Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Ash & Bloom

Ash & Bloom
In celebration of the recent release of their debut record Let the Storm Come, Ash & Bloom are playing Toronto’s The Rivoli on Saturday, June the 28th. Before the show and release, A Music Blog, Yea? spoke with the duo (Matt McKenna and James Bloemendal) to learn more about their history and soothing folk — enjoy!

AMBY: Hello Ash & Bloom, welcome to our site! Please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Ash & Bloom: Hello! My name is Matt. And sitting beside me quietly is James. If you’re looking at a picture, I’m the guy with the hat, and he’s the guy with the nice hair.

AMBY: How would you describe each other in one word?

Matt about James: “Relentless”

James about Matt: I asked James this question. He said “thoughtful.” Then I said “aww…” and he said “I didn’t say you were smart!”

AMBY: You will soon release your debut album Let The Storm Come. What’s one of the highlights you had while creating it?

Ash & Bloom: There were honestly so many highlights recording this album. We did the bulk of the recording in a secluded little cottage on a lake. We just packed up a studio and moved it into the middle of nowhere. Doing that allowed us to take our time, be relaxed, creative, and have some fun. The one night I remember, we were recording guitars for the title track, Let The Storm Come. It was late, after dinner, and one of our producers had an idea. He lit a bunch of tea lights, and turned off all the other lights. Then started recording, left the room and shut the door. It was just James and I surrounded by microphones, and we recorded the guitars together in what felt like a suddenly magical little room.

AMBY: When it comes to the title, what inspired calling the album Let The Storm Come?

Ash & Bloom: The song encapsulates the kind of spirit we’d like to live our lives with. The idea that trouble will come, but we can face it and surrounded by people that love us, we can get through anything.  We don’t always feel that way, but It feels like something to strive for. As far as it’s place on the album, it has all the elements we love most about music. Guitars interacting, gentle harmonies, push and pull, tension and release. It’s one of our favourites, so making it the title track just felt right.

AMBY: I’m enjoying the use of harmonies on the record. How did these become part of your sound?

Ash & Bloom: It’s always been a part of our musical experience. We both grew up with brothers and sisters that we harmonized with for fun. The music we both grew up loving was driven by vocal harmonies. It’s just how we experience music. So when we were making this record, harmonies were there from the start. It would seem ridiculous to try and make it without playing this game of harmonizing that we love to play.

AMBY: In support of the album, you’ll be playing Toronto’s The Rivoli on June 28th.  Which songs off the LP do you look forward to playing the most live?

Ash & Bloom: Let The Storm Come is always fun for us. We get the audience to sing the chorus with us and by the end they’ve usually added their own spontaneous harmonies. That’s an absolute joy for us every time it happens. We are also going to be playing with a full band, which we haven’t done at all as we’ve been touring. So each song is going to sound brand new to us. We’re so excited to feel how that’s going to feel!

AMBY: If you could create your dream festival, who would be in the line-up?

Ash & Bloom: In order of appearance. Day 1: Ash & Bloom, The Milk Carton Kids, Iron & Wine, Ray Lamontagne, James Taylor (with Carole King). Day 2: Ash & Bloom (it’s our festival… we get to play both days!), Sara Barielles, Mumford & Songs, John Mayer, Simon & Garfunkel

AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about Ash & Bloom that nobody knows yet?

Ash & Bloom: So many bands break up because of high emotional tension over long periods of time. Inadequate sleep can often aggravate otherwise small disagreements. But we are able to maximize the time we’re asleep because neither one of us snore.

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Thank you Ash & Bloom, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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