Shawn Livingston Moseley

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - June 13, 2008

The 411

For those who remember Dread Ashani, let me reintroduce the originator of the band, Shawn Livingston Moseley. For those who don’t, here’s a quick recap on how he grew up to be a brilliant force in the music industry.

Moseley began playing piano when he was just 4 years old. By age 8 he was competing nationally (and winning), earning a top 10 spot in his age group throughout the United States. At age 14, Moseley started the Hawaiian/reggae band Dread Ashanti.

“When I was 14 at a competition, I realized that I didn’t go there to win and actually just enjoyed playing for people. So I quit competing and everyone was concerned that I would-n’t play piano again,“says Moseley, who was raised in Kaneohe and Haleiwa. “So my answer to not competing was starting Dread Ashanti.”

And after years of learning the pros and (mostly) cons of the music business with his band, Moseley took it upon himself to learn about it rather than complain about it. So he left the Islands after graduating from Punahou in 1992 to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“The program that I went through was called Music Production and Engineering,“says Moseley.“After that I went to San Francisco and worked at major studios there just to learn as much as I could, so when I came back home I could help other local artists while being an artist myself.”

Hence the emergence of Aumakua Records. “When I came home four years ago, I took a break because I was burnt out. I had been in the studios 15 hours a day for like 10 years,” he says. “Then when I resurfaced I did a concert in June 2007, which was like a debut concert.”

It’s been full throttle for Moseley.Aumakua has since released a collaborative album with Stephen Inglis and Moseley titled S&S, as well as an album by Kalae Miles, Ho’opono, released earlier this month.And, of course, Moseley’s solo instrumental album, The Calm Before The Storm, hit stores just last week.

“So what Aumakua is doing is pushing hard and doing a lot of stuff,” says Moseley. “My mantra is I want to help the artists to do it for themselves and make a living at it. Long term, I want Aumakua to be a place where artists feel safe to do what they do.”

To find out more about Moseley and Aumakua Records, visit

Shawn Livingston Moseley
Shawn Livingston Moseley



What was the inspiration for this album?

Well, basically, some of the songs on the album are like 15 years old that I’ve been writing and working on for a while. I started writing and recording them,but I was never really completely happy with the music mostly because the songs are all very personal and triggered from memories and times in my life, and as we all grow music can change.When you are writing an autobiography in sound, it has to evolve with you. So I have this bank of years of recording. I finally decided to try to play through the songs, and that’s what I did. I sat down and played the album start to finish. It was years of getting there, though. Stylistically I tried to honor my greatest influences, Chopin and Beethoven. The other neat part is growing up in Haleiwa our piano was right on the beach,so I could practice and watch the ocean. So what I would do is play and try to score and mimic the waves and the feeling of the ocean. And that’s why you hear the ocean themes in there.

How do you decide what artists to work with under your Aumakua record label?

Pretty much their mana’o (knowledge).It’s a family that I’m building with Aumakua and we all help each other. I want every artist to shine in their own right, but we all have to play nice too. The genre is all styles of music. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as the artist is living in Hawaii - from here or living here for a while. If it’s going to be a traditional Hawaiian album, fine. Reggae, no problem. Jazz, perfect. I just want to support the local community to help them get further out. I’m just trying to nurture them and teach them. Many of them don’t know about publishing and mechanical royalties and some of the basic stuff you should know. So I just take them under my wing and teach them. It’s almost like my community service to our local musicians.

Is there a song that most represents who you are?

Yeah, the first song on the album, which is Searching for Calm.My lyric and internal voice I believe come out when I play. That one does it. It shows how I hear harmony and melody.You know how people will write a song and get tired of playing it? Well,I’ll never get tired of playing that one. It makes me feel better every time - it’s wonderful.

Who has been your biggest fan or supporter throughout your career?

First of all, I would have to say my mom, Patricia Thompson. When I used to compete on the Mainland she was always there. Any event or time I was in a tight spot she was there for me. I know that’s the case with parents, but it’s another thing when you have a parent who understands what drives you in your music because then the communication is very strong. And then the next person I would say is my lovely lady, Heather Sansone, who has known my music for 14 years.


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