Flipping Tables with Kal-Elle Jagger meets Forged In Neon with Ashley Anita: The Mashup Interview

Updated: Feb 1


Welcome to my little corner in the metaverse, just west of Pop Art Ave and Lois Lane. The spot where we flip the script, turning the table on the personalities who usually find themselves at the forefront of a Q&A.


When I was first toying around with names for this series, I couldn't get the image of a glowing table out of my head.


I admit I chose Flipping Tables for its double meaning, conjuring up images of an angry New Jersey Housewife having a meltdown. In the end, I decided to set the table in a more luminous light.


The table has always represented a space where minds come together to discuss, create and break bread. Ours is a potluck, where members of our community bring their favourite dish, cooked to perfection with delectable electronic ingredients. Some dark, some light. Served, shared, and savoured.


Today's guest and I are here to remind our readers that we are a unique clan that supports one another. Realistically, not all broods necessarily get alone. We may not have the same taste buds for the audio we consume and create. Still, in the end, we are a family, the one often referred to as synthfam.


Welcome to the table, the Mastermind behind Forged in Neon, Miss Ashley Anita.



Kal-Elle Jagger

You recently said to me, "the more people spreading the gospel of the synth, the better."

I love that. You are such a beacon to have in the corners of so many artists and creators.

Ashley Anita

I appreciate that. Thank you

KJ

But before we get into that, we always start with an origin story. Where were you born and bred?

AA

Born and reared in Dublin city, Ireland. Not a city that's ever likely to be synonymous with the Synthwave scene. It has to be said, which makes it all the sweeter when I reach people in my own neck of the woods who also love the music but never had an outlet.


KJ

How would you describe Ashley Anita in the 1980s?


AA

I was always an aspirational and creative little lady with grand ideas that outgrew my tiny box room walls. I drew, I wrote. Mainly poetry and lyrics and bashed about on an old Casio keyboard gifted to me for Christmas one year. I sat and tried to replicate the themes to my favourite shows like Airwolf, Knight Rider, Miami Vice & Streethawk, to name but a few. Art and creativity were huge outlets for me. I was fairly isolated. Having been bullied excessively through some of my younger years, I lacked confidence. Creating was a safe space for me as there were never any limits to my imagination. It was a means to escape.


KJ

Did you have a favourite toy or game as a young colleen or lassie? What would be the proper term for a young girl in Ireland? Not wench, correct?


AA

The correct term is Cailín [KA LEEN] though it's very outdated and seems to be a word used mostly by Americans who grew up with the whole John Wayne 'The Quiet Man' era. 'Lassie,' I thought was a dog? Lol. This particular phrase is born out of Scotland and is nowhere used in Irish phraseology. And as for "Wench" good lord, that's very derogatory, ha-ha. So maybe don't call me that, unless those who do would like to kiss the ban hammer!


As for favourite toy? I never really had one, to be honest. Although, of course, I had some, they just never interested me. I mean, I think I gave my Peaches n' Cream Barbie a buzz cut one time, she didn't look so peachy after that, but I was more into my Smash Hits Magazines, cassette tapes, etc.


KJ

What was the first vinyl LP or cassette you remember as a gift or purchasing as a child?


AA

The one memory of my journey into owning music is a doozy. Back in the '80s, every so often, cereal companies often used to align themselves with record labels and were used to push singles sometimes, which were always a blast to discover. I think I remember my mother saving like ten large coupons cut out from the back of Cereal boxes to use them to purchase the song: 'Give it up' by KC and the Sunshine Band for me. I remember my excitement as I saw the Postman come up the driveway with the little single in a tiny whiplash box. I danced and danced to that song; it has such a special place in my heart now! My first record delivery! And I'm still buying them but more so from places like Sofa King Vinyl and Timeslaves as opposed to Kellogg's! Times have changed!


KJ

The '80s had a few subgenres of their own, not too far off from what we have today. So what were your go-to sounds and bands between '80s pop, new wave, modern rock, heavy metal, punk, or goth?

AA

Gosh, I gave everything a fair hearing, but I always gravitated towards the electro sounds like Depeche Mode, Japan, Gary Numan. Then, of course, as I got a little older, I'd bring these sounds with me and add the likes of Metallica, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, The Doors & Fleetwood Mac for good measure. 80's music in the round had so much heart and diversity. You'd still listen to most of it today and vibe out. It truly was a golden age!


KJ

What were three of your absolute favourite '80s movies? Did you watch some of the same American-produced television shows we had in the states?


AA

I'm a massive Star Wars nerd, so I'll always go to bat for the original franchise from the '70s and '80s latter-day films, not so much. But, of course, other movies I loved are Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Mannequin purely because I had a huge crush on Andrew McCarthy, still do! I even had the pleasure of speaking with him one time. I thought I was going to implode with excitement! Of course, we had access to some stateside shows like Dallas, Dynasty, ALF, Different Strokes, The Cosby Show & The Greatest American Hero. But my heart was always in shows like Streethawk, The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica, Airwolf, CHiPs, TJ Hooker, The Fall guy, Miami Vice & Knight Rider, to name a few.


