OMG, it's Dave from Blue Skies! Alright, I may be borrowing his tag-line, but if you've heard of him it is a good summation of what his many fans have come to think of him and his music and a good foretaste of what to expect. If you haven't heard of him or his one-man band Blue Skies let me introduce him.
Dave started out as a kind of a YouTube sensation. In his first video he nervously introduced Blue Skies, over one hundred and twenty plus posted videos and two YouTube channels later he's managed to obtain quite a following and fan base. His repertoire includes covers of songs by musicians and bands that make up his musical library, songs suggested by the video subscribers and viewers, as well as several of his own well-coined originals. Blue Skies music is mainly acoustic and something entirely his own, the vocals comparable to Ben Kweller and Conor Oberst. With lyrics that touch on friends and love and life in general they are something people can easily associate with their own lives.
Blue Skies is a one-man band in the sense that he in does vocals and all of the music featured in his songs; he plays acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar and drums, as well as playing the piano and keyboards. Yet, it is more than just him alone, as he counts his friends and people he has met as part of Blue Skies. In two years his music has made it from YouTube to corporeal CD's sold at gigs and through the internet and most recently to iTunes Music Store. He's released a full length album The Blackout Sessions, Aim for Happiness the EP and his collection of rarities.
With YouTube channel video subscribers surpassing 22,000, nearly half a million channel views, 23rd most subscribed of all time musician in the UK ; internet profile numbers reaching past thousands of MySpace and Facebook friends, hundreds of thousands of track plays on both along with his several other pages across the web; if those numbers are anything to go by then his talent has began to take hold of music lovers worldwide.
At twenty-three, living and breathing music, this is just the beginning of a promising musical career as he starts to concentrate on live audience shows and more recordings.
Tell me about Blue Skies.
Blue Skies is my band. You could also argue that Blue Skies is me, since I'm the only person in it. I decided to use a band name rather than my own because 1) it leaves the option of adding more band members open, and 2) I don't really like my name.
When did you first become interested in playing music?
I was about nine or 10 when I started playing guitar, I'd always been interested in music but I think it was the Britpop era that really got me. It was a long time before I seriously considered it as a career possibility – really it was when I left university and realized it was either that or get a real job. Fear of the alternative can do wonders for your confidence, I've found!
Who are your major influences?
Conor Oberst, The Mountain Goats, The Libertines, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Jamie T… The list goes on and on as most peoples' would. We're lucky these days – there's such a huge amount of music out there and it's so easily accessible, you're never gonna be short of a musical influence or two!
What do you like most about being a musician?
Though I think it's the hardest part, writing songs is also my favourite aspect of being a musician. There's a feeling I get when I've just finished a song, that I've not found anywhere else… It's a mixture of accomplishment; the idea that an hour ago this song didn't exist and now it does, and also excitement; both that you're the only person in the world who has heard this song and also that you get to go and share it with people. That's another good part, letting a song out into the world for the first time and seeing how people react to it.
You have your own record label, Scratch That Records, why did you decide to create your own instead of signing with an already present label?
There were a number of reasons… On a personal level I wanted to be in complete control of my own music. On a business level I didn't want to pay people for things I could do myself. And also I have a lot of friends who make music and I wanted to create a channel through which I could help them should they need/want it. It's become one of the most exciting parts of my life at the moment, because it's so new – I can't wait to see what it's become by the end of the year.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced in getting your music heard?
Self promotion has never been one of my strengths. I tend to just put stuff out there and hope people like it enough to share it with their friends and to stick around for the next thing I put out. I'm sure if I played the game a little more I'd do better in terms of numbers but that's not really what I'm about anyway.
What is your recording process? Do you do the recording yourself?
Yeah, I record everything at home. I decided from the start that rather than spending money on studio time, I'd spend it on putting together my own studio. I like the idea that I have everything I need right here, so I can use it whenever I feel like it. As for my process; I tend to strum through a quick version just so I have it down, then I forget about it for a year or two because I get distracted by new songs, then I just release the rubbish version from two years previous because I can't remember how to play it.
How would you describe your sound?
I think I've settled on 'Indie-Folk'. But usually I just make people listen to it and say 'like that'.
What are your inspirations for your lyrics and songs? Do they come from experiences or is it more like story telling?
Yes. And yes. I don't really have a set formula, some of them are literally things that happen to me, some are things that happen to friends or other people, some are things that haven't happened, some are just thoughts that appear in my head.
You're a YouTube sensation, have moved on to iTunes music store and selling your own CD's and merchandise. What's next?
Hahaha I think 'sensation' must be considered hyperbole! But the last year has been fun, actually starting to sell music was a big step for me. I released three things in the second half of 2009, and none of them were an actual studio album, so that should really be next… But then I've been saying that will be the next thing I do for the last two years. I've got a lot of plans for Scratch That Records as well, which should all begin once the website launches. Oh, and I'm also house hunting right now!
Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What is one of your all-time favourite recordings by this band/musician?
My standard answer is anything that Conor Oberst has been near. But more recently I have fallen in love with a band called The Mountain Goats. A lot of their recordings are lo-fi, but that really highlights the quality of the song writing, which is just brilliant. I suggest the album All Hail West Texas or for a fuller, more polished sound, try The Sunset Tree.
Links to Blue Skies main web-pages: