Wednesday, 9 November 2016

DaveIt Ferris | November 2016 Artist of the Month Winner!

by CA Marshall
Interview | DaveIt Ferris
November 7th, 2016

Now with the US election behind us, we are happy to be able to officially announce our November 2016 Starlight Music Chronicles indie Artist of the month winner, UK born DaveIt Ferris! Here’s what he had to say:

SMC - Welcome DaveIt Ferris to the Starlight Music Chronicles Artist of the Month Alumni! We are thrilled to have yet another brilliant talent from the UK on our forum. Can you tell us where you were and what your thoughts were when you found out that you were our November 2016 winner?

DF - Thank you! It's a cool accolade and I’m thrilled to have the title this month! I was at my friend Noel's house after a night on the town when I was scanning my facebook and seen that I’d won. As I was reading the comments, I heard a 'pop' behind me, which was the sound of Noel popping open a bottle of champagne for the occasion. It was a great ending to a great night. I had been following the public vote sporadically, so to get the nod as the overall winner was excellent and I want to thank everyone for voting for me in the online poll you ran.

SMC- So let's go into a little bit of your career history.... can you tell us how you evolved as a Musician?

DF - Music started for me when I was about 14/15 and my sister started dating a guy called Kevin who would leave over his Greenway, Nirvana, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard CD's. Suddenly upon listening to these gems, music was no longer background noise to me. I obsessively listened to every one of his CD's that I could get my paws on until he just pretty much just gave me his entire collection. I can't say at this age I had any aspirations of being a professional musician, but suddenly I found myself as the lead singer of a school band, which changed everything. From singing in this band, I was spotted by an older local band that actually played shows around town and I became their singer. It was pretty fun to play until midnight in a bar knowing I had school the next day! Being around instruments so much made me decide to start learning guitar and I became obsessed with it very quickly. I bought a tape recorder and just wrote and recorded riffs and 'songs' as soon as I got out of school [I still have the tapes!] - so in essence, my adoration for songwriting came via the journey of trying to learn the guitar. When I was 17 I attended music college and formed a band as part of the course with absolute strangers, who have all become lifelong friends. This was the first time I was in control of the songwriting of a band and I loved the pressure it brought. That band fell apart due to members leaving the music course, but I now had a taste for being the frontman and songwriter of a band, so it only took me a couple of months to form my most successful band to date, 'Mascara Story'. Within a year of forming this band, we were crowned the 'Unsigned Band of the Year' by the UK's biggest music magazine, Kerrang! Because of this, we went on to play festivals [such as download and t-vital], release a single that charted, made a video, signed a record deal and did a handful of tours. It was a really good time that ultimately fell apart due to personal, not professional or musical, differences. The day after this split, I formed a band called 'Rescue the Astronauts' that took everything I learned in Mascara Story and amplified it up a notch. After only a few months together, we had supported Fall Out Boy on our debut show and released an EP that I still appreciate to this day. I guess the final musical chapter since then has been this 'solo' phase. In early 2008, after many musical projects stalling due to other people, I decided to be as DIY as I could so that I’d only have myself to blame. In that year, I wrote, recorded, produced and ultimately released 5 solo records [and my first poetry book]. It felt very empowering to be solely in the driver’s seat and being able to make things happen without needing the universe to lineup with 3 or 4 other people, you know? Since 2008, I have approached most of my creative works alone and as lonely as that sounds, it's how I work best. 2014 and 2015 have been my most fulfilling years as a musician and as a creative due to the '365 Sparks' project [in which I wrote and recorded 365 original songs in a year]. I think that material is, without a doubt, the best stuff I’ve ever done - on a songwriting level, performance level, lyrical level and production level. That pretty much brings me up to current times. Phew!

SMC- What would you say it the biggest challenge as a Musician in the UK today?

DF - There's just so much competition for everything that it's difficult to stand out from the crowd without sacrificing your true sound, true identity or true spirit. I've seen and heard musicians change all three when their natural way of being wasn't bringing career elevation quick enough. This wouldn't strictly be a UK thing though as it happens everywhere these days.

SMC - We LOVE the concept behind your 365 Sparks project that you did in 2015 and it looks as though you have begun another. Tell our readers more about this fantastic project and how it came to be...

