The 1950’s. A decade that produced some of the best songs of rock ‘n roll, country music and of course rockabilly. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Hank Williams – the list goes on. And if that decade were to re-introduce itself, it would come in the form of David Myles. The fever of the 50’s is alive and well in Myles (including his amazing fashion sense), and especially in his latest album Real Love, which was released on January 26.
We caught up with Myles to discuss his journey into music, those who influenced him, and his new album.
CN: For our readers who may not be familiar with you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and growing up in New Brunswick, Canada?
DM: I grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It’s a beautiful town of about 55,000 or so along the Saint John River. It’s really not far from Maine at all. And much the same geography. I love it. I grew up in a big family, I have three older brothers and we all played music. At one point we had two pianos in the house, clarinet, flute, trumpet, guitars all going on a day-to-day basis. It was pretty wild. I had strict parents though so they kept it all in line! ha!
CN: How long did you play trumpet in Canada’s Royal Conservatory? What drew you towards the trumpet?
DM: I started playing trumpet in grade 5 in elementary school band. I loved it right away. I had taken piano lessons for a few years but never really took to it. But once I discovered the trumpet I was pretty hooked. I started doing the Royal Conservatory thing not long after that making my way through the levels. It was cool and I learned a ton by doing things that way. But it was really in discovery jazz and being introduced to improvisation that I really started to get excited about making music.
CN: When you got to college, you changed gears and decided to study politics and then worked within the political spectrum. While there is a lot of history between music and politics, what made you switch, and then ultimately, switch back to music?
DM: It was odd. I had always dreamed of playing music professionally, but I really never knew how I could do it. I just didn’t think it was a realistic career choice, especially, at the time, being a trumpet player. I just didn’t think I had the discipline or the real drive I knew it would require to be an orchestral player or professional in the jazz world. Something about it seemed lacking to me. And, honestly the idea of studying politics interested me. I had travelled a lot by then and was fascinated by modern history and political science. And I loved my time at university. I went to a great school (Mount Allison University) and had great profs. When I finished I even went further and worked in politics for a year. It was fascinating but something had changed. In my third year of school, I was studying Chinese in Hangzhou, China when I bought a guitar. As soon as I got it, I started messing around with it and writing songs. I was totally hooked. So though I did love my school, and graduated, and enjoyed my time in politics I knew I had to give music a shot. I was too obsessed. It fulfilled all the love I had for music throughout my life. I just hadn’t realized it. It was songwriting that I was waiting for! Ever since that’s been my bag.
The other factor though was ultimately after my very brief time in politics I grew pretty frustrated with the nature of partisanship and I grew even more appreciative of the power of music to bring people together. It really can do magical things. I wanted to explore that.
CN: With a catalogue that covers genres from country to folk to rock to jazz, roots and pop, who are some of your musical influences? Where does your desire to create such a melting pot of sounds come from?
DM: I have always just followed my instinct. I’ve been a record collector since I was a young kid and have over the years gotten into tons of different stuff. What I dig about being a songwriter is that you have the freedom to go where you want. If you’re feeling something on any particularly day or if you’re really getting into a particularly sound/genre/vibe than you can go there. It’s like a very intense form of musicology. That’s one of the things that excites me most of about this craft. I’m always learning. And I’ve been lucky enough so far to just follow that desire to learn and create whatever I’m in to regardless of much else! I feel super lucky. Plus, it keeps it so exciting for me. Each record is a new adventure.
CN: You’ve released 10 albums in Canada, but your most recent Real Love is only your second in the US. Can you talk a bit about the journey to cross musically into the States?
DM: It’s been really exciting. I mean let’s face it—most of the music I’ve been obsessed with throughout my life comes from the States. I’ve done a bunch of travelling in the States and have always found it fascinating. So being able to now come south of the border and share my music is totally great. It’s also great as an artist. I think it’s really important to always push into new territories where people don’t know anything about you. You really have to prove yourself, so it keeps you fresh and makes you push to make something great.
CN: Let’s talk about Real Love. It’s a very upbeat and nostalgic album, reminiscent of ‘50s Rock ‘n Roll, mixed with blues, country, roots and ballads. Easy to say that there is something for everyone within the 13 tracks. What was your mindset into creating this album?
DM: Over the last number of years I’d been getting heavy into Don Gibson, Roy Orbison and a bunch of other country/early rock n roll stuff. Stuff that was recorded at RCA Studio B you know. There was just something about that sound that I love. I love the singing. It’s really sung. There’s big melodies and the singers really take their time. But at the same time there’s this amazing rock n roll energy that you feel creeping behind them. It’s so cool. I wanted to explore that. I wanted to make dance music that drew on that juxtaposition. I wanted to croon, but I wanted to make people dance. That was the challenge but I had a feeling that if I wrote the right songs that the band and I could do a great job of it. Plus it would be super fun to record and play live.
CN: You wrote all 13 songs on the album. In your songwriting, do you tend to pull inspiration from personal experiences or from situations that you have no connection to? Can you take us through your songwriting process?
DM: I think my outlook on life is always there. I’m an optimistic guy so I do try and provide some glimmer of light no matter how dark I go songwriting wise. That being said, sometimes the songs are super personal and sometimes they are more about the craft. I love a well written song and sometimes about the poetry working just right. That drives me. It’s also why I love country music so much. Roger Miller is my man. The songs vary so much but the poetry is just right, no matter how silly it sounds sometimes. So sometimes my best songs just come from a line that appears from the ether. But the point is what you do with that. Just like what you do with a feeling or an emotion. How to turn that into a song that works on every level. That’s the challenge. But it’s also the best part. It’s what keeps me coming every time.
CN: The instrumental ‘Reprise’ is wonderful with beautiful, solemn trumpet. What was behind the decision to include this interlude on the album? [READ MORE]