Interview with Dave Niskin

Interview with Dave Niskin 12th April 2018 at his Studio in Cambridgeshire

Interview with Dave Niskin

Roan: So Dave, to start off the interview, please introduce yourself and tell us what you make and do and how?

Dave: Okay, so I am a professional guitar player and one of the things I do is I teach some lessons. I perform with different artists.  I also do my own music, some of that is on YouTube and I have plans to develop that further with my own touring. At different times I play some other gigs, so I do some weddings and corporate events with different groups and sometimes I play in theatre. So that more or less covers what I do.

Roan: OK, thanks Dave!  How did you become interested in playing guitar?

Dave: My dad used to play in church a long time ago and my brother was playing the drums. I have two brothers, one of them is 3 1/2 years older than me and he was very good at the drums at a young age. So he was playing with my dad at church and I wanted to be able to play something too. So I tried the drums and it didn't really work for us both to play the drums, so I started guitar.  And that's how I started playing the guitar!

Roan: Interesting! How did you develop your guitar skills and get experience in this area?

Dave: For a number of years I mostly played in church but I also played at school. I had some bands and did some competitions with them and then went on to Music College. Before music college, I studied GCSE music, A-level music and A-level music technology as well. I also did an internship with my church for a year.

Roan: Interesting!  You have recently returned from an Australian tour, tell us about that.

Dave: We spent just under four weeks touring around; we played in four different states with a reggae band. They combine reggae, jazz and soul. The artist Yolanda is a saxophone player. She also does some TV presenting and things like that so she is a very gifted lady and she is developing a fan base in Australia.

Roan: That sounds amazing!  How did you get the job with Yolanda?

Dave: I started covering for her guitar player so I knew two people in the band and they had recommended me several times. But they hadn't booked me, so eventually someone else got called to cover on guitar. But they knew that I would be better for that type of music, so they asked me if I wanted to do it and then quite a while later I became the main guy. So I used to cover for guitar, then the main guy stopped and I became the main guy.

Roan: Wow that sounds great!  What does a 'typical' day look like for you (or what might your day consist of)?

Dave: There isn't really a typical day for me. The days where I teach are the more the regular ones. So two days of the week – Wednesday and Thursday – I will teach in Cambourne. I will teach for about five hours and then practice for a few hours. Often I do more than that, but it's good to not spend every waking hour doing music. On other days I might have to travel to gigs, I might be preparing for gigs, I might be writing a new arrangement for YouTube, but I do as much practice as I can. I try to take one day off a week.

Roan: Ah, I see.  Is there anything about being a session guitarist that challenges you?

Dave: Yes there is. I started to get asked last year to do some classical work and that is my weakest area.  I said yes to it knowing that I would have to do a lot of work to get good enough for it. I had to work very hard but it all went fine and I've got more dates coming up with them! So sometimes saying yes to something that you know you’re not that good for is a real challenge. But it's a good way to get new types of work.

Roan: Do you prefer radio or YouTube performance? What do you like about each?

Dave: Playing on the radio is not something you can do regularly; I'd say it's different to YouTube. There are different opportunities on the radio but it's not either/or. I prefer playing on the radio because it's a lot more exciting, isn't it? There are a lot of people listening to you and it’s exciting to see the inside of the studio.

Roan: It certainly is!  Could you choose a favourite artist who inspired you and tell us why?

Dave: That's a very difficult one for me.  In the various styles of music I have favourite artists within each one. So as a session player I really like Allen Hinds. If you ask me about solo guitar, I really like Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor. When I was growing up I liked a band called ‘Dream Theatre’ but I don't really listen to them now. I used to buy all their CDs, and I read the long autobiography. All the things like that inspired me a lot then.

Roan: Ah, nice to know!  Does your faith inspire your music?

Dave: Yes it does a lot! As I said, I started playing in church. I still play in church now in London when I can. This Sunday I'm doing that. I recently started arranging some hymns for Finger-style guitar. I've put a few on YouTube and I hope to sometimes put on an album of hymns there. I also play for some gospel artists.  For example in January there was an international gospel artist who came to this country to do a short tour. So I played behind them. While doing that, it helped a lot that I had a faith. I try to be open about my faith with people I work with.

Roan: What Christian group are you from? 

Dave: The church I grew up in Cambridge (Cambridge Community Church) is an evangelical church. The one I go to now in London is an Anglican church. But I personally think from reading my Bible that it's not a great thing to have all these different nominations. I don't have any loyalty to any particular one. I'm more interested in what the Bible actually says. 

Roan: I enjoyed your compositions ‘Keep moving’ and ‘Tranquillity’.  What inspired you to write those?

Dave: Ah, thank you Roan that's good. I suppose real life events inspire me.Like sometimes with ‘keep moving’ I had a nice riff I liked and so I thought of a theme that would develop that. And I could relate it to my own life, but the music idea came first. With ‘tranquillity’, it was more that I felt a certain way and I wanted to express how I felt. So Roan, writing can start in many different ways. 

Roan: I've listened to ‘Keep Moving’ and the riff is my favourite part! 

Dave: That's good. thank you!

Roan: What do you think the future of rock music is?

Dave: You know, that's a good question Roan. I think there are still a lot of rock bands that are doing that sort of music and its possible now to be an independent artist, you don't need to have a record label. So I guess there is quite a good future for it. 

Roan: Guns N' Roses have been running from the 1980s till the present day time. They have been running for a very long time. 

Dave: That's right and I've been to see them as well! 

Roan: Wow!

Roan: Where do you see your career going from here?

Dave: That's a good question. I think I will be travelling more, I am travelling more now! I think it will continue that way. I would like to do more with my own music. I would like to do less weddings and things like that. 

Roan: What do other people think of your work?

Dave: Well you probably have to ask them, but I know there are a lot of people who call me to play with them and pay me to do it. So I think on the whole it's positive. 

Roan: Yes I agree because if your business is good that means people think highly of your work. 

Dave: Yep.

Roan: What would your advice be to a young person interested in becoming a career musician?

Dave: I would encourage them to be as diverse as possible. So listen to as many different styles of music as possible, which helps towards being able to do a broad range of things. So in this case that's what I would suggest. There are probably about 10 styles that we could play on the guitar. I would suggest that they go to music college so that they can get a good network of other people doing the same thing. 

Roan: Ah ha.

Dave: I would also suggest that they practice as many hours as they can but remembering that there is more to life than just music. 

Roan: Well thank you very much for giving me the time for this interview. I am very grateful for it. Thank you Dave. 

Dave: You're welcome!

Author

Roan McAuley

Roan McAuley

Roan is a guitarist working towards his Bronze Arts Award.

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3 Comments

  • Luke Taylor

    On 16 April 2018, 09:53 Luke Taylor commented:

    Dave sounds like a very cool dude. Do you know where I can find his music?

  • Roan McAuley

    On 18 April 2018, 20:53 Roan McAuley commented:

    Thank You Luke! You can find his music on
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eu225--H8wY

  • Roan McAuley

    On 18 April 2018, 20:54 Roan McAuley commented:

    I hope you enjoy his music. :)

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