Ashley Walters who is otherwise known as Asher D isn’t feeling 100% comfortable in the sophisticated tailored suit that he has been asked to wear for our photoshoot so he’s stripping off. His naked chest wasn’t the image we had in mind for our cover shoot, but with his well toned body and attractive confidence, it works!

Ashley Walters 1With his bare chest on display I notice that the 25-year old has a few tattoos. The names of his three kids Shayon, Paniro and China adorn his chest. He has his name ‘Asher D’ on his back and on his right shoulder he has one inscribed ‘In Loving Memory of the Street Fighter’. What’s that?’ I ask pointing to his arm. ‘The street fighter is my father,’ he says. ‘He died.’

He returns to continue the shoot and it’s not until later that I find out how he died after he returns from smoking outside. ‘It will kill you,’ I say referring to his recent nicotine fix. ‘I know,’ he states. My kids are always asking me when I am going to stop and I should considering how my father died.’ ‘I’m going to cut down.’ The moment he mentioned his children his eyes lit up and you can tell that they are his pride and joy. I’m sure his dad, would be very proud of him. After all he has come a long way since he was a member of garage collective So Solid Crew.

Man of many talents.

His acting career has blossomed with his talent bagging him starring roles in Bullet Boy, Stormbreaker, 50 Cent’s bio pic Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Sugarhouse Lane and the BBC’s critically acclaimed series Hustle and there’s more to come.

The multi-talented star has also released his forth studio album called The Appetiser through his production company AD82. The songs on the album are catchy, assertive, honest and a reflection of where he is currently in life, which is a good place.

Of course we can’t ignore the fact that he went to jail in 2002 for gun possession but he has now put that l behind him and is working hard to create a legacy, and from the sounds of it, he’s on the right track. Asher talks exclusively to Flavour about music, fatherhood and building an empire.

Ashley Walters 2Tell me about AD82?
AD82 is a production company. We dabble in management, film production, scriptwriting,
publishing and distribution and also function as an independent label, so we do everything basically.

Why is there a need for a company like this?
AD82 was born from me being signed to two majors and having my major deal with So Solid and then having my solo deal with Sony and coming out of that I felt that I wasn’t developed as an artist.
I wasn’t taught about how I could progress myself and how I could market myself which I thought was pretty bad and I started to look at the industry and realise that most artists are treated like that over here in the UK. I came out not knowing a thing about my accounts, my finances, about anything. Not being financially stable, not in a position to do anything so that’s how AD82 was born. It’s kind of a way to say F the labels I’m doing this myself.

Talk me through a typical day in your life?
It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it and a lot of communication. We’re a very small business so far and we’ve been running for two years. I’ve got three kids and their mother is in college full-time so I’ve taken the responsibility of having them around me full time. They’re in the office a lot. They’re with Richard a lot [who is standing nearby], Richard’s my step-dad he’s married to my mum and he’s my business partner and manager as well. He helps me out a lot with childcare.

It says on the Internet that you’re married. Are you?

What, really? No I’m not married. [He’s actually single]. My main priority is my kids. So they really do get the majority of my time. I do the school run. I make three breakfasts in the morning. I iron their uniforms and take them to school. I take them home and cook them dinner. I usually plan my schedule around when their mother is not at college.
It sounds like it’s the hardest thing in the world but it’s not. I’m happy to spend the time with them cos I missed out on that in the beginning so it’s really good to get that chance and bond with them.

Which do you prefer, music or acting?
I couldn’t say. I don’t know. Cos at the end of the day I love doing music and it’s more enjoyable at the time you’re doing it. The process of acting is very long, tedious, monotonous and repetitive whereas music is instantaneous gratification and you get what you need from it straight away. Music doesn’t pay my mortgages or rent and acting does so there’s two ways you can look at it. For me they’re both different paths to get to the same place.

Go on choose one…
(Laughs) I’m not trying to put myself in a box and say I’m just an entertainer. I want to run businesses, I want make profit and invest in stuff that is going to progress me financially that’s all about being an entrepreneur and putting your mind and hands into loads of different things. Acting and music are just two of the things that I can do but there’s loads of other stuff that people don’t know about.

Like what?
Well, I’m in a managerial position, I’m writing a lot of scripts at the moment. I’m writing my first movie and I’m producing a lot of films and I’m doing a lot of modelling as well. You can’t limit yourself.

Ashley Walters 3Tell me about The Appetiser?
The Appetiser is a pre-album. A pre-album means that it is essentially a mixtape but then it’s not because all 13 tracks on it are original like an album. I wanted to create some awareness underground about what I’m doing and mixtapes are the way to go. These are tracks that mean a lot to me and we kind of put a focus on it like it is an album but it’s not the main album you’re going to get this year. That’s why we called it The Appetiser because it comes before the main meal.

Does all the money for the business come out of your own pocket?
Yep pretty much. We have taken no funding or backing from anyone else. What we do and the money we make and spend majority of the time comes out of my pocket.

Do you think people don’t understand the hard work and money that goes into being you?
Of course the majority people look at me and think that he’s balling, rich and I’m all right but I’m not anywhere near being in a position where I’m financially stable for life. I could always loose everything I’ve got tomorrow. The aim is not to be rich it’s to be wealthy and to put me and my kids and my kids, kids in a position where they can live off this money for a very long time. It takes a lot of sacrifice. It’s a means to an end and I’m thinking about the long-term instead of the short term.

So tell me about Tuesday
I shot Tuesday in South London in Woolwich. Its set in the 80s about a group of bank robbers called The Cowboys and starring John Simm and Philip Glenister and its set on a Tuesday. On the day they go to rob the bank two sets of people go to rob it at the same time. It starts off in the room with the police questioning everyone to find out who was robbing the bank. Pretty simple story, very funny film.

Are there any other movies coming up?
Yeah, Speed Racer which I did with the Wachowski Brothers who done like Matrix so it will be a big film. Mostly CGI and it’s based on fantasy world Wacky Races and Speed Racer which was a Japanese Manga cartoon that came out in 1960. It stars Susan Sarandon, Christina Ricci and John Goodman a lot of big names.

Do you still keep in contact with all the So Solid peeps?
Not everyone. I was in the studio with Harvey and Romeo the other day but to be fair life’s moved on. Things have changed for everyone. You got to remember I was the youngest in the crew at the time. Most of them are now in their 30s and a lot of them have settled down and are trying to do the family thing and getting themselves settled so it’s hard to be out joking and laughing. Plus, I don’t have free time. I have to keep myself occupied to keep myself out of trouble.

So who have you signed to AD82?
We’ve just signed Swindle he’s a very sought after grime producer. We’re just sitting down with him and working out marketing and he’s making tracks for everyone under the sun from Dizzie to Chipmunk and Tichy Stryder and he’s done at least 3 or 4 tracks on The Appetiser as well. I’m very excited about his project at the moment.

We signed another guy called AK a producer, singer-songwriter and an actor as well. He’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with. For me he’s like the UK Kanye West when it comes to music.

The Appetiser is out now

Interview by Annika Allen, Photography by, Make-up by Kerieann Watson, Styling by Denise Brown

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