|My encounter with Niles ‘Asheber ‘Hailstones was an eye opening experience, in that my mind set was shifted from the way we view music and the way I create music.
It has led me to discover the amazing journey of self discovery and mental emancipation which can be obtained through the freedom of expression by way of life.
Asheber: “Now everything that we’re dealing with is real, it’s what you gonna see us doing on a daily basis, a form of active expression.”
sunchild: Just to make a few introductions, I am thesunchild representing consciousness.co.za an online movement in South Afrika, setting the standard of information for developing our youth by providing an online platform of information from a consciousness perspective and distributing it within Afrika and throughout the world using the world wide web.
Awe’ Niles how are you and can you tell us a bit about who is Niles Hailstones, what do you do and where does the name Asheber come from.
Asheber: I am Niles Hailstones a producer, poet, trumpeter, band leader, father and all round musician. Ashber was a name I came across when I was younger from Egyptian history and during my musical career I was made aware through my Ethiopian friends that it comes from Ethiopia and literally means to shake things up!
sunchild: Like to make things happen or fire up the situation?
Asheber: Yeah to create a stir or fire up a situation.
sunchild: No doubt man, so can you please explain your music, your style, where you taking it, what your music is about or where is it going?
Asheber: Well right now we are in the process of redefining how we dealing with the music in this time and the relationship between the music and our communities and how it all works. So my music is really a life every day, interacting with people all the time and that part of my music takes you back to the root. Which for me is the most important side of the music, because that is where it comes from, you overstand? The business side of it is another ting because I mean the music business isn’t even what a hundred years old? So the business side is another thing because musically, I can’t be fit into a box, because I’m not just gonna play reggae, I’m not gonna just play jazz, I’m not gonna just play soul, or what you think I should play, because all of these types of music is our culture anyway, and each generation has had their own way of expressing their influences in their music, and what’s going on while their being exposed to it. So now our expression of music is like a renaissance, because we coming back to a diasporic level, because people from all over are being involved in what were dealing with, and we are all aware that this is a time now that we are going through a re-birth as people, and our music reflects that in that it can’t be pigeon holed, or put into a box because its music and that’s why we are called the afrikan renaissance.
Niles ‘Asheber ‘Hailstones performing
sunchild: So basically your music is like the voice of the people, the voice of these times and also an expression of who we are as people in the world as well as within the diaspora?
Asheber: Yeah you know everyone has their story to tell and we have a unique story to tell as well. Especially those of us that have been born in London, because we had to go through a lot of things to reach to where we are right now. So our story is unique to where we come from and they way we do things is gonna contain those who came before us but we gonna do it in our our way. This is within the tradition of what we do. Musicians have always been at the cutting edge, and pushing new ideas and thinking forward. They were all under pressure while they were doing what they were doing. Later on you hear about the great so and so and the great this man or woman but at the time they were struggling to do what they were doing. There is so much rare music that is out there that has never been heard because it was a struggle to get those vibes through.
sunchild: Feelin’ you bra, I can totally relate to what you are saying.
Asheber: Yeah so you know we living in a different time now where you can promote yourself, and you can present yourself how you want to be presented, you don’t have to be in the mentality where you have to pander to ‘dem’, or really needing ‘dem anymore, then you can create your own scene, know what I mean and you don’t have to have someone breathing down your neck telling you,” I think you should do this or do that!”, you know freedom of creativity.
sunchild: So what you saying is that it’s a movement and not a market?
Asheber: Definitely, because without the movement there is no future, you know the market is a corporate entity, as is the music business, it doesn’t have our best interests at heart,
sunchild: Ja ne’, it’s just about making money.
Asheber: Exactly, so the creative side of it suffers due to those circumstances, like I said the business isn’t even a hundred years old, we have been playing music from the beginning of time.
We shouldn’t be so affected by it, we need to reclaim it back again and start using it on a everyday level for the things we need to bring into our lives and our communities, because that’s what It was for originally,
sunchild: It’s a spiritual thing isn’t it?
Asheber: That’s right, so for me if that’s not happening, then that’s just a part of the business because people can just make an illusion to say, I call myself this and that or the other and just go and make an album and a company will back them and make music videos and create what they want to create but that’s a whole other side of the music business.
Now everything that were dealing with is real, it’s what you gonna see us doing on a daily basis, a form of active expression.
Asheber: Alright man thanks for the insight, so who were your main influences musically.
