A Cup of Tea w/ Ashish Vyas (Thievery Corporation)

By Vishal Agarwala & Sanjay Parekh

Photo by Frank Orrall

If you’ve seen Thievery Corporation live, then you’ve definitely seen Ashish. He’s the charismatic, mysterious bass player laying it down, usually sans shoes. We had a minute to sit down with him on Thievery’s latest tour to promote their new record, Treasures from the Temple.

Tell us about this latest Thievery Corporation album Treasures from the Temple?

It’s a compendium to the previous album, The Temple of I and I. We went to Jamaica several years ago to start recording ideas which eventually became songs for these two albums. Rob, Eric and Gianmaria Conti (engineer) are the masterminds behind what you hear. Gianmaria was instrumental in process. He can play pretty much everything and he has an amazing ear when it comes to mixing. Between his musical prowess and Rob and Eric’s judicial production, there were a lot of tunes created and more than enough for one album, hence the release of the Treasures album.

What’s your favorite venue and why?

Anywhere, but home! All the worlds a stage to me and well, that’s why I like being on the road and having only one focus. Playing music! When I’m doing hometown gigs, I’m always distracted by things that I need to get done. Meanwhile, like I said, on the road it’s all about music and performance. As Jerry Garcia said, “another note, another show!” I’ve played some incredible venues, but it’s all pretty much the same once I get lost in the zone! Playing a dive bar or playing Red Rocks has the same internal feeling of satisfaction. I just love to entertain!

How does spirituality play a part in your music?

I was raised Hindu and spirituality plays a huge amount in the way I make and present music. There’s a term called Nada Brahma, which loosely translates to Sound is God or the Universe is Sound or “getting to God through music.” I’ve always believed that one can reach godhead or bliss or whatever you want to call it through music or sound. I really dig religious or spiritual music from all cultures. There’s something about praising the lord which sounds transcendental to my ears!

Photo by Ryan Swerdlin

We’ve seen you on stage, no shoes, and at times no clothes. How did this come about?

The no shoes thing is something I’ve been doing for years. I probably picked it up from seeing the Rollins Band in my youth. I got to play with the guitar player many years ago and he said, that it was the bass player in that band that got the others to do it. Personally, I don’t like wearing shoes, they tend to constrict my toes. More of a flip flop or sandals person. I remember something that a martial arts teacher said to me about training with shoes on is different than without shoes. Which isn’t quite the same as playing bass without shoes, but as I said, I don’t like wearing shoes. As for clothing, sometimes I like playing bass naked! It’s a liberating feeling! In the end, it’s all about entertainment!

What’s your latest find in the world you’ve been psyched about?

Facial recognition on the iPhone 10. Until very recently, I was still holding onto my 5c and that thing was obviously outdated. I got an iPad last year with thumb id which I thought was incredible, but the facial recognition is awesome! I mean, I love not having to type in passwords anymore! It’s pretty crazy how fast some technology progresses. In the case of cell phones, it’s pretty mind-blowing! A phone, computer, music collection, camera, etc.

Photo by John Shore

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