4th June 2021
Even prior to his time on Zoey 101, Asher Monroe has been busy ever since he played Chip on Broadway’s Beauty and The Beast. He went on to join the pop R&B boy band V Factory whilst starring as heartthrob Marco Ramone in the 2009 Fame remake, all before carving out an amazing solo career working with the likes of Ryan Tedder, Sean Kingston and Akon. Now, he’s gearing up to release his powerful and emotive new album Windows of Time. We spoke to Asher about life in lockdown, the new album, his time as a child star and whether he still keeps up with his Zoey 101 cast mates.
Hey Asher! How's your lockdown been? Have you taken up any new hobbies?
Hey ReVamp. Lockdown could have been worse but packing my bags and moving around as much as I was allowed to was the best decision. During lockdown I decided to cook more and read more, and focused on calisthenic training.
Are there any albums that have got you through this pandemic?
I’ve had Stevie Wonders’ ‘Songs In The Key of Life’ on repeat! I’ve also been listening to ‘Hunky Dory’ by David Bowie too.
Have you found the past year inspiring as a songwriter and artist or has it been difficult to find inspiration?
There’s never a lack of inspiration when you try to awaken your five senses. Imagine if we ate, smelt, heard, saw and touched the same things every day. It would get pretty boring and monotonous! I always have to keep moving and trying new things while never losing a sense of adventure. I find my inspiration through constant stimuli.
Can you tell us a bit about the new song 'Try Me'? What's it about?
The inspiration for ‘Try Me’ actually came from someone who was very near and dear to me who had gained a tremendous amount of success in the public eye, but deep down was crippled with heartache, pain, cynicism and misery. I felt like this person was always a victim of happenstance and always had a ‘me against the world’ mentality. With all the turmoil this person was going through, when it didn’t have to be that way, I was inspired to write this song. I wanted to encourage anyone who was going through similar issues to not always point the finger and blame everyone else for their problems but look inside themselves and take a more proactive approach to solving the chaos around them. ‘Try Me’ is about taking the power back within us and leaving the victim mentality behind.
What was it like working with acclaimed producer Walter Afanasieff who’s worked with Mariah, Celine Dion and Whitney?
It was a wonderful experience working with Walter. He truly is a genius at his craft. The way we wrote songs together has so far been my favourite style of writing. We would meet five to six hours a day for months and he’d play piano while I sang melodies. Together it was like playing a ping pong match that eventually sculpted the foundation of what came to be. He taught me a lot about programming and using different sounds. I could go on and on because it was truly an amazing experience.
You’ve been working on Broadway since you were 7! What was your favourite show to do and why?
They all played a big role in my life but Beauty and the Beast was a huge turning point because, looking back, if I hadn’t overcome my nerves and shown up that day to audition, I don’t think I would be here today talking with you. It was a huge leap of faith and trust in my god-given abilities. At that age, being a part of such a huge production, my eyes were wide everyday with excitement. Getting to work alongside such professionals and performing in front of so many people every night was incredible. Just doing something that most kids that age don’t get the opportunity to do was a true thrill that I will never forget.
Your new songs are big, theatrical and impactful, do you think your time on Broadway and in Fame (2009) has influenced your solo music?
Of course. I think a lot of our upbringing and environment shapes our interests. I think the biggest blessing was falling into what I love at such an early age. It allowed me even more time to grow, learn and mature my craft at a steady pace. This album, more than any other songs I’ve written, feels full circle. It feels close to home. I’ve always been into big productions, orchestras and fantasy style stories so this album encompasses all of what I love.
You're releasing two albums this year. What was the process behind that? Are the two albums responding to each other or are they two completely different sets of work?
I have written so many songs in the last two years that only came out as singles. Since a lot of it sonically, and even lyrically, had a similar tone and feel, I decided to release Talk With God earlier this year as a compilation album for my fans. Windows Of Time was being worked on simultaneously as I wrote those singles. To answer your question, the two have no correlation and are miles and worlds apart. I’m always cooking up something new and then releasing as I go.
Do you keep in contact with any of the Zoey 101 cast?
No, I don’t keep up with any of the cast members from Zoey 101. Interestingly, most of the shooting for that show was at Pepperdine College in Malibu, the city that’s been my base the last few years until moving to London recently.
And finally, what else can we expect from you this year?
Currently, I’m enjoying London as my new base. I’m lining up some performances and gearing up towards the release of Windows of Time.
You can listen to Asher's new single, 'Try Me' here.