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2015.01.27 - Interview with Dj in Origin Magazine

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2015.01.27 - Interview with Dj in Origin Magazine Empty 2015.01.27 - Interview with Dj in Origin Magazine

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:40 am

Guns N’ Roses DJ Ashba: On Overcoming Obstacles with a Guitar

Robert Piper: How has music inspired your life?

DJ Ashba: Music has been more, you know, the only thing I’ve ever known. When I was three years old, my mom put me up on a piano. She was a classical pianist. At the age of five, I was doing my first recital, playing “Ode to Joy” in front of, like, a church audience. I was born into a very religious family with no TVs and a very strict Episcopal Christian religion. Music was my outlet and more of my therapy than anything, but yeah, it was the one thing in life that I’ve had, art and music.

RP: What musicians have had the most impact on your career?

DJA: Definitely Elvis Presley. We weren’t allowed to really listen to anything rock ’n’ roll, and thank God, by the grace of God, my mom loved Elvis Presley. It was either classical music in the house, church songs or Christmas songs, or Elvis Presley. So Elvis is the only thing that I got a taste of what rock ’n’ roll really was. Then my older brother got me into Kiss, and then from there, I came up on Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen and all those types of players, and I just got sucked into that wormhole.

RP: At what age did you really start to expand into your own creation of music?

DJA: I started out on guitar when I was nine years old, and I started playing bars and stuff when I was thirteen, and I’ve been playing ever since. I always was intrigued with writing my own stuff, and I was always really bad at learning other people’s stuff. I found it more pleasurable to write something, sing a melody over it. At a very young age, I kind of honed my writing skills, I guess.

RP: Where do you pull inspiration from when you’re writing music?

DJA: You know, just through life experiences. I grew up in a really bad situation; my father left when I was young—you know, an abusive situation. So the minute I put my fingers on a guitar and closed my eyes and just played, it literally was like a drug. It took me into a totally different world, and I just pulled from emotions and experiences that I was going through. If you got sent to your room and whipped that day, I would probably write a very aggressive, angry song. Or if you meet some young girl at school, you’d probably write a sappy love song.

RP: It’s fascinating that over the generations, for thousands of years, people have pulled this kind of inspiration from music and it’s been a therapy. What was one of the hardest obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your life?

DJA: God, there are so many, to be honest. I moved out when I was sixteen. I was a very lost soul. My dad left when I was four, and I don’t have really good memories of that whole thing. It was back and forth, from Mom to Dad, and it was just this whole scene for a kid that no kid should really have to go through. But just trying to figure out how to become an adult without a father figure, and getting through life and learning, going out into the world, moving to California when I was twenty years old, and being beyond naïve. From a very small country town of about two thousand farmers and churchgoers to L.A., where you don’t know a soul and you’re just like a piece of fish food thrown in the ocean.

So it was figuring out how to survive, more than anything, and how to manage money and how to still do what I love to do, and the only thing I knew how to do was draw and play music. I think that and just not giving up, because I had everybody in my hometown against me, as far as “You’re a dreamer, you’re never going to make it, there are millions of guitar players in the world, what makes you think you’re different.” So going out there, failing was not an option, so I think that was the hardest thing, just feeling very alone and having to fight through this world on your own to do something that you truly believe in.

RP: You’re at the top of your career, and you have more to grow. But how did you become so resilient and stay with your art?

DJA: You know, I just never doubted myself. I always knew I was going to do something. The fact that my dad was never around gave me a lot of determination. It really set this fire full of fuel, so to speak. It didn’t matter what anybody was telling me, how many times I got rejected, because it was never as bad as being rejected by your own father. So I think I didn’t have anything else to go home to, really, so it was sink or swim for me, and I was just so determined. And I work, to this day, from morning to night, seven days a week. I’m always working two, three years ahead of my own timeline; I’m a workaholic. I think that just naturally happened because I had to survive.

RP: I hear that constantly from people who’ve overcome hardships, exactly what you’re talking about. What projects are you currently working on now?

DJA: Well, I have a very successful media company here in Vegas. We do all eight Cirque du Soleil accounts in town and put all these massive one-of-a-kind displays in all the major casinos. We just finished the Jeff Dunham [show] over at Planet Hollywood. I go in and design all these, and then I have a company build out my designs. I’ve been doing that and Ashba Clothing. The clothing line is doing really well, and we’re about ready to put that into stores worldwide, which I’m really happy about. My main goal right now, honestly, is to head towards film and TV.

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