Friday, July 01, 2011

Interview with fingerstyle guitarist David Youngman

How did you get started in music?

My dad used to play guitar and sing in church. Both my parents were in band in high school and had their instruments around the house. This led to me joining the school band in 5th grade. A couple years later I started teaching myself guitar with one of my dads guitars and a beginner book.

Where did you study music?
I studied guitar and trumpet performance at Spring Arbor University under Larry Williams and Mark Garberich and have a B.A. in Music Performance. I also spent two years after college studying privately with a great Classical guitarist from Ann Arbor, Brian Roberts.
How long have you been performing professionally?
I started performing professionally in high school. I played in a jazz trio doing bass guitar and trumpet. We did weddings and private parties. Since then I've been in a variety of groups playing around Michigan.

When writing new music what inspires you?
I find the greatest inspiration in writing music is God. This last year I completed a piece called "Life, Death, & Life" that told the story of Jesus. In researching the story and what Jesus means to me, God revealed some amazing things to me and when I shared the piece for the first time on Easter Sunday this year (2011) I was overwhelmed by God's love and power. It is very hard to explain because I'm almost not thinking anything when I'm playing this piece but I'm lost in this unknown feeling. By the end of the piece I am overjoyed that God has forgiven me and has an amazing plan for my life. I wasn't sure how this piece would translate to an audience but I was pleasantly surprised that the music communicated what I was hoping it would.
Since doing this piece I have been incredibly inspired for multiple pieces and projects. I guess I'm realizing that when music is about something that really hits home for me, it's likely to do the same for others. I'm learning to be more honest with myself and my music. This includes writing music inspired by my family and friends.

When performing live what can people expect to see and hear?
When you see one guy setting up for a concert and he's got a guitar or two and a microphone, you think he's going to sing some songs in a folk or pop style. I love the reaction of going to a new city and doing this and then I start drumming on the guitar or playing the guitar in ways no one has ever seen. My music is all instrumental. The guitar is my voice. I can do all these cool techniques on the guitar but they would mean nothing if I weren't actually expressing something with the music. So when you come to my concerts I won't just be sitting strumming a guitar, I'll be drumming on it, tapping the strings, using harmonics, and looping layers of sound. Also, I won't be playing simple cute pop songs, I'll be playing music that blends styles of jazz, folk, classical, reggae, funk, bluegrass, and probably some other styles. If you like bands like the Dave Matthews Band or Bela Fleck & the Flecktones you will likely enjoy my music.

You currently are working on a new project tell us about it.
I'm working on my second solo guitar album. The Album will include mostly original music. On my first album I played a lot of beautiful pieces but I was getting more energetic and started writing pieces that are funky and more dynamic. I think this album is getting closer to who I really am as a person and as a musician. It's difficult doing a project like this with a family so I have to record in my home studio when everyone is asleep. This means staying up till 1:00 AM or getting up at 4:00 in the morning to try to get some takes down. I'm really excited about this album and have had a lot of requests for these pieces. I plan to release the Alive album this Fall (2011).

Is it difficult being your own producer?
I have a very strong vision for my projects and just prefer to do things on my own so that I get things exactly how I want them. Since I'm only recording myself on solo guitar, the recording setup and process is fairly simple. I like having the studio right at home so that I don't feel the time crunch. I've been in studios before where you either are staying up really late because you only have that day to record, or you are constantly watching the clock and your wallet for studio time.
You recently built a home recording studio, was it a difficult process?
I really don't like building things but I've built a lot of stuff in my studio and for my concerts because no one makes exactly what I want. And the other big thing is, I can build it cheaper than I can buy it. I think the hardest part with the studio was planning how to soundproof and set up all the acoustics for the room. There are a lot of options and I had to work with the room and budget that I had. There is a detailed description of the studio on my website under the Blog page if you want to read more on this.

You play multiple styles of guitar technique which do you prefer the most?
Oh boy. I like whatever feels right at the time and situation. I recently played at a wedding reception where I was ready to play some beautiful pieces that were kind of slow but I thought were going to fit the atmosphere really well. But very quickly I recognized that the style was not fitting the atmosphere and had to switch to some more upbeat lively pieces. I guess I just like music to be a part of where I'm at. This is why I do so many styles. Sometimes I want sophistication, sometimes I want simplicity, sometimes I want looseness, sometimes I want more structure, etc. I just love music and how it can be integrated into life so perfectly. I think Beethoven had it right in saying that music is the voice of God. I know this could lead to all sorts of debate but I have seen amazing power through music and believe it is a common wayl for God to communicate with us.

Thank you for your time

Thanks Paul