Tom Ashbrook is the highly talented and accomplished pianist, composer and producer out of Ilkley, Yorkshire. A classically trained pianist, Ashbrook’s love for synthesizers and experimentations with recording have seen him pursue his own signature sound, fusing the contemporary and the classical with little regard for constraints and limitations.
He has toured extensively throughout his life, sharing the stage with Simply Red’s Mick Hucknell at the Royal Albert Hall, playing alongside Jools Holland as a session musician, and composing for the prestigious Matthew Bourne Dance Company. Furthermore, Ashbrook has played alongside and worked with esteemed artists including Paul McCartney, Sting, Ren Harvieu, John Newman, James Morrison, Elbow and Nas.
Now based in Liverpool, where he attended the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Ashbrook recently shared his latest single ‘Too Soon’, the first track from the upcoming EP Sines, centered around past experiences and the idea of the elements.
Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What did inspire you to start?
I’ve been producing music for 20 years, my parents inspired me to start music by following my sister to classical piano lessons. Also discovering the Ministry of Sound and 90s house music inspired me to start producing beats and piano lead compositions.
Studying music all through school and having a great music teacher introduced me to arranging and synthesizers.
The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music? How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want?
I’ve been lucky in that, there have been so many different musical avenues I could work in. Playing piano and singing in the evening, playing gigs, joining bands, all enjoyable stuff that also keeps you grounded.
I also used to work as a chef in the day which is another huge passion! One moment I was in the kitchen cooking and then would jump on the piano at the gig after the shift!
How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately? Where the inspiration comes from?
Producing mainly instrumental and contemporary vocal pieces with inspiration from Eric Whitaker and Bon Iver. I tend to start with a vocal drone or ambiance to work from and develop a melody, themes and harmonic content from there. Usually around one note or a simple interval or even weird ambient sound
Collaborating with vocalists is always a pleasure too. The piece with Ruby Duff (Not My Love) for instance, was a vocal note recorded in a bathroom and sent to me. I added synths and chamber orchestra around that rough sample. Lyrically we work in conjunction with a sequence or harmonic idea. I’m working with Julia church on an upcoming piece which is super free-flowing lyrically. She is incredible and sometimes I find it hard to find the words! My passion is getting the meaning across in melody and harmonic movement.
What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?
I think my favourite track from the EP is 2five1one.
Its intention is a duet or conversation between myself and someone I lost and wish I could speak to or sit at the piano with today and chat. This piece is super personal to me and I’m super happy with the way it turned out and makes me think of the past.
What’s next for you?
Next is working on a live concept gig idea with the super talented Rosie Terry Toogood, contemporary dancer and choreographer, to bring the recordings to a live audience with an interactive visual.
I will be doing more collaborations with some exciting vocalists and string players and crossing over between modern classical music and dance music.