David Nevue: Whisperings of a Revolution?
There is a quiet revolution going on in the music world. As the industry continues to eat itself, to relentlessly screw both artists and consumers alike, musicians are left scrambling. Record labels are devoured by bigger labels, which are appendages to corporate leviathans interested only in short term gain, and the rote satisfaction of CEO's and voracious stockholders. This leaves less and less room for the kinds of music and musicians that created the monster in the first place. But there is another way. Thanks to the internet, many musicians and bands of all genres are turning to the world wide web to circumvent Leviathan, successfully.
David Nevue (www.davidnevue.com) is such a musician. Clearly seeing the writing on the music biz wall, he bypassed the ritual of sending his demos to labels and perhaps being courted by an A&R person, only to be rejected or ripped off. Since 1995, Mr. Nevue has exclusively used the web to communicate with listeners and distribute his music. A pioneer in exploring the wild, wild world of online music marketing, and staunch advocate of reaching out to and empowering his fellow musicians, he has published a how-to manual called - what else - How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet.
That such an approach is taken by someone producing introspective, mellow music - most DIY (do-it-yourself) proponents are found in the marginal worlds of punk rock or avant garde jazz - is part of David Nevue's uniqueness and proves that artists of all genres can and are circumventing the stultifying music industry that chokes creativity. It's also in line with his unique musical voyage.
Streaming MP3: Listen to a Series of Songs by David Nevue
What are your earliest musical memories? Did your parents play music in the house?
[David Nevue] No, not at all. I was raised in a totally nonmusical family. In fact, my dad is totally tone deaf. I've been told that if you go back two generations, our family was VERY musical. I think the gift skipped my dad and fell to me. As for my earliest 'musical' memories, as crazy as it sounds, it boils down to my watching the Monkees TV show as a kid. Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike - THEY were my musical family. At seven years old, I wanted to be in a band just like that.
Who are your musical mentors and biggest influences?
[David Nevue] Of course, I credit my high school and college music teachers, Brad Peterson and John Bowman, for giving me the foundation I needed to become the musician I am today. Keyboardist Jeff Johnson (www.arkmusic.com) gave me good advice and direction during my early years.
But the biggest influence on me was simply listening to music. During college, I immersed myself in the music of Rush, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Clannad, Kate Bush, U2 and Renaissance. Somewhere, in the midst of all that listening, I took away the elements that shaped my musical style. I suppose what drew me to these artists initially was that every one of them has their own, signature sound.
Listening to Rush, for example, has had a major influence on my own compositional style. While my solo piano works may not exactly inspire memories of '2112', every composition I write is driven by my desire to create interesting, ever changing, thought-provoking works. I demand that from myself, and that, to some degree, came as a result of appreciating, the complexity of Rush's work.
With Kansas, Renaissance and Kate Bush, I really appreciate the keyboard work. It's nice to hear something now and then where the piano is the featured instrument. I remember the first time I heard Ben Folds' "One Angry Dwarf" on the radio. I was like, "Wow, there's a piano on the radio!" and I cranked it up! As for the other bands, you can feel their music. In a like manner, It's my desire that my listeners feel mine.
Streaming MP3: "One Night at Mozart's"
From his first album, The Tower, with its dramatic, art rock drive, through the quieter and more melodic follow-up records While the Trees Sleep
and The Last Waking Moment, a work based on a vision of mystic Christianity, Mr. Nevue has forged a unified sound and evocative musical voice.
From these past works, Mr. Nevue culled the pieces found on Whisperings, a best of and reintroduction to his ever-growing number of fans. The songs on this disk explore various approaches to theme and emotional expression. "While the Trees Sleep," for example, takes a simple, rolling four note pattern, and develops it into a motif that builds like the rolling waves of incoming tides, getting denser and stronger, before rolling back.
"Home," from another early release, The Vigil, is romantic in the manner of Debussy, but has a touch of Americana, adding a dash of blue emotion to the song's European elegance.
