Ladies and Gentleman,
I would like to extend to you this humble invitation: to be among a select few of my listening audience to hear a passage from my latest composition titled ‘Ouroboros’.
‘Ouroboros’ is an album musically unlike any I have recorded previously. It did not make itself known to me in sections, sessions, or moments carved out of the clutter of every day life. It presented itself as the simple question: “Will you follow me?”
Of course I couldn’t say no. I had to follow. What else could I do?
I had nothing with which to record the journey that was taken. The album is merely an attempt to recreate, from memory, the landscapes, the colors, the sights and sounds that were experienced. I only thank God for the vividness of those experiences, and for the ease of their recollection.
I realize that in my invitation for you to listen, I am in fact asking something of you as well; for listening is not a purely passive act. Listening takes effort. To listen is to participate.
There can be no conversation without one who is first willing to listen.
And so I both invite you to, and ask if you might, sit, quiet your surroundings, quiet your mind, and listen as I present to you the question that was first presented to me: Will you follow me?
The roots of music run deeply and Canada has David Newberry sowing a trail of his own. Songs breathing life, weaved from his own journey in uncharted territory. Always a pleasure to be invited into the heart and soul of someone’s deepest thoughts beating in living colour. Replacement Things available now.
– Fresh Independence
Home is where your story begins – please tell us a little about yours.
I just relocated from Vancouver to Toronto. Currently I live in a house with seven other musicians in the Little Italy neighbourhood of Toronto. I have heard it said that there are no musicians remaining in Canada who have not stayed or lived here at some point. I am lucky enough to cohabitate with a few of my favourite musicians, including Rachael Cardiello, James Burrows, and Jaron Freeman Fox. It’s funny because it feels completely normal to me, but whenever I’m explaining day-to-day life in the house to non musicians, they always get a mildly concerned look on their face and try to end the conversation as fast as possible. One day last week there was three amplified, full-band rehearsals happening at once. I cannot recall a single moment since moving in in March in which there was not
How did music find you?
Violently. In 2001 I was living out my life plan of becoming a carpenter when I injured my hand very, very badly on a table saw. It required a few surgeries, and a lot of physical therapy. It was my physiotherapist who suggested that if I dusted off my old guitar and played it more, I could get better faster. And I haven’t looked back. I played mostly in punk bands at the start, but a few years later I snuck into a folk festival in my home town and saw David Francey play. It blew me apart, and really changed my relationship with music. I don’t know if people would call what I do “folk music” anymore, but it was that moment that taught me that whatever style of music you play, it has to start with great songs.
Tell us about Replacement Things and how it came to life…
People tell me its different from my previous records, which I suppose is true, and I think that’s because of the process. It’s the first record I’ve made in a real studio (instead of a barn or a farmhouse or a basement). It’s the first where the band on the record was the band I was using at the time. It’s the first to not be built around acoustic instruments. It’s basically the first time I’ve ever had a plan. The sound of my previous records was always defined by whatever was happening around me at the time – which I loved – but as my luck has improved and I’ve been able to throw a bit more time and money at these things, I had the chance to be a lot more calculated about this one.
It’s also more personal. I’ve always made very outward-looking records, and maintained a pretty serious embargo on putting too much of myself in the songs. I never thought that was my role. I have always considered my job to be holding up a mirror to the world outside, and that’s still there, but I made myself turn the mirror around a bit on this one.
Your favorite lyrics on the album and the story behind them…
Oh man. I don’t know.
“The brick was barely through the glass / The water takes what’s made of sand” from “We Were Honest Once” is a contender.
The song is about taking a big leap that you’re really confident in, and but learning very quickly that it has consequences. If there’s a unifying theme on the record, it’s consequence. Sometimes you throw a brick at a window before you realize that it’s gonna go right through the glass, and sometimes you build the perfect sandcastle before you properly understand how the tide works.
When not making music what might we find you doing…
Mostly I watch baseball and live music. When I say “mostly” I mean “exclusively.” I usually forget to eat as a result.
Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment.
Brandon Flowers from the Killers’ new album “Desired Effect” was my album of the summer. It’s like he remade the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack from start to finish but changed all the words. I have learned to love cheese. The song “Between Me And You” is immaculate. I have always argued that pop music could be smart, and this record proved it to me.
