This is the second time that Diego Garcia has performed at the Linda
this year and he said that he very much enjoys coming to Albany.
Playing a solo, acoustic set, he segued between songs with background
of where the inspiration came for them. He told personal stories
about how at 19, going to school with George Harrison’s son Dhani, he
flew out to England to record in Harrison’s studio, casually
mentioning a phone call from Eric Clapton while he was there, a visit
from Ravi Shankar. He wasn’t afraid to get intimate with his audience
and speaking of the heartbroken state he was in that inspired his
first solo album, Laura.
Ever gracious, he was kind enough to answer a few questions.
T: So my first question was: when you broke up with Elefant, was it a
gentle evolution or creative differences or just sort of a natural
Garcia: I like the word “gentle evolution”
Garcia: It really was. I don’t think we ever officially broke up.
T: Just sort of evolved into a solo career after that?
Garcia: Yeah, I started working on my solo stuff and at one point I
felt I had to focus and pick one. In life you can do two things okay
or do one really well with all your focus and energy.
T: Now, what’s your process? When I write songs-cause I do a little on
the side, it’s not even important-
Garcia: well, it’s important to somebody [So noted; and thank you, if
you’re reading this]
T: -I’ll get a lyric in my head and I keep a notepad, or do you just
hash it all out at once?
Garcia: I record on the phone. I used to have to call myself or my
personal machine, but I press record on my phone and I just pick up
the guitar. Well, before I press record on my phone so I don’t eat up
all my storage, I’ll just grab the guitar and start strumming a chord
and a melody will come right away and that’s what I record. And I’ll
stream of conscious. I’ll just sometimes say things and when I listen
back I hear lines, maybe. And it just starts evolving, I start
chipping away and editing. But I just grab the guitar and melodies
just come like an antenna.
T: That’s great, yeah. Do you ever get any requests for Elefant songs?
Garcia: I do. I do. You know, depending on the cities, on the West
coast I’ll have three or four ready to go. But in Albany I didn’t
think anyone even knew who Elefant was.
T: (laughs) I did a little bit of research. So, that was such a great
story you told about flying to [Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames] and
recording at George Harrison’s studio. That’s very tenacious for you
to just say “Hey, I want to record at your dad’s studio.”
Garcia: Well, we [Dhani Harrison and he] were friends, you know.
Again, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of it. If I knew [then
what I know] now, I would never have even done it, probably. But
Dhani’s a buddy of mine, still is. We were in a band together. We had
to make a demo and he had a studio. It just was that simple: Go to
your friend’s dad’s house. It just happens his dad is a Beatle.
In addition to hearing Diego Garcia’s music on local radio, you may
have also heard Ashley Sofia’s “Judas” getting some airplay. I didn’t
know that Garcia had an opening act for this show but I wasn’t at all
disappointed. Ashley Sofia is delightful, gentle and graceful, and as
a songwriter puts words together like a seasoned musician. It wasn’t
until I heard her play that catchy song that I was finally able to put
a name with the song I’d heard before.
Local performer Ashley Sofia hails from Ticonderoga and at age 11
followed in her father Billy’s footsteps picking up a guitar and
learning to play. She’s had hip hop artists approach her for
collaboration after hearing her song “Let Go” because, she said, “they
liked my flow.” Her background being more folk or pop in nature, it
was a great opportunity to expand her talent to cross genres and
collaborate with other artists.
Ashley grew up listening to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young,
Bob Dylan, the music of her parents’ generation. She recognizes the
talented wordsmithery and poetry of these songs; it’s not something
you come across a lot in popular music of today. But she channels that
creativity into her own songwriting in songs like “Cowboy” and “Gold”
and pays homage to it in her song “1973”. She spoke of how she’d been
sick and her parents took her in and took care of her for a time, but
during that time she was able to write and work on these songs that
comprise her album “Love and Fury.”
Sometimes experiencing sorrow or hardships gives birth to creativity.
That’s evident in both these performers’ inaugural solo albums. It’s
all about letting your light shine through dark times and great reason
to stay positive. It paves a path for better things to come.
Thanks to both Diego Garcia and Ashley Sofia for putting on a great
show. Be sure to check them out next time they’re in town.