SARASOTA – It didn’t take New Jersey native David J. Irvine long to decide he had found his home.
“A musician friend of mine, originally from New Jersey, was relocating to Sarasota, and my wife and I were going to move to Texas and try life in Austin,” Irvine recalled. “Then we came down to Sarasota to visit our friend, and we fell in love with Sarasota that weekend.”
It was a very fast love affair, he added.
“And we bought a house in Sarasota that weekend,” he said. “Then we went back and sold my home in New Jersey. We said, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? We can always sell the house and move back.’ “
That was a decade ago, and Irvine has never regretted the move to the Sunshine State.
“I’ve been down here for 10 years now, and we love it,” he said. “I’m so glad we moved to Sarasota. They’re real big in the arts and film and music, and the arts in general here. It’s really a breath of fresh air.”
That’s also the perfect location for a composer and performer like Irvine, whose new album, “Altered Diction,” has generated a lot of buzz with his mix of classical, Jazz fusion, and R&B songs. Available on Whole Records, “Altered Diction” is the latest work of a singer and composer who got his start listening to the Beatles and the guitar playing of Jeff Beck, and decided early on that music was going to be his future.
“I originally grew up in New Jersey, but my dad was a Marine so we really kind of lived all over the place,” Irvine said in an interview with Freeline Media
. “His last post was in Hawaii, but we wound up moving to New Jersey when I was 14, so my critical years were in New Jersey.”
It was much earlier, though, that Irvine developed a passion for music.
“That goes back to when I was probably five or six years old, when my mom had gotten a piano into the house, and I was drawn to the piano first,” he said. “I had a desire to play it and learn it. Then I started playing guitar when I was 9, and I was always playing music in bands. Some of my earlier influences were probably the Beatles and Jeff Beck, and I remember when I was 14 or 15, I started getting into bands like Rush and Van Halen and the hard rock bands popping up at that time.”
But he also developed a love for Jazz, and between that and listening to the amazing guitar work that Beck was recording, Irvine began teaching himself how to experiment with the guitar and find new ways to create electric sounds.
“I think that when you first start learning, it’s all about imitation, so you’re learning about who your idols are, and for me that was guitar players like Jeff Beck,” he said. “I listened to the things they were able to do with their instruments, and in those days, it was imitation first to learn how they played what they did.”
He discovered eight different ways of tuning his guitar – and eight different paths to take in exploring his own developing sound, he added.
“It kind of frees you up of all the stuff you’ve learned in music, and you’re left with an instrument that’s kind of new, and your melodies sort of take you where you’re going,” he said. “You don’t feel the structure of where a standard guitar and the normal progressions would go.”
After high school, Irvine started playing regularly in New Jersey and on the East Coast.
“I had a Jazz band,” he said. “I was really into Jazz then. I had a three piece Jazz band and we did banquets and the occasional weddings and corporate shows and that type of light Jazz. We were three-piece. At the same time I was doing original music, solo acoustic for piano.”
Eventually, though, he decided to head off on his own.
“The thing with the band was it’s always difficult,” he said. “It seems in the band situation, there’s always egos and everyone being the chief, and I kind of got tired of the band concept when I was in my early 20s and said I needed to be on my own. Then I can be the solo artist type where you’re calling the shots. I never liked the idea of having the same guys all the time. I liked the freedom of not having the band politics where I could really do exactly what I want to say musically. That’s kind of what pushed me into the love of being a solo artist and solo composer, where I have all the control.”
Although he loves composing and recording his music, Irvine said live performances still are critical for any musician.
“The live shows are important,” he said. “You do sell a lot of albums at the live shows, more than anywhere else. It’s interesting. The record companies have basically collapsed, which is a good and a bad thing. So the artist now, it’s sort of expected that you have to have your hand in everything, so the artists now have to be able to produce their own music, and record their own music.”
But Irvine, who has also studied software development, said computers play a much greater role in the recording of music today than ever before.
“Computers, 20 years ago, were tools in the studio for some basic accessories,” he said. “Now they’re the key compenent where the quality is so good that the artists with a certain investment can make pretty good recordings. It’s been great, the advance in the technology.”
Another great advance, he said, has been the popular explosion of social media sites like Facebook, combined with a video site like Youtube, which allow artists like Irvine to post their music and reach audiences worldwide in a matter of seconds.
“It’s very exciting, with the way that is,” he said. “I’m always amazed if I get someone on Facebook from Dubai who found my music and likes my page. That always blows me away.”
Now that his new album is out, Irvine is heading back on the road for a tour that will take him back him to the Northeast.
“I’m going to have a summer tour starting early June, and Nashville is the first show,” he said. “I’ll be going north and playing up in the northeast.”
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