Booked and busy is one way to describe the talented Vince Ashton. He has been on one hell of a ride that is still taking him too new heights. Leading by example and teaching his fans that it's never too late to pursue your passions, no matter how many you may have . If you frequent the Atlanta scene chances are you've already been introduced to Ashton. He's a serial entrepreneur that keeps busy by pursuing a budding singing career and running multiple businesses: Blacktivty Activism, Everyday Ashton Photography and It’s A Cheesecake by Vince Ashton. The time has come for Ashton to enter the next chapter of his career, and he wants us to know its all about the music.
Interview by Angel Neal
At the present moment what business right now is feeding your soul?
I’m all about my music right now. I’m all about entertaining, that has been the longest dream and passion of mine that has forever fit my soul. So right now I’m just really honing down and just you know really digging into my craft and my skill set in focusing on releasing new music.
Will Smith once said, There is no reason to have a plan B because it distracts you from Plan A. You’re a serial entrepreneur, how are you juggling it all?
You know what once upon a time, I didn’t know how I was juggling it, I was just sort of making it happen. But I look at things now and I guess even retrospectively, a lot of the stuff or the different entities that are a part of the Vince Ashton brand happens in seasons. So say for instance, my cheese cakes, you know, that’s pretty much a holiday type of situation. So when October kicks off, and we have Thanksgiving and Christmas happening, I’m doing the cheese cakes, and then come spring, summertime, that’s when everybody’s doing Prom pictures, graduation pictures and everything. So, I think that I’m blessed to have a lot of those different entities that don't collide and I'm able to pursue my passions all at once.
"I do 1000% , know who Vince Ashton is. I’m very confident and affirmed in who I am as a man, as well as an entertainer."
How did growing up in Atlanta, Georgia influence your musical sound?
I mean, we hear this all the time Atlanta is the place to be and I thoroughly believe. ATL is so rich of opportunities in so many avenues and lanes that you could just create your own space. The reflection in my music, shows up in my choices of the producers and songwriters that I have collaborated with who are from Atlanta. And to a degree I tell anyone who listens, but person this Atlanta just got some different, the swag, the magic you instantly know an artist is from ATL, just in the way that we talk, the way we write the way we move. I think there is such a sincere amount of truth that comes with the content that comes with the songs that I release. A similarity to popular Atlanta artists like Monica, TLC, 2 Chainz and Usher, a lot of their songs come from a real place, whether it is struggle, whether it is love, and I think that we all can identify in that.
You’re what we like to call renaissance man, I know you hear that all the time. Being someone who can turn a passion into a paycheck. But in your own words. So let’s focus on music. How are you inspiring the culture of music?
I'm inspiring because I'm reminding the world, It’s never too late. Because basically, the songs that I just recently released were already living on SoundCloud but because I have been blessed to juggle many things and have many entities a lot of those things sort of clouded what I wanted to be my forefront which was the music. So I just was like you know what? It’s never too late. Let me take my top three records that were on SoundCloud, put a little mixer master on them and throw them out there just to get everybody re-acclimated to Vince Ashton, the artist, if you will. And a lot of times I feel like nowadays people feel and just with society and even just through hardships in life and their journey that people live in a position where Dang, it might be too late for me to pursue this dream or Dang, you know, this idea, or this project that I once had it’s dated or it’s old, or it’s mundane, or it’s sort of been shelved and collected dust. Sometimes you have to take ownership, but you got to have your own passion enough to pull those ideas off those shelves, blow the dust off, repaint them, remix them, give them some light, enhance them and put it back out there for the public to see. This is where my journey is right now.
So you fuse many genres styles and concepts together in your music. Where does that inspiration come from?
It really comes from my background of being a jazz musician. I grew up in the south singing in the church. I was in band, middle school and high school, I'm also a trained classical musician. I play woodwind instruments, the oboe and English horn if you want to dissect that if you will, and then in the midst of all that just loving music in general. My mom was big on God, but she was also really big on like alternative rock and pop songs in the 90s and classical things and then you know, even for me like I loved R&B, you know, I really latched on to that 90s R&B sound. I don’t know what happened, but I really love country also. I just went to see Carrie Underwood, I will say she sang her face off. I’ve always just had an ear to the streets or an ear for music an ear for great music in for me, I don’t think it even really matters what genre it is specified in or located. If it touches me in tonally, then I’m gonna rock with it. And I think I’ve just reciprocated that and reflected that. In my music. I write what I want to write, and I write it to whatever genre I feel reflects the core and the essence of that song. And I’m contending that and that’s always been me.
So being a black artist, there’s always more scrutiny and you have to be mindful of how you brand yourself. How do you balance that with showing personality in your music?
