Talk about a perfect birthday party for a music-making teenager.
Ashley Pater’s family and friends helped her celebrate in style at Surrey City Hall’s cozy Centre Stage theatre, where the birthday girl revealed songs from a new EP, performed with a pair of backing bands and otherwise enjoyed the thrill of turning 15.
The March 22 event marked the release of Wild Roses, which showcases five original songs written by the confident, guitar-strumming girl, a Grade 9 student at Fraser Heights Secondary.
Ashley’s folk-pop songs include her EP’s title track along with “Ice Tea,” “Lost & Found,” “Traveller” and “Tip Jar.”
The tunes were recorded at Four Destinations studio, or 4D, in North Vancouver with the North Delta-based duo of bass player Conor Brennan and guitarist Connor Neidig.
Liam Sturgess, the studio founder and chief creative director, had high praise for Ashley before he performed a couple songs of his own at her EP-release concert.
“I’ve always been keenly aware of Ashley’s ability to just go into a room and come out five minutes later with an impeccable new song, so it was an honour to work time after time with Ashley,” Sturgess said from the stage. “Year after year, Ashley has always kind of shown herself up, and moved forward in a way that is very impressive. She’s always pushing herself to take risks and doing it so seamlessly.”
Ashley has been performing music since age nine, and soon discovered a passion for writing her own songs.
She described her unique songwriting techniques for the audience at Centre Stage.
”I’ll stand in front of a mirror and I’ll use a dry-erase marker – not a Sharpie because my mom would kill me – to write lyrics all over it until completely filled and I have my song,” Ashley explained. “And the other way, which I tend to do more often now, is I’ll get a notebook and I’ll start drawing pictures. I’m not the best artist so sometimes I don’t really know what I’m drawing, but I make sense of it and turn it into a song.”
Ashley’s proud parents, John and May, have witnessed her way with creating songs.
“It’s kind of like ‘Pictionary’ songwriting,” said John, the girl’s self-described “dadager” – a ‘dad’ and ‘manager’ mashup.
“It’s a fascinating thing to watch because sometimes it comes really quick,” he added. “We’ll hear her get the guitar going and before we know it, boom, a new song, and she’ll come out saying, ‘Here, listen to this.’”
The songs on the EP are “all little stories,” according to Ashley.
“The title track (is) basically about two young lovers just hitting the road and getting away and looking for a new life. And that new life is represented by wild roses.”
A video for the song was recorded at a farm in Ladner.
Ashley and her family spend a lot of time in the Sunshine Valley area, near Hope; John is a firefighter with the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department, and Ashley says the time she spends in that area inspires her musically.
“I have actually written multiple songs up in Sunshine Valley. I’m pretty sure one of my songs, ‘Traveler,’ which is on the EP, was written there,” she said. “The whole vibe and feeling of the place, it brings out a lot of cool tones and experimentation in my music.”
Ashley’s grandfather is a self-taught musician, and she spent many years “singing and dancing around the house” with her grandparents and also her parents.
“She has definitely worked very, very hard to get to this point, with her songwriting and guitar-playing,” May said. “She works hard at it and also has a vision in her head, where she sees herself going.”
Ashley’s goal is to continue looking forward to more musical adventures, as a budding songwriter and performing.
“Last year, we thought it was our best year for music, and this year is starting to be even better, so if it keeps going like that, that’s the important thing,” she noted.
Visit ashleypater.com for more details about the EP and Ashley’s gig calendar, which include a “Breaking Down D Walls” concert at Vancouver’s StreetXB Studio on April 28.
with file from Emelie Peacock/Black Press