James Asher made the transition from library music to successful commercial releases by tapping into an underlying demand for world-flavoured, rhythmic new age music.
James Asher has had a long and varied career in the music business--his first single was produced by Pete Townsend in 1979, and he went on to return the favor by playing drums on Pete's Empty Glass album. After writing and recording 23 albums of library music, as well as gaining a clutch of production credits, he has gone on to explore the wider horizons of world music, releasing a series of very well received albums. In 1990, his first commercial album release, The Great Wheel, reached number 13 in the Billboard New Age chart, staying there on and off for about two years. His second album, Globalarium, featured world artists such as Hossam Ramzy on Egyptian percussion and Joji Hirota on shakuhachi. His recent CDs like Feet in the Soil, Feet in the Soil 2 and Kali thunder, are "an uplifting celebration of danceable energies centered in the earth", drawing inspiration from Aboriginal and African lifestyles.
Although James started his professional career as a drummer, he now considers keyboards his main instrument, albeit from a highly rhythmic standpoint. "l started learning violin when I was seven, and experimented with keyboards when I was 12. I always had a sense of self-expression on keyboard that I never had on violin, because nobody really taught me anything on keyboards, so it was wide open to interpretation. Playing drums has made me very rhythmically oriented. I always build things up from rhythm--that's my starting point."
"I write now in two distinct commercial styles. One is World Beat, and Feet in the Soil is a good example of this. It's a mixture of didgeridoos, hand percussion, djembe, flute, cello - that kind of thing. I still write music, as I have done for some time, in a more spacey, more conventionally New Age style, although from a commercial point of view there's much more demand in the percussive area, because the spacey side of things has been around much longer, and therefore there's a much greater glut of product in that genre. I would never abandon doing the more spacey stuff, but in the past I've made the mistake of trying to put each of those genres into one product, and seen how it confuses people. I do tend to keep them separate now."
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