Ashley West-Mullen interview May 2013

“My name is Ash West-Mullen. I am a musician, a father and an educator. Cityzine asked me to answer a few questions that would offer some insight into my passion for local music scenes and the role that music plays in our society. Here are my answers…”

CZ: If you could be paid to do anything in the world as a job what would it be?

“Like most people, I spend far too much of my time working. Luckily, my line of work is quite colourful and varied and generally quite rewarding.Still, if I had the choice, I wouldn’t be working in a school. For most people work is a vacuum. A constant head-meets-brick-wall scenario. If I had the option of getting paid to do something I loved, it would be writing music. I get immense personal satisfaction from spending hours working on a song and hearing it evolve. I am currently trying to explore the different ways in which I can apply my skills in musical composition to different projects, trying to achieve that goal of being busy doing something that fills me up instead of sucking me dry. I think it’s reasonable to want that for yourself.”

When you think about the issues that concern you what would you like to see more people do?

“I think what concerns me is that people don’t seem to want music in their lives any more. They are more than happy to take what the mainstream media thrusts at them and leave it at that. I would like to see people go to more gigs and experience some normal people play some extraordinary music. Believe it or not, there are some amazing musicians about and they’re probably driving round the toilet circuit right now, playing to no one while you sit at home and watch Britain’s Got Talent or some shit. I would also like to see more venues take responsibility for building a scene and stop expecting promoters, musicians and audiences alike to front the bill for live performance.”

In what ways do you think you are affected negatively by capitalism?

“The main thing that stands between myself and music as a primary income is the value that society places on musical genre and form. Music has, in the past, been an integral part of ordinary social interaction but now it seems that musical accomplishment is something exclusive and untouchable. Capitalism turns everything into a commodity; every skill, every strand of knowledge or intention and chokes any real sense of  culture. It means that nothing is ever done for the sake of it any more, only ever to turn a profit. Music is sold as a premium in the culture industry. Musicians will never see the rewards of a self sustaining entertainment culture so long as it is regarded as being exclusively linked with the idea of celebrity.”

What projects or organisations exist in Derby that you would like to see more people support?

“There are plenty of forward thinking groups in Derby who are providing less conventional outlets for creatives. Cityzine being a prime example of an open platform for exposure and critical engagement with how the arts can be expressed. bUTTONpUSHER promote live gigs across both Derby and Nottingham, bringing in bands from all over the world that work hard to reach willing audiences. Their shows are well worth looking out for. Holy Smokes are also an exciting group of individuals, each with disciplines in live music and visual arts.They are concerned with adapting spaces to produce high quality music nights with a stimulating atmosphere. Hatch’d magazine run a beautiful website that covers all aspects of music, art, design and visual arts going on in and around Derby. Finally I’ve spotted a promising new creative hub emerging called A Clockwork Orrery who also have a lovely website and seem to be poking their nose into music, art, design and performance art. All of these creative organizations deserve the support of Derby people who are the lifeblood of any creative endeavour. I would like to see more people support the artists in their community so that a two-way dialogue can begin and enrich the lives of artists and audiences alike; without meaning to sound melodramatic, one has no purpose without the other.”


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