Asher Monroe Interview: Singer Talks ‘On My Way: Part 2′ EP, Reveals What’s Next [EXCLUSIVE]
Asher Monroe fans, get ready to see a different side of the singer!
His new EP, 'On My Way: Part 2,' was recorded at the same time as his previous project, but Asher promises us that listeners can expect a fresh vibe. The divergence can partially be contributed to Chris Brown, who hit the studio with Asher to record the tracks.
Asher's enthusiasm was palpable as he spoke with PopCrush about the new music, sharing memories from the studio (Rihanna stopped by!) and explaining what it's like to perform sultry songs live. Check out all of that and more in the interview below!
Congrats on your new EP, ‘On My Way: Part 2.’
Thank you very much! It’s cool. I broke it up into two [EPs]. It was a big 10 songs, so I just decided to go five and five.
Did your record them all together?
I think in the beginning, we wanted to do an album’s length of material, but we never had a title or a name for it. That was kind of my decision last minute to break it up into an EP first and do part one and part two. So partly because of that is I did this so-called EP about a year and a half ago and since then I’ve accumulated a lot more music. Following this EP, I’ll probably be releasing a full-length album. Because of that, I didn’t want to call [this] an album. I also think it’s more fun for the fans to experience a wave of music and that was a good way for me to break it up and leave them something, wanting more.
It’s part of the music industry and so many people do it, but it’s like you have to constantly be feeding people music, because if you’re gone for awhile, people are like “Okay, where’d they go?” “Well, they actually went in the studio to make more bodies of work so you can listen to it.” I think it’s easier, nowadays, you can get away with just singles or things like that. I think it’s more fun to do it that way.
Listen to Asher Monroe's 'On My Way'
Is there a difference in sound between the two EPs?
Yes, there’s definitely a vibe and sound difference. That, I think, comes with your headspace. I think it also comes with the type of people you’re working with. So, for me, I worked with Chris Brown and his camp – a lot of the guys, writers, producers he works with – so I kind of jumped into the sound that they were already doing, and they also pulled from me, kind of how I made the songs more myself. That also comes with how you write it.
But I think the journey has been great because this was just a fantastic album of work. We knocked out 12 songs total, I cut it down to 10, and it’s just a great body of work. We got Sean Kingston to feature on one of them, me and Chris did a video together on the single. There’s just some great, great songs that I’m super proud of. It’s slightly different sonically than where I went after that, so I’m looking forward to also sharing that with you guys as well.
We love your new song, ‘Nobody Else.’ Is that the official single or just a preview of the new EP?
It was more ahead of time. I haven’t done a lot of just giving my songs away for free to stream, so I tried to do as much of that as I could. I think I gave at least five to seven songs away early on just for fans to get a teaser of it, hear it for free before it came out on iTunes. I’m all about trying new techniques and what the fans gravitate toward.
‘Nobody Else’ is pretty steamy. Have you performed that track live yet?
I have not, no.
What goes through your head when you perform sultry songs like that live?
Well, you really have to embrace it for what it is. That comes with – a lot of these times, think about it. These songs I’m writing with another guy as well. (Laughs) I’m writing a pretty sensual song with another dude who’s pretty macho, you know, you gotta really be in touch with your “sensitive side” and be able to just let loose in the writing process.
And the same comes with performing, I think. The more that you completely let go and really get in the zone of where you were when you wrote that song, that’s where it translates and that’s when people can really get sucked into your performance and hopefully they talk about it.
You’ve collaborated with some amazing people, like Chris Brown and Ryan Tedder. Have they imparted any advice to you?
Ryan Tedder gave me good advice. He always said, “Start with the chorus. That’s the most memorable part.” And I definitely took that to heart because I think sometimes I’ll start from the beginning and kind of write a story to that and not know where I’m going to go, and other times I follow his techniques where I’m just focusing on “Okay, let’s come up with the most catchy part.” Because that part, at the end of the day, the chorus is the most important. If you have a bad chorus, it’s not really going to go anywhere. So that was interesting.
