Who are you and what is your artist name?
This is a difficult question, so perhaps the only and best thing I can do is copy and paste from my own website:
“David Fedele is an independent documentary filmmaker, musician, composer, explorer, dreamer and incessant thinker, always striving to push boundaries with his art and his thought”.
Not sure I even like or agree with my own words, but that’s the best I’ve got at the moment!
I create and release music under my own name – David Fedele
What’s your background?
Personal background ….. I was born in Australia, the grandchild of economic migrants from Southern Italy (Calabria), who migrated to Australia just before and after WWW II, in search of a “better life”.
So – I am 100% Australian, and my blood is 100% Calabrian.
After finishing high-school, I studied “Property and Construction” and “Planning and Design” – working for 15 years in the construction and property development industry.
I guess this was my “destined path” ….. which I decided not to follow.
I started piano lessons when I was five years old, in my first year of primary school. My parents enrolled me in something called “Piano Lab” – at my school we had an old caravan that had been converted into a permanent “piano laboratory” (pretty wild idea when I think about it, especially for the early ’80s) …. Where the piano teacher would sit at the front of the caravan, and the notes she played would be seen on a screen at the front of the caravan. Then the students had their own electric piano each, and we would learn in this way. There were perhaps …. 10 to 15 electric pianos (and students) in the caravan during the class, if my visual memory is still correct.
I played piano up until I was around 11 years old (still in Primary school) …. When I started to get really stressed and anxious about my lessons (I’d moved from “Piano Lab” to private one-on-one lessons by then) …. Stressed about making mistakes, stressed about not practicing enough (we had to keep a book in which we showed to our teacher each week, how much we practiced each day) …. It stopped being fun, and …. I quit.
I had an amazing teacher at my High School, a really inspiring guy – who was also a piano teacher. So I started lessons again at his house when I was around 15 for a year or so.
I studied music in my final year of high school, and played keyboards in a cheesy band called “Jester” during my high-school years …. Playing mainly Bon Jovi and Van Halen covers. This continued into my 20’s, then just …. As things do, kind of “stopped” ….
I stopped playing piano, and doing anything with music, for a long time – until about ten years ago, when I consciously “re-connected” with music, and specifically the piano, again.
And …. Here we are 🙂
Music has always been part of my life. Whenever I traveled in my 20s I always took a small traveling guitar with me, and I have also collected quite a number of weird and wonderful instruments from around the world in my travels …
I’ve done a lot of different things in my life, permanently restless …
- Interesting footnote – I’ve recently re-connected with my very first piano teacher from Piano Lab, via Facebook! She’s almost eighty years old now, and …. still teaching music and piano lessons.
She remembers me as the student who ….. came one day to piano lessons, telling her that I didn’t want to play classical music, but instead wanted to play the music of Billy Joel. She didn’t even know who he was, so had to do her own homework to discover his music!
How has your practice change over time
The biggest change has been when I bought Ableton a few years ago, and begun teaching myself the very basics of music production.
Up until then, I had released a few albums of solo piano, but just done in Garageband, using it solely as a software to capture my MIDI and turn it into sound.
I had zero idea about music production – I’d never even heard of a plugin or a VST, and I wasn’t really interested or thinking about how something “sounded”. It was very, very, very basic – embarrassingly so!
Now, I am just as concerned in the “production” of music, as the composition, arrangement, etc.
This is a HUGE shift in thinking – to consider how something “sounds”, rather than just purely considering the composition and arrangement.
The strange (and terribly disheartening) thing is that …. The more I learn about music production, the better my skills become, the better I get at song-writing and composition …. The LESS people are listening to my music!!!
Actually, to add to that …..
Everything changed for me (musically and otherwise) exactly 4.5 years ago, when I went to Boom Festival in Portugal …. And really experienced electronic music (and some other things) for the very first time.
I’d never understood electronic music at all up until that point …. But on one particular balmy night, in amongst thousands of people on an outside dance-floor, with life and electricity pulsing through my veins (substance assisted) …. With eyes closed for eight hours, opening them only as the sun began to rise …. It all began to make sense ….
What music genre do you most identify with?
Right now, and in the past few years, I have been mainly listening to, and composing what is commonly called Neo-Classical (or Modern Classical) music, though I’m not in love with this term.
I really became obsessed in the last couple of years in combining classical and orchestral music, with electronic music. To really exploring how different genres can come together to create emotional soundscapes.
I guess deep down – I am interested in music that makes me “feel” something, regardless of the genre. That moves me emotionally, and sometimes even intellectually.
The more melancholic, the better.
I also deeply love cinematic and soundtrack music … I guess for these same reasons.
I only recently realised that …. I pretty much only listen to instrumental music, without words or lyrics. It was a strange realisation, to understand that I live in this “instrumental” world of music, but … the vast majority of people on this planet do not! And in this, there are actually many similarities between the world of classical music, and electronic music.
It’s a very, very interesting thing to think about on a deeper level, why instrumental music can be so moving, yet …. It’s not commercial nor widely-listened to.
Yet it really can create a soundtrack to ones’ own life, make them confront themselves in ways that music with lyrics can not.
