A Q&A with AHI
Honest, heartwarming Candian singer-songwriter…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
My latest release is called ‘Coldest Fire’ and it speaks to the duality that we often feel when trapped between two different world views. On one level, I’m a human being who simply wants to bring people together; but on another, I’m a Black man and my very existence has been hyper-politicised. So no matter what someone in my position might say, there’s always someone on the other side of the fence ready to attack, get defensive, or just pick apart what you’re feeling or experiencing.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
For me, the hardest part was the actual music video. It’s not an overly complex video, but landing on the central was more of a battle than I thought it would be. I’d always intended on having my family be a part of the video, but I wasn’t sure how to do it without it looking corny or too sappy. But I think we figured it out and I’m extremely happy with the visuals.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
Paul Mabury produced this song along with my entire record. He’s a 2x Grammy-winning, platinum selling producer, and yet extremely down to earth. It’s always fascinating to me when the experience of a song embodies its message. Paul and I experimented with some different sounds and drum patterns for ‘Coldest Fire’, but because of my own past experience being pigeonholed because of my aesthetic and ethnicity, I was worried about making it sound too “urban” or “tropical”. But Paul really enabled me to let go of all that and just create. He urged me to let the music speak to me and not create any mental blocks based on others’ perception.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
I want them to feel the honesty and humanity in my music. I want to get give them a sense of reassurance. Life isn’t easy, there are endless challenges we face. I just want them to know that someone feels what they feel and that they’re not alone in this world.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
So far I’ve written all my own songs, and that part usually happens in my home studio here in Toronto. For this new record I took the songs I’ve written and brought them to Paul’s studio in Franklin, TN. We then tracked my guitar and vocals and made any necessary arrangement tweaks (and I made a few last-minute lyric tweaks) to prep for full band tracking at Smoak Stack Studio in Nashville. Here we recorded everything live off the floor and perfected the various parts of the song. Then everything went back to Paul’s studio for the background singers to do their thing, and once that was solid I recut my vocals. Once all that was done then Paul did his work and made it sound like a proper record that’s ready for market. From there, we took it to legendary Canadian mixing engineer George Seara who took the whole sound to another level, and finally to NYC’s Sterling Sound Mastering for the final stage in the process.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
The two artists I found myself listening to the most when recording this record were Sade (Lover’s Rock) and Thomas Dybdahl (All These Things). The beautiful thing about both these artists’ records is the spacing in their music. The simple and cohesive feeling of these records really appealed to me; there’s not a whole lot going on with their music, but it doesn’t feel empty at all.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
I would like to tour Australia, South Africa, Brazil. I’ve played Red Rocks, but I’d like to go back and headline it someday. Royal Albert Hall would be awesome. O2 Academy Brixton. Carnegie Hall.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
This song isn’t out yet, but I would have to say my next single ‘Say It To Me’. It might be my favourite song on the album and it represents the heart and soul of everything my music is.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
I just want to help as many people as possible get through life, I want to reach as many people as I can and help them get to a good a place in life.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
For more info visit: ahimusic.com