Owen Ashford ist Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. Selten hat ein Bandname die Musik besser beschrieben als hier. Es klingt nach billigen Casio-Keyboards, einfachen Beats und reduziertem Gesang. Aber der unspektakuläre, einfache Sound bietet die perfekte Basis für die unglaublich schönen Melodien und die poetischen Texte. Ich bin Anfang des Jahres durch Zufall auf diese Musik aufmerksam geworden und habe mir die aktuelle CD “Etiquette” nach langem Suchen zugelegt. Und bis heute bin ich immer wieder begeistert, wenn ich das Album höre. Um mehr über Owen zu erfahren faßte ich mir ein Herz und fragte ihn nach einem Interview. Zu meinem Glück stimmte er zu.
nicorola: Hello! How are you? Thanks for taking the time answering some questions! Can you please introduce yourself?
Owen: My name is Owen Ashworth and I play in the band Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.
nicorola: When did you start making music?
Owen: I started making sound collages with handheld tape recorders when I was 15 or so. Noone ever really heard them. It was another four years or so before I made any attempts at traditional songwriting. I wanted to have a proper band with drums and guitars and everything, but I ended up recording demos of the songs I wrote with a tiny Yamaha keyboard and most of the songs never saw arrangements any grander than that. My friends liked the way the demos sounded, though, and eventually someone talked me into playing a show on my own. And that was that.
nicorola: What bands or artists are you listening to in the moment?
Owen: Mostly I’ve been listening to Lupe Fiasco, who is from right here in Chicago. My brother got me listening to some traditional African kora music, so I’ve been listening to some really amazing CDs by dudes likes Djibril Diabate and Toumani Diabate. I like the new Deerhoof album, too.
nicorola: If I look at the name of your project and listen to your music, I have this stupid picture of you only using keyboards built by casio. What equipment do you use?
Owen: I have a big expensive fake piano that I try to play every day. I’m nowhere near as good as Tyson Thurston, who played keyboards in my band on the last European tour, but I’m practicing. He’s my musical role model right now. Other than the piano, I also use some Korg samplers and drum machines, and of course the Casios. I still do a lot of my writing on an SK-1. I just bought a harmonica and I’ve been playing that lately, too.
nicorola: By the way, I red something about a fire in your appartment a month ago or so. Did you get hurt? Did you lose some of your instruments?
Owen: The fire was mostly in the apartment below us, so the only damage to our stuff was from the smoke and the firemen. I did lose a little bit of equipment, but we were able to save most of everything and noone was hurt.
nicorola: If I compare the songs of „Etiquette” to older stuff there are much more instruments apart from keyboards and a list of guests. Can you please describe your time in the studio?
Owen: The album was recorded in bits and pieces over the course of 18 months or so. Some of it I recorded on my own on four-track cassette, some of it was recorded at my friend Jason’s analog home studio in San Francisco, and some of it was recorded in Seattle with Jherek and his laptop, basically wherever we could find a quiet room. I have a lot of musical friends who I wanted to have on the record, so there were a lot of schedules to coordinate. Waiting for other people to be available took a lot of time. You’ve got to be patient when you don’t have a lot of money to pay people with. You’ve got to wait until people have a day off of work so they can come play flute for an hour.
nicorola: How do you write your songs, what is your process?
Owen: I don’t have a formula. Sometimes songs start with a melody or a single line or a drum loop. Some songs take an hour to write and some songs take three years to write. There’s just no knowing when an idea going to hit you.
nicorola: The lyrics seem to be quite personal and they sound to me likeobservations in everyday life. Where do you get your ideas from?
Owen: I like the way Raymond Carver writes. I am inspired by his realism and the economy of his language. I take ideas from my life or friends lives but none of the songs are true stories, necessarily. The ideas come from real things, though. I like plain sorts of stories where nothing too extraordinary really happens. Relatable things are more effecting than the epic or the fantastical, at least to me.
nicorola: Earlyer this year you were touring in Germany. Do you remember the concert in Berlin? What was your impression of the City? Are there any plans touring in Germany again?
Owen: I just played at Ausland about a month ago, and I played at the Magnet Club about a month before that. Both shows were a lot of fun. I have some good friends in Berlin and I really like visiting. Do you know that record store Dense? I hang out there a lot. I tend to do a lot of walking when I’m in Berlin. I eat a lot of falafel, too. Hopefully I’ll come back in a year or so. Maybe sooner, if I’m lucky.
nicorola: Do you already working on new material?
Owen: I’m home-recording some 7″ singles and EPs for a few different small American labels. There will probably be an album’s worth of material released in bits and pieces over the next year or so. I’ll make another proper album again eventually, but right now it feels good to be working on some small projects on my own again.
nicorola: Thank you very much!