DF- '365 Sparks' was a musical recovery for me. It was inspired by an event that nearly took my life in October 2013. In short, over the course of one day, I went from being out on a nice walk to gradually struggling to breathe in the evening. Around midnight I had no other choice than to go to the Hospital because I was getting a tiny bit of oxygen every minute and felt myself slowly suffocating. In that waiting area, I was already making a checklist of my possessions to pass on should I not make it through the night. Thankfully I was pumped with steroids and fluids and all kinds of things to get through the night. I ended up spending a near week in the hospital, mostly unable to eat or drink, and would come to find that what I had was 'Supraglottitis' - which is essentially when a large ball forms at the bottom of the windpipe and if left untreated with completely block the airway and you suffocate. My specialist told me I was mere hours from this happening, which is a scary thought. Whilst on that hospital bed, knowing how close I came to dying, I decided that my next project would be massive, my best work ever and that which would define me. If I had have died that evening, I would have taken 20/25 half-finished projects with me to the grave, so I made a pact with myself to ensure I focused on 365 Sparks until completion - and that's what I did. It was my light in a real dark period.

SMC - We also saw that you ARE 100% the creative individual behind 'DaveIt Ferris'. From first concept in lyrics to the final output in graphics and content. Wow! What is the driving force behind this?

DF - Well, 'Daveit Ferris' is just me and I don't see that changing anytime soon. As previously mentioned, it's been a completely DIY journey up to this point. I've written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered all the music myself. Alongside this I’ve made my websites and graphics and videos too. blah blah. I love the challenge and saddle myself with responsibility all the time. Being completely in control of what I sound like, how people see the visuals and websites… very powerful and very exciting. In a band context, I’d happily sacrifice this level of control to make it more of a democracy, but when you make the decision to work under your own name, you have to be fully in control as no-one is going to worry as much about bruising that name or reputation than you are - it just comes with the territory.

SMC - And now you are releasing the 'Scribbles' project....tell us about that....

DF - Over the last year, I’ve found myself with a lot of 'quiet' time in the mornings. My mornings usually start at 5am, so it's deathly quiet. For obvious reasons, I cannot blast guitar at this ungodly hour but I still wanted something creative to do with my time and that's where the idea for '365 Scribbles' came about. It's basically an original poem released every day for the entire 2017 year. To add some personality to this, I’ll be handwriting and scanning the poem, so that it's not just cold digital ink. I think that I’m going to be obsessed with the '365' project idea over the next decade or so and envisage myself doing many, many more of them.

SMC - Where do the next 6 months of your career take you? Any Live shows?

DF - I'm currently in the process of booking my first run of acoustic shows for December around Northern Ireland. These will be my first ever proper acoustic solo shows and some of my first performances in over ten years. Playing live never really appealed to me as I was a studio bird always just wanting to record the next song then the next one…. but 've slowly gotten to a point where I want to go out and play to the people. Beyond that, I want to release an all-acoustic album soon, ten tracks of just acoustic guitar and one vocal. I had a lot of surplus songs/ideas from the 365 Sparks project that I’d love to finish and record, it's just finding the time right now.

SMC - What are your thoughts on being nominated for a competition like ours? What are your thoughts on this sort of event?

DF -I founded and ran a music website for a few years called and we did a yearly competition called 'Kickstart' [that you can see here:] that was designed to kickstart a band's year with a nice list of prizes. As I devised this myself, it's safe to say that I’m onboard with this kind of music competition event. Obviously, it elevates the winner, but it also does give a bit of confidence to the runners up too - some of our shortlisted bands have told me that directly - which was nice. It all comes back to being recognised for that which you love doing.

SMC - Where does the creative process begin with for you when writing your lyrics?

DF - I'm always scribbling lines into books or on my phone or even just storing lines in my internal brain memory. However, I cannot say that lyrics are ever my first thought when writing a song. Almost all of my demos start life with 'uhms' and 'ahs' in place of actual words - it's more important to me to get the melodies nailed down at an early stage. Once I have my 'uhm and ah' demo, I’ll then start slipping in words and phrases. Lyrics have always [thankfully] come really natural to me and I adore the challenge of having to write a line with a restricted amount of syllables.

SMC - On December 21st, you are doing an online StageIt show. What are your thoughts about that sort of thing as opposed to performing at a live venue? (By the way, we will be attending)

DF - It'll be my first time doing any kind of 'online show', but I’m looking forward to it so that people that aren't local can see me play some music live for the first time ever. I have friends that have done a handful of stageits before and its been recommended to me many times. It'll never have the same intimacy as a show in a venue, but that just comes with the territory and is to be expected. I have watched a handful of these types of shows, so I’m looking forward to hosting one. Awesome! See you then!

