The Star Phoenix: Myles finds his inner Prairie boy

December 4, 2013

David Myles is from the East Coast but he’s better travelled in Saskatchewan than most of its residents.

Last fall, the Halifax-based singer-songwriter played 17 small-town dates in curling rinks, church basements and community centres, and really got to know the province.

The audiences were older and often didn’t know who Myles was. It was challenging for the band, but they had lots of fun and really polished their live show.

“People in Saskatchewan were tremendously friendly. It’s a great province. It kind of reminds me of home, which is nice,” he said.

“Though I could have handled a couple more restaurants in some of the towns,” he added with a laugh.

Despite surviving mostly on pork chops, Myles loved his time in the Prairies and marvelled at the scenery, which he captured regularly through photography.

“It’s the best province for photos. It makes you feel like a professional photographer. Everything looks amazing.”

Myles is originally from Fredericton and tours with two fellow Frederictoners on upright bass and acoustic guitar. His latest tour, in support of his May album In the Nighttime, hits some larger centres, including Saskatoon. In the Nighttime showcases two very different sides of Myles’ musical personality. While he’s spent six albums cultivating his folky, crooner skills, his more recent collaboration with Halifax rapper Classified (Luke Boyd) shows off his pop side.

The two musicians have worked together on several songs, most notably on the huge single Inner Ninja – the No. 1-selling rap recording of all time in Canada and a Juno winner for Rap Recording of the year. In the Nighttime’s Disc Two is an EP-length recording of their most recent work together.

On paper, it’s an unlikely duo. Myles grew up playing Royal Conservatory trumpet. Boyd has no formal music training.

Myles looks like a modern day Buddy Holly in his thick-rimmed glasses and skinny suit. Boyd has a staple wardrobe of baseball hats and hoodies. But the two men bonded over a shared love of experimentation.

“It’s really fun because both of us love making music, being in the studio and being kind of reckless with our ideas,” Myles said. “He doesn’t necessarily have all the traditional musical education but he knows exactly how a song should feel, when it should move, what the chorus should do. He shares the same kind of enthusiasm for making music that I do.”

Though Boyd isn’t coming along on tour, Myles still plans to showcase the music the pair worked on, albeit in a more stripped-down format.

“Even though it appears to be totally different from my music, at its core it’s still me playing guitar and singing,” he said. “The beats are always added on top of me playing and singing.”

The songs on Disc 1 of In the Nighttime stick closer to his folky vocalist roots.

Myles will combine the two discs at his live show.

Part introspective writer, part entertainer, Myles strives to make his concerts about more than just the songs. He said storytelling is important, as is dressing up to get himself in the right frame of mind.

“I’m really into it being a show,” he said. “I don’t shy away from the entertainment part of my job. That’s part of the reason I got into it. I love watching entertainers from the ’50s and ’60s when you had to be a showman.”

by Stephanie McKay, The Star Phoenix