Ash Andrade Offers Pop, Hip-Hop and Acoustic Music on Debut Album ‘Discovery’
The Goan artist’s LP revolves around the theme of embracing your journey
While shuffling through Goa-based artist Ash Andrade’s eight-track debut album Discovery, you uncover that the musician is quite multifaceted. Andrade’s ability to juxtapose a variety of genres, execute rapping as well as hit all the right notes with her mellifluous vocal chops, is definitely commendable.
In this interview with Rolling Stone India, she breaks down Discovery, takes us behind the scenes of the making of the record, what she has in store next and more.
What has it been like for you growing up in the music-loving state of Goa?
My parents are both music lovers, and from my childhood till now, we always have music playing every morning in the house. My journey in music has had its ups and downs. After failing my music exam in the fourth grade, I taught myself the keyboard and guitar and then went on to teach a summer crash course at the same music school in 2011. My passion for music never ceased no matter what the obstacle, but it was in college that I was drawn to the craft of songwriting.
The thought of writing my own song was both overwhelming and challenging and until that point, I always found comfort in just being the keyboardist and a member of the choir. So, I started writing songs in college. I would write for events, parodies, and sometimes plays. Whenever someone asks me what my first song was, I’d jokingly tell them it was about a horse. The first original that I composed was called ‘Pegasus’ [yes, the horse], written for a literature event under the same name for my college, which I also sang a part in. But unfortunately, my college dreams remained dreams and I got side-tracked with other priorities, mainly my career and further education.
The pandemic was a horrible time for everyone, including my family. I began questioning myself, my purpose and for a moment I felt like, this is it. The pandemic felt like a permanent sentence. But it was in that bed-rock moment that I turned to writing and making music again. When I gathered the songs I was writing and the ones written years back, I realized that I had a whole album in front of me. And it was at the end of the year 2020 that I began my journey, working on putting together my first album, Discovery.
When did work on your Discovery begin?
I began working on my album in October 2020 and I started off really excited and pumped up, but it all tanked when I didn’t hear back from the person I was working with. It really shook me mentally because I thought everything would be smooth sailing since I knew this person really well, and I started thinking maybe this was never meant to happen. My boss, however, gave me a great piece of advice. He said, ‘Don’t attach your dream to a person, you have to own it.’ He encouraged me to go beyond my known contacts and connect with someone I’ve not worked with before.
In February, I started work on my album with Brandon Mendes, my producer. He’s part of the group Merak, winners of the 2020 India Film Project from Goa, and I had never worked with or known him before this.
What can you tell me about the record?
The theme of the album is embracing your journey. We’re so used to being assessed and evaluated by society, education and our relationships that we forget that it is up to us as individuals to embrace our identity, our experiences and our growth. So much of my time has been wasted because I believed in what everybody thought about me instead of believing in who I’m meant to be. Growing up, I would be so ashamed that I wasn’t raised in this beautiful Goan house but in the outskirts of my city where migrants live. But that’s where I grew up in every sense of that phrase. It’s what makes me who I am and I’m absolutely proud of it. My life is a journey of learning, realizations, revelations, inner battles and joys, and all of it holds this album together.
For the music, I wanted to delve into all the genres that I grew up loving and living in. I love old-school hip-hop, and I wanted my title track to be powerful, poetic and declarative. However, this is my first time writing hip-hop music, so I’m really excited for everyone to hear it. The album is a melange of pop, hip-hop and acoustic because each one of these genres reached out to me with songs in different seasons of my life. I wanted this album to do the same for everybody, musically and thematically. I hope everyone finds the message they need to hear to help them carry on.
What was the recording and production process like?
It was joyful and grueling at the same time. I had to travel 51 kilometers once a week to my producer’s home. My mother would join me most of the time and her feedback would always be really effective in moments where we didn’t know how to progress with the song. ‘Always A Fan,’ a pop song, has I believe 50 versions and it was the heaviest in terms of production. Brandon and I would be terrified to open that file and we borderline hated it because it was so challenging, but I’m really happy with the way that song has transformed over time, and I love that we didn’t settle. The process for the other songs was a breeze and just flowed naturally. My personal favorite from the album is ‘Beautiful Eyes.’ The music in it is a nod to all the live bands in Goa and their community. Brandon has worked so hard to put the music to my words, the way I imagined it and at the same time, his feedback has been so crucial because it saved me from sounding generic to sounding like the songs were unique to me.
What plans do you have to further promote the album?
I’m currently producing two music videos, one for the title track. It’s going to be shot in South Goa, where I’m from, so you’ll see a whole new side of Goa. The other one is ‘Always a Fan,’ which was the most fun to shoot, but it’s a glimpse of where I’d love to see myself in a few years.
What’s next for you?
I love writing songs; I’ll keep writing and releasing music, but at the same time I’d love to write songs for the talent that is here in Goa and all across India. Goa, especially, has some of the most excellent vocalists, musicians and established artists, and I’d love to lend my words to the music here.
Stream ‘Discovery’ on Spotify below and on other platforms.