Duo Embark on Ambitious East Coast Tour
Ash & Bloom have been on an incredible journey. With music as their guide, the Hamilton, Ontario duo have been traveling the world performing on stages everywhere from Port Fairy, Australia to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Their debut release, Let The Storm Come, serves as a strong introduction and features songs co-written by Peter Katz, Caroline Brooks (The Good Lovelies), Julie Crochietere and Rob Szabo.
Now in the midst of a series of Canadian dates, Ash & Bloom will be playing a number of shows on the East Coast, beginning with a performance at Grimross Brewery in Fredericton. We caught up with the duo’s James Bloemendal to learn a bit more about their music, what they’ve been up to and what 2015 has in store.
Let’s talk about your first tour in 2013. Is it true you donated the proceeds to local charities? How did you make that work and how did you pick the charities you supported?
The Vehicle of Change Tour was great! We were able to travel across North America with singer Justin Hines and in each city we visited we were partnered with a local charity. The charities supported were chosen through the Agency for Extraordinary People and had to meet criteria; were they a non-profit and were they in need of support? If the answers were yes, they were added to the tour right away. We were partnered with everyone from Funds for Furry Friends to Goodwill. All proceeds from tickets went directly to the charities we partnered with. It was great to be in those communities and see where the money was going.
Tell us about Let The Storm Come. You’ve got a lot of great guests who joined you for that recording. How did that come about?
We think music provides a great chance to be a part of community. We make music to share with other people and we love having people share in the creation of it as well. We have lots of friends who are great artists, producers, songwriters and we really enjoy making music with them. When we make music with them we often end up loving what we come up with and want to share it. Two songs from the album actually came out on some of our co-writer’s albums as well as ours. “This Town” ended up on Peter Katz’ s album and “You Need More Than Love” was on Julie Crochetiere’s album, which was nominated for a Juno this year.
How did you come up with the idea for your video “This Town (Hamilton)” and what has the response been like?
The song was written about Hamilton and about the two main ways you can drive into the city. If you take one highway you see drive through a beautiful valley, around a lake in Cootes Paradise and see an amazing green city. If you take the other highway and go over the Skyway Bridge you get a view of the two steel mills and the more industrial end of the city. We wrote the verses about those two very different drives and in the choruses talked about the hope and renewal we see in the city. Once we had the song it felt like a really natural extension to try and find a way to capture this concept visually. Hamilton has so many great buildings, dramatic changing landscape, and so many people investing to make it better place. We filmed Hamilton in all four seasons over two years and had people from all over the city hold signs with the lyrics in some of the many beautiful places around the city. We had so much support that we ended up getting the mayor, all the major media networks, a member from the Hamilton Ti-cats, the Police, some of Hamilton’s famous musicians and a whole bunch of other people who are making a huge difference in this city.
The response to the video was amazing. When people watched it they paid us the highest compliment they could; they shared it. Without that kind of response we wouldn’t have hit 10,000 views within the first week we released it.
It sounds like things are going really well. Will this be your first visit to the East Coast?
We have been to the East Coast only one other time as Ash & Bloom. We are coming back because we loved it so much. We love the landscape, the pace of life, how welcoming communities are and how music is already ingrained into everyone’s life. You can really feel the difference in how people respond to music here. They like to be involved, they like to laugh and they are great at singing along. People kept telling us our music needs to be on the East Coast and now we are seeing why.
It’s been an ambitious first couple of years. What’s in the works for the rest of 2015?
It’s been a crazy ride over the past two years. We had a chance to release our album and support it with tours through Canada, the US and Australia. After we get back from the East Coast we will be getting ready for festival season over the summer, another tour out West in the early fall and writing, writing, writing. We love writing songs and wrote a few hundred before we selected the 12 on this album. We want to make sure that the next project we put out is another big step forward.
Catch Ash & Bloom on their Maritime tour. Full dates available here.