Q&A: Introducing Indie Soul by AHI

Ever heard about the musical genre indie soul. It´s a musical genre put together of the word independent and soul. Soul music released on a small record company – or released independently without any major recording company backing.

Indie Soul is also the title of the second EP by acoustic soul artist AHI. If any artist should own the title it´s the raspy voiced Afro-American singer and acoustic guitarist, who hides is full name behind the initials AHI, which has become his artist name.

AHIs characteristic, and recognisable raspy and soulful voice and his lyrics and melodies brings to mind thoughts like: What if Bobby Womack was a folk singer and Bob Dylan crossed paths with Led Zeppelin who lets Gil Scott Heron write the texts and letting John Martyn do the singing.

AHI_Day3_Head_Hand On Head
AHI has recorded two great EPs, his selftitled Ahi – EP back in october 2012 and now in february 2014 a brand new EP, the Indie Soul – EP! Both EPs contains 5 songs each, and that’s closely about 40 minutes of, what I would call raw indie soul from an exciting artist more people should get to know.

It´s time to get to know AHI a little better, so read on for the Read & Hear Q/A interview;

If you ask me, never has a genre fitted better than your self-proclaimed Indie Soul genre. I’m tempted to even push it a bit further and call it Raw Indie Soul, because you have a raspy soulful raw voice and a sound that really IS that genre.
What’s the story behind your sound? Describe the genre to some one who has never heard your music before?

As a musician in a sea of music it’s important to find something genuine about yourself that stands out and to identify that to your listener, and I would say that for me it’s probably my raspy, passionate voice.
When I was in London, UK, last summer it just hit me: “Indie Soul”. That’s what I should call my music because I’m influenced by the Indie song structure, melody and writing style, and I’m also heavily influenced by the feel and emotion of soul music. Also, I consider myself an independent soul, a man of my own heart. Indie Soul is just one of those things that people who appreciate my music will understand right away.

I think I hear bits of classing political singer-songwriters and wish to draw a line between your sound and Bob Dylan, Gil Scott Heron, Richie Havens and John Martyn even a dash of Led Zeppelin. You may have other references than me, so here’s your chance to share it with the readers.
Where do you find your musical inspiration; Which artists or bands made you wanna pick up a guitar and choose music as your life journey?

My top three of all time, in no particular order, are Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson. All three of these musicians have touched on socio-political topics. Then you’ve got Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”; Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On”; Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddamn”; Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready”; Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”; and the list goes on. It’s embedded in black musical tradition. I started looking at Richie Havens and Bob Dylan a bit later, when people started comparing me to them. All this stuff comes from the blues, though, and that was the first music I really fell in love with. B.B. King is probably the most subconscious influence in my music career; “The Thrill Is Gone” – who writes like that anymore?

As for picking up the guitar, that just happened. I never wanted to play it, but I was in band that disbanded and the acoustic guitar seemed like the easiest tool to help me continue writing music. But I would have to give credit to local artists like K-os and Murray A. Lightburn (The Dears) for making black males with guitars seem commonplace. Where I’m from it wasn’t commonplace, but I was none the wiser because of them.

I’m getting curious about your name, AHI – it´s always written in capital letters
Is this your real name, or is it short for something. What’s the story?

A-H-I is the initials of my name, but it’s also a Hebrew word when read, which means “brother” or “kindred”. I’d like to believe that my music is brotherly, so for me the name fits.

IndieSoulBehindScenes

Everyone seems to be able to make and release music in their own living room these days, and everyone can, or has to give away or share all music for “free” or a small amount of money through streaming services like Spotify and Last.fm to name a few services
How is it to try to break through in the music business today and live out of making music?

It’s chaos and destruction, total anarchy! Ha ha.

Nah, I think it’s cool. For better or for worse, musicians are able to make the most uncompromising music ever. As a result, there are a handful of courageous musicians doing some phenomenal things today. If you can capture your friends, then you’re good go. Otherwise it’s only getting tougher.

Being a lover of all sorts of music myself, from singer-songwriter to metal, to soul to club and jazz – from nu-stuff to old analogue music. There’s always great music to listen to.
What sort of music do you love to groove to? And what is your preferred format to listen to?

I don’t look at the genre so much because I really can listen to anything; however, not a lot of music inspires me. A good melody, a good message and a unique delivery are what catch my attention.
I love watching live sessions, on YouTube or otherwise; they are so raw and stripped down, and you can really see who has something beyond the studio magic and tricks.

I read on the blog on your homepage, that a top UK House producer would love to work with you. Is this secret?
If not, could you give us a teaser about who would love to collaborate with you?

I wouldn’t call it a secret, but we are still in the writing stages of the project and he hasn’t begun talking about himself so it’s probably better not to say. He sent me some tracks and it was a challenge to really position myself in the House music environment, but I’m pretty excited about what we’re doing and I’m looking forward to the outcome.

AHI EPsHear previews and download the AHIs EPs here: “AHI – EP” (left) and “Indie Soul – EP” (right)

In the liner notes of your latest EP I read that you write, perform, and produce most of your music yourself.
Is it easy for you to make music? What is your secret trick?

I write and perform all the songs, but I do have to give a lot of credit to Orin Isaacs who produced my last two EPs. On the Indie Soul EP, I created demos and brought them to the studio and we built the songs together from those demos.

Making music is easy; it’s making good music, remarkable music, that’s the challenge. So it’s more of a discipline than a secret trick. You really gotta start with a good song in its simplest form and try to get it as close to your idea of perfection as possible while still allowing it to retain its simplicity. From there you build it piece by piece with caution. You never want to take away from the essence of a great song, which can easily be done.

The EPs is a teaser for a forthcoming album I would guess, is there a plan about releasing this in a short time?
Are you seeing how the EPs are selling before you choose to release a full album or if you have a release plan, when will it be available for your audience and fans?

Ideally the Indie Soul EP is a platform for a full-length album of the same title presenting Indie Soul to the world. I would like to do an LP, but it has to make sense not only economically but just all around.

And as for the final question – here it’s up to you to empty your heart.
Tell your fans at least 3 words about why 2014 is going to be a fantastic year?

The Indie Soul EP drops on Feb 11th, which is fantastic, and that’s just a teaser. I’m writing some powerful songs that I’m really proud of, songs that I as a music consumer would be thirsty for. And that has always been my aim, since I first started out.

2014 is the year AHI introduces Indie Soul to the people, and I think the people have been waiting to hear this kind of music.

AHI_Day3_Head_Reflection_Look Away
You can read more about AHI on his homepage
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