I think if you want to look at it from an industry perspective, what I would definitely say is true core to Vince Ashton is R&B. I love R&B up and down, but I’m also not opposed to writing and recording to other genres. But I guess for the sake of playing the game, and just the politics of industry and identifying XYZ then I will put myself onto the R&B department and I’m completely continuing that because I love R&B. R&B is not dead ladies and gentlemen.
Today we look at streams, social media and sometimes don’t really focus on the beauty in the music. In your own words what defines an artist to you in 2023?
I think there has to be a level of uniqueness. Because let’s be honest about the situation. You know, talent is everywhere. Atlanta is very saturated. A lot of other major cities are very saturated with talent. But wduring casting callsor executive meetings you'll often get asked, what makes you different than the next person. And what defines you as a human? What defines you as artist? Is it your uniqueness? Is there something different about your tone? Is there something different about your style? Is there something different about your perspective? And and can you sort of use that as a marketing tool? Can that become an aesthetic? Can that become something that compels people to want to sort of buy into your vision, buy into your music, buy into your dream? So I would have to leave with that with that answer and say, uniqueness, there is a level of uniqueness that should define you, as an artist versus a singer.
On the other hand, the rise of social media has afforded musicians a platform to cultivate their own identity on their own terms. Arguably, there has never been a better time than it is today with social media for independent artists. Do you agree?
I think that social media is today’s grassroots myth, if you will, you brought up the 90 so I distinctively remember growing up in Atlanta, being at Greenbriar mall, being that Shannon mall, and going into the car and always having somebody flyer from somebody’s mixtape, somebody album, somebody something in the windshield, you get what I’m saying, or people just blasting a music on the corner of highway 85, or whatever because that was grassroots. I think now that social media is in place, and you can level up and purchase ads and, you know, do paid social, and that really expands your market. I think that sort of took the place of the grassroots method, but I will say, it’s funny, because I will say pre algorithm, I think that, um, things were a lot easier than post algorithm, because I feel like if you are already pre established pre algorithm with followers and all those things, then you pretty much had a solid following foundation with promoting things and posting things and getting that good engagement. I think posts algorithm for new artists and new creatives that are really trying to, you know, hit those benchmark goals and get that engagement and so on and so forth, its hard. One day you get 150 likes the next day, you get 10. Social media has definitely put a damper on the marketing and the publicity side of it, but at the end of the day, if you’re passionate about it, my quote that I look at is consistency is the key to break through. So regardless of whatever challenge it is you got to keep pushing through.
So for many artists fear is emotion that either propels or hinders their creativity and development. Do you feel you’re at a stage in your career where you know who you are as an artist, performer or entrepreneur?
I do 1,000% , know who Vince Ashton is. I’m very confident and affirmed in this who I am as a man, as well as just an entertainer and as artists and you know, I’m 33 years old. I have been singing since I was like six and I feel in this journey of life, I have been privileged to be able to just Dibble and dabble in a lot of different forms of entertainment, a lot of different forms of musicianship and genres. Those experiences have assisted me in cultivating the artist that I am today you get what I’m saying.
So I love to ask artists, in the shower are you singing your songs or someone else? If you are singing someone else, whose the artist?
So I’ll say this if I record something new in the studio, I’m listening to the record for the next two weeks all day up and down. Oh, when that has served its purpose then I’m probably listening to Musiq Soul Child. When that first steam from the shower open up your register you know you can get out a note with Jesus toenails! If there has to be a second artist if I'm just really in a good mood, its New Edition I'm singing and doing full choreography in the shower.
What are you excited for next?
So right now all things are leading up to July, I am performing sort of CO headlining on East Point city’s annual firework Independence Day celebration. I’m really excited. And then July 9, I’m heading back to Vancouver, Canada, because I am headlining my first outdoor music festival in British Columbia. So really excited about those two things. And of course, there’s other things leading up to that. Kickback, one of the records that I actually just released, I recently recorded an acoustic version. So that will be available for your Spotify and Apple Music and all that stuff. When I tell you, I did my good singing. I did my big one on this remix. And then once Vancouver is done I may drop something else, you know, mid summer, early fall, if you will. So yeah, definitely more music. But those are the big things on the radar right now. Oh, and I may be hopping back on your television screens too soon.
What inspired kickback?
Shout out to my homeboy, B. Louis. He’s a phenomenal songwriter out in Huntsville, Alabama. We met on Twitter, you know, just networking. I sent him the track and he wrote it seamlessly. 'Kickback' is a song thats very relatable, its really just about making sure that your relationship is secure. Like in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life and grinding, like you said, Renaissance man got many things happening at one time, but I want to make sure my lady is secure in the midst of it. At the end of the day we’re going to have a good time.
Listen to Kickback.