December 3, 2010

Talkin' Baseball with Ashkon

Last month, the Bay Area welcomed their Giants home with an epic parade through the streets of San Francisco.

Atop their respective floats and cable cars were Giants manager Bruce Bochy, World Series heroes Tim Lincecum and Edgar Renteria, popular closer Brian Wilson and Ashkon Davaran.

Ashkon Davaran?

Prior to San Francisco’s run through the National League playoffs, the self-proclaimed “Bay area rap cat” put together what became the team’s official anthem of the 2010 postseason.

Close to two million YouTube hits later, Ashkon’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” was a viral hit and his beloved Giants were, indeed, World Series champions.

I had a chance to catch up with the musician to find out what’s next.

HOVG: Alright, right out the gate, I’ve gotta know…what possessed you to remake “Don’t Stop Believin’”? And how long did it take you to pen your version?

ASHKON: Some buddies of mine were working on a web series called White Collar Brawler and they had seen an old video of mine for a song called “Hot Tubbin’ (On the Late Night)” and wanted to collaborate. When the Giants clinched we decided to make a Giants playoff anthem. Initially I wanted to do a rap song... I tried for a couple days to sample Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and turn it into a rap anthem, but it wasn’t working. The day before we were set to shoot, I was listening to the original and heard the line “Everybody wants a thrill” and it reminded me of my favorite Giant growing up, Will “The Thrill” Clark. It was that moment that I decided to do a remake of the song with new lyrics. The writing process itself took a few days...The song was essentially conceived between the last day of the regular season and the first day of the NLDS. We shot the whole video in two hours out front of Pac Bell Park before Game 1.

HOVG: Do you worry that every team is going to bust out a team song? I mean…the Florida Marlins trotted out this piece of crap prior to last season.

ASHKON: Yeah, it does worry me quite a bit…but what can I do? When you’re a trendsetter, these sorts of worries come with the territory. (Laughs) I’m just messing around. If someone feels inspired to rep their team with a song…so be it. The fact is, no one will really be listening unless it’s somewhat enjoyable. Either that or so bad that it’s hilarious.

HOVG: You’re closing in on two million views on YouTube. What has meant more to you…the viral fame, being invited to take part in the Giants victory parade or the World Series victory itself?

ASHKON: It’s all sort of blended into the same thing...one huge ball of happiness and gratitude. It’s hard work paying off...dreams fulfilled. The essence of accomplishment.

HOVG: We all know that Steve Perry is a huge Giants fan. Have you heard from the former Journey frontman? If so…what has he said about your rendition?

ASHKON: I had a chance to meet Steve before the World Series Parade, and he seemed to be pretty cool with it. I thanked him for writing one of the best songs of all time…he said thanks and that I did a good job with it.

HOVG: Back to “The Thrill” for a second. Good friend of The Hall Gar Ryness (aka “The Batting Stance Guy”) critiqued your Will Clark for me. He said “Ashkon, knows his stuff. The arm twirl is easy. He added the face. He's got it.” Thoughts?

ASHKON: (Laughs) That guy is amazing. He has the pre-pitch bat wave down, but I think I may have him with the game face though. (Laughs)

HOVG: A few weeks ago, Giants catcher Buster Posey took home the National League Rookie of the Year award. Of course, you predicted it…what’s next for Ashkon? You know…if you can predict that too.

ASHKON: I have a new album in the works...should be out early next year. There’s definitely gonna be more videos...maybe another Giants-themed video to start off next season.

HOVG: Thanks, dude. I know you’ve made yourself available on both Facebook and Twitter…but where can we hear more of your music?

ASHKON: I have a new hip-hop mixtape available for free download HERE.  It features the Giants Anthem, and more.




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