The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

Bay Area musician shows off talent in new Advocate series

“Cramped Chords” a new series presented by The Advocate to showcase local musical talent, kicked off with Ashton York

As I walked the busy streets of San Francisco, camera and sound gear clunking with each step, I spotted him in the distance. Bay area based singer/songwriter Ashton York was standing outside of his apartment building with his lips wrapped around a cigarette searching for someone, that someone was me.


As I greeted him, he told me he had come down in case I needed any help with my equipment, “but it looks like you’ve got it all covered.” As we make our way up the carpeted stairs to his apartment, York is humming and singing the entire way. This is something that, when told about it later in the day, he would allude to being subconscious by accompanying a confused look with, “I was?”

York’s discography stretches back to 2018 with his first project “Beach Song,” which reached over 100,000 streams across all platforms. His most recent project “Nightmare In Your Arms” was released November 11, 2022 and features a single titled “Awful Time” that was featured in Atwood Magazine. 

York invited The Advocate into his San Francisco apartment for an interview and an intimate concert consisting of a five-track set list, and an outpouring of vulnerable emotions.  

When we made it into his apartment, we started setting up to film The Advocate’s very first “Cramped Chords,” accompanied by the sounds of cars passing his open window and the creeks of the floorboards beneath our feet. After a few practice takes to get the shots right, level out the EQ, and warm up the vocal cords, it was on! 

Lights, camera, action! 

York’s set consisted of five songs; three single tracks (“Alcatraz,” “Bicycle,” and “Awful Time”) accompanied two songs off of his most recent album titled “Nightmare In Your Arms.” (“Just Like Yesterday” and “Nest”) 


In an interview with The Advocate, York spoke about his musical inspirations and what keeps him motivated. The first impactful album that he heard was “Live at Massey Hall 1971” by Neil Young. “I was 18 and I remember feeling like I found it, like this is what I’ve been looking for.” he stated “I didn’t know it was already here.” 

As far as listening goes, York says his interests scale the musical spectrum.

“I listen to a lot of things,” he said. York spent his early twenties discovering his sound, as well as many other artists that align with that. However, he explained that listening to the genre he makes can get a bit repetitive, which can push him to listen to more experimental kinds of music. “It reminds you to get lost in the process of making music, rather than where it can get you or what the product is.” 

York spoke about his writing processes as well, and explained how he doesn’t think about collaborating much outside his bubble. He does not like to rush or force art out of himself, instead he likes to give it the time it needs to come naturally. “I don’t write because I think I need to write another song, I just write when it’s time to write.” 

He also spoke about cowriting and collaborating, and his disinterest with it altogether. “I think to really [write a song] with someone, there has to be a lot of trust and history” he stated. “I’m not interested in building that because it’s really hard and uncomfortable.” York expressed his comfortability with the path he is on in regards to songwriting, stating that he felt he was doing “the best thing” and that he “doesn’t want to share that with anyone else.” 

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About the Contributor
Jolie Willson, Advocate Staff

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  • S

    Savy KirtlinkJan 6, 2024 at 1:24 pm

    Really appreciated this piece. beautifully done!

  • E

    Elan MartinOct 14, 2023 at 12:32 am

    Wonderful piece! Keep up the good work😎