Hello, David. Your latest album is Walking to Dreamland. What significance does the title hold for you?
Perhaps it is about the idea that fulfillment comes from the journey not from arriving at the destination. We are always focused on what happens day to day, yet unexpected events,moments of emptiness, impact and change our lives. By nature, we bounce back.
The opening track spells it out. “Took a bullet to the heart but it went away. We keep moving on. l’m walking to Dreamland not even five miles gone”.
Can you describe your creative process to us? How does a song go from an initial thought to a complete song?
For me, it begins with an emotion I feel compelled to explore. More often than not, lyrics come first. Writing is a daily discipline for me. I dictate words,phrases,ideas into my phone. When I travel I tend to think in terms of lyrics. ln an overheard conversation, sometimes an interesting use of words will drift up. l write it down.
Later, at the piano, I start applying chords and melody line. I experiment with different rhythms. I have a tendency to use too may words. So at this point in the process I eliminate. As sculpture is the art of taking away, in my song writing unnecessary words are chipped away.
I record rough tracks,play with arrangements. I need to hear what I sound like. Does this song work better with piano or guitar? Drums or no drums? That kind of thing. When I am satisfied I reach out to musicians.
Which artists are the greatest influences for you as a musician?
I tend to favor eclectic, unique songwriters–Elliott Smith,Van Dyke Parks, Leonard Cohen,T-Bone Burnett, Mark Oliver Everett and Tim Easton ( a hard-working Ohio boy) to name a few. The thread that unites them is that each became successful and remained true to the inner voices.
What process do you utilize concerning ordering and the ultimate decision whether to put a track on the album?
For this project five songs were eliminated. Of the ten remaining, sequence was all “feel”. lt seems logical that the track “The Last Word” should have been the last song but that made the universe a little too tidy. I suppose the rule was that if I were listening at one sitting, what would be the most engaging order.
You are releasing videos for Better Off Today and When You Lost Your Situation. What role do you perceive video as having for your music?
For some time, I did not appreciate the power of the video until I invited some friends to go hear a new artist. Before they made the decision to go, the first site they checked was YouTube. That was a learning for me.
The videos inspire me to make music which is more visually creative, to use more imagery in my writing.
Which sort of social media website have you had the best successes with? What about these online services are different from the traditional face to face meeting that musicians traditionally utilize?
Social media is constantly evolving so I find it best to pick grapes from many vines. That said, my goal is always the same–reach real people who appreciate the music.
In the past, I have had success with certain internet radio stations where there is listener involvement. I’ve met many people this way.
But by far, Twitter and Facebook are the best. I invite your readers to check out www.facebook.com/DavidArnMusic . Currently, I find Twitter to be a more vibrant network for making people aware of the music.(twitter.com/David_Arn)
What is different about these online services from traditional face-to-face?
That’s an easy one. Face-to-face is the best way of getting the message across in a memorable way. But social media allows me to continually reach out to people all over the globe. That keeps the juices flowing The potential of that type of interaction often boggles my mind.
Which tracks are your favorite on Walking to Dreamland, and what makes them so?
“When You Lost Your Situation”. I lost someone very close to me by a deliberate drug overdose and I often replay the guilt that more could have been done to prevent it.
Filip Dizdar, a filmmaker for MTV Europe, created an outstanding YouTube video. European model, Nika Ostoic, played the lead and l am grateful she accepted that role because at times in the video she is cast in an unfavorable light. She was wonderful to work with. The video is a perfect marriage to the song.The creative collaboration and visual story really make it come to life.
My other favorite is “Water Lilies”. I love Elliott Smith’s music and this song is in a waltz style he did so well.
How can individuals find samples of your music?
For this, and my previous release (Postmodern Days), songs are streamed on many sites domestically and internationally: SoundCloud, Spotify, iHeart Radio, are the most popular. There are samples on my website www.davidarn.com/
What is the next step for you?
Organic collaboration is my focus for the next album. What I am striving for is musicians in the studio feeding off each others’ ideas and momentum and seeing what develops.
Do you have any final thoughts for NeuFutur readers?
I like NeuFutur. lt is understated and intelligent. I am grateful to be featured here. Thanks, James, for this opportunity.
Thank you so much for your time. Walking to Dreamland comes out on February 1st, 2015. It will be available on iTunes and Amazon MP3.
David Arn Interview