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Myles takes time

by on April 14, 2010
(reposted from

Music: New Brunswick singer-songwriter comes to grips with his burgeoning career on latest release

kate wallace


If there was any doubt before, David Myles’ place on the national music scene is now beyond question.

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The singer-songwriter has been getting lots of exposure lately, both in terms of quality and quantity.

During the Vancouver Olympics, he had a thrice-daily gig, racking up 51 shows in two-and-a-half weeks. Last year, he was judged a winner in the 2009 International Songwriting Competition by the likes of Tom Waits and Brian Wilson; represented New Brunswick in CBC Radio’s Great Canadian Song Quest competition; and was backstage with Lady Gaga and the Black-Eyed Peas at the MuchMusic Video Awards, where he played trumpet for Classified.

Turn Time Off, his latest album, charts, in part, Myles’ coming to grips with his burgeoning career.

In among the pop- and soul-shaded love songs are autobiographical tunes about the kind of artist he wants to be.

“Sometimes you can start thinking about trying to cater to the industry or to radio or whatever,” he says recently from Halifax. “I do try to make songs that audiences like but that is different from me trying to do what I thought the industry would like, that labels would like, that would make me more marketable to a label. That’s not really my thing.”

He has found a role model in Turn Time Off producer Joel Plaskett.

“He’s so fiercely committed to what he thinks is great,” Myles, 28, says.

Long before they went into Plaskett’s tiny Dartmouth studio to record, Myles brought the Halifax pop icon in on the project. Plaskett was instrumental in honing Myles’ original 25 submissions down to the 11 tracks that made the final cut.

“I really wanted to make sure that he was excited about it. I really wanted to feel like he sunk his teeth into it and I wasn’t being too precious about the songs. I wanted him to take control of it, to a certain extent.”

The material came from a wildly productive song-writing period last winter, when Myles was writing a song or two a day, much more than would fit on an album.

The album, Myles’ fourth, is much more planned than previous releases, when he would go straight from playing in his living room to recording in the studio.

This time, he had a touring band to test and refine the songs. Four of the five musicians who played on Turn Time Off accompanied Myles on a tour of England last summer.

They rented a houseboat in a quiet, bohemian part of Amsterdam for four days. They’d practise into the night, taking time from the summer heat to swim in the canal.

“It was a luxury I’d never had, because we really got to go through the tunes … it got us really prepared,” Myles says. “It’s hard to arrange stuff in your head. You can imagine what that piano’s going to sound like, but it really helps to have a piano player there.”

When they went into Plaskett’s studio Nov. 1, “we had much more of a plan than I’d ever really had.”

They recorded on 16-track tape, so, unlike digital recordings where the takes are unlimited, “every choice you make has to be thought out.”

While recording was a process of distillation, part of Myles’ development has been relaxing into a looser writing style.

“I think before I had a tendency to edit before anything happened. I would start a song, maybe get a line, and be like, ‘Hmm, that style of song is not really like me’ so I would stop it.”

This time, he turned his inner critic off and just went for it.

“I would decide after if I liked it or not … I wouldn’t edit before it actually hit the page. And I think that led me to seeing songs in every direction they wanted to be taken in.”

He used to worry about running out of material.

“But I think that was part of what happened last year, a part of what happened when I just said, ‘I’m going to write and write and write, I’m not going to worry about if it’s the last song I ever write … and I just went at it.”

These days, Myles is taking a long view of his career.

“I want to be writing songs for 45 years,” he says.

He’s looking forward to the day when he has decades of songs under his belt, like, say, Leonard Cohen.

“That kind of song catalogue doesn’t exist in a five-year period. It doesn’t matter how prolific you are, it has something else,” he says.

“It has time on its side.”

David Myles performs with P.E.I. singer-songwriter Rose Cousins on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Imperial Theatre in Saint John. Tickets, $15-$24, are available at the box office,, 674-4100. Myles performs at The Playhouse in Fredericton on April 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets, $28, are available at the box office,, 458-8344. He plays at the Empress Theatre in Moncton on April 23 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $20.50, are available at the Capitol Theatre box office,, 856-4379.


From → In the News, Shows

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