As part of our on-going commitment to helping undiscovered musical and video talent get exposed world-wide, sleepingbagstudios will post interviews regularly with in-depth Q&A’s and pass them on to YOU – the music lovers. Take some time and read about a great artist you might not have ever heard of before – this week it’s solo bassman DAVID DEVEREUX all the way from the U.K.!
David is doing something truly unique – the way he plays the bass is not only flawless and stuffed full of technique, but his ear for tone and melody are far above average. He’s also a tremendously grounded and humble artist with a great sense of humor and an approach to music that is very organic and real. We invite you to learn more about DAVID DEVEREUX through this interview we exchanged via e-mail from our headquarters here in the Fraser Valley of BC all the way out to the U.K. where David calls home…..enjoy!
Interview with David Devereux
SBS: David! When I first talked to you – you mentioned your music was “dull but some people seem to like it” – I just gotta ask I suppose…..is this how you sell everyone on your music?
David: Ha ha I find my music hard to describe without either sounding pretentious or long-winded. Usually I get the chance to play for the person I’m trying to sell it to, or I’ll send them a link to YouTube. Live-looping is still a relatively new thing despite its growing popularity so it’s still a bit awkward having to explain how it works. There’s also quite a lot of connotations that come with being a bass player as well. I’ve not exactly made it easy for myself!
SBS: I find it odd – because there’s a real talent here. Talent for melody, talent for songwriting, talent for the bass itself! Dull is not how I’d describe it at all my friend – certainly there must be another way?
David: Probably! When I play gigs now I play one song and then say ‘My name’s David, I do…this.’ It works, and I think on another level it makes people a bit more curious about it. And thank you.
SBS: Curious about the song and video for Alana – first of all, I was wondering if you could give us some insight into the actual bass you’re playing there. That looks a lot more major than a typical 4-string.
David: It’s a six string bass (called Beverley in case you’re wondering) and that’s what I play most of my gigs with. They’re usually fairly expensive but this one was going extremely cheap so I thought I’d go for it. It does what I need it to do and it’s just had to have some bits of it replaced, so it’s sounding all brand new! It’s like a normal bass only there’s one extra low string and one extra high string.
SBS: And also regarding Alana – how long does it actually take you to write a song like that? That song sounds incredibly full. There is zero need for anything else. But to make it that way, and with only a bass…..must take a serious amount of effort and time. How do these songs like Alana and others come to life?
David: That song’s quite unusual in terms of how it was made. Usually the songs come fairly spontaneously when I’m playing around with new material but because that song was for a specific purpose I actually sat down and focused, redid sections and changed melodies. There’s an alternate version of it that I keep meaning to put up online somewhere, but in terms of composition that song has had considerably more time and thought put into it than most of the songs I do.
SBS: From a completely artistic perspective, I’m curious to know what you think about the natural wind sounds that picked up in the microphone for the video of Alana. We can see it was directed by Chris Matthews – so we’re assuming you didn’t end up with the final edit on the video. Curious to know if you like that little extra audio pick up there, or you would have taken it out had you been the editor?
David: I like capturing background noise when I do videos. I think it adds a little bit of atmosphere and makes it a bit more organic. The first video I put up online is set on my university’s campus, which is basically a park, and everybody was out for the sunny weather and I quite liked how we got some of the noise of people just enjoying themselves on the video.
It says Chris directed it but it was more “Let’s go to the woods and make a video” and he more or less just held the camera!
SBS: My impression is that this is a very focused solo effort. This bass is so addicting on its own that you really don’t need a band. But is this indicative of an aversion to people in general?
David: Ha ha, I’m pretty good with other musicians, I think it’s a uniting factor. When I started playing I was still in high school and in music class we would more or less all move to a room and jam for an hour, which I think is the best way to learn. My hope was to join a band when I moved to university but the focus here seems to be very much on solo acts. It’s quite nice, it means everybody’s friendly rather than splitting into groups.
SBS: Tell me about the loop station that you use in your music. Is there just one? I’m thinking you have a very specific piece in your musical arsenal.
David: I currently use a Boss RC-30, which was an upgrade from a Boss RC-2 that I had before. For me Boss are the only real name in live looping, and the pedals are completely indestructible!
SBS: For something like on your live YouTube clip called “Low” – how much of that is written and how much of that is just riffed out on the spot?
David: “Low” was more or less spontaneous. I hadn’t had a bass for about a month because my 6 string was in the guitar shop getting fixed. It sounds silly but for me bass playing is my outlet, and it meant I got quite stressed out about everything. Then my parents came down to visit and they brought my old 4 string (the insides of which are literally held together with blu-tack). I was so pleased I just set up my camera and recording gear, and just played.
SBS: You were a finalist in the loop station world championship – this year correct? The performance on YouTube is just astounding. You have to be wondering what’s around the corner at this point – you don’t think your music can continue to be a secret do you?
David: I wasn’t aware I was trying to keep it a secret! At the moment all I can really do is get as much exposure and play in as many different places as possible and get myself out there, and somehow fit university work in there somewhere too.
