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Bashy: Back to the future

INDEPENDENT: Bashy

HE’S GONE from Black Boys to Top Boy in a career that has spanned almost a decade.

Ashley Thomas, more commonly known as Bashy in the music world, has been grinding from day one.

With no major label backing or financial support, Bashy and his team, comprised mainly of the star and his manager, scored an underground hit - and nationwide acclaim - with 2007’s Black Boys, an inspirational ode to his peers, and has amassed over 7 million YouTube hits to date.

Those feats, he says, are down to nothing more than a positive attitude.

“We just keep going,” he says. “There’s no point in sitting around and complaining. I’m an independent artist, I’ve been this way for the whole of my career. Yes, it can definitely be disheartening in terms of having to compete with big budgets and other hurdles, but we work through it.

“I know some people would be like, ‘I’ve had enough of music. I can’t get signed’, but I wasn’t signed when I got into music, I got into it because I loved it and I thought I was pretty good and I developed my craft. I’m of the belief that good music, hard work and talent will always prevail.”

Graduating from the infamous BRIT School, home to the likes of Adele and Jessie J, Bashy knew from a young age that his future was on stage – although he did also consider a career as a pilot at one point. He has since successfully juggled a career in music and acting throughout his time in the spotlight.

Bagging roles in Brit flick Shank, Noel Clarke’s crime thriller, 4.3.2.1, a lead role in The Man Inside, alongside Homeland star David Harewood and more recently in Channel 4’s Top Boy, all while gearing up for the release of his new single, These Are The Songs, the 28-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down.

“When I’m recording, I’ll use quiet moments to learn scripts for castings and when I’m filming, I’m having to squeeze in studio time. The universe has blessed me with a few talents, I feel like I would be doing myself an injustice if I wasn’t exploring them,” he jokes.

After landing an enviable list of credits on the silver screen, I, like many of Bashy’s fans, questioned whether acting would, or had indeed, stolen his heart. He laughs knowingly.

“I’ve always acted,” he starts. “Everyone thinks, ‘I wonder if he’s gonna leave music and pursue acting full time,’ but the thing is, I’ve always done it. When I studied at the BRIT School, that’s what I did. I personally feel that music is a lot easier than acting.”

He explains: “With music you can upload a song to Soundcloud, YouTube and promote it on social media off your own back. I think it’s a little harder to gain recognition in the same way [with acting].”

Surely things are made a little easier when you have acting veterans like David Harewood offering you advice on set?

“Where did you hear that?” he asks me when I mention his blossoming friendship on The Man Inside set with the British actor.

“I did my research,” is my smug response.

He laughs and adds: “Yes, Dionne! Research. I like it!”

He continues: “Speaking to David Harewood was dope,” he admits. “I’m a lead in the film and he is playing my dad. He is in Homeland – a prime-time American drama! Here’s this veteran sitting across the table from me giving me invaluable tips and advice. It was great.”

He adds: “Each set I go onto, I’m trying to learn from other actors, similarly in music. I have a lot of people who I listen to. People that have done it for a long time. Not just musicians, but managers and other influential people. I try to be a sponge for knowledge and learning because I’m trying to get ahead. That’s why I think I’ve stayed relevant for so long. I’m always willing to learn from the past and pick up new skills.”

He has taken other valuable things from the past too, like his inspiration behind new track These Are The Songs.

Sampling Danny Weed’s classic track, Creeper, Bashy showcases his lyrical dexterity as he takes you on a trip down memory lane and reminisces about the golden years of UK music, including Eskimo Dance, dubplates, So Solid Crew and more.

“Before there was grime, the only songs we would find were taped from the radio to memorise,” featured singer Jareth croons on the song’s chorus.

The nostalgic track, which has found a permanent home in my heart and iTunes playlist, lovingly transports listeners back to the days when brightly coloured stretch jeans, Dax Wax plastered in your hair and gaudy gold jewellery were all the rage. I certainly miss those days. Does he? He laughs.

“No, because any time that has passed is gone and I’m not trying to go back there. I just think that was a good time when music was really enjoyable and one of the things that actually sparked my interest in music. It was just a different time and some of my favourite songs came from that era. It’s that feelgood music I’m trying to make now,” he says.

As well as an ode to the past, Bashy is also making a way for the future after choosing to cast the video’s young leading roles entirely from Twitter.

“They are young, budding actors, who can put this experience on their showreel and run with that. Giving someone else a break is a good feeling and is what I’m about.”

These Are The Songs is out on Sep 8. For more information, visit www.bashy.com or follow @Bashy on Twitter

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