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The 99% Episode #19 With Asa Ey

Singer-songwriter Asa Ey is a native son of California, born in San Francisco and currently based in Los Angeles. Although his music is rooted in Pop-Rock, Asa Ey adds a fusion of Blues, Soul, and California-vibes to the genre. Even at a young age music was a refuge for the innovative artist, growing up with an extensive record collection with the likes of Stevie Wonder to 90’s grunge. The multitalented artist is skilled in playing the saxophone, drums, guitar, and bass. He began his career as part of a band, but now leading independently since his latest new single “Paradise.” The song touches on the effects of unrequited love and embodies a relaxing, earnest, and warm atmosphere.

Listen To Asa Ey 99 Percent Podcast Interview Below:

[00:13] Steereo: 

Welcome back to The 99% Podcast; we are here and joined today by Asa. He’s an incredible artist. I have had the joy of working with him. Welcome to the show.

Asa Ey:

Thanks for having me, I’m so excited to be here.

Steereo: 

Every time I speak to you, you’re so full of wisdom so I’m really excited about what the listeners are going to get tuned into today. We’re going to rewind back and we’re going to ask you some basic questions. ASA, where are you from and what is the music scene like there?

Asa Ey:

I was actually born in Northern California and San Francisco, and then relocated to L.A. when I was about seven. So I’m pretty much from here, believe it or not. It’s a great place to be; the music scene is very cool. There’s a lot of different sub-scenes that happen. Whether you’re an indie rock band you might be more geared towards Echo Park and Silver Lake. A lot of the venues that are over there, such as the High Hat; the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood is great for singer-songwriters. There’s almost a mirror image of the way the L.A. is laid out culturally, how you have different pockets and subsets, it’s kind of similar musically; you have different scenes which is really cool. You have a lot to choose from in terms of how to stay inspired and what to go check out, on a night to night basis.

Steereo: 

Awesome. What are you being inspired by currently, in terms of music?

Asa Ey:

I’m a really big fan of yours, by the way. I really like what you’re what you’re doing. There’s a D.J. that I’ve been listening to a lot, a producer named Madeon who’s very cool to check out. I’ve been inspired by a lot of my peers, singer-songwriters who play, as I mentioned, Hotel Cafe out here in L.A. Madison Malone, Becca P, Nico, Frank, Joe Marzan. A lot of really great artists that are playing there. One of the great things about Spotify is that it’s also a really great place to find new music based on your preferences. It’s kind of interesting how they find what you like based on that algorithm, but that’s a beautiful thing too.

Steereo: 

Yes. The power of the internet. In terms of your artist name, you go by Asa Ey. If you were to pick a genre or a lane that your music fits into, what would you say it is?

Asa Ey:

I would say that it’s singer-songwriter, soulful and bluesy pop.

[03:11] Steereo: 

I definitely agree with that bluesy pop feel. For people listening to the podcast, whether they’re fans of yours, fans of Steereo, or just getting started in the music industry, in your initial part of the journey what were some of the challenges you faced as an independent artist, and how did you overcome them?

Asa Ey:

There is so much to choose from, being in Los Angeles; where to go what to attend. One of the challenges was trying to find out which places and people I was most aligned with, on a personal level. I think it’s really important to surround yourself with good friends and find the people who are going to push you and inspire you but also just be good people. In a way, finding good people was a challenge. How I overcame them; sometimes we have these career aspirations that seem to be ten steps away, but in actuality, there’s somebody one step away that can help you along the process. I’m saying that with regards to the video I’m shooting right now. There’s a production team based out of Arizona that is actually run by a friend of mine named Chris. I was wondering where to go to do the video, I was looking online and messaging people, and sometimes we get into this forcing mode. I don’t know if you can relate, but it’s where you’re exerting energy and pushing and grinding, but in actuality, it was easy once I realized there’s this person that I already have a good relationship with. He has a camera, not necessarily a full-blown music studio, but he’s a really talented cinematographer. Now it’s underway and we’re actually getting a really great video put together. The challenges that I faced was figuring out the steps to take, and also finding the right people and making the right decisions that are closer in. That’s always been my challenge; I’m very ambitious and always looking far out.

Asa Ey Via Facebook

Steereo: 

Having that team around you that understands your vision and commits to that is the key.

Asa Ey:

Definitely. Also having that team be friends, preferably, is great because it’s easier to work with, more forgiving if there’s something that you don’t like out of what you’re getting. You can communicate openly and honestly. If you don’t like an edit you can go back and look at it, versus feeling like you’re on the clock with somebody else. The more time that I spend being committed to the path and the journey, the more these little synchronicities happen.

Steereo: 

A lot of that comes down to creating your own team and been the C.E.O. of your own career. In your opinion, what is it like day to day to be an independent artist?

Asa Ey:

Very awesome but also very terrifying. You are your own boss, but there are so many tools that are emerging, that are really looking to help independent artists who have a really unique voice and a good message. A lot of the day to day is being an entrepreneur. It’s a lot of hard work. People have a glamorized version of being a musician; you’re always on stage and performing for people but there’s so much that goes into it. There’s booking the venue, getting people to come, all that. It’s an exciting time because a lot of these tools are available and the trick is to figure out which tools are worth your while, and the investment of your time and energy and finances.

