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DAVID BRIDIE: Studio 22 Interview
Interviewed by Clinton Walker

CLINTON: David Bridie welcome to Studio 22
DAVID BRIDIE: Thanks Clinton

CLINTON: It took a while to make a solo album, why so?
DAVID BRIDIE: I guess circumstance more than anything, I was very happy playing with Not Drowning Waving all those years, and that was a great band, and then Chocolate Cake from there… as well as dipping my toes in producing and film soundtrack stuff… and it wasn’t really until about four years ago that I thought, wow, you know, that’s something I could sink my teeth into, and maybe there was a little bit of… afraid’s probably too strong a word, but just that fear of going out on your own, I quite like the camaraderie of a band. But once I got into doing the solo record, I really enjoyed it, and I’d go so far as to say it’s probably the most enjoyable record I’ve had… I’ve been involved in making, and it’s just the freedom and sort of backing your judgement, going all the way with it.

CLINTON: Also, getting a record deal with a big record company, that play a part in it?
DAVID BRIDIE: EMI are really supportive, I mean, Not Drowning were with Warners and Reprise over in the States and, the Cake were with Mushroom, so they’re, I mean they’re biggish… The actual making of the record, the record company it’s less involved in that, maybe… once the record comes out.

CLINTON: What do you call the music, I mean Not Drowning Waving is sort of labelled a sort of World Music sort of thing do you have a label you could slap on what David Bridie does?
DAVID BRIDIE: No, look, you know, piano based songs with slow grooves and a lot of textures and, there’s not a real label for it, like Not Drowning waving were kind of, I mean the World Music stuff came when we did the PG things, but, before that we were making sort of fairly atmospheric stuff, then it got quite percussive and rocky in parts towards the end, and there’s just a whole gamut of different musical styles too that’s on Act Of Free Choice, and no, it’s a hard… it’s contemporary music. If that means anything.

CLINTON: But, you know, it’s moody and atmospheric if you could say that, but it’s also song based, so you obviously have, a real determination to remain rooted in a song.

DAVID BRIDIE: Yeah, I think the song, they’re songs that work with atmospheres and slow grooves and textures and I mean this record probably went further down the road of using you know, non musical sounds layering them, in the background more so than before, but yeah, when it gets down to it, they’re songs with simple chords.

CLINTON: How did you make the transition from making that record to going on stage, what we’ve seen tonight. Record created I guess very much in the studio and layering, and then taking it onto the stage.
DAVID BRIDIE: We sit down a fair bit with Michael, Phil and Chris who are the band - we’ve done three tours now, and the first tour we were kind of thereabouts but the second and third tour I think we were kind of right into the groove with it, and it was a matter of, you never want… you can’t reproduce a record live, and it’s a totally different environment, everything’s so immediate, and it’s a record that’s very layered up, it wasn’t a record that we recorded the drums and bass and guitar and keyboards at the same time. So we were doing versions of those songs live, but we kept a lot of the loops and a lot of the sounds that lay underneath the songs, and prepared to kind of take them wherever they’re going to go live, so, yeah, it wasn’t that difficult at all.

CLINTON: Do you sort of jam through that, and sort of play through it?
DAVID BRIDIE: A little bit, we’re not sort of, you know, sort of great improvisers, it’s all, pretty worked out, although there are sections and songs where you can sort of, take it to the river, as they say. But we’ve been really enjoying the live playing, I’ve been really enjoying it, especially after Chocolate Cake which is such acoustic affair - and so to have Phil’s guitar bleeding in my ears and - Michael is such a, you know, he’s just such a sensational drummer, and he, I think he, the songs that I write, I write to suit his style of playing as well, so, yeah it’s been that camaraderie thing that I feared not having in a solo performance. It feels like it’s a band with my name on it.

CLINTON: Does that mean if as a solo artist you would go on to another record you could do it in a format like this with a band that is yours and, that would mean a different sort of genesis of music wouldn’t it?

DAVID BRIDIE: I would like to keep the best of both worlds actually. I’d like to sort of still have the freedom to work, you know, to follow a song through in my own head, to the end, but I think Phil and Chris and Michael are the players to be the core group of players to work through those songs with, I guess we’ll cross that when I get to the next record.

CLINTON: Your stuff’s often praised for this sense of place it has, it does have that, how and why is that?

DAVID BRIDIE: I come from Australia. Oh, you write songs about where you are, and what you know, what’s important to you, look, I love getting out of cities you know, and maybe that’s because I was born in the suburbs. There’s some feeling you get when you go sort of, outback or go in the country and it’s a pretty bloody glorious country getting out there, and, I like the fact that when you’re, when you are outback your sense of self is kind of reduced completely. Living in the cities and especially working in the music industry, it’s pretty kind of, you know, self indulgent at times and so landscape’s sort of something that in there? but, also, I’m a fairly political being, for social justice reasons rather than the football side of Labor’s gonna beat Liberal, which they are, at the next election. It’s more about? oh look when I was trying to? when I was first playing music and not making any money out of it, the job I had was working at community services in Victoria and that really opened my eyes to a lot of things, working with people who were fantastic, really committed to social change, really committed, and they’re earning shit house wages but, yeah, really enjoying their work and putting their heart and soul into it and, that changed a lot of things for me, that was a, I was quite inspired by working with those people and working with the, you know, the recipients of the welfare, whatever the terminology is for it? So that really opened my eyes to stuff, and then, producing Archie Roach’s record - Archie taught me a whole lot of bunch of, a whole lot of stuff - working with George up in Papua New Guinea - you learn from these people and as a suburban boy from Melbourne to sort of go to Rabaul and, you’ve just got your eyes wide open, and yeah that comes back in the songs that’s the stuff that draws an emotional response.

CLINTON: Is it that, that sort of fantasisation that you’re talking about? I sense it as more inclusive, and it’s something that I like about what you do, is that there’s no brow beating kind of stuff. Do you prefer the idea of suggestion, perhaps that’s the way to put it.
DAVID BRIDIE: I think that works better within the art form that’s music, but I also think for someone who’s listening if they get drawn into it, their response will be better, it’s more, you’re more likely to draw them into it if people can make the response themselves - maybe that’s going to lead them into, you know the social action that’s required better. Although, you know look, it’s all just part and parcel of a whole bunch of things - I think songs about an issue work with a newspaper article, work with somebody else doing a film and it’s all, you know, these little layers that in the end, are, become this social force if that’s not too kind of didactic or whatever.

CLINTON: Perhaps it’s related and, just to finish up, I mean, put it in more musical terms, one certain thing that impressed me about seeing you is you’re ability not to play rather than to play, this band that sort of lays back so much and doesn’t have to crowd everything.
DAVID BRIDIE: Yeah, I really like that sense of space in a song, and a lot of the artists I like listening to there’s that sense of space there - gives room for the lyrics and the voice to breathe - look I’m not, I’m not a fan of sort of musical showing off, I don’t think that’s an audience thing, I think that’s for players, you know, for other musicians to go wow, that person played thirteen notes in the bar, apart from the fact that I can’t play thirteen notes in the bar, the maths undoes me every time! So, but yeah look, I like that space.

CLINTON: David Bridie thanks a lot.
DAVID BRIDIE: Thanks Clinton, Cheers.

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