She earned her stage name Cait ‘Ash’ in high school, based on her undying love for Daniel Ash of Love and Rockets/Bauhaus, whose guitar playing was a huge influence on her. The first time I met Cait was at Trinosophes when SROS Lords opened up for the Moonhairy/Human Eye record release show. They were great. She was rad. Little did I know that it was actually her first show playing with the band – they certainly fooled me. I chatted with her a little bit after that show, and was really excited to learn more about her when we got together for this interview at Donovan’s Pub on Monday, December 16, 2013.
Name: Cait Ash
Current Location: Right now I’m staying in Rochester Hills
Day job: Assisting Jesse Wozniak (audio engineer) at The Lodge Studio part-time. Occasionally, I’m at Lager House learning all there is to know from the one-and-only Craiger!
Which instrument(s) do you play?
Guitar and keys. Truthfully, I play bass and sing when it’s necessary 🙂
I play keys with SROS LORDS right now, and there’s also a couple of other groups of people that I jam with, but nothing serious enough to have a band name or anything. I have a solo project too.
How would you describe your music?
SROS LORDS: “slimernetic synth-punk” (coined by SROS drummer, Jamie Cherry.) I’ve found my music to be influenced by mid-late 70’s and early 80’s post-punk/no wave/synth-pop.
Who are the other band members in SROS LORDS?
Morgan Blank is the vocalist and guitarist for SROS LORDS and our drummer is (the very, very) Jamie Cherry.
Where did your name come from?
SROS stands for Sight-Rite Optical Studios. Morgan and I met at [his current place]: Bagley Vision, synonymous with the landlord and owner’s optic business, Sight-Rite Optical Studios.
How long have you been playing together?
I joined SROS Lords in August of 2013. The fact that I play with SROS is still surreal for me; they were (can I say still are? Haha) my favorite local band for quite a while. When Morgan asked if I would join SROS, I thought he was joking! The members of SROS Lords, past and present, are truly some of the best people I’ve met. I feel very lucky to play with them, gain musical experience and knowledge, and also being able to hang out with them!
I played keys, bass, and guitar for electro-industrial band, EPROM COLONY from 2010 to 2013. They’re nominated for another Detroit Music Award this year! Go check them out! (epromcolony.com & facebook.com/epromcolony)
Where did you grow up?
Rochester Hills, MI. SUBBBBUUURRRBBBBSSS!!
Do you remember your first experience with music as a child?
I took piano lessons briefly when I was five. I barely remember anything other than my teacher was rather strict …but she gave me a lollipop after every lesson.
I wanted to play drums in band [class] but decided to play the flute instead – I don’t blame my parents for influencing my decision! Who would wanna put up with an eleven year-old Cait banging on drums for hours every night??
What was your first favorite song?
I loved instrumentals. For some reason, my dad had this sci-fi instrumental compilation album, and I just loved the theme songs from Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
When and why did you start playing?
Piano lessons began sometime when I was five years-old; I only continued for a few months, I think. I started playing flute in band class continued for three years. My last year of band class I was allowed to play flute and percussion. Playing multiple instruments was exciting; my interest with guitar began due to this.
Music has continued to define my life because of what I can express, the freedom it allows. There is so much to life and if music is where I can experience, feel, and BE more, I want no restrictions!
What was the first song you learned to play?
On guitar: Louie Louie, I don’t remember the first song I learned on the piano.
Describe your first instrument.
The first instrument I owned is my Armstrong F# flute, which I still own. My first guitar was a Fender Strat.
When did you first play with a band/perform live?
The first band I played in was Eprom Colony. They were looking for a guitarist and I was really into creating different textures and they thought that was cool, and so I started playing shows with them at City Club. It was crazy. I loved it.
What was the first song you ever wrote called/about?
Man, all I write are instrumentals…the only ones with vocals are covers. I think whenever I write something it’s not ever about something I decide before I begin playing—it takes form on its own whim.
What instrument(s)/gear do you currently own/play?
I have two Epiphone Les Paul Standard guitars and a BC Rich. I used to have an Alvarez acoustic (my first guitar, courtesy of Mom and Pop!) and a Fender Stratocaster. I chose the Strat out of influence more than sound, which is why I decided to find something with less “twang” and more “warmth.” I love my Les Pauls; they just feel “right!”
My main bass is by Westone; “The Rail.” They were only produced for three years during the mid-1980s. The Rail is named such due to the unusual way one changes the tone; instead of using a knob or switch, you actually slide the pickup up and down between two rails.
I have two analog synthesizers: a Roland JX-3P, and a Moog MG-1; however, I use a MIDI controller a lot due to the practicality of less gear = less effort moving shi*.
