Eric Vani, otherwise known as Rise Ashen is recognized as a Juno-Award nominated Producer, Musician, DJ and Dancer. Rise has worked with American jazz legend, Duke Ellington, Montreal Juno award winner, Miguel Graca, and has even worked with artists such as K’Naan and Jully Black. From a young age he has been driven by a passion for music and dance. Rise describes his inspiration for music and dance as coming from the time he spent with his friends in Montreal during the early 80s. He spent these earlier years b-boying with his friends in downtown Montreal – this exposure to the underground dance scene, as well as early hip hop and island music have had an incredible impact on Rise and his desire to be involved in the music and dance community only grew from here.

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“The most rewarding part is the connection you feel to people who really get what you’re doing,” says Rise. He believes that having the ability to create a beautiful piece of music, or teaching dance to a group of people and seeing that you’ve made a difference in their day is beyond incomparable to anything else. Some of the music that Rise holds as near and dear to him is the music that he has made with Flying Down Thunder. He specifically loves that through the help of these pieces, they have had the ability to build bridges across a national cultural divide between Urban and Indigenous music.

Although music and dance are a way of life for Rise, he openly realizes the struggles that come with pursuing a career in this industry. He says, “trying to make a living as a musician is easier than trying to make a living as a poet or a dancer. Aside from that, I can’t think of anything else that is hard to make a living out of, except maybe professional cuddling.”

Rise specifically acknowledges that the skill-set needed to be in the music and dance industry has been diversified extremely depending on the role that one wants to play. While the skill-set for session drummer or a concert promoter are very different, Rise emphasizes that the traditional skills of being successful in any arena are extremely pertinent. He notes that “hard work trumps all, and being open to learning, as well as [having] interpersonal skills are key.” Upon asking Rise about how to become successful within the artistic realm, he notes that all individuals should definitely follow their heart and pursue their passion, but within reason. “Growing your music is like growing a tree, it’s a slow arduous process and in the words of Sydney Bechet, you need to ‘Treat it Gentle’.”

If anyone has further questions or wants advice on getting involved in the music and/or dance scene in Ottawa, feel free to contact Rise for advice. To do this you can add Rise on Facebook as “Rise Ashen.” You should also check out Rise’s website, www.riseashen.ca, where you can find many of his mixed CDs including an EP of remixes from Ammoye, Rise Ashen album of 2012 and Roye Ayers 3rd Eye, which features Rise and Walker.

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