Growing up in Pretoria in the early 90s, Roan Ash always had a passion for music. He graduated from Hendrik Verwoerd High School and studied music at the Campus of Performing Arts.
Recounting his frustration while learning to play his first guitar at the age of 13, he describes his musical beginnings as humble, slow and small. Roan played his first gig at a school carnival in his hometown and then went on to play free shows at small venues, pubs and weddings.
He describes himself as a sucker for well-written lyrics and heartfelt melodies. Artists such as Elton John, Ben Howard, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer and Jack Johnson all played a huge role in his musical journey. These influences can be heard in his own music.
Roan Ash stops you in your tracks when you hear him sing. His voice grabs your attention from the very first note. So it comes as no surprise that his lead single, 'If I Ever Saw Heaven', is dominating the airwaves and local music charts.
Roan is currently on tour promoting his debut album, "Whiskey To My Soul", and he took some time out to chat about his music.
When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
You know when you listen to a song, and in some way it captures an overwhelming emotion? That happened to me a couple times. I think it's an incredible gift to be able to leave an emotion on someone. I think that's when I realised I wanted to be a musician.
How would you describe your writing process, musically and lyrically?
Usually, I'll start by playing a couple of chords and hum random melodies over the progression. The chords give you a feel of what type of song it wants to be. From there, I feel where the syllables accentuate and I write the words accordingly. At times you have an idea in mind, other times the concept grows with the song. It's not always the same formula though, but that's how I do it most of the time.
Tell us a little about 'If I Ever Saw Heaven'.
I co-wrote the song with Christoph Kotze. Initially, we were planning on releasing a six-track EP, so after recording all the tracks, "If I Ever Saw Heaven" was written. Funny enough, it was the last song we wrote, and it became the first single we released.
What was the creative process behind the album?
Working on the album was an incredible experience. We started working on the content about two to three years ago. I co-wrote five of the seven songs with Christoph. I was lucky enough to work with some of South Africa's brightest musicians and producers. The album was recorded in Pretoria by Danny Smoke at Precision Music, with co-producer Jake Odendaal and Robin Vernie from Scherzo Productions.
Has the response to the album been everything you imagined?
The response has been everything we hoped for. The travelling and interviews are a really exciting experience. Before you release a new album, you have no idea how people will respond. As of right now, we accomplished what we hoped for, but I believe the best is yet to come.
When he's not making music, Roan enjoys quiet mornings at home. Before heading out to the gym, he likes to recharge with a cup of coffee while scrolling through social media.
He credits his friends, family and girlfriend with keeping him grounded. "Music has never been about status. I just feel blessed to do something that I love," he says.
"Whiskey To My Soul", which includes the hit single "If I Ever Saw Heaven", is now available on digital platforms.