Interview: Dave Birk, Creator of Speed Queen Mystery Date, Airs Out His Dirty Laundry
[This is part two of an interview with Dave Birk, a fine singer-songwriter and the creator of Speed Queen Mystery Date, one of the best CDs so far this year. Check out part one here, at perhaps the best powerpop site on the web, Powerpop Overdose.]
5) With the old business model dead (or is it?), where do you see the recording industry going in the next 5 to 10 years?
That’s a great question that my buddy, Mike Michel (Bill Mike Band and Saltee) and I were just discussing last week. It seems that most of radio has a very narrow playlist, which makes it difficult to break out via that engine. And, the record companies haven’t changed enough to figure out the digital market. YouTube seems to have an edge, but you be to be very good, have a gimmick (to accompany a good song), and have fairly frequent posts. For example, I think the Gotye song ‘Somebody that I Used to Know’ is great, but I wonder if it would have made it had Walk on the Moon not created their video covering the song with five people playing one guitar? Another example is Julia Nunes. She’s not as well known, but has some YouTube videos that have over 2 million plays – covers and originals, played on Ukelele, with fun, quirky videos. She may not be making the money or getting the bigger tours, but she raised $77 thousand on kickstarter! Otherwise, I think sales of singles are going to win out over complete albums, digital will become the version of choice for all but collectors, and many people will consume without buying through platforms like Pandora. That said, requiring that musicians create something more than songs should produce more creativity in concerts, like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, while the sheer number of available songs will, hopefully, keep a high standard for the songwriting. I know, many of you may be thinking “Katy Perry and good songwriting? This guy doesn’t know anything,” but I guarantee those same people have either started humming or singing a Katy Perry song without even thinking about it. I mean, “I Kissed a Girl” is quintessential rock and roll – it makes your parents squirm, it is perfectly pushing the limits while fun and poppy with a great hook.
Anyway, I hope I can figure this out well enough to share my music while making just enough back to make some more. The entire social media aspect will, eventually, turn into something great for bands, but it is unclear to me how, when and whether it can generate the revenues to sustain artists.
I’m slowly forming a band in between marketing my CD and producing a couple of music videos in support of it. I have modest immediate goals of hosting my CD Release party and playing local gigs and festivals, but I’ll be ready when the world tour comes calling. My passion is to create and to encourage and support other artists in their work, I am hoping my music serves as a calling card of my talent and my desire to have fun in the process.
7) Your internet presence is minimal considering how the business (or what’s left of it) is driven these days. Does this mean Speed Queen Mystery Date is a one-time effort or can we expect a follow up?
Oh no, I prefer to call it the start of something big (dang, that would have been a great album title). I had been so busy writing and recording and working on the Kickstarter process that I didn’t get a jump start the website – and, honestly, I wanted to get some validation on not only the quality, but if there was a market out there for my music. It’s one part retro-rock/new wave and one part eclectic, which is who I am. I feel I am growing my web presence in a reasonable fashion by hitting all the usual places – iTunes, Amazon, Facebook, Bandcamp, MySpace, Reverb nation, Spotify, etc. And reviews and blogs, like this one, are driving awareness with people who like my music. Finally, I have some fun things coming with my music videos and a couple of marketing ideas that I believe will help me stand out in the crowd.
8) Are there any unusual or funny stories you can share regarding the writing or recording of any of the songs from the LP?
Every January I commit myself to the February Album Writing Month (FAWM.org), where you try to write 14 songs in 28 days. It is very cool. And every February 4 I fail… But, one year they prompted us to write a song about work or a job. I tried that on the bus and wrote “All I Can Think About Is You,” in about 10 minutes. It’s one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written based on the twist at the end and the key and tempo changes.
This probably doesn’t qualify, but I wrote “When the Sky is Right in Front of You” on a flight to France. GarageBand on my iPad is a wonderful thing for rough sketches. Then I recorded the scratch vocals in a friend’s flat in Paris.
9) If you were stuck on a desert island with your band and you had to eat one of them to stay alive, who would need to sleep with one eye open?
Hmmm… All the guys are pretty scrawny, in a good way, so I guess I’d have to choose Christian, the bass player. I once played bass, keys and sang all at once, and bass is probably the only instrument other than keys that I could hope to play well enough. I hope there would be some tasty seasonings available.
Read part one of this interview at Powerpop Overdose.