Making the listener a more “active” participant in the musical experience …. Where they are not led by the artist in what they should think and/or feel by the music ….
And here-in may lie the answer – Perhaps people are not ready to be confronted with themselves, and their own reality, and the reality around them, in this way!
I’m also very interested in traditional music and ethnomusicology – the way that music has been a part of every culture that ever existed ….through traditional ceremonies, rituals, rites of passage, etc.
What themes do you pursue?
I don’t pursue themes in my music, at least not actively or consciously …
I would say that most, if not all of my music comes from a place of “melancholy” – but again, this is not a conscious choice.
I recently realised that ….. of all of the music I have composed and released, there would only be just a small number of songs that are in a “major” key. I basically compose (and listen to) music in a “minor” key – perhaps this is a reflection of my own inner world.
I am actually envious when I hear artists/musicians talking about …. A “story” that they are telling through their music, that they are actively creating a piece of music to tell a particular story. Even when musicians describe that their music is a musical representation of a painting, a landscape, a discussion, a life experience ….
Personally – I see music, and my compositions – as purely musical. Made up of musical elements, almost building blocks, that come together to create a piece of music.
In saying that – I am absolutely attempting to take the listener on a “journey” – but not to tell a story. For me, this is a very distinct difference.
For me, composition is all about “choices” – not so much what you include, but more-so what you leave out.
And I think that this is also why I would describe my music as rooted in minimalism.
So perhaps themes could be melancholy and minimalism – but again, not actively or consciously.
I am also very interested in the role of repetition in music, which has the ability to induce trance states and altered states of consciousness, and also almost “hypnotise” the listener.
The more I create and the more I think about this ….. I almost see the role of the artist as a “conduit” rather than a “creator”, almost like …. Everything that will be created already exists, or more correctly, it’s potential already exists … and the most important thing that an artist can do is to “get out of the way” of whatever creative inspiration is flowing in the moment.
I’m not a believer necessarily in “God” or “the Devine” …. But …. These thoughts definitely do challenge me to think more deeply on these topics.
What’s your scariest experience?
Being arrested in Morocco by the Moroccan military and police while making a documentary in 2013. It’s the first and only time I felt my entire body tremble, without being able to control myself.
What’s your favourite art work?
That’s unfortunately too broad a question for me to answer here …. Pass. 🙂
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
The first thing that comes to me is …. I like to do boxing training, and last year there was a guy who started training at the boxing gym where I go.
He was over-weight and very unfit … and I remember watching him severely struggle through his first training session, to the point of absolute exhaustion, not even able to lift himself off the floor for one more push-up … and I was thinking to myself …. “This guy will never come back”.
But – He kept coming back. And he never gave up.
And little by little, with my own eyes, I witnessed this guy improve week by week. With a total grit and determination to never give up.
I think you can’t help but be inspired by this attitude. Whenever “I” think of “giving up”, I like to remember moments such as this, which inspire me to continue.
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Ha! The first thing that comes to mind is ….
I was traveling in Papua New Guinea, and was in the capital Port Moresby, which is known to be quite a dangerous city.
I befriended a group of teenagers at the hotel where I was staying, and they accompanied me around the city …. Which made me feel quite protected.
It was a hot day, and when I asked what they wanted to do – they wanted to go to the public swimming pool.
None of us had anything to swim in, but next to the pool was a second-hand-clothes store …. So I bought them all a pair of shorts to swim in, and a pair for myself. Only problem was that … I couldn’t find a pair of shorts that fitted me properly, all were too tight …. But I bought the best fit, and off we went to the pool ….
So here I am, the only white guy, in a huge pool with hundreds of locals …. Fair to say, I was a bit of a novelty …
I lifted myself out of the pool and sat on the edge of the pool with my legs still in the water …. And then realised that everyone was pointing and laughing at me, but I had no idea why ….
So I asked one guy to tell me what was going on, and he swam up to me and said … “David – We can see your balls …!”
I looked down horrified, and realised that …. Unbeknown to me, I’d split my too-tight shorts almost in two, and was unwittingly exposing myself to hundreds of locals, who thought it was hilarious.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Wow, too many to list. But I’ll give it a go, from my first job up until now (though I’m sure I’ll miss a few) …
Butcher’s clean-up boy, barista, waiter, lawn-mower, landscape gardener, construction manager, project manager, contract administrator, cafe owner, office fit-out contractor, documentary filmmaker (self-employed), barman at a classical music venue, front-of-house at the same classical music venue.
I’ve never actually had a job as a musician!
Music has been a huge part of my life since I can remember. I guess it’s just one of the things that come together to make me who I am.
Music has ways to touch me that other art forms, and ways of communication, can not.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I’m always humbled whenever I receive any sort of feedback or comments about my work.
Even though I often complain about music platforms today, the truth is that it’s never been easier to create and share our creations, and in the same way, never been easier to send and receive messages from people.
Personally – this is the one thing that keeps me creating, knowing that music and reach, and touch people in ways that really are quite magical and mystical.
