As singer-songwriter David Myles stands in Brunswick Square, suited up and singing Christmas songs in return for donations to the food bank, we can’t help but call it as we see it: David Myles is the king of the 2014 holiday season. It may sound like a bold proclamation but, believe us, we have good reason. It’s hard to find a busier man than the Fredericton native this season; with a new album out, titled ‘It’s Christmas’, a performance on the Christmas Daddies telethon, and his fifth annual Singing for Supper tour, there’s no denying Myles has taken on a holiday theme this year.
The Christmas-themed turn in his career wasn’t necessarily planned. He traces the start of the transformation to five years ago. “It’s been interesting,” Myles says. “I think [the Singing for Supper tour] had a lot to do with this.” The tour, which has him playing free holiday shows at shopping malls in New Brunswick in support of the food bank, is growing every year. Last year, the generous show attendees raised a combined total of $8,000. This year, not only did the crowds grow, but the money raised did too, bringing in $11,660.
Having seen such success in a holiday project, it’s no wonder he felt inspired to write a Christmas album. Myles will be the first to admit that it wasn’t always something he wanted to do. “I wasn’t super attached to the idea of singing Christmas songs,” he says. “Then I realised each year, that it made sense for me to learn a few more Christmas songs and when I ended up learning them, I realised I actually loved them. They’re super fun to sing, they’ve got great chords, they’re from an era that I love and they kind of opened up a different world for me actually, musically. That was the main thing”.
His enthusiasm for the project is almost contagious. You can’t help but smile as you listen to him talk about the album. “When I finished this record, I thought that in some ways, this is my strongest record,” he admits. “That’s a weird thing to say about a Christmas record, but that’s just how it all worked out, so I’m proud of it.”
With the Christmas spirit kicking into overdrive, he was approached by the organizers of the Christmas Daddies telethon to do a performance. The all-volunteer televised fundraiser provides food, clothing, and toys to less fortunate children throughout the area and is widely recognized as a holiday season kickoff. “As a Maritimer, [it’s something] you’ve heard of since we were kids, and being part of that big fundraising day is really cool. It’s great! You know, the whole thing ties in to why we needed a Christmas record. It just allows us to do these kinds of things, and it makes sense. We’re playing an original song at Christmas Daddies and it’s going to be super fun.”
When he’s not off spreading holiday cheer, he can be found hosting CBC’s East Coast Music Hour. “Over the years, I’ve done more and more with the CBC. I’m comfortable telling stories, and I think they thought that might be interesting, and that maybe I would make a good DJ,” he says. “To have a radio show about east coast music is awesome”. Working as a DJ for the CBC has given him the opportunity to chat with artists, some of them as past collaborators and friends, such as Catherine MacLellan, Amelia Curran, and Hey Rosetta! “It’s an interesting thing having a conversation with someone that you know. It becomes slightly formal, even though it’s still quite informal,” he confesses. “You learn things about a person you’ve known for years that you didn’t know before. My conversation with Amelia Curran, I loved that. I have a lot of respect for [her] and that was a really memorable conversation, but there have been tons of moments when I’ve discovered new music too, like Ryan Hemsworth and Vogue Dots from New Brunswick. There has been a lot of cool stuff that I didn’t really know before doing the show that I’ve discovered.”
When it comes to famous friends, Myles can’t touch on this topic without being asked about his many collaborations with long-time friend and rapper, Classified. “We have an ongoing collaborative relationship, for sure,” he acknowledges. “Class and I work together whenever we can; we’ve become really close friends. We love being in the studio. We just both have this enthusiasm for hard work.” That enthusiasm for hard work, on both of their parts, can only mean great things for fans of the two. According to Myles, he’s going to “keep on writing. I’ve got some cool stuff with Classified coming out. I’ve got a duet coming out. [The band is] going to be touring in the UK, and we’re going to be touring in the states.”
In addition to that, fans can catch him appearing in a much-anticipated performance with Symphony NB in April. “I’ve been lucky,”Myles claims. “I’ve been with Symphony NS a couple of times, so there’s been some really interesting charts that have been made from my songs. This will be my first time with Symphony NB; it’s going to be really cool. ” Working with symphonies is a project that really speaks to Myles. “It’s like joining a band,” he explains. “It’s like having a new band of a lot of new people. It takes a second to get the feel of a full orchestra, but it’s exhilarating to hear songs that you’ve written realised in such a big scale. It’ll be great!” He isn’t the only one that’s excited about this project. Christopher Buckley (viola) of Symphony NB adds, “David Myles as a guest artist for SNB is a no-brainer. [He] writes good songs, has great stage presence, and he’s very likeable, as was evident at Brunswick Square while he was playing for his supper fundraiser.”
With 2015 already booked with collaborations, tours and symphony performances, it would seem suiting to ask if Myles wants a vacation from it all for Christmas. He says he’d like to relax, but “I’m actually going to be super busy again, which, you know, is a good thing.” Should he channel his ‘Inner Ninja’ though and go into hiding, no one should fear the worst. For him, one of the most exciting prospects of the new year is something that appeals to him on an even deeper level than music: “I’m having a kid, so family is going to be a big focus this year!”
To learn more about David Myles, visit his facebook page, his website, tune into CBC Radio Two on Saturdays at 10 a.m., or check out CBC Radio One at 5:05 p.m.
“I love the idea that most every artist has done Christmas carols at some point in their career; I like being part of that idea. I hope to make tons of records in my career, and I hoped to make a Christmas record, and we just did it when we had this going on; we felt inspired.”
by Sacha Smith, The East
Photos Courtesy of John England