What made you decide to focus exclusively on solo work?
[David Nevue] I was playing keyboards for garage bands during my college years. I enjoyed that very much, but I found more enjoyment and less frustration just doing my own thing. I'm kind of a musical control freak, not to mention an extreme perfectionist, so I don't think I was the easiest to work within a 'band' context. My college roommate introduced me to the piano music of George Winston. That's what really turned me on to the piano. Winston's sound was unlike anything I'd heard before. So, at the age of 20, I sat down at the piano and starting playing with some of my own musical ideas. And that's what I've been doing ever since.
Streaming MP3: "While the Trees Sleep"
Most music that is not strictly designated a "for meditation and prayer" is designed for rapt focus and attention. David Nevue's songs, however, have multiple uses. One can focus on the compositional flow and his technique totally. Or one can have it in the background as you sit in your home or go about everyday chores. You can also lay back and let your thoughts cascade as the music washes over you. After an evening of loud bars and music spaces, this writer has found his CDs Whisperings and Postcards from Germany to be the perfect antidotes to the pummeling intensity and crazed energy of life in the city (and today's pop music).
Your music on these CDs could be compared to George Winston's piano records. But the songs have too much change and movement to be considered New Age. How do you describe or define your style of piano music?
[David Nevue] I would describe my music as "Neoclassical." Basically, what I do is a simplified version of classical music. My compositions, though, are totally melody-driven. Rather than trying to compose something complex and significant, I keep things simple and to the point. I have a musical idea, develop it, put a twist on it, and then wrap up the song.
Streaming MP3: "Home"
Mr. Nevue's musical goal is to evoke more complex, inward emotions. Postcards from Germany, for example, paints pictures of odd, quiet and lovely moments. The title song starts on a simple ostinato figure with a rhythm that has a stridency that evokes the historic, stately feel of Germany.
"Racing the Northern Lights" takes you on a wintery drive in the north country at the early afternoon sunset. Other highlights include "The Kindness of Strangers," a tune that evokes the feelings of gratitude and warmth that only a stranger in a strange land can feel when confronted with need hospitality, the ultra romantic "Castle Hunting" and "Big Snow in Salzburg," his affirmative answer to Debussy's "Snowflakes Are Dancing."
On Postcards From Germany how are the places that the pieces are named after related to the pieces themselves?
[David Nevue] The album, as is probably obvious, was inspired by a trip my wife and I took to Germany and the surrounding areas in 1998. The trip was such an amazing adventure. Germany is a magical place, filled with ancient castles and cathedrals. And the countryside, particular in Bavaria, is simply stunning. There were days my wife and I felt like we were exploring a fairytale world. I just loved it. After we arrived back in the States, I found my mind returning again and again to Germany. I missed it. Before long, I began to put some of my favorite memories to music, trying to capture, in some small way, the moments that made the biggest impact on me. That's how the album, a collection of musical 'postcards', came to be.
Streaming MP3: "No More Tears"
How did you come up with the idea for your book How to Promote Your Music Successfully on th Internet?
[David Nevue] Well, I started promoting my music on the Internet in 1995. When I began to have some success at it, I thought to myself, "Man, I wish someone had shown me how to do all this." So, I thought, why not be that guy? Why not be the person who shows other musicians what works and what doesn't? So, in November 1997 I release the first edition of my book. I just released the Fall 2003 edition and I'm finishing up the 2004 edition now.
Mr. Nevue also has created The Music Biz Academy (www.musicbizacademy.com), an information repository. It is, he says, "an archive of everything I've known and learned about the music business." He covers all aspects of the topic, including music industry news, career opportunities, and a directory of carefully selected resources for independent musicians.
With his spirit-lifting music and his humble, yet authoritative and radical approach to spreading his music, he is a different kind of music figure. And a much needed one. Besides offering his music on his own website, his CDs can be found at MP3.com, Amazon.com. CD Baby, and FaveStreet.
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