Wrap Session: Ace Henderson


Ace Henderson has had a tough year. The smooth-spitting Raleigh artist was diligently working toward his third EP , Allen EP 2, in early 2014when his grandmother became sick and passed away. Shortly after he lost the entire project to a hard drive crash. These events caused Ace to do a serious evaluation and with the help of a monk and an Apple store he was able to find some much needed motivation. Ace sat down with Glass Reflex after his City Session to talk about the evolution of the project, adaptation, and much more.

Glass Reflex: So Ace, you’ve been busy lately.

Ace Henderson: Yes. I have an EP coming out on August 27 and it has been a really long process putting it together. I had the project completed in July but  I ended up losing everything because my computer crashed. So it’s really been a process of trying to remake original products and still keep that same kind of integrity. But that’s been two or three weeks of recording and writing everyday, rearranging because this is my third project I’m releasing. I said its a huge day because Aug. 27 is the birthday of my late grandmother. She passed in April. She was diagnosed with cancer in December. It was pretty much a ritual. School starts on the 25th and her birthday is on the 27th so I would always call her on the 27th. She’d say “how’s school going? You started a new grade!” things like that so I wanted to do it as loose tribute to her. She was one of the closest people I’ve had in my life and also 27 is a perfect cube of three so with this being my third project it I’ve had three times the experience, three times the time to get everything together, it just represents the completeness of myself as an artist and as a person.

GR: What type of person was your grandmother?

AH: She was very crass, very mean to a lot of people. She had a set schedule of things she liked to do. She played bingo everyday at 7 p.m. smoked her cigarettes and lived life doing what she did and I was lumped into those core group of things. I’m her youngest son’s only son so we had a really unique bond, like really tight. I would call her my girlfriend. Her legit first name is Baby, so I would be like “Oh that’s my baby girl blah blah blah” and it was really just a very unique bond I’ve never shared with anyone else.

GR: How has your grandmother passing away driven you to complete the album?

AH: Learning about people, learning about how the world works. Sometimes you will get beat up but if you persevere and get through everything it will be O.K. At times I lacked faith in myself with music. I was upset with the music I was making for awhile after I lost everything because it wasn’t full enough. In the project I talk about things I’ve talked about before with my friends that dealt with the drugs to help their family rather than just doing those things to be cool. I talk about my father. My father got sick for awhile. He got hospitalized the day before my 20th birthday, missed my first concert at the Lincoln Theatre. I just tied all that in emotionally.


GR: What does album mean to you?

AH: A new beginning in the sense that I’ve taken a lot of risks musically, but they were all things I knew I was capable of but I wasn’t comfortable with myself enough yet. It represents me coming into myself with me naming it my first name, the name I share with my father, it has a different connotation if I was going to name a project with a different off-kilter name or something like because its so indicative of me with my name on it, it has to be authentic. It has to be original even down to the beat selection. Things like that.  This project is, for lack of a better way to put it, about me. I did a project earlier that was a little more conceptual about being a suburban American, Suburbia, and how people perceive everything to be perfect.

GR: You have a very philosophical approach. Where do you draw your life lessons from?

AH: It took a lot of people exiting my life to realize the absence of people isn’t a really bad thing. It kind of forced me to become one with myself because some of my actions weren’t the best.. I went to the Buddhist temple and a lot of the teachings are about self-preservation and everything within self because I’ve learned that the world’s vibrations will coincide with how you move because everything you do resonates, whether its between us here or whoever else is outside. Good karma really does exist. I’m all about trying to establish my permanence via the things that I do and that I love. There’s no better way to spread your purpose than just through love.


GR: How’d you become a Buddhist?

AH: When my grandmother was really sick, I bumped into a monk at the Apple store. It sounds like a joke. I was sitting there and I was like “why are you here?” She was it full garb and I was like, “aren’t you supposed to be free of all things that aren’t necessary?” and she was like,”Oh no no no. That’s very true but you have to adapt” and then hearing her preach adaptation was mind opening. She invited me to the temple to hear a teaching from a Llama who escaped from Tibet. When I walked into the room it was an overwhelming feeling to have a whole bunch of people in one room for one purpose which to purify themselves. You walk into a party and people are there to party. You walk into a basketball game and they’re here to see a basketball game. But to walk into the room where the energy and vibes were so focused on something so pure it makes you realize like there is more to life than what happens outside these doors. It’s ok to take a couple of minutes every day and focus on what you need to do for the sake of you. Sometimes we negate and ignore the things we are supposed to do because it just doesn’t fit the bill. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes so I’ve been adamant about getting myself back on the right track.