To demonstrate this, here is one incredible message (edited) I received recently:
“Hello David. I heard your song, New Dawn, for the first time on Monday, January 2nd…just 6 days after I was blessed enough to receive a kidney transplant from my son-in-law, Stewart.
Upon hearing this song, I walked out to kitchen while crying like a baby, to have my wife listen to it.
I’ve listened to it probably 20 times since then, as it just really helps me connect with all of the various emotions running through me after receiving this incredible gift that will add another 15-20 years to my life, or longer.”
Receiving messages like this, continues to remind me that art will always have a place in our world, and music specifically can connect people deeply with emotions and feelings in ways that words alone cannot.
There is a very special universality about music, that connects people – that can cross borders, cross cultures, cross politics and religion and world-views, without needing to rely on language.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
I’m not sure I’ve ever been really artistically inspired by food …. But perhaps I just need to think more about this ….
Drink … I’ve spent quite a number of nights over the years alone with my electric piano and a bottle of red wine …
And I’ve been inspired by far too many songs to narrow it down to one …
What do you like about your work?
I would like to answer this in the opposite way, which is much easier for me. What I DON’T like about my work? The fact that it requires so much time on a computer, so much time inside, the required relationship with online platforms, with social media, with (self) promotion, with …. Well, you know – all the stuff that really is not “musical” or creative or artistic in any way …
What makes you angry?
It doesn’t take much to make my Southern Italian blood boil unfortunately.
I would say what makes me most angry are the injustices I see around the world, the suffering of others caused by exploitation and greed and ignorance.
An also discrimination and racism … which too-commonly go together with my previous sentence.
I’m also angered by the way we are destroying this planet that we are on, living as is there are finite resources (which there are not), with little or no regard for the future, and future generations.
What superpower would you have and why?
The ability to just click my fingers, and magically create a world of equality, justice, peace, love, empathy and harmony.
Name something you love, and why.
The unconditional love and support from my family. Without this …. I’m quite sure I …. Well, I don’t know where I would be today without this.
Name something you hate, and why.
See my answer above about what makes me angry.
What is your dream project?
Again, too many to note here.
But musically – one thing I would like to do, is move from “electronic” and “virtual” instruments, to “real” instruments, particularly the piano.
To date, all of my piano music has been created using VSTs and a computer. And for many, many reasons, I am finding this is very unsatisfying.
I would love to record music in the future with a “real” piano, that would be a big thrill for me.
But I live a relatively nomadic lifestyle, and I don’t even have a “real” piano myself …. So perhaps it will stay as a dream.
In the past 18 months I have begun a collaboration with an incredible musician from Poland, Antonina Car, which has inspired me greatly. Both in the creation of music, and also the potential for collaboration.
For the first time in my life, I have been able to work with a musician and artist who … has the ability to take my music to new levels – both by the professional playing of string lines that I “hear” in my head, that accompany my piano, and also …. In using her own creative freedom and expression to create string lines that complement my music in a way that I could never imagine.
I generally work alone in all of my creative projects, so this collaboration has really opened up my mind to the potential of collaboration – as long as you find the “right” person to collaborate with, and I can say that my collaboration with Antonina is pretty much perfect in every way.
The crazy thing is that …. We’ve never actually met each other in real life! All of our contact has been “virtual”, and all of the music we have created together has been played and recorded in our own “spaces” – with me in Australia and Portugal, and Antonina in Poland. I guess it’s also a dream, to meet and play music together in the same space!
So I guess I’m also working on one of my dream projects…. Thanks for making me realise this!
Name three artists that inspires you
I am inspired by so many people, that are doing, and have done, so many things over the years. Challenging the way we view the world, and
Musically, I would say in the past years I have been most inspired by Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds, Hania Rani, Yann Tiersen, Poppy Ackroyd, Jon Hopkins, David August.
And though I’m not classically trained, nor have a deep understanding of the world of “Classical” music …. I am also hugely inspired by the music of Chopin and many of the other great classical composers. And particular pieces by artists such as Arvo Pärt, Albinoni, etc ….
And how can listening to Pavarotti as he sings the climax to Nessun Dorma not move you to tears?!
I’m also highly inspired by the film work of Vincent Moon – A French, nomadic sound-explorer …. His work is too difficult to put into words, but I highly recommend spending time discovering his work, all available freely online.
Shit – just realised you asked for three. Sorry!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
That’s interesting to think about ….
Rather than “best”, I’d like to share the most recent and relevant advice I have received in the past days, when thinking about a current musical project I’m working on …. From the classic song “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.
Specifically the chorus:
“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, and know when to run.
You never count your money, when you’re sittin’ at the table,
There’ll be time enough for countin’, when the dealing’s done”
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I never view things through a “professional” lens.
My goal is to live and create and share as authentically as possible, as difficult as that is at times.
It’s ALL about “authenticity” – So much so, that I recently had this word tattooed on my own body!
What wouldn’t you do without?
At the risk of sounding cliché …. Whenever this question comes up in conversation, by answer is “music”.
Music in all of its forms. I don’t mean formal or commercial music, but ….
Music has accompanied me through so many of my life journeys and experiences. Both the good and the bad.
I couldn’t imagine a life without music.