Something fans would be surprised to learn about David Newberry…
I have a masters degree in political theory. Or whatever.
The greatest book ever written is…
Green Grass, Running Water, by Thomas King.
True love is…
What can we look forward to with David Newberry over the coming year…
Work. And great outfits. Hopefully a really sharp haircut, but it’s hard to find the right barber on the road. I’ll be swinging through Western Canada in September, and travelling through Ontario and Quebec in October/November. I have a few EPs in the works that I may try and sneak out there. There are a lot of things in the works right now, but they’re all at that pesky “I can’t tell you about it right now” stage.
It was a pleasure speaking with Jewel whose beauty resonates from the inside out. Her recently penned memoir Never Broken is candid and so graciously offers up the idea that choosing, thinking and being happy is a reality for us all. Accompanying the book is her latest album Picking Up the Pieces that takes you on a journey that blends the thoughts and soul of a young girl with the Jewel of present day. – Fresh Independence
Tell us about your memoir Never Broken…
I’ve often been asked in my life how I went from an abusive background, to moving out at 15, to being homeless, to turning things around. So I set out to talk about those things and answer that question. I knew at 15 when I moved out that girls like me end up becoming a statistic. That statistically a girl like me ends up in an abusive relationship, or on drugs, or in a ditch or on a pole – one of those things. I wanted to beat those odds. I had read a lot of philosophy and I read a lot of nature vs. nurture and I wanted to see if I could re nurture myself if I did not like the nurturing that I had received in my home. So I started on a scientific discovery to see if I could learn happiness if it wasn’t taught in my household. I studied nature and read a lot and I learned a lot and I think the most surprising thing for me in the book to express and talk about, was how being diligent and focused helped me a lot. But I didn’t avoid all the pain that I hoped to. I learned that you can’t avoid pain in life and the thing that kept me safe in life was not avoiding pain, but actually how I handled pain and how I transmuted pain and how it kept me resilient and undamaged from the amount of trauma that I went through in my life. There are very specific things that helped me and I talk about them in case they can help someone else. I wanted to be honest and transparent in the writing so that people could understand and feel what it meant to heal from it, and that it is possible.
You story is a soul filled with character – do you feel you were born with tools already or was it something you had to learn…
Beautiful Small Machines may be synthetic, but they’re not stupid. Caught somewhere between the 70’s, 80’s and deep space, this electro-pop duo (Bree Sharp, Don DiLego) learned about comedy from adult swim and heartache from Philip K. Dick and they’re spewing it all back out at you like a bunch of mandroids on whiskey and psycho-pharmaceuticals. Fun, Sad, Creepy and Clever – Beautiful Small Machines is the retro-future.
Bree Sharp and Don DiLego have had quite the career together. What is the glue that holds you together?
We have a great artistic marriage – Don is the consummate musician/producer, who can play any instrument and hears high hat patterns in his sleep and I’m the lyricist/brash frontman. We both write melodies, so we compliment the other in places where we’re light and then meet in the middle. We hate to admit it because we’re competitive, like siblings, but we’re each really lucky to have the other.
Also, we’ve been working together for so long I’m fairly sure our brains melded at some point.
It’s hardly a choice now – we kind of have our own language. So, if we separate, no one will know what the hell we’re talking about.
I’d say 85 percent of our relationship is repeating movie quotes to each other.
The rest is divided between arguing, softball and spontaneous harmonizing. We’re the Fred and Carrie of the music world.
We check-in with each other multiple times a day via phone or text and no real information is actually exchanged.
Our old band mate likes to call them “nonversations.”
I guess more simply put: We make each other laugh.
“The DJ Stayed Home.” A mystical, gravel roots tone – What was the inspiration behind this Album?
I’ve spoken about this a bit already, but much of the album is written for and about an ex-beau, who left me years ago to pursue a life alone and away from the outside world in general.
He’s not growing his toenails long or anything, but he is definitely a shut-in. It’s so sad because he’s one of the sweetest, smartest and kindest people I’ve ever met and despite our physical, emotional and intellectual chemistry being off the charts, most nights he’d rather be home alone watching the NASA channel or some crap sitcom than be with me — or anyone else.
