FREESTYLE BRISTOL

Heavyweight Contender

#AfterDark showcases the best underground artists in Bristol from the up and coming to the legendary. Freestyle Bristol’s Chris Knight recently met up with the man of many talents Asher Simmons to talk about the meaning and the man behind his latest track ‘Heavy’.

Words: Chris Knight

Image: Lucky House Management

I am sitting in a cafe with Jade (Asher Simmons’ manager) and we start laughing at my surprise that his artist is walking through the door dead on time, in fact a minute earlier than arranged! I joke that this is unheard of and proves he can’t be from Bristol. The man himself smiles as we touch fists and sits down in one fluid motion. We start talking…

So how’s things going with you anyway?

Yeah I’m grateful to be alive…I took some time off which is good and over the next couple of weeks I’m going to take some time to rejuvenate and catch myself.

So you’ve just released a single and you’re going on holiday?

Not musically, obviously I’m still working. You never really take a break from the music but just the day-to-day life you do to make it a reality. I’m working two jobs right now so I’ve got a break from one of them. 

So tell me about yourself because I understand you moved to this country in 2019?

Yes, so I’ve been in the country for about two years. I was born in Bermuda which makes me a British citizen as it’s still a British colony, that’s where my father is from and I still have family there. I grew up in the Bahamas, where my mother is from and where I lived for the last five years before I came over here. So my nationality is split in those ways, I always tell people that you can learn a lot about people from where they are from.

There’s definitely that split between me because Bermuda, still being a British colony, is that little bit proper and everything is by the books but being from the Bahamas kinda adds a little flavour as well because it was an ex-British colony and so now we’re independent and now we run things and so it’s a little bit more carefree, so I guess I’m just a blend between those two worlds.

In September, 2019 Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas causing 74 deaths and leaving another 282 people missing. Damage was estimated at $3.4 billion US dollars.

You moved here a couple of months before a hurricane wiped out your hometown?

Yeah a category 5, Hurricane Dorian was the worst recorded hurricane in our history. It was wild because I was there for five years, just working every day and it’s weird because when I finally said you know what I’m gonna make this jump, I’m gonna make this leap to try and move to the UK and push the music out there…it was almost immediate…a couple of months later I’m getting messages from people, I’m seeing people I know on CNN giving interviews to the cameras. 

It’s crazy because I remember being there and thinking I can’t wait to get away from there and the small town mentality and I’m just so tired of going to the same places like awwww this island is so small when can I get out. It’s wild because I was complaining the whole time and then everything I knew then would never be the same. It’s all gone and would give me some perspective.

Image: Lucky House Management

So why Bristol, did you have connections here?

Bristol was just a magnet I guess, I gravitated here. I started off in Warminster, Wiltshire, an hour and a half away by train. My aunt lives there, my only family in the UK. I was staying with her while I was getting on my feet. I was always doing the music and putting stuff online and trying to just make a name out there and everyone kept saying you need to go to Bristol, that’s where the music is. I also met a photographer, Grant Hobbs who lived down the road and he heard my music and said I don’t know how I’m gonna help you but I’ll try my best and he put me in touch with Jade Fearon from Lucky House Management and the rest is history. 

I met Jade after I was already living in Bristol but that connection was made through Warminster, it wasn’t like a plan was made that I wanted to live in Bristol but it just called to me. 

Moving here, I fell in love with the city, fell in love with the diversity and the fact that’s there’s different nations and different people. I fell in love with the fact that there’s VitaMalt in the shops, I’m like what? I’m back in the Caribbean! I mean Bristol just kind of called to me.

And how has your career developed since you moved to Bristol? 

When I first got here we were in lockdown so I’m now starting to see things open up. Meeting Jade was a real blessing to my career. All I ever wanted to do was just perform, I want to put my music out there and I want people to hear what I have to say.

Since I’ve been in Bristol, since all the restrictions have eased up a bit I’m starting to get my name out there, starting to have shows and these special experiences. It’s a blessing. 

Do you think that the city has welcomed you? How is the reaction when you’ve performed here?

The reactions are always great, I believe so.

So you’ve got a new single out, tell me about that because it sounds very personal. Is it the reality of your life?

Absolutely. The name of the single is called Heavy and it just is what it is. It’s where I found myself with an EP I was working on just trying to perfect things and get things sounding right. I got a bit frustrated because it kept getting delayed and pushed back and I couldn’t get it out. Since I’d moved to the UK I hadn’t dropped a music video and I just got frustrated and I kind of vented out over a beat of where I was in my mental space, trying to hold it together. 

When life was just trying to give me that limit and say this is where you want to be, it was like trying to transcend that, and I feel like that’s what I did through that song. I wasn’t in the best headspace but when I created that song it pushed me to another place. 

And then an EP coming out later this year?

Yes, it’s called Overcoming Heartbreak. It’s a two part EP and when you think about the name there’s two parts, the Overcoming and the Heartbreak and that is the story that’s going to be told. In this project I’m really talking about the duality of life so it’s split into two parts. Your biggest blessings and your biggest lessons often hit at the same time so that’s what Overcoming Heartbreak is and dives into.  

It’s joy, it’s bliss, it’s high frequencies and also you get tracks where I open up and really let people know what’s really going on. Because a lot of times you see things from the outside and it looks like a person is successful and has it all together but I think that as human beings we all have holes in our socks. As human beings we all have stuff that we’re going through and I just feel that as an artist it’s our job to be open about what we’re going through so we can liberate ourselves and other people as well.

Heavy is out now on all streaming platforms

Asher Simmons will appear at this year’s AfroFest 

Find Asher Simmons on Instagram