David Brodie – Artist Inteview
Written by Matt Zin on September 30, 2020
“Healing Depression Through Music”
Hello David! Welcome to the studio. We have a lot to cover and I am excited to get started but before we begin could you tell our listeners where you are from?
DB: Thanks so much for having me! Let’s see – currently living in Ottawa, Canada but my original home is the city of St. John’s on the island of Newfoundland. It’s actually the most eastern city in North America as well as the oldest! And probably the rainiest too. Still, as bad as the weather is, it’s a wonderful place with some of the kindest people in the world. It has its own very strong Irish/folk flavored culture. I wouldn’t say my music is Newfoundland music (which is a thing – similar to Irish music) but for sure there must be some elements that I’ve carried over even if I’m not directly aware of it!
You are a man with many talents; singer/songwriter/Producer and musician, wow impressive. I first want to start off asking you, where do you find the time for all this? When it comes to creating your music, what comes first? Do you find yourself creating a melody first or writing the lyrics? Out of all those talents, which one is your most favorite to do?
DB: Thanks! Well, I’m lucky to have some wonderfully supportive people around me. It’s really because of them that I’m able to focus so much on what I do. I’m very fortunate in this regard so it only seems right that I try to use my time productively. For me, that’s creating music.
For songwriting, I’m definitely a music-first kind of guy. But as time goes on I find this balance shifting as I feel like I have more and more to say. I feel like the ideal songwriter is the one who is equal parts words and music so I’ve been working towards that point. In the meantime I work with some brilliant lyricists so my music-first mindset seems to work well in that situation. I’m a big believer in the phrase “two heads are better than one” so I’m always happy to collaborate and combine strengths.
When it comes to writing your songs, do you find that you put a lot of yourself into these songs or are they about things other than you?
DB: The interesting thing I noticed not too long ago is that when I listen to songs now many of them seem to be messages to me from the former me if that makes sense haha. When they were written I didn’t specifically feel like I was writing about myself so I’m not quite sure what’s going on there. Perhaps it’s the narcissist in me that is just able to make everything about myself (chuckle) Or maybe a more optimistic interpretation would be something like: any song written by me had to be about something I’d already experienced in order for me to be able to understand and convey the idea. So perhaps I’m just having the same type of experiences that I did then making the songs still relevant. I’d say it’s true that, in broad strokes, life is just a set of repeating experiences. Being happy, sad, excited, angry, etc.
Ideally, I hope that when others hear my songs they get that exact same feeling – that it was written to them.
You just wrote a brand-new Christmas song, “Dec 24th (One Night)”, We had the pleasure airing that tune on our station. What inspired that song? How long did it take to write?
DB: First of all, thanks for playing it. I’ve always loved Christmas music. I love the simple but strong melodies that can last through generations. If there’s any way I’m going to get my music to live on, that seems like this is my best shot. It took about a year to lock everything down with my very talented co-writer Tre Carn. With his help, the final product turned out better than expected. Tre and I have more Xmas songs in the works and plan to release a full length Holiday album in the near future!
I really like the song, “The Way You Hide.” What is that song all about?
DB: Thanks! I’m really glad you like it… The Way You Hide is a song basically about being your true self. It’s about a person that holds onto the past in a negative way, making their present situation much more difficult as a result. Each moment of the present is a chance to start again, so it’s important not to dwell negatively. I really believe that. The past should only be used as instructive going forward but to worry about what’s done only causes harm ultimately.
How has your music career changed your life?
DB: Well, on a very basic personal level, the simple act of playing is therapeutic for me. As far as career goes, I think it’s mostly given me an overall direction to follow. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day for most people, so for me at least, it helps keep me focused and productive. There are so many awesome distractions out there in this day and age, and some people just lose themselves in video games, social media, tv, whatever. I don’t blame them really… we live in an amazing time. So my music goals are kind of like a hand gently (and often) nudging me back in the right direction
Speaking of your life, I would like to talk about a deep subject that you would like to share with others, it’s how you deal with depression. Music is such a powerful antidote; it has been known to help people with all sorts of issues. How does music help you with your depression? Do you find writing songs helps you the most or is it more about listening? Maybe it’s both.
DB: Yeah, depression is something I’ve dealt with on and off for all of my life. Like I mentioned, the act of playing piano or guitar was always very soothing and distracting to me. I suppose it was a sort of positive self-medication. Thankfully it had other uses! Songwriting, besides just being fun, is a real release at times. It’s not so much about listening actually, but mostly about writing and creating in my experience.
