Shane Ashen discovered his love for music in his junior year of high school when he learned to play the piano. Not long after, he started doing covers of songs and instrumentals before eventually joining a band as the keyboard player. Needless to say, this quickly turned into a lifelong passion for him.
A junior television and digital media major with a concentration in audio and sound design, Ashen is a singer and musician who plays the piano and guitar and also writes his own songs. He has performed live throughout New Jersey in many different places, including Cliffside Park, Ridgewood, Wyckoff and more.
His most recent single, “Snowbird,” was released on Sept. 21 and can be heard on YouTube and Spotify.
Ashen spoke to The Montclarion staff writer Darian Mozo to discuss his music.
Q: Was there a moment or a person that motivated you to follow your dreams of being an artist?
A: [While] I was learning to play the piano and do music, I started listening to the band Coldplay, specifically the song “Yellow.” I fell in love with the song. Ever since I heard a song I truly love, it made me want to start creating my own music.
The band [I was in] was my biggest inspiration to get into music. I loved playing with them; they were like a second family for me. When the band broke up, I found myself in this weird stop where I wasn’t sure what to do. There was a point where I didn’t consider myself a singer or didn’t think I would [still do it].
Now, the more I play, the better I get and the more confident I feel. Everything is about confidence.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: I describe my music as a singer-songwriter alternative and [also as] melancholic. I think my music is more on the melancholic side, [as] I like writing sad music. Most of the inspiration for that music comes from real events, things that happened [to me]. Most of my favorite songs I wrote are drawn from direct experiences.
Q: What was the meaning behind your new song “Snowbird?”
A: This song is about being in a situation with someone where they want to get your attention. Maybe you don’t have all the focus on them yet, but they do everything to get you to notice them. Once you finally start to want them the same way they wanted you, they pull away because they got what they wanted. You feel [like] a piece of you just left away.
Q: How do you feel Montclair State has helped you with your music career?
A: Here at Montclair State University, I’ve noticed the friendliness of the students. Everyone helps each other with the classes, and even by just walking around campus, I feel it’s more approachable.
I met people who also write music or have show opportunities. Montclair [State] has events such as Open Mic [and other] different shows, which is great because it gives me and other people the opportunity to showcase their music. Here, I’m happier.
Q: How do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I see myself [having] more people listen to my music, [and] a lot more songs released. Maybe an album. I see myself playing bigger shows and venues than I am now.
I would be happy having a successful studio where I can help people and produce [music] for them. Helping people is a good feeling. You see the excitement on people’s faces when their vision is coming to life, and it genuinely makes me feel good to help. This is what I really want to do, and I am not accepting another fate outside of music.
Q: What advice would you give to all those people who love music but haven’t taken the initiative to pursue that dream yet?
A: If you want to do it, you have to be very consistent. Start small because [it’s] a very long process. When I first started, I was nervous waiting to perform a show. Now, [it’s] not a fear but excitement. The more you do it and the more you expose yourself to it, you would be so much more confident in performing.
As long as you’re authentic, people will hear it and listen to it. People enjoy seeing passion in people. When you see passion, it draws other people into what they do, [too].
To keep up, follow @shane.ashen on Instagram so you don’t miss any of his new content.