Anthony David at Radio 2 studios, London
With three already universally well received albums as well as writing plaudits from India Arie’s Grammy Award Winning, ‘Acoustic Soul’ album bringing his name to the fore, Georgia native Anthony David’s most recent project, ‘As Above, So Below’ is set to catapult him into rarefied air. Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards was fortunate enough to engage in conversation with the easy going Atlanta based singer/songwriter a few months before and again a few days after his captivating showcase performance at London’s Bush Hall to coincide with the release of his critically edified album on Dome Records.
The Dood: So where did you grow up?
Anthony David: I grew up in Savannah, Georgia. The Dood: Expand on some of your musical influences that impacted on you during you daily life?
Anthony David: Just the whole thing about reality being more fascinating than fantasy. I like writers like Bill Withers who can mine and pick out the really beautiful things in regular life – Those types of artists you know, like James Taylor. Song – writers such as Stevie Wonder and John Lennon or more so Paul McCartney.
The Dood: How old were you when you learned guitar?
Anthony David during his showcase performance at Bush Hall, London 21-2-11
Anthony David: I was twenty-three. It was when I moved to Atlanta I got involved in the local scene. First it was poetry and that kinda thing then the guitar started as an extension of the poetry thing.
The Dood: Why guitar and not piano?
Anthony David: You can carry it around and it can be a lesson for ever. You can’t carry a piano around! (laughs)
The Dood: Having witnessed you perform at two unique London venues, the Jazz Cafe in 2010 and again a few days ago during the live acoustic showcase within the splendour of Bush Hall, it is evident that your music and lyrical refinement can be more readily absorbed in the sparser setting.
Anthony David: Yeah, that’s why I released, ‘The Set Up.’ A lot of people made the same observation. And my first album, 3 Chords… was an acoustic set also.
The Dood: Well that really came across at Bush Hall. Tracks such as, ‘As Above, So Below,’ ‘God Said,’ ‘Backstreet’ and the insightful ‘Body Language,’ a favourite of DJ Chris Philips were well received and appreciated by those fortunate enough to attend.
Anthony David and DJ Chris Philips at Bush Hall, London
As with your previous albums, ‘As Above, So Below’ maintains that unique blend of Social/Political commentary (God Said, Reach Ya & Backstreet); Romance (Forever More, Body Language, Let Me In) and tracks for the Playa’s (Get Around, Girlfriend, Keep You Around.) Where do you get your inspiration from? Is it just life observations or personal experiences?
Anthony David: It’s just life. These are the conversations I have with every guy I know. As regards the women, these are the people in my life. So I thought why not reflect life and put a nice beat under it and have a good time, you know what I mean. In a way it’s like, “Isn’t this what you’re supposed to do?” That’s what I’m thinking.
The Dood: You have this gift to put words and music to what people are living, which is why I believe your material resonates with so many individuals. Agree?
Anthony David: Yeah…To me it’s like breathing you know.
The Dood: With the new album, As Above, So Below – What’s the title all about?
Anthony David: What do you think?
The Dood: I believe you want people to interpret it for themselves. You just want to leave it hanging out there in the ether.
Anthony David: I do! That’s the point. But what do YOU think though, can you tell me?
The Dood: Is it like, as it goes so be it sort of thing.
Anthony David: You were describing it as you were talking earlier when you said something about it’s kinda out there…It’s like you’re taking people somewhere – inner space, outer space sort of thing. My thoughts but really your thoughts! That’s the style of writing that I do I guess. That’s just one style. It’s very open and I think it triggers thought and discussion.
The Dood: It does that for sure! The title track itself has a very haunting and ethereal sound to it. Discuss?
Anthony David: It supposed to be like an outer space journey and discovering that much of it is like what you’re already familiar with. (laughs)
The Dood: It’s a great intro before you come on stage, because the crowd are hypnotised by Brandon (Thomas) doing his thing on guitar and Miguel on percussion. Then you enter stage left – It really works! And the outro works as well.
Anthony David: Good! I was hoping that would work!
The Dood: How did the duet with Sean Stockman, your cousin from Boyz II Men come about?
Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men)
Anthony David: We’ve been fairly close for years – Even more over the past couple of years because we’ve both done music to a certain level. I’m nowhere near the level he’s done it! But he’s been around and really liked what I’ve been involved in and wanted to be in it. He told me whenever you’re ready I wanna participate in something.
The Dood: So you gave him a call and he agreed to the classic Tears for Fears cover of ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World.’ Why did you choose that track?