I also understand that you deal with ADHD, what exactly is that?
DB: Well it’s a condition that very generally makes it harder to focus for extended periods of time. It can affect motivation and productivity. Seems like I have a pretty solid case of it because when I finally started taking medication to help, my songwriting and producing took off. Suddenly I was able to take all the various little ideas floating around in my brain and corral them into something solid, you know? Funny thing is, it often goes unnoticed in adults because the various symptoms can just present as personality traits. “Oh, he’s just lazy”, that sort of thing. With all that said – even now, I still don’t necessarily think of the way I naturally am as some sort of fault or symptom. Honestly, I struggle with that a little. But if the medication I take means there’s a net gain in what I’ve created and if I’m happier as a result, then sure, why not, I’ll keep taking it. If you all wanna give it a name and call it a disorder, that’s fine too. I’m just going with what works for me.
I admire you for wanting to come out and talk about this topic. What has inspired you to go public with this? What advice would you give to someone who is reading this interview right now and is dealing with depression?
DB: Well, depression is a VERY common thing and you know, many of my songs are colored by my experiences with it. And in times that I’ve felt depression coming on, I’ve read some great words from others that I found very helpful and helped me get through. So it feels like the right thing to do to try to carry that on.
From my point of view, the most important thing to remember when depressed is that the feeling of hopelessness is ONLY a symptom and not a reflection of reality. Hopelessness is probably the most dangerous part of depression because when someone suffering thinks that there’s no end, then they start looking for ways out through self-harm. Thankfully, my repeated experiences with depression have taught me that the hopelessness really is just a symptom. Each time I get better I’ve proven this so now I’ve basically “short-circuited” the most dangerous part of the condition. For me at this point, a bout of depression feels similar to catching a cold in that it no doubt sucks and takes a while to get better, but I know I will be ok eventually.
So for anyone that’s going though it right now – don’t believe you’re stuck. It does get better with time. Unfortunately your brain is trying to make you think otherwise! Realizing and accepting this it makes the condition much more bearable (at least for me).
When growing up, who or what was your inspirations? Were you always involved in music? When did you start playing the piano and the guitar? Do you prefer to play one over the other?
DB: Well I didn’t get into music really until I was about 14 when I started teaching myself piano and guitar. I’m a better guitarist than pianist technically, but love the whole experience of the piano. The whole piano bar thing (which I did for quite a while) seemed like the perfect job. You can’t really sit around a guitar the same way as you can a piano. I was always into The Beatles, along with Bowie, Elton John, Billy Joel – that sort of thing. I was always about the song you know, and I considered the Beatles (especially) to be the gold standard in that sense. I still ask myself every time I finish a song if it measures up to that standard. Here’s hoping I get there at least once or twice!
Now I am going to ask you a strange question, you ready? If you were a fly on the wall, what would you like to hear? I told you it was a strange question.
DB: Hmm. Damn, we all out of flytraps!
Where do you see your music career in five years?
DB: Gonna keep writing, touring, working it. Just want to get the music out there into more people’s ears. Deep down that’s my currency.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside of music?
DB: Oh, well I have to admit I enjoy some videogames Most games don’t do it for me, but when i find the right one it’s like BAM – addicted – 500 hours later… that sort of thing. So i have to be pretty careful and know when a certain game is getting its hooks into me you know? It’s far easier to stop after playing just a little if that makes sense.
Could you tell us about any tours, music, or projects coming up?
DB: Yes, some very exciting things. I’m producing for Conway, an awesome young Folk/Celtic band from my hometown of St. John’s. They’re extremely talented and I’m very excited to be involved. It’s my first time producing a full album (for someone else) so it’s a big deal for me! I kind of see that as a natural career progression as I’m all about the “big picture” musically and, secretly, I love telling people what to do haha.
As well, Emily, the female lead of Conway and I will be working on songs together. She’s got huge potential so I’m sure that we’ll create something amazing together. I’ll also be releasing an EP this year with some great tunes that have been percolating for a long while. Also, stay tuned for more Xmas tunes (of course!)
David, it was great getting to know you through your music, please tell our listeners where your music can be found. Also, feel free to use this time for any shoutouts, specials news, etc.
DB: Oh my music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, etc. All the usual suspects!