Being compared to another artist is inevitable, but the genuity one creates is what makes their art, not only distinct and memorable, but valuable. Listening to Scout’s latest record reminded me that not every musician has sold their soul to the fire and brimstone. Scout, with their heart intact, wears it on the strings of a guitar, bearing all with a single strum.
With their new album, All Those Relays, due to drop March 27th, Ashen Keilyn from Scout and I caught up and discussed the inevitable, the creative process, and to lighten the load, she shared created a mixtape worthy for those of us facing a quarter of a never ending life crisis.
ASHLEY JEAN: Being that you’ve just come back from an extensive break: how important do you feel it is for, not just yourself, but other artists as well, to stop creating and gather life experience in order to produce a well-crafted piece?
ASHEN: Well I didn’t exactly take a break. I sing in Hurricane Bells, Steve Schiltz’s band. We toured in India, Japan and here in the States. And I really never stopped creating. I think life and art are two of the same, you know? I am always making notes and recording ideas. Some songs write themselves while other songs require some distance and need to be reworked. The process is always different for me. I think you need to be who you are and not worry about what other people are doing. Be your authentic self. Some people are more prolific then others. Beautiful albums have been recorded from beginning to end over weekends. I didn’t intend for this to take so long it’s just the way it happened.
ASHLEY JEAN: I just finished listening to the album, by the way, and it’s gorgeous! It’s very genuine. Is it nerve-wracking to lay your emotions out on the stage, or do you find solace in expressing what you’ve experienced?
ASHEN: Wow. Thank you so very much. (Insert smile.)
I do get a bit of the nerves before I go on stage, but I say, self, do your best and let it go. I love connecting to an audience. It’s an amazing thing to share and I am so grateful for it. So I suppose it’s a paradox for me. I find solace as you said and hit raw nerves all at the same time.
ASHLEY JEAN: You were also heavily inspired by film. There are certain tracks that have that cinematic element to them, like I felt like I as a listener was being placed in a scene. Were there specific scenes you wrote to?
ASHEN: That’s great. Love that. I do find films inspiring especially documentaries. But no, I didn’t write to any particular movie. I picture lines in my songs like scenes from a movie, however it comes from everything that interests me.
ASHLEY JEAN: I’m guessing no horror flicks were involved?
ASHEN: Ha! Well actually in “Songs to Strangers” off the EP Pi, I have a line, “silent scenes, are misleading.” I was thinking how in horror films it often gets very quiet and the charter seems safe and relaxed…then bang! some one jumps out and gets attacked. The calm before the storm I suppose…
ASHLEY JEAN: You’re playing The Living Room in New York for your album release on the 29th, but if you had to rename the venue using a different part of the “home,” what would you call it and why?
ASHEN: I’ll say The Basement because that is where the studio is and I am surrounded by things that inspire me. I have some Diane Arbus photos on the wall, a Grey Gardens movie poster, Steve’s beautiful vintage guitars scattered about, a nice collection of other instruments. It’s a cozy inspiring little space.
ASHLEY JEAN: I often feel women are generally placed under categories more-so than men, especially in the music industry. Do you, as a woman, feel that has had any impact on how you shape your sound as a vocalist/musician?
ASHEN: That’s an interesting question and I am not aware that it has shaped my music or vocals in any way. but maybe if I looked into it more deeply I might have a change of heart on that. I do notice that I get compared to other female singers simply because we are both females and not that we sound anything alike. I think in general people have a habit of putting other people in categories or assigning labels to them. I try not to do that so much to myself or anyone else.
ASHLEY JEAN: There is an optimism in your songs despite the tragedies that have come before them. For those of us who are hopeless in times of despair and turn to music to comfort and reassure us, can you offer us some words that will enforce the notion that: everything going to be fine?
ASHEN: I am so glad you said that. because I worry sometimes that my optimism does not come through enough. So that’s great, thank you.
I sure will! music is my salve too. Well I think life is peeks and valleys, ever changing and I think we learn the most about ourselves and others when times are challenging, when people are not as kind as you’d hope they be or you’re not as kind as you’d hoped you’d be. Character isn’t something that is gained on a plateau. It’s through difficult times that we learn the most about one another. So I try to be grateful for the heavy days, they will pass. It’s why we have the lighter ones.
ASHLEY JEAN: Setting all seriousness aside, because this is Golden Mixtape and because I just hit a milestone birthday this past Tuesday (yeah 25!), I would like you to make me a mix tape to the theme of “Quarter Life Crisis.” And go!
ASHEN: Happy Belated Birthday!