InTheMusic: David Poe, interview

David Poe is a songwriter who loves a clean line and a good hook. Also the guy you met in a bar on a train who said stuff you won’t remember and one thing you can’t forget. He started singing in choirs, then played in cover bands. His first job in New York was running sound at CB’s 313 Gallery, where he heard hundreds of musicians. He has recently released a new track, “Post”, which is a 1960s-tinged breakup song for the modern era.

Name: David Poe
City: Los Angeles, formerly Manhattan
Nationality: American by birth; citizen of the world by trade
Released tracks: currently, “Gun For A Mouth,” “People Clap Hands” and “Post” from the forthcoming album Everyone’s Got A Camera (to be released September 2022 by ECR Music Group)
Released albums: David Poe, The Late Album, Love is Red, David Poe Live at the Artists Den Music from the Motion Picture Harvest, David Poe at World Café Live, Shadowland: Music for Pilobolus, God & The Girl
Released singles: Who Built The Wall, What The President Said, Red Sky Blues
Genre: Songwriter
Platforms: YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music,

Who is David Poe?

A songwriter who loves a clean line and a good hook. Also the guy you met in a bar on a train who said stuff you won’t remember and one thing you can’t forget.

How did you choose the name for your artistic project?

My parents chose it. 

You have a great and long experience in the music industry. Would you like to tell us a little more?

Played in local bands. Moved to New York. Wrote 100 songs. Did 500 gigs. Got a record deal. Toured everywhere. Learned from each creative colleague, and had great mentors like Sim Cain and T Bone Burnett, who produced my first record. I stood on the shoulders of giants not for the height, but for the view. The Chocolate Genius told me that sometimes the only power an artist has is the power to say no. So I did. But usually I said yes. Made music for film, TV, dance, theater, art installations. Kept making records, started writing songs with and for others. Produced other artists I admired. Did another 1000 gigs. Moved from the city to Los Angeles. What was lost in depth, I gained in light. Now, rather than listen to pop songs by child stars and children of millionaires, I study the work of the greats. I have learned more from the songs of losers than those of entrepreneurs. I write nearly every day. It takes a long time to get any good. Never satisfied, but I always feel my best work is ahead of me. 

Your style combines many different genres, but rock is always the background. What are your main influences?

Thank you. I think of it as rock & roll. Studying lyrics, I worked backwards from the pop songs of my youth to those of the last hundred years. I read the news. The musical spirit I try to embody onstage and in the studio is what I feel when I listen to The White Album, Chet Baker, Sly & The Family Stone, Nick Drake, bossa nova, Dylan, or The Zombies. But I’m most influenced by friends and colleagues: every musician, co-writer, mixer, film director, choreographer, and creative collaborator.

I started singing in choirs, then played in cover bands. My first job in New York was running sound at CB’s 313 Gallery, where I heard hundreds of musicians. There, I got to see how everyone did their thing. I attended multiple performances by Patti Smith, P-Funk, Marc Ribot, Chris Whitley, The Jayhawks, Prince, and Ballett Frankfurt. They taught me that art is not self-expression or a competition. It’s a mirror, a crystal ball, a conscience.

How do you work on the production of your songs and on which aspects do you focus most?

Wake up, drink a liter of water, then write until I’m finished. That’s my approach to writing. Some people focus on tone and gear while recording, which is cool. I focus on the fundaments of each song, the words, melody, harmony, and rhythm. 

On my last album, God & The Girl, the performances were captured by an engineer named Emile Kelman. Most of this new record I played and recorded myself, except for one track with Brad Jones and another with Rick Parker. Mike Piersante mixed it at The Village in Los Angeles. Sometimes the first thought is the best thought. Other times, the idea is the best idea until there’s a better one. 

You have recently released a new track, “Post”, which is a 1960s-tinged breakup song for the modern era. How did you work on it? 

In posts on social media, a friend saw her ex falling in love with someone new. Couldn’t look away. She was still reeling from the breakup; he had moved on. My friend was benevolent enough to wish her ex well, but regretted bearing witness to his new love interest. I wrote her what I think is a fairly cheerful-sounding song  — “Post” as in, post-breakup, as well as an online post. The near-entirety of the lyric is “I’m happy for you because you found another love, but I wish I didn’t know who it was.”

How did you work on the sound that characterizes this song and what issues did you deal with?

I played everything on “Post” because I heard it all in my head so recording it was just a matter of executing each part. The electric guitar sound is an old red Telecaster I bought used when I was 16, after my band sold out our first show. More an afterthought than an issue, but the sounds of the world pervade this album. Much of it was recorded in the summer with the windows open. Birds, dogs, sirens, amorous couples found their way into the tracks. I’m sure the neighbors heard me making the record, and at the ending of this song I can hear them, too. 

This song anticipates your new album that will be released in the next few months. Is there anything you could tell us about it?

There’s a tune on this new record called “Cowboy Chords.” The title refers to the open chords every guitarist first learns. It begins “I heard a robot sing the blues and I remembered rock & roll,” then goes on to say, “Don’t let ‘em tell you a story of a past that never was. The future don’t lie, but the present does.” Anyone can say anything, to everyone, at the touch of a button: hope or despair, the profound or the banal. Online, truth and lies abound in equal amounts but are often delivered to us without tools to discern between them, or to reliably tell the difference between real and fake, fact and opinion. So it’s easy to get inured to the distinction between the selfie and the self, between performance and politics, between distractions and art.  As ever, compassion and creativity are obliged to intervene. The album is called Everyone’s Got A Camera. 

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to write songs for myself and for others to sing. Being able to return to the stage has been gratifying. This year’s tour schedule began in Manhattan and finishes in Doha, Qatar. The people who come to my shows tend to be smart and spirited. The atmosphere at gigs is full of wonderment and warmth. 

Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Grazie mille per ascoltare le mie canzoni. Thank you for listening to my songs. Please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

David Poe for Siloud

Twitter: @DavidPoeMusic
Instagram: @davidpoe

Credits: ECR Music Group


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