INTERVIEW: VETEREN W.A PRODUCER DIGER ROCKWELL RETURNS WITH INTIMATE AND EMOTIONAL NEW PROJECT ASH DIGS
For over a decade in Boorloo/Perth, Ash Hosken has been holding it down as the prolific producer and performer Diger Rokwell, known for his cosmic beats and engaging live shows, with a slew of releases under his belt and a mainstay of the local live scene. Noticeably quiet for the last few years, Diger Rokwell may be gone for now but Ash isn’t as he returns with his new guitar and vocal-led project, Ash Digs, and his new single 'Take A While Longer'.
A landmark moment in a decade plus career, Take A While Longer is Hosken’s first release to feature himself on lead vocals, with the Ash Digs project a response to his finding his voice musically, and based around songwriting first and foremost. While a definite departure from his prior body of work, the music of Ash Digs will be different yet familiar for existing fans, while also appealing to new listeners of a wide range of tastes.
Dreamy & wistful, Take A While Longer is a beautiful downtempo concoction of alt-folk and indie flavours that sees warm and warbly guitar strums met by a groove laden bass line and understated yet propulsive percussion pushing the track forward, with all instrumentation keeping Ash’s restrained, silvery vocals front and centre drawing you into the mix, before subtle guitar licks provide the cherry on top.
I am absolutely loving the new Ambient Folk direction you are taking with the debut of the Ash Digs project. What is the inspiration behind the new sound?
The Ash Digs project is just what is coming out of me, there is no intention for any style or genre. The first tracks that I will unearth are very sober and introspective comments on the human condition. These first two songs are cathartic expressions of my 2021 and my journey of becoming the patriarch of my family after the loss of my father and finding my voice. Ash Digs is a search for authenticity in sound and a continued pursuit of musical exploration in a different form. The inspiration is the excitement of doing something new and challenging myself in a new musical pursuit, it is also a means to express what I need to say in order to heal. The sounds so far in the studio range from ambient folk to jazzy leanings to stripped back blues to psychedelic shapes. The inspiration really is the excitement of creation and expanding.
I can't help but draw parallels between the styling of early Bon Iver's vocals, who saw himself primarily as a songwriter too. What was the process like featuring your own vocals for this debut?
I have never paid attention to Bon Iver's stuff and I don't really listen to music as a form of inspiration. The process from being a beat-maker to a song writer is a reversal of process. The melodies come first, I live in a very musical household and there are always melodies floating around and then the ones that stick become tunes that I begin to work on. Sometimes I make up beats and then work out a melody and then nut out the lyrics next. The lyrics usually reflect what is important to me or a symbolic reflection of a life happening or a philosophy. The process has been slow, but also fast, as well as organic and it feels right. And I cannot wait to share more.
While his journey of finding his voice and songwriting may be the main driver behind Ash Digs, his new single also showcases his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, playing everything himself, with acclaimed producer Dan Carroll of Rada Studios on mixing duties and veteran engineer Willy Bowden mastering the release.
The lyrics, 'You've been sleeping, I've been awake. Took a while longer to find what you're looking for' stood out to me and contains the main hook of this track. What do the lyrics mean to you?
The song is about relationships that drift apart and people start living out their own dreams and realities. People enter relationships with the person of their dreams and in a dream state, and after a while if it is not worked on, it begins to diverge. Sometimes people wait to see how it pans out and that can mean waiting a little longer, and sometimes it is all in vain as the relationship was broken way before or based upon false pretences or for the wrong reasons.
Take A While Longer is just the start for Ash Digs, with another single on the horizon and an EP still to come that will showcase Hosken’s diversity and range as a singer, songwriter and musician even further, ranging from stripped back raw compositions to more beat driven, yet lyrical focused cuts.
I can't wait for the next track and EP to drop, what other stories are on their way for us?
The next single will be called 'Tapes of You' and it is a song about remembering people who have passed and the traditions of remembrance. It is a song about my mother and father who both passed away in very similar circumstances exactly 22 years apart, and how we try to keep memory alive and endeavour to keep legacy going. The EP will be a collection of songs centred around commentary on my experiences of the human condition of loss, grief and healing. I have strived to create authentic and unfiltered expression that endeavours to create beauty from trauma and turn that into something extraordinary. My vulnerability and rawness of my voice takes front and centre, and this is a timely addition to my musical narrative as an artist and as a person.