Chris told me, I remember on the day of the video shoot – he directed it actually – and he told me, “Any time you have a vision for your material, your songs, try directing it yourself.” So I think I might be directing my next video. I have a great team in place and I have the whole treatment. I’ve conceptualized everything. When you’re an artist and you’re really hands-on, which I try to be, you really do, you come up with everything. I took that advice and I’m trying to use it for the next one.
I imagine having an acting background influences that.
Oh, yeah, all that helps. I mean, you’re on a set. I started on Broadway and did TV and stuff, so all of that’s been great for me. You watch from behind the scenes and you take notes and you learn. For me, it’s been a great growth and I’ve learned so much. I pull pieces from every little part of my career. Hopefully, it just all comes together when you have opportunities like this to direct and whatnot.
On the first part of the ‘On My Way’ EP, you have a song called ‘Memory.’ Does one memory of recording the EP stick out to you?
We had cool moments, like we had Rihanna walk in one day. She was watching me cut vocals the whole day. People like LL Cool J, such random people, would walk in and we’d have interesting moments. The collaboration was always -- that was cool for me to watch that process. I think that’s how a lot of those guys start working with new people is you’re in an environment where everyone – like will.i.am was always across the hall from me, so I would go and his people would come in and be like “Who’s this kid? What is his music?” So there’s a collaboration there. Always open moments to work with new people, so that was fun.
Listen to Asher Monroe's 'Memory' Feat. Chris Brown
Did you feel any pressure having somebody like Rihanna watching you record?
No, everyone was super cool. Everyone would come in and the music was always cranked as loud as it can go. That was the one funny thing about being in sessions with Chris. Everyone has their own way of playing music, but I’ve never heard somebody play music so loud. And your ears almost hurt after each song, but you definitely heard everything. You didn’t miss a beat. That was always kind of fun. When people would walk in, you’d almost feel like you were entering a concert, it’s so loud and you have so many hype men around getting excited, so that was cool.
The more that you completely let go and really get in the zone of where you were when you wrote that song, that’s where it translates and that’s when people can really get sucked into your performance.
You recently tweeted about the new year, saying, “No time like the present to stand out from the rest.” What is the one standout thing that you want people to get from the new EP?
I think as fans have been on this journey with me for quite awhile, going from days when I was signed and I didn’t really – I was given songs by famous writers and whatnot that I had to sing and own. Which a lot of artists still do and now, to the EP, everything has been such a growth. I wrote on all songs. I put everything in working with these guys and so I think that it’s just fun. Hopefully the fans will see the journey of where I’m at and where I’m going and they can only tell by the music. This first EP is the first body of work where they’ll see “Oh, I think he’s really grown” melodically, vocally, lyrically. It’s all I’m challenging myself, every time I’m in the studio, to produce now and do everything. I play more instruments than I used to. So it’s fun for me to learn all these things and grow in the studio.
Did you infuse a little more of yourself in these?
And the more I’m infusing myself, the more it’s relatable. I think that people can get to know me better through my music.
Will any of the EP songs be on an upcoming album or will it be all new tracks?
To be honest, I haven’t been asked that and you’re definitely the first one to know, but probably not. It’s probably going to be completely separated. To tease the next wave, I have about two or three songs that I’m about 80 percent finished on and that’ll be 12 songs on another album. So that’ll be another album after this. That’ll be very shortly after this.
Word on the street is that you make a mean pizza.
Yeah! Man, that’s getting around.
Are you into cooking outside of that or is pizza your specialty?
I have definitely gotten into cooking in the last year. I don’t know what it is. I think what it was is I went to Italy and I just wanted to go to one of the famous, local Italian spots, so they pointed me in the right direction. My mind was blown after I had the pizza. I was like, “I never want to order another American delivery pizza ever again.”
Where in Italy did you go?
We went to Florence and Venice was our next stop. Oh, my gosh, it was so inspiring to have that food there. I came back and I started learning how to make the dough. Then you get adventurous with pizzas and you can start making anything. People tell me my pizzas are amazing.
Do you cook anything else?
Pizza’s the main [dish]. I do breakfast sometimes, but that’s kind of the one I wanted to tackle. I’m no chef, by any means, but it’s fun to try something new once in awhile.