3 min

Opening doors

Ashley Schram-aka Ash Riot-loves a stage and works with queer youth

Michael Venus: So who all is in the band, then?

Ash Riot: Just me and drummer Chris Vautour; just the two of us. I am the acoustic guitar player, songwriter-I do everything! She really backs me up; it’s really awesome.

MV: Wow that’s super cool. So how long have you been making music, Miss Thang?

AR: Oh me? I’ve been around the community for about … (God, and I’m almost 20) since I was about 17. I was at a Melissa show and someone came up to me and said, ‘I have your CD; someone gave it to me, and I really like it.’ So, like, after hearing me once on a CD, she booked me to play the main stage at the AIDS Walk. Ever since then it’s pretty much been history, it’s just been show after show after show.

MV: Wow! And you’re still such a li’l baby!

AR: Yeah, I’m a baby (laughs).

MV: So what are some of your music influences?

AR: My musical influences band-wise would be anything from Elliot Smith, all the way to Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, all that stuff. But I mean that’s not just it. It also goes, like, from the emo stuff and the gothic stuff to, like, hard-core bands like Thursday and that kinda band.

MV: So did you always know you’d be into music, or what?

AR: Um yeah, not really when I was younger like 10, but around 12, I fell and hurt my hip and had surgery and I was such a jock-I was the quarterback. So I couldn’t do all the things I usually did so I had to kinda find something else. So my very first record was Green Day and right from then I was a Punk Rocker!

MV: Wow! Okay, so tell me some of your highlight gigs?

AR: Highlight gigs: Well, the AIDS Walk was really great. I’ve played a lot of shows with Yvette from Mollie’s Revenge.

That’s my mom! (we wave to a sweet-looking lady walking into Little Sister’s, as we sit in the back lot of Melriches.)

I played a lot of shows; I’ve played Pride, with Fruit, with Alix Olson numerous times, Pamela Means. I can’t think: too many!

MV: Being such a young performer/singer/songwriter, do you ever experience any prejudices or expectations in being a gay woman?

AR: I think the biggest misconception about me is that, in fact, I’m not a gay woman, I’m bisexual. I tell people, ‘No, I like boys and girls’ and some woman are like, ‘Yeah right, honey’ or ‘You’ll change your mind.’ But no, I am bisexual. I guess yes, I have had some prejudices like that, but mostly more because people are trying to either label me a rocker chick or as gay. It’s basically been, ‘She’s not gay? That’s so strange because she’s in the community and she doesn’t identify as a lesbian.’ So they get confused. I am just a queer!

MV: So you work for Youthquest as well. Tell me about your job and really what Youthquest is, pretty please!

AR: I am the office coordinator; I’m the only one usually in the office. Youthquest is a queer youth organization that tries to do a lot of outreach through communities where there is not a lot. We have a lot here, obviously, in Vancouver with such a large and privileged gay community. We have drop-ins all over the Lower Mainland and, like, Smithers, Prince George-we have them like everywhere, I think 13 in total. It’s really good, we are getting a lot of response from youths. I was at the Surrey drop-in-that’s the one I helped run and we went from having only one youth to over 40. Youthquest has been around over 10 years now; it’s really great.

MV: Since you really only recently finished high school, how do you feel the youth of today are-as far as being free about who they are with their sexuality and stuff?

AR: It depends where you are and what community you’re in. In high school there are certain people who are going to make it very hard for you and there are certain people who will lighten up; it all depends where they’re from and who they interact with. So I think generally it’s getting a little bit easier because people like Youthquest are going into schools and talking about it. So it isn’t as isolated.

MV: Opening up doors-that’s great. So you are still so young with so much ahead of you. What do you want, say in the next five years, with music, politics-all of it?

AR: I dunno. Basically, wherever it takes me, I’m going to work my ass off! I hope to be touring and really getting my music out there. I will soon have a CD coming out called Cold Water Romance, which will have around eight songs with a full band, not just acoustics. I hope to make a living off all this, playin’ shows.

MV: Finally, what kind of boys do you like and what kind of girls do you like?

AR: I like pretty boys and pretty girls!