I was born in KL but I moved around a lot. My dad worked in the army so he got transferred. We moved at least six times while I was in Malaysia. My sisters were born in Kuching.
We never stayed in one place for long. When I was a teenager we moved to Thailand. Tearing apart from my friends was a little tough but I was too young to understand. In the end I adapted.
Music just sprung up. I would say it bloomed in Thailand. I was at an international school and the kids were from everywhere and I was exposed to different types of music there.
I moved back to Malaysia when I was 18 and started working at this studio in Bangsar, Two AM, as a composer on adverts. That’s my day job. But next month I’ll be taking less jobs.
Everything’s kinda in transit right now. I want to spend more time on my music. How do I balance it? I don’t. I miss a lot of things.
As a writer and a composer you wanna sing your own stuff so it when it goes through another person it comes out the wrong way. So I figured, why not do it myself?
I’ve become a more settled drummer for Busco and they’re picking up the pace. I write a lot of the pieces for them too. I’m passionate about both kinds of music – it’s just two different genres.
I’m a geek at heart. I sit in front of a computer and play around. The studio opens a lot of doors to new sounds and equipment. It’s just pure experimentation. My newest track is even weirder but it’s turning out pretty well.
Why red? I saw this one music video from Muse [Bliss]. He was falling down and his hair was bright red and it was just amazing. I think once in your life you gotta do it. Then it stuck.
The hipster scene is a great scene. I like it. The whole vibe is about new things and things people find uncomfortable to listen to or too boring or old school. That’s what I love about it, the point behind it is: be different. People forcing themselves to be open to stuff they don’t normally listen to.
There are a lot of cool cats out there doing new stuff. I felt the switch in the composing world last year. The musicians were looking for something different, something better. Pastel Lite, Froya, OJ Law. All my friends. They cared about the music and that’s where it brought them.
My dream band to come to Malaysia would be Mew. I’ve been wanting them to come forever.
I don’t know what I am anymore. My grandfather is Sri Lankan, my grandma’s mum was Japanese apparently and my dad’s Indian. And that makes me what – I don’t know. I am me.
Sometimes people expect that I’m not Malaysian but sometimes they treat me like a normal Indian. I don’t care, really. I can switch languages, play like I can’t speak English, have someone translate for me.
I live in USJ1. It’s the perfect mix of city and quiet. But I want to move closer to the centre this year, if I can afford it. A bunch of creative people are gonna bunk in one house.
For local food, I go to Murni’s and William’s. They serve huge portions of nice food, cheap. Sri Nirwana’s is a must too. USJ2 laksa used to be good. The nasi lemak over by the balai polis here in Bangsar is great. Oh, and Ampang satay.
Music brings me and my family together. My dad plays the guitar, my mum tries to sing. The rest of the family, my sisters, are in music.
My parents are fully supportive. They’ve gone out of their way to support me and they are still doing it, which is awesome. I think that’s where my security lies. Not a lot of people have that. That’s something I’m really blessed with.
For the future, I’m riding the wave but riding it smart, see where it goes. Make sure I don’t fall into bad deals and just make music and have a steady income until something stops me. I’ve got fears but who doesn’t. Who cares?
Darren Ashley is an electropop musician and also a drummer and songwriter for the rock band Busco. His debut solo album will be released later this year. Listen to his music at soundcloud.com/darrenashley
Interview by Ling Low; Photos by Adrian Yap