Written across five continents– produced in Rome, Rio de Janeiro and Nashville - “People & Places” is Zach Ashton’s most introspective, vulnerable and virtuous record to date. In mid 2014, Zach began sketching an outline for an album that would reflect his journey through a relationship - the positive, the negative and the heartbreak. Early production began in Rio de Janeiro in a small apartment in Copacabana. Later that year, two songs (Shooting Stars, The Ceiling) were recorded at Rio’s Casa do Mato Studios (Ana Carolina, Milton Nascimento, Jason Mraz) with longtime friend Eduardo Andrade. Eduardo invited musicians from Zach’s previous album “The Distance Between Us” to participate in the production. These first recordings were the catalyst for “People & Places.”
After many years in Brazil, Ashton set off across the globe to pursue what he describes as “finding the part of him that was lost.” His first stop was Bali, where he began the writing the rest of the album. He spent 6 months in Asia, his travels bringing him to the far reaches of the globe as well as the heart. He spent time trekking through the Himalayas, surfing in Indonesia and learning ancient rituals from Buddhist monks in Myanmar. His journey continued into the Baltic region where he visited Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. A short trip to Israel altered the path of his journey. In mid 2015, Zach was severely injured and due to the nature of his injury, stayed in Tel Aviv for 3 months. The time he spent in Israel gave way to a refinement in the compositions as well as a new direction in production. “Israel gave me time to think. I was literally grounded. This let me reflect on all aspects of my being. It was a blessing to be in Israel under the circumstances.”
It was during this time that Zach began reconsidering countries other than Brazil for the album. After a month in Portugal, he decided that Rome would be the location where “People & Places” would be recorded. Through a friend, Ashton connected with Italian producer Fabio Colucci. The two spoke on the phone a few times in October 2015 and Zach flew from Lisbon to Rome two weeks later. “We met over a dinner and were in the studio the next day.” Colucci had organized a stellar team of musicians to participate in the album. The songs were recorded live in a small studio on the outskirts of Rome.
After recording in Rome, Colucci and Ashton met again in Nashville at Bomb Shelter Studios (Alabama Shakes, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Benjamin Booker). In Nashville, they recorded a new version of The Ceiling and utilized the signature sound of Bomb Shelter's MCI console for the mixing of the album. It was in Nashville that the record really started to take its shape. “We wanted a stripped down album that would reflect the way by which it was conceived. Using an analog console, mixing becomes a physical experience. This is what music is about, our connection to the physical world and how our experiences reflect that connection. Music makes time travel possible. I really feel like I was traveling through myself in the making of this record.”
The result of “People & Places” is testament to Zach’s travels through the world as well as through the heart. We feel what he feels. We celebrate both the pain and the pleasure. If the age old phrase “life is a journey” is true, one can participate in Ashton’s personal journey in “People & Places”