I like using simulations of a lot of the analog gear that I really, really love. They’ve been hard to come by, but (by far my favorite is) Arturia’s Analog LAB, consisting of [digital simulations of] definitive analog synthesizers (for example: Roland’s Jupiter 8 and Yamaha’s CS-80!)
I have two amps: one is a Roland Cube 40 keyboard amp, and the other is a Roland Cube 60 guitar amp. They aren’t extremely loud amps but I have found, specifically when recording, small combo amps can sound impressively full-bodied; the Cube 40 in particular is great at this, especially since there is a stereo ¼’’ output I can use! I’ve been using the stereo out while micing the amp, kinda doing what is usually associated with recording a bass (micing amp & DI).
I’ve also been growing a collection of recording gear.
What are your current influences?
Right now TOTLLY DIG Caspar Broetzman Massaker, Rowland S. Howard (the guitarist from The Birthday Party and The Boys Next Door).
I love and appreciate their skills as guitarists because of the compositional skills and emotion they evoke/invoke into their work. They create atmosphere and channel emotions I feel are, what I can at most describe as sense of pleasant déjà-vu with the anticipation of future experience (the emotions that come along with experience) through textures (often critiqued as noise haha)!
What is your favorite thing/type of music to play?
Give me a guitar or keys and that’s all I need!
How do you balance your music with other obligations?
What was the first record you bought with your own money?
I think it was the Labyrinth soundtrack, on CD.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Amy Grant — and I think it’s awesome that in Andrea Morici’s interview she said the same thing!
Who is your all-time favorite musician/band(s)?
I love Daniel Ash (Bauhaus, Tones On Tail, Love & Rockets), Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Throbbing Gristle, Einstürzende Neubauten, Television, and Tangerine Dream.
Also, and I know it sounds really weird, but I just recently got into The Beatles.
Who is your favorite Detroit musician/band(s) currently?
I’m lucky enough to say that they’re my friends’ bands: 3FT and Wasabi Dream.
What is your favorite local venue to play?
Have you ever toured? If so, what was that like/did you enjoy it?
SROS Lords is the first band I have ever toured with. We have gone on three “mini-tours”
What is your favorite non-local venue?
I really love this DIY place we played in New York called Shea Stadium. It’s about the size of the Painted Lady in Hamtramck but it’s located on the second story of a warehouse.
What was the best show you’ve played?
The coolest show was, hands-down, the Moonhairy/Human Eye record-release in September 2013. It was also my first “official” show with SROS Lords.
What was the worst show?
The worst was a 2013 SROS show in Chicago, IL. It was so horrible. One of my amps kicked-the-bucket halfway through our set; nothing could be fixed and no one could hear what I was doing.
What has been your biggest challenge?
This will sound strange but my biggest challenge has been focusing on one task at a time. I really enjoy playing only keys with SROS Lords; when developing a part or rehearsing I no longer feel like I’m sacrificing time or effort because I have three different instruments to think about.
I suppose this challenge is also a saving-grace because I have more time to focus on playing [only] keys for SROS Lords; there is a certain sense of freedom and clarity I experience that was absent while playing with EPROM.
What advice would you give to other women who want to (or do) play music?
Take the first step towards doing something you love and do it with confidence. If you love doing something, such as music, then you truly can’t live without it, yes?
What are your immediate (1-3 year) goals for your music?
AS A MUSICIAN: Practice, practice, practice. I’ve been slacking lately because I have to decide how music time I devote to my technical and creative education as both an musician as well as within the crazy realm of audio engineering! There’s so much to learn. I want to know everything; however, I realize that good things take time, sweat, and tears. I spend about 1 hour daily working on guitar and keyboard speed exercises mixed with music theory studies.
Getting back to the original question…in the next three years, i’d love to record more bands/people. Experience, trial & error, experience! I love learning about weird micing techniques (meaning there’s a practical thought or reason behind the idea of some technique), because an artist or band wants something that may be “technically” unheard of or undesired and being able to make something that seemed unachievable into reality. Some ideas sound silly at first but you never know. Ultimately, I’d like to work with individuals who are just REALLY INTO WHAT THEY’RE DOING. That’s really all I guess I could hope to expect–to work with other passionate people and help them get what they want in a recording [session].
Are you interested in working on new projects with new people?
If you were to interview one female musician in Detroit, who would it be?
Probably Masha Marjieh, vocalist for The Octopus, Laura Mendoza, bassist/vocalist of White Shag, or Miss Marcie Bolen!
Do you have any shows coming up?
26 April – Saginaw, MI
May 3 – Metrotimes Blowout
Where can people hear your music and/or get in touch with you?