Todays Inbox Interview is with Dave Giles - a British-infused Americana singer songwriter and professional session musician based in London, UK.
He's just entered an exciting new chapter of his life with the recent announcement of plans to record an album at the legendary Abbey Road Studios - a lifelong goal for this avid fan of The Beatles.
We caught up with the man himself to talk about who inspires him, what it's like to work full time in the music industry and, of course, to find out more about his upcoming Abbey Road project...
It's fair to say that Dave has already had an impressive career so far since graduating from The Guitar Institute (London) - having played lead guitar in Indie Rock band The Rileys, as well as many other exciting projects over the years.
His original music offers an refreshingly unique dose of British-infused Americana combined with a committed and powerful vocal performance - creating a strong and distinguishable overall sound.
This is backed by his warm and engaging persona - both online and on stage, earning him a loyal following along the way - a community the singer songwriter clearly holds close to his heart.
And so our interview begins...
In just one sentence, describe your sound…
This is always my least favourite question! Haha… British infused Americana, and like when making a good cup of tea, the infusion bit is really important.
What made you want to become a musician?
My parents took me to my first gig when I was just 6 years old. It was Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Hammersmith Apollo.
I remember vividly projecting myself onto the stage and playing along with them. I guess the seed was planted then, as apart from being an astronaut, there wasn’t really anything else that I wanted to be.
Who inspires you musically?
Jason Isbell is definitely my favourite at the moment and has been for quite a while now, but The Beatles have been my favourite band since I was 8.
I remember going to a record shop with my dad and getting their Past Masters albums on CD. He put them on in the car, and I don’t think he ever saw them again because as soon as we were home they were in my room and I became obsessed.
Then every single birthday or Christmas, all I wanted was a Beatles CD.
You’ve self managed the majority of your musical endeavours so far. It is incredibly difficult to spend time on just being a musician whilst also balancing the business side. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the past and how did you overcome them?
Time management is definitely the hardest bit of day to day life, but creating deadlines is good and helps with that. The real challenge is allowing yourself time off and learning to say no to people. Sometimes you need those moments for yourself in order to be recharged and therefore be more productive and creative.
It took me a little bit too long to figure that out, but it’s helped me to maintain my love for what I do and I now don’t get the fatigue that I used to get. When you have a job doing something that you really love, the last thing you want to do is fall out of love with it. So downtime is important.
You’ve played in multiple countries, including at some pretty impressive venues in the UK. What is life on tour really like, and what are some of your favourite memories from on the road?
It’s not as glamorous as people might think. Certainly not on the level I tour at.
It’s sleeping on sofa’s, smelly backstage areas (or none at all) in which you have to eat and chill out. It’s visiting lots of different places but not actually seeing them, but when you get it right, it’s the best.
I don’t think touring is for everyone and I don’t think there’s any shame in not doing it and just doing local shows. My favourite touring memories involve the times when I’ve allowed myself a bit more time to enjoy where you’re playing.
I had a great day and gig in Berlin back in Sept 2017, and an incredible time and gig in Sydney in March 2014. I love it all, as long as you’re touring with good people, then it’s so much fun.
You’ve been able to create and sustain a living from music for 13 years now - with both original projects and session work. What are your top 3 tips for aspiring musicians aiming to make a living from music?
I became a self employed musician in July 2007, although I started gigging when I was 13 (1998) and was definitely on my way to being full time when I was still studying music from 2003 until that summer of 2007.
Top three tips… surround yourself with good people. Don’t forget why you wanted to do this in the first place. Take time off when you need it.
Are there any aspects of being a musician/in the industry that you wish more people knew about?
I wish that the negative attention brought upon streaming had a more balanced view point. Often people who moan about not getting paid enough by Spotify are people who have signed bad deals,
or people who are just bitter about their own level of success in the industry.
Streaming has opened up a whole new source of income which hasn’t actually ruined the sale of physical products for smaller independent acts. We still sell CDs and Vinyl at gigs and on our stores, there is still a demand for a physical product, but you also get the consistent amounts of money coming into your account years after the release from streaming.
My top streamed song on Spotify has less than 60000 streams, and yet I earn £50- £200 a month from it… To me it’s bonus money and it really does add up.
Bigger artists are giving away huge cuts to their record labels and then they’re giving away more of what they get to their management… and they moan that they’re not earning enough.. Funny how you never hear the labels say this?
Who, or what, inspires you on a business level?
I don’t really know how to answer this. I’m inspired to try and create things that I’m proud of and to do that I’ve adopted the mentality of a small business person.
I imagine what It must be like to run the local village shop and how I would treat all my regulars.
I’m then inspired by my regulars to try and run the best village shop I could run so they can be proud to give it their patronage. I’m not sure where I get this from, but it helps me.
Aside from being an active musician, you’ve also been involved in live event promotion and the development/management of other artists. How does this compare to your own self managed projects?
I’ve not done this in years to be honest… I did it for a little while whilst I was between bands and I didn’t really enjoy it that much. I always wanted to be a musician and while I’ve got experiences which would make me okay at managing (I’m probably better equipped to be a tour manager), I want to make music and while I have the facilities to do that, I’ll spend my energies on that.
I’m always happy to speak to someone about what I’ve done and point out the mistakes I have made, but I don’t want to make more mistakes on someone else, I’d rather make them on me… I’m not sure if that even makes sense.
How has the recent outbreak of Coronavirus affected you?
Well I pay my rent playing covers gigs and doing private functions, so I’m currently having to use my savings to live until all of this resolves itself.
I’ve been spending time training myself to be a better mixer though. So I’m developing a skill which I could charge for should I not be able to perform any more, or if this goes on for much longer.
In terms of my own music. I had a tour of the Netherlands cancelled, and my tour plans for the rest of the year are now up in the air. I delayed the announcement of my next big project and although I’ve now announced it, the deadlines I imposed have been lifted as it’s likely to take a lot longer to achieve it.
A new project? Tell us more…
As I mentioned I’m a massive Beatles fan. I made my last album in 2018 in Nashville which is something I always wanted to do, and while there, the bass player who I hired asked me what I wanted to do next… the logically thing in my head was to record an album at Abbey Road.
Although it’s really expensive. I’ve been working on this for 2 years and was ready to announce my plans on March 16th… but then the virus happened.
I considered just waiting until this was all over, but some of the new merch I have has sell by dates… so I’ve decided to announce my intentions, get it all online, but not push it too hard until things have settled down again.
I know that people are having a tough time right now, a lot of people out of work and I’m starting a huge vanity project, but it’s something I’ve worked hard to achieve, and I’ve always liked doing things which I have no right to do, be that sell out some of the venues I’ve played, or record in Nashville etc.
This is the next and biggest step in trying to show that you don’t have to be a superstar on the TV and radio to fulfil your dreams.
Name 3 upcoming artists we should all go and check out?
What’s next for Dave Giles?
The Abbey Road project will dominate me for the next 3 years I imagine. So once I can get touring I will do!
I’ve also started a podcast with my good friend Nick Kent. It’s called Whisky and Things… we drink whisky and discuss things… :D
And so concludes our interview. A massive thank you to Dave - we absolutely cannot wait to watch his Abbey Road project unfold!
You can listen to music from Dave Giles by visiting his Spotify page.
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