SMC - Who are your biggest supporters? Would you like to give a shout out to them?

DF - I was speaking to a friend the other day about how fortunate I am to have so many supporters despite the fact I played about 3 shows in ten years as 'Daveit Ferris' - one off appearances. It's hard to cultivate any kind of following when you're not out there, especially these days. I wouldn't like to specifically name anyone because there's a long list and I’ll forget someone and bruise that connection a little. My supporters all know I appreciate them!

SMC - It seems that since our Artist of the Year winner IAMWARFACE scooped the win in June 2016, we have had an influx of British bands/Artists being nominated for our AOM competition. We are thrilled because it allows for us to bring those artists to North American soil. With that being said, what are your thoughts about the Artist of the Year competition in June 2017? What would you like to see happen in effort to build up to this event by our team at SMC?

DF - I like the idea of the twelve 'artists of the month' musicians/bands competing for the 'artist of the year' crown - it's a nice graduation of the competition. I'd love to know more about the final competition as I don't currently know much about it to be honest.

SMC - You are being showcased on a global platform that receives thousands of hits to the website daily and you were chosen for this position. What are your thoughts on sharing the stage with some of the industries best?

DF - Being recognised for something I adore doing and would do it even if I lived alone in a cabin in the woods, is always awesome. You know, in 2014 I pretty much spent every day alone in my studio recording those 365 songs and it got super lonely at times. But then when cool things [such as this accolade] results from all that work, it makes it all worth it.

SMC - What is your favorite song that you have written to date and why?

DF - This would be impossible to even narrow down to 50 [as I’m currently experiencing whilst trying to whittle down my live set list] simply because I have recorded and released so many songs that I still quite like. Like most writers, my newest stuff is always my favourite simply because it represents me 'now'. I know that sounds cliché to non-musicians, but you must remember, we are always evolving, so my newest songs have a slightly better falsetto now than there was before, my vibrato has improved about 25% in the last year too, so I’m naturally going to gravitate toward songs that showcase these skills way better, right? Lyrical content is probably the main reason writers always love their newest stuff the most, though. My feelings change constantly, so singing a song I wrote about someone who was in my life two years ago but no longer is, can be a difficult activity.

SMC - If there were a band or Artist that you could go up against in the Artist of the Year event, who would that be and why?

DF  - I enjoy healthy competition, so I’ll always want to compete with the best.

SMC - What is the most flattering thing a fan has said to you?

DF - Without a doubt, it's been those handful of special occasions when someone has told me that my music helped them get through a difficult period in their life. I know that this line is so normalized in our culture now, but think about that line for a second. Music that I sat on the edge of my sofa and wrote has positively affected someone going through a crisis on the other side of the world - it's an insane thought to feel that you've played a small part in the life of someone that you'll unlikely to ever meet. It astounds me when I hear that and always will. Those occasions have been super special to me.

SMC - Can you tell us which instruments are your favorite to play? Which one(s) do you gravitate to when creating your music?

DF - Guitar is what I started out on and it'll always be my go-to when I feel like writing a jam. I have written on pretty much every instrument I have lying around my studio at some point, but I’m most fluent on guitar and tend to gravitate to it about 95% of the time. I only tend to move onto writing on other instruments when I feel like I’m reusing 'guitar tricks' or that the songs are sounding samey. There's more than a handful of songs on the 365 Sparks project that I created on a computer - literally starting with a drum machine, adding synthetic bass, piano, organ, violins, etc. - before even considering the vocal or lyrics - that was an exciting new experience, but guitar will always be my writing weapon of choice.

SMC - Final question, and we always like to ask this: If there was any advice you would like to give to anyone new starting out in the industry, what advice would that be?

DF - Seek out constructive criticism as soon as you can. It'll hurt at the start, but you'll improve massively. In the very early days of my old band 'Mascara Story', I invited a popular and successful musician in my area, Cahir, to come to our rehearsal studio and give us feedback. It was painful to hear some of his points, but he was right ['your songs have way too many parts' - 'there's no need to overdo the drums in every section' 'you need to stop singing so high in the verses so that when you do in the choruses, they'll have more impact'] and ultimately it made us reassess ourselves and even drop a few songs we'd planned to record for our EP and include two much better tracks in their place. Our progression was worth that humbling exercise and I’d recommend all new bands to do this soon [and often].


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