Variously described as 'baroque pop' (The Guardian), '... a pop force' (BBC Music) and ‘Sensational skewed indie’ (Sunday Times Culture), David's Lyre is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter/producer Paul Dixon.
Debut EP In Arms introduced David's Lyre to critical acclaim. New single Hidden Ground is a daring mix of folk arrangements and dubstep rhythms with Paul's unique voice at the forefront. The single is set for release on 24 October through Hideout Recordings.
Following a UK tour with Chapel Club and remixing Marina And The Diamonds and Everything Everything, David's Lyre are back on the road this Autumn with the following dates:
30 October - Gloucester Guildhall w/ Young Knives
5 November – London, The Nest
15 November – Manchester, Deaf Institute
29 November – London, Heaven w/ The Jezebels
M caught up with this exciting new talent and found out what Paul had to say about his eclecticism, pop music and the challenges to today's young songwriters.
Although your music sounds ultra-contemporary, do you look for inspiration from historical figures and folk tales?
I like the clash of contemporary and classic, sometimes that is in mixing sounds that wouldn't usually go together, and sometimes it is tales, stories and poetry against modern instrumentation and melody. Whatever it is, I just like to mix it up.
As a music creator and songwriter, could you give an idea of the progression you’ve made from your earliest work until now. Have you changed your approach, and if so what instigated that?
I was listening to Radio 3 the other night and they had an amazing pianist called Gabriela Montero who is famous for her improvisations, and she was explaining that improvisation is what all the great composers used to do - sometimes even as a piano duel! I think my songwriting is on a journey of progression from sitting down with a guitar in a pragmatic way, to letting myself respond to rhythm and sound - almost letting a song write itself. I have started to really enjoy the production side of music and find this allows me to be much more creative. I also enjoy poetry more than I used to, so lyrically my songs have developed along with that.
Who, or what inspired you to start creating music yourself?
Having been forced to learn various classical instruments from a young age - for which I am now very grateful - I discovered the guitar aged 11. At a similar time I was bought what still remain some of my favourite records: Marvin Gaye - Whats Going On, Jeff Buckley - Grace, Lauryn Hill - Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, John Martyn - Solid Air. Previously my leisure listening consisted exclusively to who Top Of The Pops had that particular week (which wasn't always a bad thing), but I think in those albums I discovered a genuine interest in music that went further. I was also lucky to grow up amongst friends who had a similar experience to me, so creating music was as much a social activity for us as playing football and computer games.
It seems there are strands of (at least) pop, folk, dance and electronica in your music. Do you think this eclecticism comes from the way we listen to music now – where all genres rub up against us on our iPods and playlists?
Yes, partly. Although I am the youngest child so luckily I was fed a stream of music through siblings who each had fairly different tastes, so maybe the 'iPod' effect was intensified. I really love original sounds and so enjoy genre fusion.
Would you say you’re a student of pop music, if so, what are you listening to right now and will it filter through you into new music?
I love it when British bands do great things (most notably Bombay Bicycle Club at the moment), but I have to say that some amazing music is currently coming out of the US. Right now for leisure I am listening to CANT and St Vincent. In terms of being a student of pop, every week or so I will listen to clips of songs in the top 40 out of interest, but most of my pop sensibility comes from my youth. Everything I listen to filters through into my music somehow - I can't help it - which is why I am generally careful about what music I listen to.
Do you think you are best represented by your live performances or your studio work?
As I co-produced a lot of my debut album and was present of every bit of mixing and mastering, it is undeniably a representation of me. The studio environment is so controlled and such a juxtaposition to live performance. I enjoy the freedom of the stage, often rewriting melodies slightly as I play. I think they both represent me in that particular moment.
Have you or do you intend to write for other artists? If so, would you approach it differently from your own music?
Yes, as I have finished my album I have been making use of a little spare time and writing for other artists. I do approach it differently - as most of the people interested in taking on songs are pop artists I keep that in mind. When I find the time, and the right people, I would love to do a mixture of writing and production for artists.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to this generation of songwriters?
I think there is much less room for the mediocre. Either songs sell because they are instantly catchy pop/dance/club hits, or because they are truly exceptional. There is very little in-between, which is both exciting and scary. I'm a believer in quality content - be the best you can be and don't worry about how quickly other people's careers are moving.
Now watch the video for Hidden Ground.