of writing my own songs, it came naturally as, when the guitar playing got better, so did the songs.
You’re set to release your new single ‘Anna Jean’ on Friday 3rd August, so what can listeners expect from the track in terms of its sound and lyrical content?
It’ll be my best work yet and I’m very proud of it. It’s taken a long time to get right for one reason or another, but it’s finally here. The sound of it can be described as ‘dance rock’ which sums up what I’m doing nicely: it’s got that bounce and energy but it’s very much a rock song. In regards to lyrics, it’s very basic: it’s about someone who likes someone called ‘Anna Jean’ and wants to make life work with them but Anna has her doubts! I never tend to write about love and relationships, but for me, this isn’t a love song as it was inspired by a friend called Charlie who sold jeans and I called them ‘Charlie Jean’ and it stemmed from that. When I sang it, it sounded like I was singing ‘Charlie Sheen’ so my friend Marc suggested singing Anna and it stuck.
You’re quite open in the fact that you’ve suffered from anxiety and depression, but do you feel that music has helped you to work through those issues? And if so, how?
Songwriting mostly has allowed me to get that out of my system and I don’t write about things I know nothing about, for example, relationships (as I’ve never had one), unless I was to write about someone else’s experiences. I write about people I see, my friends and life. Music gives me an outlet to express my emotion and I try to help other people when I write music. However, I do write about deep issues sometimes but I don’t go full misery mode: I try to offer hope and a solution through the melodies.
If you could go to dinner with any musician, dead or alive, who would that be and why?
Elvis Presley. The man is my musical hero and I’m sure he’d have some stories to tell and, of course, offer some advice.
You can listen to ‘Anna Jean’ at soundcloud.com/conradashton from Friday 3rd August.