David Patrick Carter
Solitary, unique, honest and shy, David Patrick Carter writes about life and about himself. Inspired by the likes of The Beatles, Rachmaninov, Cyndi Lauper, Jules Holland and Jack Johnson, Carter took up the guitar at the age of six (he was so small he had to play it on his lap!). Having studied music in Leeds, he moved to London in his twenties to play on the tube and the streets of London. From there to venues such as The Warrick, Piccadilly or Monkey Chews, playing solo and in studio bands, rock and roll bands and even in a big band. We met up with him at a crucial moment in his life and he told us his story.
Q: What made you write your first song at thirteen?
A: I had my heart broken (laughs). It was a very sad song. It was called Tear Drops.
A: A venue. When I played on the underground things were different. Now you have to take an audition and get a pass. Before you’d just go, jump over the barriers, find a pitch and just play. It’s quite competitive since you can earn quite a lot of money doing it. Generally people just pass by. Most musicians play covers but I’ve always been adamant to play my own music, which meant I didn’t earn as much.
Q. What did you gain from playing on the underground?
A. Experience. Also coming to terms with the fact that most people aren’t particularly interested (laughs). I also met some brilliant musicians; saxophonists, violin players, drummers, guitarists, most of them living on the street. I also gained my root into some of my darker history, taking drugs and drinking quite excessively. It’s part of my life and those experiences have fed the songs I’m writing now.
Q: What’s the difference between the audience here and in the UK?
A: The difference here is me. I’m in a totally different place. In London there’s masses of talent and it’s incredibly competitive. In Spain and Cape Town I’ve experienced people who actually listen to what I’m trying to express and have really gotten into the tracks. In Spain people have been more excited about my material because generally I’m enjoying life and that comes through in the music. It’s hard in London when you’re playing from club to club to club, on and off the tube, just trying to survive.
Q: What are you hiding in your songs?
A: I’m not hiding anything. My lyrics are stories about people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learnt, the joys, smiles and laughter… A lot of positive stuff. In 2005 I wrote an album called 13 steps to recovery which is a very sad album. Now I’m writing about having a new life and starting again.
Q: What kind of emotions do you hope to provoke in your listeners?
A: I think people who listen to my music feel an intimacy and honesty in the lyrics. There’s a lot of love.
Q: Do you think sadness is the best inspiration?
A: Sadness has been the predominant inspiration for a lot of my songs. Right now my lyrics are about contentedness and satisfaction with what life is dealing me. I look back at where I was a year ago and it’s a miracle.
Q: Do you turn into another person when you sing?
A: I used to feel I needed to. Sometimes I still do. I’m programmed to think that I need to be someone else when I sing. That I need to take a substance to allow me to be able to perform. I spend time before gigs trying to rest my thoughts; to stop and settle within myself. The better I do that, the more honest the performance will be. I visualize the entire set and the results are incredible. It brings confidence in the delivery of the words.
Q: Is your guitar a shield against the world?
A: I’ve always used the guitar or music as a way of comforting myself and defending myself from the evils of the world. It’s a defensive wall.
Q: In Starstruck you sing “Lost my love, found my life”. What do you mean?
A: The mother of my children. The break-down of our relationship. It’s a song of hope written whilst in recovery from my addiction. Unfortunately I’ve lost our relationship, but I’m sure we’ll find a newfound intimacy as parents that we never knew when we were together.
Q: What was your addiction?
A: I was an addict to drugs, alcohol and other means to change my mood. It got to a point when my life was spiraling out of control. I lost pretty much everything. So I decided to stop and get myself into recovery.
Q: Why did you choose Africa for your rehabilitation?
A: I chose Africa because the centres in the UK are more expensive. I always thought that Africa would play a major part in my life at some point. When the opportunity came up I saw it as a sign. I didn’t really know what I was getting into. It was mad.
Q: How would you sum up that experience?
A: Life changing.
Q: What’s the best path to make it in the music world?
A: I don’t think there is one. You’ve just got to follow your heart. You’ve just got to follow what you feel is best and keep writing what comes from inside and surely life will deliver. I’m writing better stuff than I’ve ever written and letting life unfold in front of me rather than forcing life to unfold the way I want it to. Expectations are premeditated resentments.
Q: How have myspace, facebook and youtube helped you?
A: I’ve produced seven independent albums. Myspace, facebook, beboo… they help me promote my songs in my own time with a limited budget. That gives me a lot of power. I’ve sat down with Sony, EMI, BMG - the big boys - and they basically say that they can’t do much because their infrastructure is too big and record sales are plummeting. If you want to do it alone, and you’ve got passion and the talent, the Internet gives you all the applications to do it yourself.
Q: Any projects in the pipeline?
A: I’m concentrating on an acoustic set called The sunset sessions. I want to create a minimal and mobile product that travels easily.
Q: Would you like to play us something?
A: When I was in the rehab centre in Cape Town, I started plucking some chords inspired by the Beatles track Across de Universe. When I was halfway through writing it, I flew to Malaga to meet up with my wife for the first time in two years. It was a massive moment in my life, because it was about moving forward and accepting the past. I picked up the kids and drove up to Granada. With the kids jumping up and down on the beds I finished writing Starstruck with people walking through the courtyard below wondering where my voice was coming from. Some people think it’s a sad song but it’s not, it’s a positive, hopeful song. (Starts to play)
I was working with a girl in South Africa and she said I always have my head bowed, like I’m apologizing for playing. And she was right. It’s really strange, but I feel like I’m not worthy to play this guitar. It’s amazing.
• David Patrick Carter sings Starstruck for Tertulia Andaluza
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- • Vaedratec ® 2005 Thirteen Steps to Recovery. Strange Pills (Se puede comprar en itunes)
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