Bluesfest locals: Rise Ashen

July 9th, 2022 by  |  Published in Bluesfest locals, Features, Interviews, News

Rise Ashen - promo

Rise Ashen. Photo credit: Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa Citizen

The Bluesfest locals series will introduce you to the talented music makers from the Ottawa area performing at this year’s RBC Bluesfest. Come on out early to Bluesfest and discover some great new music!

Rise Ashen

Tuesday, July 12 to Thursday, July 14
6pm to 9:30pm
Accora Village Spin Stage


Musician – DJ – Producer – Housedancer – Student of movement

Ottawa-based Rise Ashen has devoted his life to the study of sound and movement. From his early years as a B-Boy in Montreal in the 80s to his studies at Fanshawe College (North America’s Oldest Recording School) and the Banff Centre for the Arts, his focus has been on applying hi-fi knowhow to underground music. His record collection spans the 4 corners of the world with club music of all tempos as his primary focus. As a DJ, he blends it all in a worldy mash and is always the sweaty and dynamic life of the party. He has played in clubs and festivals across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia and has licensed music for use in dozens of countries. His study of Yoga has led him to combine his musical journey with his Yogi journey and he has been DJing extensively for yoga classes, festivals and events since 2012.

He has remixed and collaborated countless artists including Mali’s Issa Bagayogo, Montreal (Juno award winner) Miguel Graca, Jojo Flores, Fred Everything and Kat 5 of the KALMUNITY collective, Toronto based (2-time Juno nominated) Ammoye, (Juno Award winner) Dubmatix, Version XCursion, LAL, (Juno Award Winner) Eccodek, (Juno Award Winner) Kobotown, King Sunshine, the New Deal and Bageshree, UK’s Sean Escofferey, John Beltran, Steph Lefrancois and Josef Malik, New York’s Angel Moraes and Nickodemus, Winnipeg’s Paris to Kiev, Kasm and Seed Organisation, and Trevor “Lifeboogie” Walker, John Akpata, and Shegun Beautiful Nubia Akinlolu, Brandon Wint, Bhavan2 , Tara Proter, Lucila Al Mar Ottawa Algonquin Singer Flying Down Thunder with whom he received a Juno nomination in 2012 for their debut album: One Nation, as well as a Native American Music Awards nomination in 2014 for their sophomore album: North Wind. His music gets played played by the likes of Larry Heard, Masters at Work, Roger Sanchez, Paul Murphy, Gilles Peterson, Laurent Garnier, Maurice Fulton, Bonobo, Mr. V, Rainer Truby, and Quentin Harris among others.

He has shared the stage with such varied greats as K’Naan, The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Kid Koala and Jully Black among others. Recently he has been collaborating with Silla, the Inuit throat-singing duet made up of Cynthia Pitsiulak and Charlotte Qamaniq, with whom he just released a full-length debut which was long-listed for the Polaris Prize and nominated for a Juno Award for Best Indigenous Recording. They perform as a trio with rise playing electronic percussion. Their new album, Galactic Gala has just been nominated for a Juno for World Music Album of the Year. He is currently working on a full length album with Kahil El Zabaar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble of Chicago. He believes music and dance are essential to human culture and that united, artists can lead humanity towards a more enlightened way of living. He aspires to embody the wise words of Fela Kuti: “when the higher forces give you the gift of musicianship …it must be well used for the good of humanity”.


What was your reaction to the news you’d be a part of Bluesfest and who was the first person you told?
Super stoked to play and enjoy the beautiful scenery and people.

Please describe your sound.
Global dancefloor mixology. Crossroads of ancestral and futuristic.

How did you get started on your musical journey?
Playing sax when I was 7, story is detailed in the video below

You’ll be spinning several evenings at Bluesfest. What can music fans expect from your sets?
Positive uplifting diverse music from around the world and around the corner, badass beats and beautiful melodies…

How else are you involved in the local music scene? Do you produce any of your own music or for other artists, or organize any events?
My partner and I run Capital Sessions, our forum for sharing our love of house dance and music… and I play in the band Silla and Rise.

What artists are you hoping to catch during this year’s Bluesfest?
Super excited to see Femi Kuti

Connect with Rise Ashen:

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