SBS: We really want to know about that situation overall. Tell us about your experience at the LSWC and what exactly was it that made you personally believe you could really be a contender there.
David: I’d known about the competition for a while and I’ll be honest I didn’t expect to get the amount of support that I did. The day of the final was a very long one, I had to get up at 5am to get the train down to a huge city I’ve never been to and then get the (4 hour) train back up straight afterwards. The gig however was incredible, and I learned a lot from the judges as well as the other contestants about being a musician and live looping in general. It was after that gig I started taking it a bit more seriously because from then on I knew there were people actually watching what I was doing and where I was going etc. I grew up if you like.
SBS: One of the greatest all time tributes to a person has got to be the dedication of a song or an album in their honor. You did both with your EP Alana and title track. Tell us about how you feel the actual sound of the music relates to the personality of Alana herself?
David: It’s difficult to talk about this without going all gooey. Because Alana was only in Scotland for a short time before going back to America it was a very concentrated relationship that more or less took over (in a good way) She’d ask me to record a CD for her before she went back, and I ended up writing songs specifically for her and how I felt about her. There’s a lot in the E.P, and I genuinely think that the takes on it are my playing at its best.
SBS: If we can ask – what is the current state of your relationship with Alana – do you two still talk? What was her impression of the music and the fact that you released an album dedicated to her entirely?
David: It seems to be working out pretty well, it’s not an ideal situation but we still talk and video chat each other regularly. I’ll hopefully be seeing her again in May, so it gives me something to look forward to. She loved the E.P, and she enjoys that I send her almost all of my new material to her for approval.
SBS: We completely admire your way of tackling the online part of your music. You’re pretty tongue-in-cheek consistently – like you say on your link to purchase a CD form of the EP, which comes with “the inlay of the CD’s hand drawn and a hand written thank you letter….because I’m not pathetic or anything.” Now, we know that’s just not true. What kind of things do you find yourself writing to fans that buy your disc?
David: I like not taking myself too seriously, it makes gigging a bit easier being able to joke about yourself. It consistently amazes me where I have to send some of the CDs to so that’s usually mentioned, along with general thank you’s. Most people usually pay a little extra for it as well which is always nice. I get quite a few messages from people who’ve ordered the CD saying how much they liked it, it makes me happy that people take the time to do that.
SBS: Tell us a little about the work you’re doing on films now? How did you get into that or how did they find you?
David: A friend asked me originally to do music for some of her films, it’s a fun thing to do. My music seems to fit films quite well. I’m currently doing music for a video game as well, and that came more or less completely out of the blue. I like making music for other people, it makes me feel useful.
SBS: You seem like a pretty young guy David. How long have you been playing the bass?
David: Haha I’m twenty but I still look fourteen, still can’t grow a beard! I’ve been playing bass for about eight years, the looping stuff about three.
SBS: What kind of practice regimen do you take up now?
David: I don’t really have a routine with practicing now. Occasionally if I’m transcribing or arranging something or if I’m focusing on a specific aspect of playing then I guess there’s a routine there. For me bass is no longer a hobby, it’s become the natural thing for me to do to pick up my bass and play. It’s what I do when I need to think or if I need to relax. Instead of coming home and turning on the TV, I turn on my amp.
SBS: Where do you find that you are most creative? Where is the best setting for you to just sit and relax and make some music?
David: When I have an evening to myself and the house is empty. There’s something about playing music at night that helps creativity. Also with the time difference it usually means I can plug into my laptop and let Alana listen in as well.
SBS: Loads of online stuff to take in on You Tube, and an EP we can all buy – but what’s next?
David: I’ve got a couple of free singles in mind before the end of the year, and I want to do a live album at some point. Summer usually means more videos as well.
SBS: We even saw some busking in the YouTube videos! Doing this for pleasure or lunch money?
David: When I started busking it was a way for me to develop my confidence, there’s actually quite a bit of money in it, but I’m trying to keep all of it separate. It seems unfair at this point spending money made from music sales on beer and biscuits.
SBS: Do you ever see yourself in any kind of traditional band setting or are you happy being on your own musically?
David: I started out playing in bands, and I do kind of miss it. In a band setting, especially for bass players, you can hide behind the rest of the band. Potentially getting involved in some band work soon, but it’s too early to say at this point. You heard it here first guys!
SBS: What is your earliest music related childhood memory?
David: My parents used to play Elton John and Meat Loaf in the car all the time, came back to them recently and found I knew all the words and melodies. They were big Queen fans as well, it’s odd that my favourite music acts are all flamboyant and it hasn’t rubbed off on my music at all.
SBS: Open floor for you here David! Your opportunity, right here, right now – what do you want to say to the fans of your music directly?
David: Thank you. I could never imagine getting as much support as you’ve given me these past few years.
For more information on DAVID DEVEREUX – check these links out!
Band Camp: http://www.daviddevereux.bandcamp.com