Started Small: Ashley Bryan of For The Culture Sound

 A tad warm in Oslo, eh? Image via  Ashley Bryan .

A tad warm in Oslo, eh? Image via Ashley Bryan.

Hiya friends,

Taking a breath @ how long it's been since my last post!

As I like to say, LOTS of life has happened in between. Here's a roundup of the awesome, which you'd know about if you're following bklynprose on IG

(I'm active on Stories EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. WHAT you'll get: FUNNY, interactive photos and videos of my day-to-day 💣)

  • I performed @ NYU! I read one of my coming-of-age poems for Say It Loud, a showcase for black culture and the arts. Here's a photo of me gleaming.
  • I did a lil' storytell for my friend Lili B.'s exhibit, which was also @ NYU! Paintings, photography, and me doing something I'd never done before... Photos coming soon!
  • ^ Reflecting on growing up shy and quiet, I told a story about the power in speaking less. It ignited something in several attendees 😀 Great feeling
  • Made some massive changes to bklynprose yyaaasssss. Feedback es cute!
  • Interviewed for a fellowship .... Couldn't believe I made it to the final round!
  • Started exploring the idea of BKLYNPROSE AS A NONPROFIT WOOO!
  • Bought a guitar! Yo, it's the only thing that gets me out of bed.
  • ^ For any other aspiring musicians, Yousician has been an incredible help

Before digging into this month's started small feature (changed the name from Monthly Glitter 😝), I gotta say--my journal entries have been feeling SO dry...

Maybe I'm feeling OD conscious after starting to re-read my most recent one. This new book is becoming wow-Latiana-is-so-happy-rn-nothing-is-going-wrong-omg-?

ANYWAY! LMAO 😓 here's the the intrvw

Ashley Bryan is a Brooklyn-based visual artist and DJ. She co-founded FTC Sound, an experiential sound design and DJ collective for creatives around NYC. She enjoys creating experiences that synergize music, art, fashion, and culture.

Ashley's contact here! I'll copy it below for AFTER YOU READ EVERYTHING. Heh.

Instagram: @ashperusual + @ftcsound

 *Lookin' at some fine vinyl* Image via  Ashley Bryan .

*Lookin' at some fine vinyl* Image via Ashley Bryan.

give us some early memories of being interested in music.

I grew up in a Jamaican household, so reggae music was prevalent. I remember the CDs my parents kept in a case next to our sound system: Garnett Silk, Bob Marley, Cocoa Tea, Sanchez, some Stone Love Movement mixtapes, among others. For as long as I can remember, Reggae has always been there.

My mom loved playing Gospel music when we came home from church on Sundays. Yolanda Adams and the Winans were usually in heavy rotation. It was her way of maintaining the spirit in our house. Reggae wasn’t allowed on Sundays 😬

Tell us about your upbringing as a fellow native New Yorker (yyaas!) with artistically-supportive parents.

Aye! Native New Yorkers are far and few these days. I wear that title proudly [emoji]

My mom kept my sister and I busy as kids and enrolled us in (literally) all of the programs. I remember taking piano lessons when I was five at the school I attended near my childhood home. From the ages of six to 12 years old, I spent most Saturdays at a program called V.O.I.C.E.S at P.S. 268 in Brooklyn.  The program created opportunities for children in underserved communities to embrace art and culture. Attendees could curate their Saturday curriculum from an array of courses ranging from watercolor painting to tap dance. Visual art, music, and dance resonated with me the most.

"My parents and grandmother fostered an environment that allowed me to pursue my passions—to the limited extent that Jamaican parents will allow their children to pursue careers that aren’t rooted in medicine or law. Thanks, ya’ll!" 🌞

 This is reeeeeally making me think of summer. Image by  Chris Cheung .

This is reeeeeally making me think of summer. Image by Chris Cheung.

How do you keep a level head when the going gets tough?

We're constantly inundated with information and people and things—it gets overwhelming. I've found myself in some tough mental and spiritual places in my life, and I've turned to journaling, meditation and affirmations to deliver me from those spaces. I've been trusting the process and I'm excited to see how things unfold. Coming into my own has been a beautiful, terrifying journey.

The universe always looks out, though. I'm always reminded that it is a journey ⛰️

How does a background in sound design influence the way you see the world?

As an Open-Format DJ, I spin music from varied genres and eras. I’ve always been fascinated by the musical stylings of different times and how they can blend together to create a beautiful new sound. It’s similar to how Kanye West samples older melodies and lyrics. He draws on stylings of the past, couples that with influences of the present, and creates a sound of the future.

It’s a two-fold reminder:

  • The world is a colorful place. Inspiration can be found in every nook and cranny. I try to maintain that perspective.

  • I spin the same way I try to live my life: classics from yesterday, vibes of today, and sounds of the future.

I believe the universe operates on the premise of balance and when that equilibrium is shifted I feel the dissonance. I maintain a balanced reverence for the past, present, and future in order to avoid that friction 🌊

"Dwelling on the past, present, or future complicates things." ♨️

 I love that this can happen on an iPhone. Artwork by  Ashley Bryan .

