Aish

Humid heat drapes over the Indian city of New Delhi every day as people hustle throughout the busy metropolis. From one side of town to the other, there's barely any time to get lost in thought. San Francisco artist Aish knows this all too well as he reflects upon his early upbringing.

"I've been on my own since very early on in life. I had to take jobs in high school to help sustain myself," said Aish. "When you're constantly thinking about safety and financial concerns, it's hard to focus on being creative."

Aish dreamed of a music career during the long bus rides that took him to and from school. He had a knack for singing ever since childhood, and, as he began to realize that talent, he had to find a way to harness his ambitions. During high school, he enrolled in his first music class. Right away, he fell in love with the concept of using instruments to illustrate his imagination. Unfortunately, Aish's living situation remained painfully stagnant. "The place I came from, art was considered a luxury. We knew art was out there, we consumed it, but we didn't know how to reach it. I didn't even have a role model or point to start from. What I was really trying to figure out was how to get there. How can I be a part of this art world?"

Aish found his first major opportunity when the London Music School offered an outreach program that caught his eye. The institution taught a course on classical guitar that Aish found interesting, and he spent his time in London learning string instruments and studying voice and composition. Through this work, he was able to experience art on a much higher level, and music no longer felt like an unachievable luxury.

With college in his near future, Aish determined that the United States held better opportunities for his music. "[In the West] there's more social acceptance, and a perspective that art has lasting value," the musician explained. "When your homeland has been invaded for centuries, it's hard for their art culture to bloom overnight."

With his eyes set on the West Coast, Aish booked a flight to Los Angeles. "As the plane was coming down, I saw this beautiful golden light and the gorgeous blue coast. It was the perfect California dream." In school, he earned a degree in computer science and psychology, then immediately jumped into the local tech industry. The money he made from those jobs went right into paying for studio time and string players to support his musical vision.

Aish and his musicians recorded, and continue to do so, at the legendary Tiny Telephone studios. When he wasn't in the studio, he played several live shows with small ensembles. He has frequently collaborated with members of the Magik*Magik Orchestra, releasing a cover of Joni Mitchell's "California" last year that featured several string players from the orchestra.

"The place I came from, art was considered a luxury. We knew art was out there, we consumed it, but we didn't know how to reach it."

In addition to chamber music, Aish also makes use of electronic instruments such as the Buchla Music Easel. The Buchla was one of the first modern commercial synthesizers, released in 1973 by its inventor, Don Buchla. "My co-producer Beau Sorenson introduced me to the Buchla and we've been using the instrument to craft some of the songs on Mother," said Aish. Mother is Aish's new LP, which comes out on March 30.

The artist's interest in electronic music led him to launch a series titled "Ministry of Composition" to teach amateur composers the art of contemporary electronic music. During the Ministry's last session, the players conducted for hours on end with the Buchla synthesizer.

On one hand, Aish had finally made his dreams come true. He's reached that point where the art is now a part of him, instead of feeling far away, and his avant-garde inspired sound is establishing him as an up-and-coming artist to watch. But while things may seem great, the artist still faces hurdles in his personal life that continue to challenge him.

"When people talk about their mother, they usually bring up all the lovey-dovey stuff and try to put a bow on it," Aish explained. "The relationship I have with my mom is the main theme on [Mother]. This album deals with the type of problems that most people don't want to talk about when mentioning their caregiver."

In an interview with VICE, the musician touched upon the separation from his mother only slightly. He's never really gone into detail regarding the connection with her, and he acknowledges this. "Piet Mondrian once said that 'to approach spirituality in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality' and that's always stuck with me," Aish expressed.

"There's a reason I remain ambiguous about my mother. I want the relationship I have with her to be a very spiritual one, just like with the work I do. The topic is also a very personal one to me. Nevertheless, if anyone is really curious, the story is all in the music."

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