With a lineage that swirls a palette of colour as well as geography, Ash Grunwald is the modern-day representation of the global citizen; from the mixed-race melting pot of South Africa’s Cape Coloureds, to the Anglo Saxon migrant neighbourhood of his upbringing in Victoria, to the Hindu haven of Bali – his home for the past three years. With the liberation that comes from many lineages pouring into one; not confined by the borders of race nor the parameters of culture, Ash Grunwald is an advocate purely and simply of the Earth. His music, whilst calling from the Delta Swamp, is an eddy of influences, collaborations and mediums. His voice through his lyrics, podcast and broadcasting ask for the protection of land, sea, river, self and resources, and his new role as an author signifies the sudden abundance of purpose that comes with sobriety and of a man carrying a message of change.
Within the context of his pale childhood neighbourhood, Ash Grunwald grew up feeling proud and comfortable in the dark of his skin, finding resonance with the Black American music playing on local community radio, from which his own musical identity grew. Under the guidance of his grandfather, Ash learned to play guitar and bass as a young child, together recording his first ever song – a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Going Down Slow’.
At age 26, after his brief but enriching start to adulthood as a secondary school teacher (which confirmed his aversion to having a day job), Ash Grunwald cemented his change in career with the release of his first album, Introducing, a solo affair consisting of one guitar, one man and a stomp box. Introducing was followed not long after by his second album I Don’t Believe, defining Ash as a soulful bluesman far beyond his years who possessed the enthusiastic fervour of a young modern technologist.
Ash’s new musical career path had just one parameter – that his troubadour life would be lived by the ocean; show after show, one great surfing beach after another. His skills on the stage expanded, as did his skills in the sea. Ash’s reputation as a soulful surfer with that much-sought and much-celebrated spiritual connection to the sea grew, as his reputation on stage became the making of legend – an unbridled voice that carried all the power of the bluesmen before him, a power that rose in New Orleans, born in despair on its way across the seas from Africa, embodied in a driven, brown man as large in presence as he was in stature.
The Live At The Corner album cemented rumours of his potent live presence, and in 2007 Ash’s album Give Signs took him to the other side of the world; to London’s renowned The Borderline and Shepherds Bush Empire. Over the next decade he would frequent Europe many times, along with Canada, the United States and Japan.
In 2008, after collaborating at a song writing workshop, Ash teamed up with producer Countbounce (Urthboy, TZU) to deliver an album that would gift him his first APRA Award for Blues And Roots Work Of The Year. Fish Out Of Water was a genre defying record that saw the blues so enmeshed with electronic beats it was impossible to tell where one began and the other ended. Ash’s second APRA Award came in 2012, for his acclaimed single ‘Longtime’ from the album Trouble’s Door, again for Blues And Roots Work Of The Year.
Throughout his career, Ash has received five ARIA Award nominations and a swag of other award wins including MBAS Blues Performer Of The Year (2003), and the AIR Best Independent Blues And Roots Album for 2010’s, Hot Mama Vibes. The first single ‘Walking’ from the latter album, featured prominently in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Limitless’, which starred Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.
The release of Trouble’s Door on May 11 2012 revealed the growing fire of political and environmental malcontent that had been brewing within Ash for many a year. Containing some of his most personal songwriting to that time, it signified a turning point for Ash from frustrated spectator of rampant unchecked capitalism, to passionate activist driven by purpose. The now famous image of him paddling out on the methane-bubbling Condamine River in a gas mask became a global demand for change.
In a stroke of creative genius, Ash collaborated with Scott and Andy from The Living End to cover Gnarkls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, which enabled him to crossover into the commercial world of music, opening an even broader highway to his music and increasingly more importantly, his message. Along with Scott and Andy from The Living End, Ash was invited on the Triple M Breakfast show in Melbourne, then Sydney… and then on Channel 7’s ratings winning program The Morning Show to perform their gritty, lurching cover of ‘Crazy’. Within 6 days of that first performance, Ash Grunwald had laid down his 7th studio album; the collaborative rock monster GARGANTUA, with Scott and Andy.
As Ash’s music began to grow in volume so too did his thoughts on cleaner, better, more responsible living, starting first and foremost with his own merchandise. In 2014 Ash Grunwald and his inspirationally determined wife Danni Carr created Earth Bottles – a company formed to not just promote more mindful consumerism that sways from the planet-breaking habit of disposability, but to generate dollars for not-for-profits that are working tirelessly for the good of everyone.
These innate changes within Ash, that were leading him to ever-increasing outward action, were distilled musically in his 2015 album NOW. Teaming up with Ian Perez (keyboardist for Wolfmother) and Pete Wilkins (former drummer for Blue King Brown), along with famed American record producer Nick DiDia, NOW is an album with immense force; strongly political, rumbling from the depths of internal rage that does not forget for a beat that if you don’t get up sometimes and shake it out, you’ll lose sight of all the beauty you’re fighting for.
For a man that dreamt once of being a script writer but found the humility of school teaching and from it the determination to follow his dream, Ash Grunwald has carved out a unique path that inspires others to do the same – to follow passions from one project to the next, expanding skills and themselves as an individual, whilst also serving the greater good. With this mindset, Ash Grunwald is on the cusp of releasing his first ever book – Surf By Day, Jam By Night – set to be published by Pantera Press in August. The book is a journey to some unknown places, with some very familiar characters, including Kelly Slater, Stephanie