I love that this can happen on an iPhone. Artwork by Ashley Bryan.

Is your dope iPhone artwork inspired by specific people or fictional ones?

If I can be all the way 100 for a second, it’s still shocking to me that people stop to look at my artwork, let alone call it “dope.” Thank you. It means so much to me 💜

The drawings are likely a jumble of different features from faces I’ve seen at one point or another stored in the depths of my subconscious. I guess that makes them fictional yet inspired by a real story.

What is for the culture sound and what are your long-term goals with running it?

For The Culture Sound is an experiential design and DJ brand founded by myself and my boyfriend / DJ partner, Stephen.

It was born out of three mutual desires:

  1. To find synergies between the mediums that inspire us most: music, art, fashion, and culture

  2. To connect people who also enjoy when those verticals mingle

  3. To create a brand first and develop a DJ collective second

"We aim to create experiences for innovators that want to celebrate the freedom of creation." 🎨

We recognize music, art, fashion, and culture are extremely dynamic. Our long-term goal is to stay dynamic in our ideation and as close as possible to an ever-evolving world so we can embrace all forms For the Culture Sound can and will take.

 Chalk walls mean more than any other walls. Image via  Ashley Bryan .

Chalk walls mean more than any other walls. Image via Ashley Bryan.

Name some artists you'd love to share a room with.

Lord. This is a laundry list in real life. I’ll keep it short:

Maya Angelou

She speaks in sagaciously magnetic prose. I can listen to her talk all day.


She is goals. She owns who she is, and her sauce drips in everything she does.

Mickalene Thomas

Her art portrays black women in all their shimmering glory.

Erykah Badu

Her music ignites something deep within me. In my mind, we’d meet at her house and chop it up over some delicious tea.

Why are you creating a playlist specifically for Women’s History Month? What can folks expect to hear?

Despite the many contributions women have made to the music industry, we are still fighting for the same recognition as our counterparts.

The Grammy’s Recording Academy is supposedly comprised of music intelligentsia, but it’s really just an old boys’ club; it shows in the numbers.

"I read an article the other day that mentioned over the past five years, men made up 90% of Grammy nominees. How? Why?" 🤔

This Women’s History Month mix is my way of celebrating how wicked talented and versatile we are. I may not be able to give my favorite woman musicians a Grammy, but I can thank them for sharing their honesty, vulnerability, and strength.

And folks will just have to wait and see when the mix drops!

 Ashley gettin' it duuuurn'. Image via  Ashley Bryan .

Ashley gettin' it duuuurn'. Image via Ashley Bryan.

Name a shining moment in your creative endeavors. what made you feel really sure about the path you’re on?

I’m still figuring it out! There hasn’t been one specific shining moment because every day yields a new and exciting opportunity to explore more of who I am. Can that be my shining moment? Discovering and learning more about myself everyday?

I am beyond thankful for the growth I’ve seen since I started sharing my work publicly. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me. For now, I'm trusting my process and reveling in the lessons I learn about myself, my environment, and people around me.

what do you say to folks interested in DJing professionally?

Get Started

It’s daunting to start a new endeavor, but I liken that process to learning how to ride a bike. You get on the bike. You’re trying to figure out how to not fall over while pedaling. Then, you’re trying to figure out where the breaks are. Once you get the hang of it, the process gets cemented in your muscle memory. Just get on the bike!

Practice + WATCH

I don’t need to expound on why practicing your craft is so important. It’s the only way to get better! Also, I’ve picked up so many techniques from listening to and watching other DJs spin. 

 Smiling outdoors in NYC eee gasp! Image via  Ashley Bryan .

Smiling outdoors in NYC eee gasp! Image via Ashley Bryan.

Tell us three songs that have a positive effect on you!

(Click the blue to play 'em 👂)

Solange, “Don’t Touch My Hair": I’m convinced Mother Solange made this song for me. She speaks so accurately to experiences that many women with natural hair have to deal with. It’s a refreshing song to listen to.

Nina Simone, “Feeling Good”: The composition of this song is so dramatic and startling but the message is so light and positive. It’s makes me feel powerful.

Erykah Badu, “Orange Moon”: It’s a beautiful and calming song that centers me when things get hectic. Erykah’s voice is vocal butter. I can’t get enough of her. Anything on Mama’s Gun makes me feel delicious inside.


Can I get a "yyaaas" from the jury?

Thank you, Ashley, for contributing yo' thoughts! We've actually been trying to meet in person for a few months. We're both in NYC. As I'm typing this, she is literally in Norway. LOL. As promised, here's a repeat of Ashley's contact:

Instagram: @ashperusual + @ftcsound

Here's a link to our first Started Small feature! Christine founded + runs Lightwork, an organization that is as cheery as it sounds. Go read!

If you made it THIS far, click here for opportunities cookin' 'round these parts. Before you're thru, go read Nelli's recent guest blog about body image issues as a Philipinx in America. 

Luv all around,

~ lATI