30 Seconds: Ainsley Stones

Ainsley Stones is a Sheffield based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist. His varied, tuneful, catchy songs, soulful playing and lively performances have meant that Ainsley has received consistently excellent reviews for many years.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 2 May 2012
  • min read
Ainsley Stones is a Sheffield based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist.  His varied, tuneful, catchy songs, soulful playing and lively performances have meant that Ainsley has received consistently excellent reviews for many years.  During the course of some 1500 gigs, his musicianship and vocals have been put to use in genres as varied as rock, blues, metal, swing, folk and funk, and his playing can be heard as a guest musician on many releases.

How long have you been making music?
For 20 years or so, nearly always with original material.

What inspired your latest album?
A desire to write quite musically diverse songs with what one might call "classic" songwriting values. I've always loved vocal harmonies, chord substitutions, key changes and dynamics. It's probably a result of listening to my Dad's Queen, ELO and Beatles albums as a little kid. I think these aspects of songwriting are under-represented in the Top 40 now.

What process do you go through?
One of two processes: I sometimes start with a rough idea for a lyric which is usually about something which I need to get off my chest! It usually has an important line or two which suggest a certain rhythm and mood, and build the chords around that. The other process is to start with a chord progression which moves me in some way and improvise something lyrical along to it. Then comes the hardest yet most rewarding part: making it into a properly-arranged and produced song.

How would you describe your sound?
A little "retro" maybe, lively, dynamic...the work "quirky" seems to crop up in reviews a lot too, but I think that's because you might hear an early-Bowie influence in one song and 1950s Rock 'n' Roll in the next.

What would your dream collaboration be?
Probably a songwriting month with Benny Andersson of ABBA, who is just outrageously-talented and very modest with it. He would have to bring Agnetha Faltskog with him though for some great vocals. Maybe if Brian May was free to chip in with some ideas, that would be welcomed too.

When can we catch you live next?
My next gig is on 31 May at Delaney's in Sheffield. Keep an eye on www.ainsleystones.co.uk or www.facebook.com/ainsleystonescombo for details of forthcoming gigs.