Hailing from the nation's capital, Ottawa, Dave (aka JunkHeap), caught my ears with his bold alt-rock style, big thumping beats, loud guitars and a vocal cutting through the mundane of life. Yeah, the music of JunkHeap is anything but typical. Let me wind back the clock to 4 months ago or so, and what I think was my first encounter with Dave's music. I'll go back to my SoundCloud comment on a track I really enjoyed - It's Just A Typical Day:
"...spell it out for us...love that slice of quirky that is recognizably Junk Heap :) Love the way you strip it back and let 4x4 beats pace the vocals in places...guitar is all you need to move the chords around for your melodic and layered vocals to have room to roam with those lyrical ponderings...you have a way of working your vocals...sliding and moving around...touch of the acerbic burning holes in my sensibility...love the guitars erupting around 2:35...nothing typical in this...above all is the sense that you are sharing something profound in the whimsically expressed vocals...you sure have a way with the creative process...from the performances (guitars and vocals) to the sonic clarity that comes through...everything is easily accessible to my ears...clarity is a production hallmark...just awesome creativity! :)
A musician who is humble and unsure of his own work, Dave has asked me about how I get the mixes and production I upload on SoundCloud.What? Asking me? I need to be asking him and, in fact, I chose to ask him, not only about his recording process but about his entire approach to music and creativity. I sent JunkHeap 10 questions that I use as a foundation to dig into musicians and their craft. I'm simply going to post Dave's responses from an e-mail reply he sent back to me.
Welcome to the alternative world of JunkHeap!
The JunkHeap Interview:
JH: Interesting that you explore the the musician's journey. I find it seems to start with someone like the parents, or relatives who indulged in music and the kid subsequently became interested in it. Sometimes. Right to the questions:
TW: When did you discover that you not only enjoyed music, but you enjoyed it so much that you wanted to learn how to perform music? JH: Good question. I guess I saw musicians on TV or in magazines and wanted to see what it was all about. I can't really give a defined time. It simply seemed like a natural step. My parents bought me a guitar when I was like 15yo. My dad played jazz piano. I had a few tape cassettes or my brothers did, and listened to the music when in early teens. Little things led to playing.
TW: . Who were there people in your early years who encouraged and nurtured your interest and abilities in music? JH:My parents were trying to find something that I'd be interested in. All of us kids in the family were a bit lost. Although they parented at a distance, so to speak, they instilled questions in my mind about what I wanted to do in life. My dad regularly played the piano to take a break from the everyday. I recognized at an early age that he did it to relax, which was a curiosity to me. My mom got me into choir at a very young age in public school, spent a few years doing that until the music teacher gave me a pink slip to leave because unbeknownst to me my voice was changing and I was yodeling on and off it seems. Very glad that mom put me into it. The development of the vocal chords at an early age has helped immeasurably later on. When I listen to my music I sometimes am surprised by how dynamic my vocals can be. Let's hope I can sing until the day I die! :) I didn't go the route of music, in any sense, i.e. sound engineering, audio/technical technician, etc. I floated along for a while and moved further into technology. Not the right fit, but that's rare for people. In the end being tech-savvy has been a good career, and allows me to explore music as it steadily becomes more technically angled. A bit off topic! :)
TW: What instruments did you learn to play and, of all of them, what do you enjoy playing the most – i.e. when you have time to just pick up an instrument and play just for the sheer love of it, what instrument would you go to...and what is it about that instrument that brings you back to it, time and time again? JH: I'm sort of a generalist. I never learned any instrument so well to be called pro, except maybe drums. I learned guitar basics first, then dabbled in keyboards. It's hard to say which I love playing the most, but if any I'd have to say acoustic guitar (with fresh new strings!). Because you can create a song with just it and a voice. Some would say piano/keys are the same, sure, but a guitar can be carried anywhere. :) In the same breath, with some of the plugins available for my controller keyboard I can get lost in synth sounds. There isn't enough time in a day. Oh, my aunt gave me her old Technics elec piano not too long ago. A bit of repair and that will officially be the start of learning piano properly.
