CO+K chat to London-based singer and songwriter Ashxyz.
Who are you and where do you come from?
I am Ashxyz, and I live in London.
Where does your name come from? When I was 19, my parents asked me what I wanted for christmas. I was going through a sort of existentialist phase and told them 'no presents'. We were having sunday lunch and for some reason I asked them why I was never given a middle name, so that's what they decided to buy me. They changed my name by deed pol to Samantha Ashleigh Hayhurst, and I adopted the 'Ash' bit as my name... the xyz comes from how I used to sign off letters when I was younger.
Who's in the band and where did you meet?
Right now it's just me, but I've been joined by Rebecca Arnold for gigs. She's playing piano, and singing backing vocals. We met at London Metropolitan University where we both trained to be music teachers.
How would you describe your music?
A sort of cross between Sufjan Stevens and Au Revoir Simone ... Folky, but Poppy, with recurring threads of melodies that come back to haunt other songs.
What makes your band unique?
I can't for the life of me think of any artist who I really sound like. I either need musically educating (bad news for a music teacher) or that makes me unique!
Who are your musical influences?
Rachmaninov, Sufjan Stevens, Aimee Mann, Carolyn Anona Scott and Andy Thomas. I knew Carolyn and Andy when I lived in Edinburgh and they both write the most wonderful songs. I admit I had a few jealous temper tantrum moments!
Tell us a bit about your current album and the inspirations behind it?
I've just finished writing 'Paper Aeroplane', which is a 4 song EP. The songs were being worked on while I was moving from Scotland down to London, and it sort of maps my thought process during that time. I recorded everything on my little multitrack studio, so everything is played live. Which was a nightmare when I wrote 'Glue', because there are a lot of loops in there, which I had to keep repeating, and re-recording! The title song has a lovely story to it though - I joined Twitter a few months back, and started following Stephen Fry. Being a bit flippant, I tweeted at him, saying I would write a song about him if he gave me 5 words to go in the lyrics. It was fantastic, he replied with "Cheerful, princely, thighs, cherish and smell. But not necessarily in that order". I couldn't believe it. I had a lot of fun writing that song, and he said that it was lovely, so I think he liked it.
Where are your favorite places to tour?
I'm a bit lax with gigs, I've never toured. But I would love to get a camper van and tour the UK.
Where do you look for inspiration when songwriting?
Most of the time inspiration just happens when I'm open to it, so instead of looking for it, I prepare myself. It sounds silly, but it's always good to have a page of free-associated ramble on whatever subject you think you might write next, and set things up ready to record with so you can just go, and let the moment take you.
Are there any ways the band try to be DIY or crafty?
I almost made the EP cover myself, but then realised it would take a while to do 250 of them! If I had more time, I would. When I do the album, my friend Chloe Slater is going to paint the artwork, and I'm sure we will get creative with the process. I really love making my own clothes and cards and things, and I sewed a CD case for my mother out of card and scrap material for her 50th birthday. I also love knitting elves and things :)
What would you be doing if you weren't in a band?
I'd be a full time music teacher, which is what I will be unless I get famous first.
What was the last record you bought?
Mahler - Symphony no. 9 in D major
Hopes and dreams for this year?
Exposure! I want to get out there more.
What's next for you?
Re-recording the album songs in Sam Slater's studio, and getting that out on itunes. I'm also finishing my teacher training and heading to New York for my brother's wedding.. and hopefully I'll be playing at some festivals next summer.
Check her out on MySpace now.