10 Questions with | David White
David White is a swim coach and songwriter from Bridgewater, NJ. Music has been a huge part of his life since he was three years old. His new full length album 'Pioneer', was released in October, 2022. The album was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered by David. David White's music is classic rock first, but he likes to combine a lot of styles and create what feels right for the picture he's trying to paint. Indie Boulevard was able to chat with David to learn more about the creative process and what it's like to be an indie artist in 2023.
IB: Hi David, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about music and creativity in general. You are a true independent artist: you work as a swimming coach, and in your spare time you devote yourself to music. Tell us how you started your musical journey?
DAVID: Thanks for having me! I played my first song on the piano playing along to Barney as a 3 year old, so you could say it started then. But I started writing and recording music in high school and I've been doing it ever since.
IB: Your second full-length album 'Pioneer' sounds great, like real punk rock. You recorded and mastered it yourself, and that deserves respect. Tell us about the making of the album? What was the most difficult part of the recording process?
DAVID: Pioneer at its core is an album about travel and places. I've always had a travel bug and the pandemic only exacerbated that, so a lot of the songs on the album were inspired by places my wife and I went to the last two years. All of my music is recorded and produced in my apartment, so the hardest part about recording is 1) finding time to record and 2) making sure there's no background noise while I'm recording vocals. Fortunately as a swim coach I have a decent amount of time in the mornings to record, as long as there's not a lot of noise outside.
IB: Your music and your work are your two passions: water and music. Does music affect your work and vice versa? And how music helps you deal with stress at work?
DAVID: I find that coaching and music are both creative outlets, and when I'm feeling a little burnt out from one I will dive into the other. And I think overall having the two passions is great for my stress, because my life doesn't revolve around the highs and lows of just one. I apply my musicianship to my coaching when I talk to the swimmers about their tempo and their technique (like playing a song, you can't learn great swimming technique "a tempo"). Coaching has been great for the music because having a life outside of just songwriting and performing gives me a large pool (pun intended) of experiences to derive my lyrics. And, I also have a large passion for math, which music and swimming have a lot of, so the passions are all symbiotic.
IB: Music opens the soul and shows the true worldview of the artist. What does music mean to you?
DAVID: Music is everything. I've been playing and singing almost as long as I can remember, and if you could read my mind you would always hear a song. I spent my first year in college studying to be an electrical engineer, and between the demands of the coursework and college swimming, I almost had a meltdown not having time to think about music. I can't live without it.
IB: Many independent artists who set out lack motivation and self-confidence. It's a constant struggle, doubts, uncertainty. You have been through it all and you are not going to stop. How have you managed to keep your passion for music? What inspires you to keep making music?
DAVID: I think the doubt and uncertainty about the music never really goes away. I would consider myself a perfectionist when it comes to my music (more-so than as a swim coach), so I don't enjoy performing - I'd only remember the mistakes! Not being a full-time artist keeps the spark alive. I don't have deadlines, expectations, or outside influences telling me to write a certain way, so it keeps the whole process easy-going and stress-free. For the most part, I let the inspiration come to me instead of trying to force it out - I am a better songwriter that way.
IB: Do you play all the instruments on the album by yourself? If so, how did you manage to do it?
DAVID: Yes, all the instruments on the album are played by me. The one exception is the drums, which are MIDI, but I do write all the fills. If I had room for a drum set, trust me I would be playing it! I record one track at a time. I lay down the drums first, then do guitars and bass, and finally vocals. Then I add in drum fills before I start mixing.
IB: You performed with Beyoncé at The Academy Awards and toured around the world with The American Boychoir, playing in different venues. Tell us about this phase of your musical career. Do you plan to go on the big stage in the future?
DAVID: So from 6th through 8th grade I was a member of the American Boychoir School, which was a private school in Princeton, NJ with arguably the best boy choir in the world at that time (sadly the school is no more). During that time I was able to tour across the country and the world singing in churches, schools, and concert halls. And definitely the pinnacle of that part of my life was singing with Beyonce in 2005. That experience gives me a lot of confidence now that I am a good musician and that I am a great singer. I wouldn't say I'm planning on it, but if someone asked me I wouldn't say no right away.
IB: Both albums are pure rock. 'Saturn Return' is dominated by classic rock, 'Pioneer' is more like an unstoppable punk. Which legendary musicians or bands have influenced you?
DAVID: At the root of all my music are the influences from my early years, which are my dad's classic rock CDs (Queen, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen) and Episcopal Church Music (4-part choral works). I also get inspired by the complex rhythms and meters of metal bands like Rush, Mastodon, and Tool, and the dissonant pop hooks of Nirvana, the latter you can really hear on Pioneer I think. This album also has some inspiration from Puerto Rican music - I went in 2021 to take my wife and to visit family, and afterwards wanted to learn more about the music my abuela and abuelo grew up with.
IB: What are your music plans for the future?
DAVID: Well, the Jewish Community Center that I coach for will be having an open mic night next month, which will be my first concert where I perform my own music! Which is a bit daunting but I am excited to play 3-4 songs. Additionally, I also have some more songs written, so in the next year or so I will definitely have another album coming out.
IB: And the last question. What is the most important advice you can give to all indie artists trying to find their way in the music world?
DAVID: We live in a time where everyone has the ability to write, record, and publish their own music, and I think I am the embodiment of that. My advice to other indie artists is to not be afraid to write and share, but be willing to accept criticism. If you have something to say, and you're willing to learn and grow as a songwriter and musician, you will always find someone willing to listen to your voice. So what are you waiting for? Create!