Anthony David: Well I always do an eighties tune on every album – I always do that. That’s my era and those songs make me happy. And I like to find Pop songs with an interesting message but that are still very melodic Pop songs
The Dood: Tell me about the producer of the album, Shannon Sanders?
Shannon Sanders (Producer/Song-writer)
Anthony David: He’s an incredible artist; musician; producer; writer. I met him because he co-wrote ‘Video’ and ‘Brown Skin’ for India Arie. He produced most of her second album and he’s done stuff with Robert Randolph, John Legend and Heather Headley. And his own material is incredible! Because of our work with India (Arie) we’ve been on the road with each other for years and I’ve always wanted to do something with him. So when I got my new deal I called him up and said let’s do it! He’s got a one stop shop there, him and Drew in Nashville. That was another reason, because I could get out of town and finish off the tracks there.
The Dood: So Shannon and Drew are based there full-time?
Anthony David: Yeah. Both of them have their own studios. So when recording the album, I would go one day to Shannon’s and do a vocal and then later on in the afternoon I’d go to Drew’s and listen to a mix, then come back to Shannon’s and he’s got another song.
The Dood: It’s like a mastermind team. Put two or more people together and the creative juices start to flow?
Anthony David: And they help me write too. I don’t trust a lot of people with that but they’re TOP NOTCH writers! But that’s Nashville you know – Country music and great writers.
The Dood: Other collaborations on the album include Algebra and Phonte on the infectious ‘Forever More.’
Anthony David: Good friends. I’m a fan of Algebra and a fan of Phonte. I was working on the tune and DJ Kemmet gave me that beat. I had the chorus right off the bat. I had the verse…I was working on a second verse and a friend of mine Jeff Bean put me in touch with Algebra. She came through and we wrote it in an hour or so, laid it down and it was done! With Phonte, like I said I’m a fan of his already. I got in contact with him because the beat reminded me of something he should be on…I asked to be on it, he said, ‘Yes I feel that!’ He laid his verse and the rest is history. I think they just complimented everything, they just knew what I was talking about, and I didn’t have to say anything.
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards gets the lowdown from Anthony David
The Dood: All your albums to date feature romantic duets in the form of ‘Words,’ ‘Lady’ and now ‘Forever More.’ Each one classic deep and meaningful and classy tunes in their own right.
Anthony David: I guess so, thanks. . I’ve got another duet coming that I really like with Carmen Writers, who is from Dallas but lives in Atlanta now.
The Dood: With the likes of Avery Sunshine as well, there’s a lot of talent emanating from Atlanta at the moment. It used to be Philly all the time, now it seems to be nothing but ATL Sunshine?
Anthony David: I don’t know about that, I mean Kindred are still doing it in Philly. There was a tune I was gonna give to them, but I liked it too much. So I said, ‘I’m gonna give you guys a fresh one and I wanna hear you sing it!’
The Dood: Over what time period was ‘As Above, So Below’ composed?
Anthony David: I was in Nashville for two months. I’ve been kinda collecting little pieces over time. I gathered it all up, found the stuff I liked and that people were reacting to and then put them on my hard drive and took it to Nashville. We wrote like two from scratch one being, ‘Let Me In.’ When I walked in the studio Shannon said, ‘I got this one for you!’ – Which is what I love, because he knows me and he knows that would be something I’d talk about. So we went right in and wrote it.
The Dood: So another one of those five minute tunes?
Anthony David: Yeah, sometimes that happens. But he’s good at that. He just had the vibe already and I needed that anyway, I wanted to have something romantic as well. I was like, ‘Yeah! That’s it!
The Dood: Peter (Robinson), Dome Records CEO tells me the album is already shifting healthy units, which you must be pleased about?
Anthony David: Yeah for sure!
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards and Anthony David at Radio 2 studios, London
The Dood: What next for Anthony David touring wise etc?
Anthony David: Hopefully I’ll be back in the UK around the fall. I going to Japan and then South Africa and Australia…And of course the States and then get back and give them another one!
The Dood: What advice would you give young aspiring artists in the music industry?
Anthony David: Start where you are! And it’s better to be heard about than you just blabbering about yourself. Get involved in the scene wherever you are and if there ain’t one make one!
The Dood: Respect and thanks for your time.
Michael J Edwards
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards and Anthony David
Miguel (Beats & Things), Anthony David & Brandon A. Thomas (Guitar)
As Above, So Below (2011)
The Set Up (2010) (Digital Only)
Acey Deucy (2008)
3 Chords and the Truth (2007)
The Red Clay Chronicles (2006)
For Evermore (2011)
Let Me In (2010)
Something About You (2007)