DIY musicians live among society

Dave Giles Performs covers at weddings, writes his own music, tours the UK, runs his own record label and is a guitarist in a band called For Apollo. What more could he dream of? Let’s find out…

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DIY music now walks among mainstream media. In this day and age bands can record and release their tracks via the web on social media whenever they want, rather than having to pay thousands for a studio to get their track to exist and heard on the radio. Millions of people can just click and listen to their tracks for free. Dave fully embraced this when starting up his band in 2007. He formed an underground Indie band called the Rileys with his school friend, Joseph Fielder, who became his long-term collaborator. They had no manager, no agent and no promoter. “We fully embraced the idea of being a ‘DIY’ band. We produced our own songs and created our own record label,” said Dave. “By October 2009 we sold out The Shepherds Bush Empire in London, a 2,000-capacity venue and it felt great!”

Sadly, in 2010, they split due to personal reasons and the fanbase was distraught. Dave was left wondering, “What should I do next?” He decided to go solo and said it was the best decision he ever made, “I’d never been a front man or a lead singer, but a lot of my favourite acts were just one-man shows.” He has now been in various bands and has played the guitar for a variety of singers. Now 30 years old, he is running his own record label called Cheeky Chimp Records Ltd, touring around the UK, being a session musician and playing guitar in a band called For Apollo. Dave said, “Now I’m 30 I’m branching out a little bit more, I’m even Producing music for YouTuber Gary C and singer-songwriter Lizzie Jane.”

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When releasing his debut EP The First Seven in October 2010 he sold out a show at The Barfly, Camden. Social media was his saviour because he was able to promote his music and gigs through his Twitter, Facebook and YouTube Channel. Since then he has toured the UK numerous times as well as touring in Ireland and Australia.

His quirky yet innovative music with a folk acoustic rock twist has to have had some inspiration. He said it was drawn from his idols: The Beatles, Frank Turner, Blur and Billy Bragg., “I think it’s good to surround yourself with as much music as you can, even if the genre doesn’t suit what you’re doing, you can learn a lot from it!” He’s a big fan of classical music with Claude Debussy being his favourite but his music is nothing like the classical genre. His other much-loved acts are U2, Ben Marwood, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, Jason Isbell, Norah Jones, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and David Bowie. He especially loves the quote which he has on his wall from one of the Beatles, it says, “Out of adversity comes strong stuff, you can get your sorrows out in a song.”

Even though Dave played music since he was seven, he didn’t originally want to go down the route of music. When he was younger he wanted to be an astronaut, but his love of science wasn’t enough to commit to a lifetime in the career. “When I was 17 I found out that my eyesight was too bad for me to being able to fly spaceships or fast planes, so I’d have to become a mission specialist in order to achieve that goal,” he said. “That would have meant a lifetime in science labs and, as much as I enjoyed science, my heart wasn’t in it enough, so I had a very slim chance of going to space.”

IMG_3376 copy.jpgMusic was the only other love Dave had. So he decided to audition for Popular Music Performance degrees in West London. “At this point, my dad said that if I was serious about becoming a musician I had to research how I could earn money from it without being a superstar,” Dave said. He found ten different ways of earning money and this satisfied his parents enough to support him throughout University. He met lots of musicians who he now continues to work with as a result. However, he said, “I don’t feel like I learnt that much at University, most of what I have learnt about playing the guitar or about the music industry has been as a result of the work I’ve done.”

Only thirteen months into his solo career, Dave created his own first headline tour in the UK, Touring For Tea. Nine cities being toured in nine days with The Borderline in London being sold out. He had attracted over 1,000 people and offered every individual who attended a free cup of tea. It was clear Dave had a strong fanbase once again. By the end of 2011, he had supported two tours, one for Ivyrise in their January tour and one for Room 94 on with their summer tour, gaining even more fans, and adding six other cities to his list of accomplishments.

His music career did not stop there. In 2013, he had written two EP’s and his first album Love, Life, Loss and Tea (2012). His album came after he’d written the EP’s about a girl he was trying to go out with. “It was definitely all over by the time I came to write the album, but I felt I had a few more things to say,” Dave told me. “I was trying to use loads of clever metaphors to explain my feelings, but they kept on being rubbish or not really working, and in the end I realised that the answer was to not use any!” His favourite song on the album, There’s No Need For Metaphors Anymore, was the first track he wrote for the album and he thinks it’s his most clever. “It’s basically a song about writer’s block, so it’s very self-indulgent in that regards. Most people who listen to my music prefer other songs and I understand that, but this is my favourite.”

As well as his music projects he is a session musician. This mean he often creates a set full of cover songs for wedding parties or private parties. It’s always varied and sometimes he even gets to work with different musicians on the job. “It’s rewarding in a very different way to creating original music, but it’s also a huge part of what I do, which I often don’t talk about because it’s not that glamorous!” He will take most opportunities that are offered as it all pays towards his bills and living. “I don’t have a normal job, so these little bits of extra money are very important, and make it affordable for me to do the original projects whilst still being able to call myself a full-time musician.”

10671267_10152414754325967_3259884610351540237_nWith an album and six EPs now released, all on his record label Cheeky Chimp Records Ltd, Dave is now rapidly establishing himself within the UK and his fanbase is continuing to grow as he continues on his music journey. Asking him what he is doing in his daily life is like asking a pig to fly, he said, “Some days are admin days, some days you’re writing, some days you’re rehearsing, some days you’re gigging. It’s not the kind of life you can explain that easily!” As the year’s progress, he does know he wants to continue making a living through his music, though. “I’m not looking for superstardom, I just want to keep enjoying being a musician and earning from it if possible! If I can say in 5 years that I still don’t have a “proper” job, then I’ll be very happy.”

To find out more about what Dave Giles is up to, go to www.davejgiles.com.

Ends (1,321 words)

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