And, I get NASA. Anyone who knows me knows I got nothin’ but love for science (and science fiction – just listen to the music), but come on, yo – Cryer and Sheen over, time with a real lady you laugh with and like to touch? Ugh. It’s just painful.
2009 was your last release with, ‘The Robots in Love’ – What have you been up to in the last five years? How in this time did you evolve as artists?
First of all, it hasn’t been five years.
That sounds crazy and you must be lying. Secondly, I hope we’re always evolving just by being on the earth and staying open to new experiences. Donnie produced several albums, including one for New York City’s favorite son, Jesse Malin (Dgeneration). I’ve been following acting pursuits and gleefully just guest starred in an episode of “Louie” on FX. My episdode also co-stars Jerry Seinfeld and Victor Garber. Forgive my immodesty, but that’s effin cool, right?! I had the best time and am looking forward to more adventures on screen.
Would you share a story behind one of the songs off the album?
Our cover of ”Paper Planes ”was inspired by a friend and NYC theater performer, Andrew Butler, who sang a country version of the song as a character he wrote, set in the hobo-future.
“Bring Out Your Dead” (whilst seeming like an adorable Monty Python reference) is sadly about the wave of teen suicides that swept through the gay community a while back. L aws discriminating against LGBT equality remind me of the gradual degradation of the rights of Jews right before things went absolutely ballistic in the Holocaust. It’s the “minor” injustices and the accepted prejudices that pave the way for atrocities- like those facing gays in Russia, Uganda and the like- and even the smallest infractions should not be tolerated.
What was one of the biggest challenges you overcame during the making of this album?
Finding chunks of time when Donnie and I were both free.
Beautiful Small Machines is hosting a Dinner Party.
What three Albums are on constant rotation?
Yankee Foxtrot Hotel – Wilco
My Aim is True – Elvis Costello
Mack the Knife: The Complete Ella in Berlin – Ella Fitzgerald
What is on the Menu?
Prosecco cocktail hour
Small bowl of Donnie’s homemade split pea soup
Ridiculous salad with fresh mustard greens, sunflower shoots, purple kale micro-greens, carrot, cucumber, grape tomato, pumpkin and flax seeds with homemade balsamic/garlic dressing
Angel hair pasta, marinara, lentils and spinach
Avocado-based sweet chocolate mousse dessert
Jameson on the rocks all around.
Also, I just decided this is a “key party.“
Four Influential people [past or present] are invited, who is on the Guest List?
Donnie’s two guests:
Lewis Willie Nelson
Breezy’s two guests:
Ok, after reviewing the guest list, it’s no longer a key party, but we will be playing ‘celebrity.’
“The Wretched Sound of City Cars” inspiring lyrics and oh so true.
What could the world use more of?
Thank you :) You like the cigarette line? That’s the one that always makes me smile.
When it comes to what the world needs, I’d have to say compassion, hands down.
The forth smartest and most sentient animal on the planet (smarter than dogs) – pigs – are bred and enslaved by the millions each year. They’re tortured and slaughtered, so we can have bacon. How did we get to a place where everyone is okay with that?
Yeah, I get it – people like the taste of bacon. Cool. But once you know the mass scale suffering you’re contributing to, at some point you have to say, that’s not okay. It’s not okay for me to make another creature’s life sheer misery so
I can enjoy five minutes of mine.
What does the perfect lazy Sunday look like to Beautiful Small Machines?
Coffee, blueberry pancakes morning with Times crosswords and cats. CBS Sunday Morning on the tube.
Later, we take a trip to an amazing yard sale with NPR’s ‘wait, wait, don’t tell me” for the drive. Then, there would be an early evening softball game. (We actually do play – Donnie is short stop and I pitch).
Your dream Marquee would read?
BSM, Louie C.K., Carl Sagan
One Night Only: Music, Comedy and the Cosmos Collide!
All proceeds go to charity
One piece of advice that will always stay with you is…
“Always be yourself, never be phoney and never let ’em see you sweat”- My Dad’s been telling me that ever since I was a little girl. He’s the best.
Also anything the 2000 Year-Old-Man advises, I find to be words to live by.