Ashaine White: Kicking Down The Door

Written by | Articles, Artists, News, Women in Jazz Media

Ashaine White is a fierce and formidable artist making a significant impact in the music industry. A jazz and neo soul inspired singer/songwriter hailing from North London in the UK, she is on a mission to break barriers within UK music – and breaking them down she absolutely is, not just in the UK but across the world.

Taking inspiration from artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, D’Angelo, Radiohead & Nirvana​, Ashaine describes herself as a grunge-soul artist, taking the fundamental approaches to jazz singing whilst adding her own unique modern spin. As well as creating music, Ashaine is also a podcast host and producer and has interviewed several inspirational people working in the jazz industry including journalist Angelika Beener, producer and artist representative (and so much more) Celine Peterson, along with Janine Irons MBE and Gary Crosby OBE, the founders of the groundbreaking Tomorrow Warriors. She has been hosting the podcast series ‘In Conversation With…’ in conjunction with Women in Jazz Media and has recently been shortlisted for the Womens International Podcast Award in the ‘changing the world one moment at a time’ category.

Ashaine’s work must not be underestimated and I thought it was about time, I highlighted this inspirational woman and put some questions to her.

Photo by Monika S Jakubowska

FR: To survive in today’s music industry, artists are having to work with an ever-growing portfolio-based career and yours seems to be increasing on a daily basis! Is this something that has just evolved over time or a directed plan from you?

AW: I think I’ve always been used to having my hands in loads of pies, and it’s something I really enjoy, especially when all of these things stem from something, I’m really passionate about – music. I really believe that everything happens for a reason, so I try to take every opportunity as it comes – sometimes to my detriment but always in an openminded and enthusiastic headspace!

FR: How challenging is it to balance everything?

AW: Honestly, it hasn’t really been too difficult as all of the things I do I love so much so I’m excited to fill my time to the brim with them. I think my recent interview podcast has been the biggest challenge, not because I don’t have time to do it all, but it’s a new field for me – making people feel comfortable enough during our chat to really speak their truth is really important to me, so prepping and planning for that is definitely a must.

FR: As a podcast host, you have interviewed some incredible women – Céline Peterson, Angelika Beener, Charisse Beaumont to name a few. How have their words and experiences influenced you?

AW: I’ve been so lucky to speak to some amazing black women absolutely killing it in their respective fields and every word they’ve all said has been inspiring and eye opening. I find myself taking notes during recording, little phrases and experiences to take with me along my journey. One of my favourite conversations was during my chat with Charisse Beaumont, regarding pigeonholing of black musicians in the music industry into “urban” genres. This is something really close to my heart as an artist myself, doing alternative/jazz music, it was really nice to see that someone as experienced as Charisse sees people like me, and what we face in the industry.

FR: You have said you are on ‘a mission to help to diversify London’s music scene and break barriers. What barriers have you faced and how are you planning to break them?

AW: As a black girl in the industry there are so many barriers to face, as well as the sexism and tokenisation women face, we also face racism in its most raw forms. In my music I want to break down barriers placed on us by the industry to look a certain way, make a certain type of music and conform to what the popular music industry class as “sellable” for black music and artists. In my music, I aim to be my most authentic self and make art that truly comes from my soul, whatever the genre. I hope to be a part of artists being bold, unapologetic and unique with the music they share with the world.

FR: You reference Ella Fitzgerald and Nirvana as influences and refer to yourself as a Grunge-Soul artist inspired by Jazz and Neo-Soul. How does all this come together in your music?

AW: Growing up my influences came mostly from my mother, who as a proud Jamaican woman, would fill the house with reggae, lovers rock, RnB and soul – urging me to sing ‘Silly Game’s by Janet Kay at any chance she could get! As I got older, and got access to my own means of music, I started to discover Grunge, Jazz and Neo Soul and the rest was history. Different genres of music were just like food for thought and started to inspire me to see music as a story telling function and form of raw emotion. I started playing guitar to help me learn and cover songs, and later to write chord progressions that came naturally to me. Getting into the studio with producer, The Garden, was a turning point in what I consider my sound today as he became the bonding force between what I wanted to say and it’s delivery musically, helping me to create a soundscape truly authentic and unique to myself as an artist.

Photo by Tatiana Gorilovsky

FR: You were awarded the PRS x Spotify’s Sustaining Creativity Award recently. Can you explain what this is and your work on this?

AW: I was lucky enough to be awarded PRS, Spotify and Girls I Rate sustaining creativity award in summer 2020. After a hard year of lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, having music as a full-time job was looking like a dreary prospect. Many gigs were being cancelled and funding was drying up for many independent artists. I applied for this funding, aimed at supporting artists like myself, almost preparing myself to not be accepted, but to my surprise PRS, Spotify and Girls I Rate saw potential in my project, which was amazing. That funding helped towards creating the music I’m releasing now in 2021, and I’m super grateful!

FR: You are just about to launch a new podcast series with Women in Jazz Media in partnership with Black Lives in Music and Céline Peterson called ‘Kicking Down the Door’. Can you tell us a bit about this?

AW: Yes! Kicking down the door came around unexpectedly actually! I do a series called “In Conversation With…” interviewing amazing women in jazz media and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to and host some amazing women, coincidentally it became apparent that most of my guests were in fact black women in the industry. As a black woman myself I know that we as a group are underrepresented and platforms for us to speak our truth and share our experiences are limited, so we thought it would be a great idea to start a podcast specifically for this purpose! I’m super excited to get started and learn from incredible women doing incredible things.

FR: You have released two singles this year – Prince Charming and Cookie Cutter. Can you tell us about those songs and your role in their creation and release?

Photo by Nick Rabett

AW: Prince Charming is an anti-love song, poking fun at the Disney films we’d watch as kids that would tell us our prince would come and save the day. The song follows a character whose prince doesn’t come, and her thought processes now she has to go it alone. Cookie Cutter is a think piece on celebrity culture today it’s wash, rinse, repeat and lack of authenticity, and sometimes untimely consequences but the desire many have to join it.

FR: You are passionate about education and supporting new musicians through a variety of projects. What are the most important things you have learnt so far in your career?

AW: I really enjoy the song writing process of being an artist, it’s my time to really sit and collect my thoughts on situations occurring in society today, I take pride in writing lyrics that really tell a story that is true to myself. My upcoming EP (hopefully coming this autumn) is a true testament to that and is really me finding my feet and my niche as an artist in musical form.

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Last modified: September 8, 2021