“Everyone has a connection with the sea”
Anyone familiar with the popular social music platform, Bandlab, will also undoubtedly be aware of the Trending playlists. Listeners are presented with an (almost weekly) collection of the hottest tracks, selected from a base of over 30 million Bandlab artists spanning multiple genres. That’s where you’ll typically find our featured artist, David Birtles, hanging out with one hand holding his guitar, and the other close at his brow, saluting the setting sun as it meets the ocean horizon.
If you think about those stats for a moment, it really is an astonishing accomplishment for any artist to be highlighted in that way, especially out of such an enormous subscriber list. So having a regular spot is testament to the quality, accessibility and appeal of David’s solo and collaborative work. Here, we dig a few layers down and get to know more about his motivation for creating, and the sentiment behind some of his selected works.
Much research has looked at brain activity whilst we are asleep. We dream… But what if our dream state is really a way in which we can tap into the universal communication which links every being, past or present. Could we then find our soulmates?‘In Dreams’ – David Birtles
Music must provide “some sort of emotional connection” he says, and you’ll notice whilst perusing David’s Bandlab profile the profound, and often poignant, descriptions accompanying his tracks. These offerings hint at his emotional input and serve as a cue for the listener, allowing us connect immediately to the concept behind the work. ‘In Dreams’, ponders the existence and power of dreams, more so the ability to dream lucidly. He describes these thoughts as ‘wishful thinking’; that the purpose and potential of our subconscious conjurings are yet to be fully realised.
Music is my hobby and gives me my “time out” from the hustle and bustle of life both as a Teacher and father of 5 kids.
He describes himself as “a man of a certain age” with a larger than average family, and a busy career working in the education sector, and his passion for music as a hobby, providing a necessary escape – something many artists can relate to. His track ‘In Dreams’ succeeds in illustrating that desire for departure from reality, and lets the mind free to explore of its own volition.
Baby I’m On Fire
“Baby On Fire” speaks of our self-deprecating tendencies, our “inner voice, which always tells us about our uncertainties, but rarely tells us how good we are”, he says. It’s widely recognised that true creatives involuntarily and helplessly subject themselves to this kind of brutal self-criticism as a side effect of seeking perfection and finesse. And when it comes to perfection, David tells us; “I am always seeking that perfect piece of music. I have debates with my kids as to what a perfect piece of music sounds like. There are a few songs that are perfect”.
There is so much more now to tap into. I’ve always wanted to make music
We asked David if he’d be open to letting us in, to understand more about the man behind the wonderful music, and this is what we learned;
So… who is David Birtles?
I am a man of a certain age who currently works in the UK education sector. Music is my hobby and gives me my “time out” from the hustle and bustle of life both as a Teacher and father of 5 kids.
I currently reside in the rainy North West of the UK near to Manchester but I also lived for a short while on the South Island of New Zealand. My dream is to live near the sea. Everyone has a connection with the sea. I was born near the sea and I’m a water sign so maybe that connection was destined. My profile pic is my son on the beach in St Ives playing in the salt water pools.
Where does your passion for music come from?
I am self taught musically, pre-internet. So got a lot from books. There is so much more now to tap into. I’ve always wanted to make music which I would want to listen to myself and this has developed over time with the help of Band lab into what you see there.
From a very early age I remember my Dad played piano. He couldn’t read music and played purely by listening to a tune and then trying to play it back. Piano was too big an instrument for me to carry from one place to the next so I chose a guitar which my sister didn’t want to play and taught myself to play it out of books.I eventually learned piano when I was in my 40’s and can now play both. I am more proficient on the guitar and I guess I have my Dad’s ears as I can pick up a song or part of a song just by listening to it.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am influenced by the music of my teens and twenties so lots of rock like Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Free and Queen but also more ethereal sounds from the likes of Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes , Genesis and also folk orientation music from Kate Rusby and genre mashers such as Jethro Tull.
I have a love for soundtracks and orchestral music and inspired every day by some of the talented Bandlab artists who put their music out there, simply because they enjoy making music.
I can also say that all of the ones that I have worked with have also been the most genuine, unassuming, generous people I have had the pleasure of working with. No egos – just about the music.
What motivates you to create?
Pure love of music in all it’s forms. I am constantly motivated by the music and musical artists that I hear. I am also always seeking that perfect piece of music. I often have debates with my kids as to what a perfect piece of music sounds like. There are a few songs that are perfect. My inspiration can come from an idea, a feeling or hearing a snippet of something musical or otherwise from someone else. I try to imbue some emotional context for the listener from the music I make but I am really making music I would like to listen to and am thankful that some people out there also find it enjoyable.
What are your ‘go-to’ instruments?
I play piano and guitar. I had piano lessons when I was a bit younger but I am more proficient on the guitar which I learned to play myself. I think I pick the guitar up daily even if for a few brief minutes. We have a range of instruments in the house including a banjo and mandolin but my daughter plays these more fluidly than I do.
How would you describe your music?
My signature sound involves a lot of ethereal pads and vocal samples and sometimes no percussion at all. I love to wrap around a clean electric guitar or an acoustic guitar or piano. Arriving at that sound was just about searching for what felt right to my ears although I am influenced by both contemporary and older pop and rock culture as well as EDM, trance and even classical genres. I like to build a piece of music from a small sound to something grander hopefully by the end, although I have done pieces which are much more simple and refrained as well.I am evolving I think all the time and have started to look at orchestrations more in my music although that is a dark art for sure.
What can we expect to hear from you next?
I’m always working on something. i have a few collaborations on the go at the moment and seem to be getting Radiohead covers out of my system. I have a version of High and Dry with Darren Garrett in the works currently. I am also working on a couple of collaborations with Emma K.
What does your creative process look like?
It depends on what I have in front of me. However if it is a piece that I build from the floor up i may start with a beat or a sound, a guitar riff or a vocal sample. I then build everything else around that seed of an idea. Sometimes at the end I am surprised with the final product as it wasn’t quite what I had in mind at the start. Truly creative processes are like that I think. I also sometimes go back to music I might have made a while back and disassemble and reassemble in a different way or with different sounds.