[Behind The Beat] A Conversation With Treasure Fingers and Vanilla Ace On How it All Began
Treasure Fingers and Vanilla Ace joined forces to keep us nice and hot this winter season. With the release of their new EP “Sweat” and their U.S. tour together, it’s no wonder that this dynamic duo has us breaking out in a sweat on the dance floor, every single time. Ashley Jones, better known as “Treasure Fingers,” is known for his hit singles, “Cross the Dance floor” and “Koolaid.” And, London’s, Vanilla Ace, known for his hits, “Whistleblower” and “Little Pigs.” These two never fail to experiment with all variations of house music, experimenting with new sounds and implementing their musical inspirations into everything they create. In this interview, Treasure Fingers and Vanilla Ace tell us all about their creative processes, musical influences and what ultimately drove them to music. I had a conversation with these two on their second night of their U.S. “Sweat” tour at the Beauty Bar in Las Vegas. I was not only blown away by their captivating performance but by the stories of their humble beginnings.
Hey! Whats up guys, this is Mya Constantino with MIX 247 EDM and I am here with the incredible Treasure Fingers and Vanilla Ace!
I know you guys just performed at Sound Nightclub in LA, with it being the first night of your tour together, can you guys tell me about a little bit about that experience?
Treasure fingers: It was great. Both of us have played there. We’re not technically veterans, but we’ve play three or four times each. So, very familiar with it, it’s a great club. Sounds great, they’ve even modified it a bit since the last time I was there. But yeah, it was sick, it sounded great. Crowd was going crazy. It was perfect to kick the tour off too because L.A consistently is one of the best cities to play.
Vanilla Ace: Yeah, we had a lot of competition with other parties but our fans still showed up, so it was great.
What inspired you guys to go on tour together? Who called who? How did this come into fruition?
Vanilla Ace: I got in touch with Ashley. I wanted to do something different. I’ve toured America many times before but I’ve always done it myself. So, I’ve seen all these other artists, peers of mine going on tour with each other and I said, “oh yeah, I want to try it out.” I would say it’s like an experiment where I wanted to do something different. Obviously, Ashley has been in the game a lot longer than me and I’ve been playing his music even before I did the Vanilla Ace Project. I reached out to Ashley and was like, “Are you up for this?” It took a while, there’s a lot of planning involved but we eventually got there. Made the EP, got all the dates together and all the press. It was cool!
M: So, it was a long process but worth the process.
Vanilla Ace: Yeah, definitely. And what he was saying too, I’ve toured by myself so many times and then when I get home my friends are like, “Aw how was it, was it amazing? “You were in all these amazing cities!” And I was like, “I was by myself, with no one to hang out with, sitting in a hotel room, in an airport lounge, in another hotel room, and then in an airport.” So, to have someone with you, it’s like a game changer. It makes it a much better experience.
M: Yeah! Life is so much better experienced with someone else.
Vanilla Ace: Even today, when we got here. We thought, “Lets walk down Fremont and see what’s going on.” To have someone to laugh with, it’s just different. It was cool, how it all came about! He hit me up, we were like, lets do it, lets write an EP and let our agents know! All the agents were excited and we just put a plan in and made it happen.
So, let’s talk about this new EP that you guys have, “Sweat.” How did that all go about? How did the creative process go between the two of you? Did you both have similar ideas?
Vanilla Ace: The “Sweat” track kinda started off as a demo for me with the weird Asian flute thing, that’s off of some old school record. I was in the studio for a couple of hours messing with the acapella, I had sent it to Ashley. Ashley had something added. In “Crazy” he has the chords in the middle. So, we went back and forth on the track.
Treasure Fingers: Yeah, one was his demo and one was my demo and we finished up each others demos.
M: Wow, I love that!
Vanilla Ace: Easier way to explain it! *laughs*
Who are your musical influences? What do you listen to in your free time? In the car or in the shower?
Treasure Fingers: My musical influences are all over the place. I’ve always been drawn to the more experimental stuff. What grabbed me was, squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky. Either left field, drum and bass or down tempo. From there, I started discovering house music.
Treasure Fingers: But, I’m into Black Metal, and Gangster Rap.
M: You like everything!
Treasure Fingers: Yeah! I used to love real Hip Hop, like back packer Hip Hop. Now, it’s kinda corny to me! Now, I just listen to the most ignorant Atlanta rap, which isn’t lyrical at all but it’s my ish! I just jump around, whatever I’m feeling.