TW: Where do you live and did you ever consider moving in order to further develop opportunities for your music career? Would your career in music have gone a different direction if you had chosen to relocate (were there other opportunities presented to you IF you relocated?) JH: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. When I was younger I grew up in rural eastern Ontario. Moving to Ottawa (the 'big' city) was an improvement, but Ottawa's music scene isn't comparable to Toronto, Mtl, Vancouver. At one time in my early 20s I considered the idea, but simply didn't know how to do it. I would have benefited by stepping outside of the bubble and taking up the challenge. As a side note, I think I was more trying to make my parents happy (re job in tech) than doing what would have made me more contented. In hindsight, glad I didn't! The life of a musicians takes hardy folk, and as one ages it can lead to dead ends very easily. I wanted to stable day job. I think at that age is where I started to see music as a hobby, not as a career. Relocating may or may not have resulted in anything worthwhile. It's a shot in the dark. Even bands that work hard for years don't amt to anything.
TW: Music has many genre labels. but do you have one style that you enjoy more than others? What is it? Why do you think that has a special attraction for you? JH: I don't tend to listen to music i.e. mp3 player, music streaming. Never really liked listening to musicians except when I was much younger. I find that it skews my characteristic sound. The less I listen, the more my true musical sound comes out. Don't get me wrong, I do listen to songs here and there, but keep it to a minimum. No specific genre. I like most music, except the rap about the hoes, and the bitches crap.
TW: What are some examples of your favourite songs from your own discography? Are there a few that you sit back and listen to, realizing that the song is really about you? (Links below)
(This is from a collaboration with a buddy of mine. We were called Floor Five. This tune is just me. I still add tunes to the page here and there, but the bandmate has stopped making music. Maybe he'll come around down the road. I miss his sound, excellent guitarist too). I'm slowly working on mix/mastering the tunes on both the JunkHeap and FF pages, at least for the projects I have. The song is pretty self-explanatory. Make the most out of life. JunkHeap I'll be Thinking of You
(A tune about people finally having enough with whatever it is that causes them pain/angst/sadness in their lives. A bit of sarcasm in that the person won't be thinking of the person(s)/place. i.e. see ya! I just finished the first iteration of remix/mastering on this one. JunkHeap While the Boat Is Sinking Beneath Us
(this is a new one created a few weeks ago. I really like the natural feel of it. Nice progressions, keeps the ear attentive, and has a bit of sadness in it hoping that humanity can come back from the precipice). Remix/master still needs work, but getting there. If I create a song where it pulls at my emotions after many listens I know that others will feel similar. The song gets consistent listens. That's good enough for me. soundcloud.com/junkheap/i-dont-care (well not that I didn't know it was about me. I wrote the basics for this tune about 10yrs ago, and found the project a few weeks ago and fixed it up, added parts. But I guess at that time someone was pissing me off. :) Here's another: soundcloud.com/junkheap/on-the-bus Good humour.
TW: Do you post your music to other websites besides Sound Cloud?
JH: CD Baby. I'm not that experienced in the sites. I generally go with an aggregator and let them distribute. But somewhat rare. I don't have another album yet, and the previous album was poorly mixed by me. Anyway, I think something like Soundcloud, but with a bit of BandLab in there - where you can easily collaborate with people without having to use an outside source.
TW: Do you consider yourself more of an instrumentalist, or a lyricist?
JH: Lyricist. Good lyrics with depth, and can be timed well when sung in a song.
TW: Album or Single? How to you conceive your musical output?
JH: I guess I'm old school, Album. I'm not a fan of the one song thing, but it will become part of the music sphere more and more, though I can't see it supplanting album creation. If you ask me single song release with no approaching album date is lazy, and for the famous musicians it strikes me as a money grab. conversely, a good way to attract people to your brand without offering up an entire album. time-wise much faster! an album allows for the development of a sound, a concept, etc. Much more intelligent. single song strikes me as $$-oriented.
TW: Is there anything you would like to add that hasn't been covered by any of the questions? JH: No comments really. Just keep making music until one can't anymore. Dave (a.k.a. Junk Heap)