Asher Kurtz is an up and coming musician and lead guitarist of the band Iris Lune. Having played guitar for almost his entire life, it would be hard to find someone with his skill and talent. Check out my interview with Asher Kurtz and learn more about his band!
Q&A WITH ASHER KURTZ
How would you describe yourself and what you do in your own words?
I’m a Brooklyn based guitarist, composer, producer and improviser, with a strange obsession with Christmas sweaters. I play and write music with a number of different artists in a bunch of different genres. My main group is Iris Lune which I co-lead, co-produce, and co-write the music for.
You grew up in Dallas. How did growing up there shape you into the musician that you are today?
Dallas has a really diverse arts culture and rich music history. Growing up, I went and saw blues shows with my parents, studied guitar with Clint Strong (Merle Haggard’s guitarist) and local legend/multi-instrumentalist legend Roger Boykin. I saw Snarky Puppy in their infancy as a band and played the music of jazz greats Cedar Walton and Red Garland. It all contributed in a big way to how I sound now.
As a graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, what was it like going to school there?
Berklee was an incredible growing experience for me. I knew a lot about the technical aspects of music going in, but the application of those aspects and learning about how to understand what I wanted out of music was where I feel like I gained the most. It provided me with an incredible network and a number of life changing opportunities. Berklee is also where Iris Lune formed.
You have been playing guitar for a really long time now. What has music done for you throughout your life?
Guitar and music in general have provided me with a constant outlet for me to express and reflect on my feelings. It has helped me stay grounded when things around me were not, provided me with friendships that will last a life time, and brought tons of experiences that I’ll never forget.
Which guitarist has inspired you the most and why?
There are way too many guitarists that inspire me but I can narrow it down to my top 3 at the moment. (1) Blake Mills for how diverse, tasteful, and emotional his playing is. (2) Bill Frisell because every note he plays has an endless amount of depth and intention. (3) Mary Halvorson who is an absolute innovator on the instrument, as a composer, and also for being incredibly down to earth and warm even with a bigger name.
Your band is called Iris Lune. When did your band get its start? How has it been trying to get your band’s foot in the door?
We originally got our start in Boston. We began working on our debut EP two years ago and that came out just last year. This was the period where we started realizing the full of our band. Getting our foot in the door has been difficult, as it is for any band when first starting out. As an artist, you put so much time and effort into making your product. You begin to realize that it means nothing if no one hears it. Finding new and inventive ways of marketing yourself in today’s version of the music industry is equally, if not more important, than the product itself. You have to sound incredible, that goes without saying. But, you need to also figure out how to get it to the people that will connect with it the most.
How have you seen progress in the past year since the EP came out?
We’ve had a decently successful year since the release. Some of my favorite things have been playing for the NPR Tiny Desk “On the Road” series, and getting close to one million plays on Spotify. Those have been incredible highlights, but we’re always striving for more.
Iris Lune is about to release a new single entitled “Sewing Skylines to Shores”. Can you tell us a bit about it?
This track has been a blast to work on. It’s taken us even deeper into understanding our own writing style and pushed our limits production wise. Our references for this were more pop oriented than usual, with influences from Rihanna’s “Needed Me” and Disclosure/Lorde’s “Magnets”. This being said, we all agree this direction is a good one for us to go in.
The song describes a man taking his life and the relationship he has with nature. Each verse goes deeper into how the ocean takes him in and the acceptance and peace he feels in his decision to let go of himself and becomes one with the world. Only when he lets go entirely, everything finally makes sense.
Your band has gone on smaller tours before and preforms all around New York. Do you plan on going out on a larger tour someday?
Absolutely! We’re currently on our second east coast tour right now and looking for more opportunities to tour with larger acts all the time. You grow a lot on tour as a band in different ways: musically, as friends, as problem solvers, as business partners, etc. It’s an incredible way to connect with people and build your audience.
If music wasn’t the most possible road for you to go down in order to achieve success, would you still travel down that path? Why or why not?
Success is what you want it to be. My version of success is creating music that I believe in, that is impactful on the lives of others and in the process, supporting myself. This is based on hard work and dedication so whether it is possible or not is up to me in the first place.
What advice would you give to struggling musicians out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?
Figure out what you want to say with your art and explore every possible option to obtain your goal. The rest is perseverance, hard work, and faith. Always look at the big picture and don’t get caught up in the minutia.
(Phot Cred: Dani Gros and Tammy Ying)