Vanilla Ace: I was a massive 90’s R&B Hip Hop kid. My dad is a photographer, so he would go to New York and come home and bring back all these mix tapes. My brother would come back with drum and bass stuff from London and around the UK. I think England is a lot different than America in a sense where we grew up with dance music on the radio. We would listen to these crazy rave tunes. Everything from, Wu-Tang, Dr. Dre, Snoop, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Guns & Roses. I have a wide range of influences which you can hear in the music.
Any dream collaborations? A certain indie artist, pop artist, rapper? Anyone you want to collaborate in the future?
Vanilla Ace: Tough one. If you said, dead or alive it would be easier.
M: There ya go! Dead or alive?
Treasure Fingers: Roger Troutman, all day. He’s one of my favorite writers, producers, performers. He was incredible. R.I.P!
Vanilla Ace: If I could do something with Teddy Riley, that would be a dream come true. That guy created a genre within itself.
Treasure Fingers: Alive? I would say Mariah Carey!
M: You know, she lives here now!
Treasure Fingers: Well, I’m going to call her up and make this happen!
Vanilla Ace, you’ve been Djing since 17 years old. Treasure Fingers, you started off in a drum and bass group. How did you both get into music?
Treasure Fingers: My father taught me how to play guitar when I was about 11 or 12. Just basic power chords. My dad was in a band so he taught me some guitar chords. He had drum kits, a 4-track, a midi programmer. He would program his own drums and play riffs on it. He would try to use real sounding drums that I thought were pretty corny back then. He just wanted something to jam to. I found the switch to where it made it sound like the 808 sounding drums. I thought, “Oh, this is how you make beats.” I was 13 or 14. I started using his 4-track. I could see that I could actually be creative and record something, it was mind blowing to me. Ever since then, I’ve been super hungry.
Vanilla Ace: Yeah, I think similarly, my brother would make me buy turn-tables with him when I was 14 years old and all the music I loved you could only buy on Vinyl. So, slowly I started buying Vinyl for personal use. I realized after going to clubs, I can do what these guys are doing, they’re okay djs. I started djing more and more. I was such a Hip Hop fan and wanted to know where the notes and samples were coming from. I remember going to New York by myself. I went just to go record shopping. I was obsessed with making mix tapes. Before homework, I would make pause button tapes for all my friends and do these fake radio shows in my dad’s living room! I just knew I liked music. I knew that I wanted to produce and I knew what would work on the dance floor.
Treasure Fingers, you have a radio show/podcast called Psychic FM. Any new guest artists that we can expect in the near future to spin on the show?
Treasure Fingers: I don’t have anyone lined up right now. But I do plan on switching the format up and having a lot more guests on!
If you could give your younger 18 year old self any piece of advice, what would it be?
Vanilla Ace: So, I have to be 18 in that year?
M: Yes, in that phase of your life!
Vanilla Ace: This is going to sound funny. But, I would say, “Don’t call yourself Vanilla Ace” I’m serious. I would’ve said that to myself! I never intended it to blow up like the way it did. I knew DJ snake before he became famous and I ran into him recently and he said the same thing, where he had gone too far for him to change it. So, he’s always DJ Snake. It’s the same with me, it went too far, it was too late to turn back.
M: It wouldn’t be you!
Vanilla Ace: But, I have a love/hate with the name. Sometimes, I love it and sometimes I’m like, “Man why did I call myself that?”
M: I think it’s awesome.
Treasure Fingers: Yeah, I can say the same, on the name! I’m all, “yeah this name will work for this song” that ends up being my most popular song. I’ve learned to embrace the name! You gotta roll with it, you can’t just do a name change all of a sudden.
Treasure Fingers: I would tell my 18 year old self to invest in some sketchy internet currency. Buy as much as possible. They’re gonna call it Bitcoin or something! I have a tendency to overthink things, like crippling self doubt, the whole artist plague that artists put on themselves. I would say, just do your thing. Who gives a F***?
M: Do you, be happy!
Treasure Fingers: Yeah!
M: Alright guys, well thank you so much! I know, you guys have to get going! Well, this was Vanilla Ace and Treasure Fingers.
Vanilla Ace: Thank you, very much!
M: Check out their new EP “Sweat” now! Again, I’m Mya Constantino and this is MIX 247 EDM
Check out their new EP, “Sweat” now!
Listen to the full interview below