KJ

Did you have a favourite superhero growing up?

Most comic book heroes have a mild-mannered persona by day. But, in your 9 to 5 life, do people know of your secret neon identity?


AA

I always gravitated towards Superman; the character seemed omnipresent to me growing up with the films starring Christopher Reeve and the TV series with Dean Cain. In Ireland, we weren't as exposed to comics, anime, that kind of thing. So I felt later in life that I missed out. Being a drawer, I was always in awe of how characters were created and the genius behind the complexities of each character that had evolved. Loved that!

In my 9-5 life, only a few know. It's not a best-kept secret, though. If people want to know about me, they can. All they need do is ask.



KJ

When did you officially descend into the neon rabbit hole? For me, it was a few years ago. Pre-pandemic. I was heavily revisiting Kim Wilde's Another Step and Close albums. Then, somehow, the algorithm of the synth gods led me to The Midnight and Ollie Wride. What gravitational force pulled you in?


AA

Remembering I always had an innate love for electro music, I saw the Cocaine Cowboys documentary back in 2007. It included music by Jan Hammer, and I had to hear more! Around that time, the Valerie Collective was starting out, and whisperings on forums started to appear of a movement that had me reliving the glory days of the '80s all over again. Of course, then 'Drive' came out in 2011 with Hotline Miami in 2012, and the rest, as they say, is history! That game series helped cement my love for Perturbator, and ten years later, I'm still a fan!


KJ

How did Forged in Neon come about, and when?


AA

It's quite a long story, but I'll give you the abridged version. Being on the scene for some time, I became a trusted face to many artists who knew I was a fan. They used to send me unmastered ideas of songs they had in the pocket that they were working on. Coupled with some lovely strong friendships with these Artists and Creators, I decided to set out and do something to pay back all the years of smiles they'd given me through their fantastic music. I credit Stuart McLaren from Outland Recordings for giving me that gentle push to explore the journalistic side of things. So, I set out to create a space to showcase the best on the Synthwave scene. Forged was born on the 6th May 2020 at 6 pm (666). Honestly, as a brand, it has developed beyond my wildest neon dreams and featured in magazines, one of which was distributed worldwide. A compilation Album, live streams, and even inspired its own theme song, 'Forged in Neon' done by the super talented Scott from Elevate the Sky. I consider myself very lucky that the brand has become as big as it has with hard work and oodles of support! I'll never not be grateful!


KJ

Is there a secret or something the world doesn't know about Ashley Anita that you would like to share here? Do you have a secret talent?


AA

Ahh, now, if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, would it? 😊


KJ

I am still very bummed we didn't meet in London in December for Ollie Wride. But on the bright side, 2022 looks like the year you will make the pilgrimage to the sacred land of Los Angeles, here to the states. I am so looking forward to that! If you could have a second home or place to visit more frequently, where would that be?


AA

Yeah, that was a bummer. Equi measures of Govt cock-ups and restrictions put a stop to play. 2022 seems a lot more positive, so I hope I can make up for lost time! For me, the second home or place to visit has to be Toronto, Canada. There's something about that place that keeps calling out to me. Notwithstanding the fab friendships, I've made there. The city, especially at night, is as inspirational as you're likely to find. I love it there!



KJ

What's next? Do you ever see yourself getting tired of forging away with your passion for Synthwave?


AA

I don't ever really see myself getting tired. Mind you, I've sailed close to the wind a couple of times, but what always pulls me back is the amount of faith people have placed in me. I have so many fantastic ideas for Forged, which are easily implementable. Shortly Forged will be launching its own YouTube channel. I'm in talks with people to get this off the ground in a meaningful way. I'm also in the middle of revamping my branding. As some may know, I also have a Captain of Chillsynth now in the form of Dom Cresswell from AUW, and that's working out to be a dream partnership. As events gain traction, I hope to be live-reporting from gigs the world over, where time allows. Plus, some affiliations to known entities on the scene that'll deliver that edge that people crave. I'm asked regularly to explore the world of Artist Management; this is also something I'm seriously considering. However, I may need one or two more contributors on board before that happens, as they haven't patented a cloning machine yet. Well, none that I'm aware of!




Wowza, a world with two Ashleys preaching the neon gospel would be a much brighter place indeed. Keep glowing!




Follow Ashley on all platforms:



Website:

E Zine | Forged In Neon


https://mobile.twitter.com/ForgedinNeon


https://www.instagram.com/forged_in_neon/


https://www.facebook.com/synthr0nicity


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCQopHX-EpN0TrRjKl9TVHg



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