PHOTO CREDIT: Will Erwin
MY last interview of today…
is with the L.A.-based songwriter, David Ayscue. He has been telling me about his new single, New York, and what its story is. I ask how important the San Francisco Bay Area is to him and what sort of music he is inspired by.
Ayscue talks about his start in the industry and whether there are any rising artists to watch; which three albums are most important to him; which musical memory is precious to him; if he gets time away from his career to chill – Ayscue ends the interview by selecting a great song.
Hi, David. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello! I'm pretty good. The week has been interesting. I've been working from home a lot and both of my roommates have nine-five jobs, so I've had a good amount of alone-time. I normally like to be surrounded by people but it's been nice to be alone and be able to focus on music.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I'm a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and recent graduate of the University of Southern California, where I was music major. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and went to high-school at a boarding school outside of Boston. My music is pretty acoustic-based...I'm a big fan of guys like John Mayer and Dave Matthews. Recently, I've been listening to a lot of Ben Howard. I write about personal topics as much as possible.
New York is your new single. Can you tell me what the story behind the song is?
I wrote New York in July of 2017. I knew that, in early-August, I was going to visit my brother who lived in a small apartment in SoHo for the summer. My friend from high-school was having a party for his twenty-first birthday that same week and a bunch of old friends were making the trip to the city to see everybody.
It felt like this mass migration was happening to New York City and it gave the city this center-of-the-world feeling. There's a rekindling of a romance in there as well and the idea of rediscovering love in such a magnificent place as N.Y.C.
How important was your time in the San Francisco Bay Area regarding your start in music? When did you actually start putting pen to paper?
Very important! The Bay Area radio stations played a really good mix of music. Some stations would play a lot of local Bay Area Rap and others would play Classic-Rock. I got a pretty good musical education just from listening to the radio in the car.
I took guitar lessons at the local music store and played in school bands. I didn't really start writing music until about my sophomore year in high-school, though.
Is it true you were in an all-male a capella group in high-school? Was that an interesting time?
Yes! I loved it. We had some amazing singers in the group. One of them is still my good friend to this day and arranged a lot of the music for us - really cutting-edge stuff. He would take popular songs at that time and turn them into four-part harmonies that gave them a life of their own.
How did you start in music? Were you raised around a lot of music?
My parents used to play a lot of music around the house - James Taylor, Norah Jones; John Mayer-type stuff. Easy Listening, Acoustic-Rock. Neither of them played musical instruments seriously, though. I think that, when I was in second grade, I really wanted to play drums. My mom thought that a drum set would be too loud in the house, though, so she got me an acoustic guitar instead!
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Haven't thought about that one in depth but I probably should! Definitely release a few more singles.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
This one's pretty recent but I love it anyways. My band was scheduled to play at an indoor/outdoor tavern in downtown Los Angeles just a couple weeks ago. When we showed up for the gig, there was another band already set up and sound-checking...the venue had accidentally double-booked us.
Luckily, that band agreed to cut their set in half and let us play the second-half of the night, which was from 11:30 to 1 A.M. At that point, people were thoroughly hammered and dancing around the place like crazy. The energy inside the place was amazing and it ended up being a great gig.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Damn! That's tough. I've been listening a lot to Bruce Springsteen's first record, Greetings from Asbury Park
His lyrics paint these vivid images of his youth in New Jersey and all the characters involved - and the record has this tangible energy to it.
Second; I'd go with John Mayer's Where the Light Is (live album)
I think it's one of the best live albums of all time. The depth and breadth of his musicality really shines through. He plays an Acoustic set, a Blues-Rock set and a Pop set - and his songs have provided me with so much challenging material to learn.
Third; I really dig Ed Sheeran's 5
It's a compilation of a bunch of his early songs, mixed with live renditions of those songs.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Zac Brown Band. My rider would be simple...I'm a pretty unsophisticated eater. Maybe a fruit plate? Haha.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Just play out a lot and consistently release good music!
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Mostly shows in the Los Angeles area but check out my Instagram or Facebook to see the exact dates/locations!
Might you come to the U.K. and play? Do you like the music here?
Absolutely! I'd kill to come over there and do a bunch of shows. You guys seem to have a really cool scene going on. There's this other guy that I discovered a while back named Max Milner. I think he's from London. I'd love to see him play live.
IN THIS PHOTO: Madeleine Mayi
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
My friend Madeleine Mayi is an incredible singer with a six-song E.P. out and more music on the way. Definitely check her out.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Hit the beach, play basketball; go out to bars at night. I'm thoroughly addicted to Super Mario Strikers right now even though my roommate beats me four/five times we play.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Well. I guess, because I shouted her out earlier, go play Madeleine Mayi's The Man Upstairs
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