Asheber: Well you know, I grew up listening to the masters, Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Stevie Wonder, hard core jazz like Thelonius Monk, afrikan greats Fela Kuti etc, because I used to hear this growing up in my house. My mom used to play the sax and she was into all these artists and she was into music, and she knows her music. I grew up surrounded by good music so for a man like me, artists like Curtis dem’ they are like my spiritual uncles, because as a youth growing up you always getting positives messages from them’, you getting food from them’ when you were lacking something in your direct environment, you could always tune into them’ and you would get that energy from just listening to their vibe, like Curtis voice man, it’s like a conscience talking to you on a different level right. Those were the vibes I grew up with so naturally when I’m making music, I use them as my bench mark of the standard or level we should be pushing towards,
sunchild: Nice one man, shoo that’s heavy. Now you told me that you have travelled in afrika in the 90’s, can you tell me about that experience? What it was like because that was a time where things were changing globally as well would you say things have changed much or have things progressed since that time, what are your thoughts?
Asheber: Well I can definitely say travelling has opened up my eyes especially in afrika. The first time I went there was in 1990 and I went to Zimbabwe, and that really changed my perspective because I got there and I was seeing all the same streets I was seeing over here…
sunchild: *Laughs* Ja man that’s exactly the same as in south afrika..
Asheber: Yeah man and I was like what’s going here you know, like this is just confirmation of everything I already suspected, but It’s quite something else when you actually in that country experiencing it. It’s like you start to wonder, if everything is the same as back home then it must be the same people controlling everything isn’t it?
Afrika has always been the innovator, you know where everything comes from and the situation and the problem is the whole post colonial thing where people are still victim to colonial mentalities. There are certain pre-requisites for being independent and if they are not there then there is no real independence. You can change the colours of your flag but if the laws and ideas are still controlled from the outside then you still at that point where you were and are not really free. We need true independence.
sunchild: A form of mental slavery?
Asheber: True so what we need to be doing is to start communicating and linking on global level as were are now. We are communicating across a distance, that’s what we need to be doing and that’s why we call ourselves the afrikan revolution or the afrikan diasporic renaissance movement. It’s about us linking on a global level, so that all of us that’s on the same level, vibrating on the same frequency, we can tune in and build links for the future, because we are all moving to afrika physically and spiritually. That’s where we want to be, we want to bring what we have and interact and then start to build again from the root so that we can build inside afrika and then still do our work outside but bring everything back to the root and stop this colonial way of thinking.
sunchild: No doubt! Now just before we finish off are there any projects that you are currently working on or anything that we can expect to come out of your stable?
Asheber: There are so many but I will just mention a few of the people who are part of this family, as many of them are artists and teachers in their own right, also because our movement is constantly growing and there is an army of us out there. From the great ‘baba’ Adesose Wallace master drummer world renowned, (when you speak to him it’s like a life lesson every time because he is like a well of information and has played with all the afrikan greats and continues to nurture the youth of our camp), then we have Derek Johnson master guitarist, who spends time passing down the knowledge he has acquired which is also a pre-requisite of our collective.
When we are all together we are called the afrikan revolution Then within elephant walk our production house our label and our home, we have myself Asheber, got2remember, (who are our young men currently learning about the oral tradtion. We got them started with djembe drumming workshops and linking with the youths because everyone in this country and I’m sure it is the same in South Afrika want to be spittin bars, everyone wants to be a rapper. So because they dealing with this as well as the drum we can bring a new awareness about and actually show them why they doing what they doing and where rap actually came from, the power of it also and the responsibility you have actually doing that because your words have power and that’s how that came about).
I also work with my sons and his generation as well. So I am able to link with all the local kids in the area through got2remember and it’s expanding all the time. Within our collective, the age groups range from ‘baba’ Ade who is the oldest at about +60 to my youngest son Heru who is 6 so we are all about the family and bringing things back to the root and expressing this in a real way as family because that’s the best expression you can get, because you can preach and say this and that but when people actually see you being a family, then that’s where they will get inspiration from whether we are rapping or playing music or just interacting the people will always feel these vibes.
sunchild: So do you have any message you would like to send out and where can people find out more about you or get hold of your music?
Asheber: www.myspace/ashber you can find me on there most of the time and you will find the links to got2rember, children of aya, NSO force, dangerous headgear and too many others to mention but have a look there is a lot coming from our camp for the future.
The message really is that this is the afrikan revolution now and we living in a time where the level of consciousness has been raised, and there are many other opposition forces out there that are trying to stop it because it’s our time. So we just have to deal with it, be on point and just go through it because this is a time of re-birth and renaissance and all of us that know and can feel it need to continue to build bridges just like the one I’m building right now with south afrika and continue to do so for the future, bless.