By KEVIN TAN
ELECTRO-POP artiste Darren Ashley started composing music at the age of 12. He completed his primary and secondary education in Thailand, and he believes those years have helped develop his unique taste in music.
Ashley was exposed to different kinds of music at his schools where he befriended people from all over the world and was introduced to their diverse cultures.
“My friends from different countries and cultural backgrounds would share their music and I always keep myself open to all sorts of sounds, so I listen to them all. And that was what really influenced me as musician because they shared their most heartfelt music,” says the 24-year-old singer of Chinese and Indian parentage.
“That is why these elements will always be in my music.”
The SAE Institute Malaysia graduate first picked up music by learning how to play the guitar. “My dad had a spare guitar so I used that and started learning chords, and then I continued learning from friends and from watching YouTube.”
More than just a guitarist, Ashley is also a singer and drummer. In 2007, Ashley formed an alternative rock band called Busco with four other musicians.
“I don’t really have a main instrument. I would say that guitar and drums are the strongest instruments I can play, but I basically play the keyboard and bass too.”
Also a solo artiste, Ashley’s music has changed throughout the years.
“What made my music bloom is the shift to electro and people seem to like it more,” says Ashley.
He plays the synthesiser, along with a Kaoss Pad – an effects processor for musical instruments – which he uses to add electronic effects to his vocals.
“I’ve always liked my vocals to be ‘effected’. I’ve always liked a bit of reverb, a bit of echo, but I also like a lot of glitch effects,” says Ashley.
“I saw a guy on YouTube who used a Kaoss Pad with his vocals and he was looping the sounds. That really got me inspired, so I got the Kaoss Pad myself.”
Ashley has performed at various shows such as EC Inspirasi, Baybeats 2012 festival in Singapore, and was also the opening act for DJ Blink & DJ Goldfish’s recent album launch.
The singer has recorded 12 songs for his first album, which is tentatively scheduled for a year-end release.
His well-known songs like If I Don’t Stay and Far Out may be included in the debut album, which will contain electro music.
“People call my music electro-pop, so I guess that’s what I’ll call it as well,” said Ashley with a laugh.
Check out Darren Ashley’s tunes on www.soundcloud.com/darrenashley