I first heard Ash’s soulful voice at Love Our Laneways back in 2018. Since then, it’s always been a privilege to see Ash perform. You can tell she really believes in what she does, and you can’t imitate that. #fangirl
Ash is performing at the Tauranga Pride Picnic on Sunday 8 March – we caught up for a chat about diversity, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and finding your sound.
CBOP: What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve done? Can you tell us about it?
Ash Laforteza: As music is my full-time job, whether I’m teaching or performing in gigs, I try to make every gig memorable, from weddings to restaurant/bar gigs, to fundraising events. I would have to say I have two most memorable gigs. The first one would be the concert to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities organized by the CSS Disability Action: watching people with different abilities, ethnicities, and genders come together and sing and dance to the songs I was playing filled my heart. The other gig would be the most recent wedding I performed at where two of my good friends tied the knot. It was a pleasure to be a part of an intimate day. Also, it was the first same-sex wedding I’ve ever attended or performed in! So, it was really special to me.
CBOP: Who would you most want to collaborate with, dead or alive?
AL: The person I would have loved to collaborate with (at the moment, as I think this answer may change over time, hehe) would be Ms. Lauryn Hill. I appreciate her talent, her style, her killer vocals and most of all her purpose. To have been a part of the album MTV unplugged No. 2.0 would have been the greatest thing. Especially the track Mystery of Iniquity. Wow. I listen to this daily. Plus a girl rapping? Yes please!
CBOP: Do you have any advice for musicians starting out?
AL: Find your own style; it’s easy to be swayed into whatever style everyone is doing around you but the best thing is to be you! Be original! And find your sound.
Secondly, find your purpose. Find a goal, short-term or long-term; what do you want your audience to hear? What do you want to hear? Who are you playing for? This shapes and gives you clarity in what you are doing.
Third, master your craft. It’s easy to get stuck and think there is no moving forward in what you are doing. “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work,” as Einstein said. I found this out later in my career, but I’m there now and there is no better way [to improve] than to keep learning!
And lastly, HAVE FUN! There’s no point if you are not having fun.
CBOP: You’re performing at this year’s Pride Picnic! What are you excited to see on the day?
AL: EVERYTHING. I’m just excited to see how it all goes. It’s so good to have an event like this in my hometown. I can see the day being filled with love, fun and of course freedom. I’m also excited to see all the acts playing after me and to have a boogie or two while the talent graces us throughout the concert.
CBOP: What’s a message you’d like the picnic to communicate?
AL: Well, as PRIDE was born because of the Stonewall Riot in 1969, to raise awareness and celebrate our differences, I would expect it to represent that event. But, also for those who support the LGBTQ+ community and those in the community to create a space for everyone to feel safe, celebrated and loved. Good As You!
CBOP: Any other gigs coming up?
AL: I run these events for Bay Originals on Sundays called Bay Original Sundays @ Brew. Co once a month. At these events we promote original acoustic content and create an intimate space for the audience to listen and artists to comfortably share their work. The next one is on the 22nd of March from 3pm!
Head along to Tauranga’s Pride Picnic on Saturday 8 March, and follow the Facebook page to stay in the loop about the day’s line-up.
Image of Ash: J. Photo & Co.