[07:03] Steereo: 

For anyone listening now, what are some of the tools that are working for you now, whether it be social tools, productivity tools, or even from a music tool perspective? What’s working for you right now?

Asa Ey:

I think it’s really important to have a basic recording set up so you can get a lot of your pre-production done on your own, before going into a studio. I’ve used to Ableton for that, which is a really great tool. Steereo is awesome; happy to be a part of that because that’s a great tool. There are a lot of entrepreneurial books that really helped me out. There’s Branden Bershard and he wrote a book about high performance which is really inspiring. It’s good to stay optimistic. A lot of the analytics that Spotify provides is really helpful and going to YouTube. You don’t realize but there’s so much that you can Google.

Steereo: 

I think a big part of being an independent artist is figuring out what you want, and then figuring out how you get it. When you don’t have a huge team or a manager or a big label, a lot of that falls on your shoulders, in terms of responsibility. You briefly spoke about Steereo; obviously, that’s the platform you’re involved in and that’s where these podcasts are coming from. What are your thoughts on music technology these days, and do you feel it’s given artists the opportunity to become discovered?

Asa Ey:

Good question. I think that a lot of it has yet to be determined, in terms of big numbers or plays. I think that there’s quite a few artists out there, and you have to have your music be on point. That really does help open some doors, whether it’s internet radio and streams. Kind of like Los Angeles there are a lot of artists in the marketplace, and I think that the number one thing that has been effective for me has been cultivating my mailing list. I would recommend that artists focus on that a lot more than how many plays and streams you are getting because those are actual people that you have contact with, and e-mails don’t change. I think you’ve heard the argument before; if Facebook were to disappear, or Instagram, what would you be left with? A lot of artists have been very focused on building that mailing list of people who you actually reach out to when you have a new video to release or a new show to play.

Steereo: 

That’s a great point actually, and I think it’s something that we’re getting away from in this day and age because we pick Instagram or another chosen platform and then we run with that, so I think that’s a great tip for anyone listening in on this, in terms of really having a base of people who support you, whether it’s personally or professionally. People you can send all your good updates to.

Asa Ey:

Exactly. If you feel like you’re at a loss of where to start, even just starting with people in your personal contacts; just sent an e-mail saying “hey I was thinking about adding you to my artist list, would that be okay?” In doing that, you can get some traction and get a couple names on there to at least start.

[10:40] Steereo: 

Steereo is playing independent and emerging artists to ride share service users; someone jumps into an Uber in New York and your song is playing. “Paradise” is blaring on the speakers! What is it you want people to feel or experience when they hear your music?

Asa Ey:

I think it’s important to feel positive and relaxed. There are quite a bit of distractions out there and we live in a very fast-paced world, and I like to always bring good vibes with whoever I’m talking to in person, or through my music. I would say a relaxed positivity.

Steereo: 

Maybe I should listen to your music every single morning. People out there listening to this podcast, deciding to chase their dreams or their music passion, and they’re only at the beginning part of their journey. What advice would you give them?

Asa Ey:

I would say to always be your biggest supporter. Try not to get caught up in comparing and competing because when we do that, we lose a bit of ourselves. It’s important to honor the journey and the process of where you are, regardless of where that might be, even if you’re just starting out. Pat yourself on the back to say that you are following your dreams and you’re living life on your own terms. Tomorrow is never guaranteed so it’s important to go after things that move you and motivate you. If music doesn’t provide you a release or a sense of accomplishment of purpose, it’s not going to do that for somebody else. Having that validation and being positive and kind so oneself, and like I said instead of thinking ten steps ahead, think about who the nearest person might be to reach out to for some help. If the music’s good you’re going to find a land and a path either way. A lot of things turn out the way that we never expect them to, so be open and know that you can point the ship in a certain direction but the wind might take it a little bit off course. That actually is fine because that’s going to be a nice detour where you maybe see some islands you didn’t expect to see.

Steereo: 

What are some of the new and exciting things that are coming up for you in the back end of this year? Please share your socials and where people can find you.

Asa Ey:

The best place to go is my website, which is asaey.com

I’ve got my first single, that I’m giving away as a thank you for joining a newsletter if you want to hop on that. Then about every four to six weeks I have new singles coming out, so there will always be new content. I’m working on my first music video right now and I’m going to be focusing on playing locally. I think the one thing I can add as a parting tip, that I’m going to be looking at, is releasing singles as opposed to one big album. That ties into what I was saying about not necessarily putting so much pressure on the big things but giving a constant flow of content to people is a smart move these days. I’ll be having some singles coming out. My website has all my other handles on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook.

Steereo: 

Excellent. Thank you so much for joining us on the 99% Podcast today.  

Asa Ey:

I’m so happy to be here.

Steereo: 

Asa, you’re an incredible human being and we love your music here at Steereo. We’re just so excited for the world to hear your music.

Asa Ey:

Thank you so much. I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s a very cool tool and understands the artists perspective and point of view, as evidenced by this interview, so thank you so much.

Watch the Lyric Video for “Paradise” by Asa Ey

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LISTEN ASA: SOUNDCLOUD // SPOTIFY // YOUTUBE

Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.