Stuart Davis, a man of many hyphens (writer-director-actor-comedian-songwriter) with 14 albums out and multiple NPR guest spots, will be playing the early show at The Vaudeville Mews tomorrow, May 17th. Before you head down there for his multi-faceted show, get to know the man behind the many titles. It’s bound to be a good one (his muses include a mix of Bjork, Morrissey, and David Bowie, after all). Show starts at 7pm, tickets are $15 at the door.
Band Bombshell: If you had to describe your sound in three words that begin with a D, what would they be?
Stuart Davis: Devious. Debauched. Divine.
BB: You’re known for a lot of different talents—music, art, comedy (among many others, I’m sure). Do you have a secret to bringing those all into one dynamic package when you perform?
SD: I think the secret is always just the audience, the room. Feeling what’s there that night, and then going with that, letting the spontaneity lead the way. Surprise is the big fun in this gig.
BB: What does it feel like hearing yourself on the radio?
SD: It depends on whether it’s a song or an interview. If it’s a song, it’s fun. There have been a few times this year I heard Beautiful Place on the radio, randomly driving, and that’s a blast. If it’s an interview I usually cringe. In general, I’d rather not hear myself speak, and I think that music (coming from a group of musicians playing as a collective entity) speaks much more eloquently and interestingly than I can.
BB: Where is your favorite place to play and why?
SD: Don’t really have a favorite, it always depends on the audience. People are my favorite destination. My favorite part of this job is just the people I meet and feeling the presence of all these different human beings around the world. That is really an amazing privilege, having your job be predicated on interacting with strangers and anonymous exchanges that involve lots of emotion and spirituality. I never get over that, and am still amazed by it over and over. So I tend to feel more in terms of people rather than places.
That being said, Iowa is full of amazing people, and I have always loved the audiences there.
BB: What’s next on the list for you?
I will finish up 18 months of touring this summer, about 140 shows promoting the new album Music for Mortals. After that, I move to Amsterdam for a year. I’ll be living on a house boat and working mostly in Europe for a year. I’ll be doing a new video series, doing some touring, and writing another screenplay. I will probably come back to the states for a couple short bursts that year, but mostly I’ll be walking around Amsterdam and doing some video and writing.
BB: Where do you think the best local music scene is?
SD: I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this, but I will say that the most vibrant and amazing musical culture I’ve encountered in North America is New Orleans. NOLA really is a different place, and music is religion there. It is a completely different vibe, and music is the primary centerpiece of the whole culture, in a way and to a degree I have never seen anywhere else. And it is ALIVE in a way I have not seen anywhere else. Especially in comparison to the usual list of “music” towns (Nashville, Austin, L.A., NY, etc) New Orleans is so incredibly vibrant and alive and the music is pumping through the bloodstream in a way that is not calculated. The music culture in New Orleans is not about getting a deal, or breaking into the “industry”, etc. It is the expression of this exuberant, sacred vitality that is just so astonishing and singular. There really is no place like it I’ve seen in North America.
BB: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be and why?
SD: Hmm. Maybe Tori Amos. For many reasons. I have profound regard for her as an artist. I have always loved the balance/compliment of female-male, piano-guitar etc. When I’m touring it’s not just about who your favorite artists are, etc. It’s also about what fits well, what is mutually a match, etc, and although I’ve never played with Tori it feels like it would be a good fit.
BB: What advice do you have for local musicians trying to make it big?
I have never made it ‘big’ in my estimation, so I don’t really have any authority there. But beyond that, I wouldn’t recommend trying to make it big. I would recommend trying to make it deep. Try to go as deep as you can into Art, creativity. Art is the most powerful transformative medium on the planet. It is mystery, surprise, spirituality, humor, and sex all integrated seamlessly into one enigmatic party in your body. Make it your master, and be its loyal student, study its puzzles for the rest of your life, and it will invite you into incomprehensible miracles and riddles again and again. Don’t merely settle for some bullshit ascendency in showbiz. That is a seductive distraction, but it is not the jackpot. The jackpot is what waits inside you, creatively, that is completely singular and unique to you the Universe.
BB: If you had one thing to say to try and pull people into the show tomorrow, what would it be?
SD: Dirty hugs.