An Intimate Chat With David Gray
Every generation has its soul savior, and today all eyes are on [lastfm]David Gray[/lastfm]. The singer-songwriter has been a household name in the U.K. and Ireland since the mid-90s, he didn’t break through in the U.S. until a guy named [lastfm]Dave Matthews [/lastfm] took an interest in him in early 2000. Matthews liked Gray’s album White Ladder so much that he snatched up the rights and released it in the U.S. on his brand new label ATO Records. Gray’s single ”Babylon” went on to be a smash hit. [pullquote quote="Music is just one of many ghosts in the machine." credit="David Gray"]
In this interview with The Guest List, David Gray shares musical experiences that have influenced his journey as an artist, the meaning behind the new album Foundling, and a wish list of artists he would like to jam with. We found one of those artists particularly dumbfounding, find out who it is! [Hint: Popular electronic/dubstep artist]
David Gray has collaborated with some great artists including [lastfm]Dolly Parton[/lastfm], [lastfm]Jolie Holland[/lastfm], and [lastfm]Annie Lennox[/lastfm]. Gray shares 5 artists on his collaboration wish list:
1. [lastfm]Robert Smith[/lastfm]
2. [lastfm]Liam O Maonlai[/lastfm]
3. [lastfm]Lucinda Williams[/lastfm]
4. [lastfm]Lisa O’Neill[/lastfm]
Q&A with David Gray –
It took less than a year for you to release the follow-up to Draw the Line. You must be on some kind of creative roll. Tell me about the first bursts of creativity you experienced.
David Gray: The first bursts of creativity I experienced were as a child wanting to paint or make things. Years later, when I first learned a few chords on the guitar, I began straight away to try and make songs by writing words to fit with them. Making both Draw TL and Foundling I experienced a new lease of creative life playing music with a new band. The thrill of moving through new musical terrain got me writing a lot of new songs in response. Those songs are what became the albums Draw the Line and Foundling. It was a very fruitful period.
Why did you name the record Foundling?
David Gray: Several reasons. I feel that the record is a cousin of another album that I released a few years ago, called Lost Songs, and I like the way that ‘lost’ and ‘found’ chime together. There’s also a key song on the record entitled Foundling which has the word as part of it’s lyric. I just like the sound of the word, it isn’t in common usage anymore so it has a freshness to it, and it fits neatly with a lot of the albums theme’s swell.
What are some of the most significant musical experiences that have influenced your journey as an artist?
David Gray: First hearing[lastfm]Bob Dylan[/lastfm], seeing [lastfm]The Waterboys[/lastfm] on their ‘This is the sea’ tour, going to Glastonbury for the first time when I was 17 – [lastfm]The Cure[/lastfm] headlined the saturday night during a thunderstorm and blew me away. Discovering [lastfm]Astral Weeks[/lastfm], [lastfm]Spirit of Eden[/lastfm], [lastfm]Transformer[/lastfm], [lastfm]Nina Simone[/lastfm], the list goes on……
What topics do you find easiest to write about?
David Gray: Love and our imagined lives. Illusion, delusion, what’s real and what’s not.
What song on the album is most personal to you?
David Gray: Fixative, which is an extra song with the deluxe package, I should have put it on the record.
What’s your first memory of making music?
Singing at primary school.
What are some of the other musical works outside of albums you’ve been digging of late?
David Gray: I’ve been watching/listening to an up and coming Irish singer called [lastfm]Lisa O’Neill[/lastfm] who has posted a lot of music and video content on the internet. It’s great, she’s really got something.
What is your greatest fear?
David Gray: My biggest musical fear is completely losing my voice. In a more general sense, a slow and painful death would be quite near the top of my list.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
David Gray: My music.
Do you think music can create real change in the world?
David Gray: Music is just one of many ghosts in the machine. When people collectively identify with the sentiment or mood of a certain song, it cements them together, gives them a momentary sense of solidarity, it helps them identify with each other, themselves, the times they are living through. In this way it can make change seem like more of a possibility, a tangible and achievable goal. So in it’s own small way the answer is yes. Not that you can see much evidence of it these days however.
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Listen to David Gray radio
Watch a performance of David Gray on the CBS Early Show
Be sure to come back next Thursday for another indepth interview with one of today’s hottest stars. It’s brought to you by our friends at The Guest List.