Ashwin is currently based in Boston, USA and has just graduated from Berklee College of Music with a dual degree in Music Production and Music Performance. However, he was born and raised in Bahrain where the place and the people there are still home to him. Ashwin teamed up with Bahraini poet and good friend Omar Ahmed Al Khulaqi to produce their first EP together titled O.A.K.
O.A.K. is a collaborative project with Ashwin's good friend Bahraini poet Omar Ahmed Al Khulaqi. Omar contacted Ashwin towards the end of his degree and asked if he could sing one of his poems; “Just something acoustic, nothing too fancy.” Little did they both know that this would turn out to become a much bigger project than originally planned.
“Over the summer of 2016, Ashwin began showing me some basic renditions to some of my poems. I was blown away by the diversity in composition and emotion, and I saw a lot of potential for these songs to grow. At the time we weren’t talking about an EP; it was just something experimental for Ashwin, who usually writes his own lyrics for his own music.” Omar recalls.
“Omar’s poems were truly the key to opening that creative door for me,” says Ashwin. “His poems came in three series: Mystic, Romantic and Gothic, all with a strong spiritual undertone that really resonated with me. For example, one of his poems The Inner Kiss is about self-realization; finding something so priceless within yourself that nothing in this world can compare to it. And this started to reflect creatively in the music that was coming out of me. I really didn’t feel like I had a part in this process though; it felt more like I was a channel - I would read Omar's words and then wait for that phrase or motif or rhythm that was hidden within the words to reveal itself in me. And from there, everything else fell into place.”
Indian culture, traditional Arabic music, the Oud, as well as the progressive rock and metal, all blend together to create this unique and interesting project, which represents special phases in both Omar and Ashwin's life, and in the lives of everyone around them.
“Ashwin was intrigued by this new process of stepping outside his comfort zone and interpreting someone’s poetry into songs. For me personally, I was impressed by how he gave my words a voice; one that is transcribed from his unique perspective. I saw my poems from a different angle, one that I’d never seen before. He never asked me about the meanings behind my poems though, instead he inscribed his own meanings to them, which is why this collaboration was such a rewarding experience; hearing how he relates to the words and in what direction he wanted to take them musically. I gave him full creative freedom to express himself and, despite the EP having a general overarching concept or mood, each song stood out on its own, musically, thematically and emotionally. This is all thanks to Ashwin’s talent and creative expression.”
When the songs were completed and shortlisted for the EP, Omar began working on the album’s artwork: “Designing the EP booklet was a challenging yet beautiful process as well. I’ve been honoured to work with Ashwin on many levels, and I’m looking forward to Part II of this project, which is currently in its pre-production stage for recording and release later this year.”
Ashwin Shenoy & Omar Ahmed Al Khulaqi
Search Ashwin Shenoy on YouTube to listen to Someone's There, Farewell and The Inner Kiss from the EP, O.A.K.