Mainly renowned for his fresh, captivating photography style, Lex Ash has ventured into another art form – music. His debut EP was released in 2021. In it, he meticulously weaved a candid and relatable romance tale, capturing the various emotions people in love experience at different stages in relationships.
The EP is a testament to two facts. The first is that Lex is very comfortable with vulnerability which is rare in a world where any show of emotions (especially by men) is synonymous with weakness. The second is that he approaches his music almost like his photography – with elegance and style.
In this conversation, Lex Ash talks about how he creates music and the importance of not limiting one’s full expressions of talents in whichever form they might come.
When you decided to make music, were you ever sceptical about people’s reception to it?
My scepticism was more about the style of music that I do rather than people’s reception to it. I never bothered about the reception of the music itself. It was more of “my music is not the typical Nigerian style of music, so I’m not expecting to be accepted on the ‘streets.’”
I do more of Afrofusion, and it’s not typically mainstream music here, and that was what I was most sceptical about. So far, it’s been positive. I’m thankful.
Apart from the arts, what are your other passions or interests?
Would you say graphic design is art or tech?
I think it’s both art and tech.
Yes, it’s like in between.
Yeah. I’ve always done graphic design, and because of my skills, I have worked in an FMCG firm, one of these big companies that sell fast-moving consumer goods like Unilever. I’ve worked in a radio station and a tech company called Andela. I was in charge of brand building and design here in Nigeria. That’s my background. I worked in tech, so I have experience there. So if I were not doing arts, I would be working in tech, maybe product management.
You studied Estate Management at the university. Has it always been your choice?
I had no idea what it was when I was filling out the forms to get into university. I filled Building Technology which is sort of like a blend between engineering and building. That’s what I applied for, but I had a problem with one of my results that year, my Physics result, so I just checked the options and saw that Building Technology and Estate Management were in the same field, so I just took Estate Management.
I knew in my third year I was not going to practice. I knew I was not going to, but it was still a good experience I do not regret.
What’s your music creation process like?
It varies. Sometimes, I would be sleeping and wake up with a melody in my head or lyrics, and when I have that, I record it on my phone or write them down or in my notes and share them with my producer in the morning. Sometimes, I walk into the studio, and my producer is working on something, and I hear something I like or a random melody. Maybe when I’m watching a movie, I hear something that sounds interesting. Then my head starts working, and I put some things together and just record them on my voice notes. I have a lot of voice notes, like in the hundreds. I’m just recording things, so I don’t forget, then I get to the studio and play it for my producer, and we work on them. Most of the time, I come up with the melodies or the idea before going to the studio, or I sit with my producer, and we just start building something we like.
For instance, in one song I wrote in January, the situation was more like, “Oh, we need to work on something today. Let’s try this chord progression, which is the vibe I am going for, so let me start writing lyrics for it.” Then I wrote the song in less than thirty minutes and recorded it in another ten minutes. Such stuff like that happens sometimes. There was even one time I wrote the song from beginning to end with the melody before I even went to the studio to start working on the beat.
Many people would send them beats and start writing to the best, and I’ve done that a few times, especially for features and maybe one or two of my songs, but mostly I build the song from scratch.
Okay, so this is a random question.
Yeah, go ahead.
If you could be a fruit, which fruit would you be and why?
A fruit? Hmm. It has to be something sweet. That’s a very interesting question. I think I want to say grapes because there are many parts in a grape. Just like there are different expressions in me. That’s the one I can think about. I’ve never had to think about this question before.
Between grapes and pineapples, but pineapples have a rough exterior, and I’m not that rough o. So yes, let’s go with grapes.
What’s your dream collaboration?
It can be anyone.
That’s going to be hard. I like a lot of people’s music. Does it have to be local, or it can be international?
Okay, I’d say John Legend, Beyoncé, Rihanna if she still makes music, Adele, Bruno Mars, then locally, I’d say MI. I love MI’s music. I definitely will collab with him very soon. Simi, Falz. I like many people’s music. I am willing to collaborate with anybody. I don’t know how it will sound to collaborate with street artists. As I said, I am open to everything.
What’s your advice for people who are doing one thing and talented in other areas but feel like exploring isn’t worth it?
Okay, I’d start with the exploring side. I was in the choir. Then I started doing photography. Then in 2014, during my NYSC program, I was doing everything that I wanted to do at that time, and I got a lot of people telling me that I had to focus on one thing to be good at it, and I knew that I was not going to focus on one all my life. I knew that at some point in my life, I would figure out how to balance it. So I just did as it came to me. I was doing photography and graphic design. Then I went into photography full time, and now I’m making music. At this stage in my life, if I have the opportunity to do something I am passionate about, I will just go ahead and do it. Don’t take the advice that you have to only do one thing. I’ll only say maybe find what will make you money now so it can allow you to do other things along the line.
You could want to make money right now, and you’re doing something that may not bring that money immediately.
So photography grew to the point where it became my sustainable source of income, so that’s what I’m now using to invest in music. So I can make music now because I want to do it. Even if it’s not necessarily bringing the most funds right now, it’s doing something, but I can’t rely on it now. Photography is something I can fall back on in terms of my finances because if I had to make music and that’s my only source of income, then I would listen to everything that everybody is saying about what to do so that I can start making money. Then money would be my primary focus rather than creating stuff I love and feel led to do. So, I’ll advise you to do everything, but first, find your source of income, find something that would fund your lifestyle and then explore everything you love, and you feel led to do, and you should be fine.