For our very first HeadsUp! artist, I’d like to introduce you to the dreamy singer-songwriter Dave Dixon
I know what you’re thinking – “Not another singer-songwriter!” – but I promise Dave Dixon is not your typical skinny-jean-wearing guitarist. OK, so he might have been wearing skinny jeans when he met me before his gig at Camden’s Wheelbarrow last month, but that’s beside the point. Replace the image of the whining, sad hipster from Shoreditch you’ve created in your head with an unassuming, lovely man whose lyrics are full of emotion and guitar lines are beautifully constructed and you’ve got Dave Dixon.
He started the guitar when just a teenager, like you do. “A lot of friends at school were really good at guitar but never wanted to write anything original, and that’s the best thing for me. I’ve never really been able to learn covers,” Dave tells me over a pint before his show. “As soon as I start playing a cover I’ll find something interesting and try to develop that.”
As well as avoiding the typical teenage crooning of our favourite tracks, Dave picked up everything without learning to read music or music theory, offering him a fresh look on songwriting. “I quite like not knowing what should come where in music or what fills a gap – gives you more freedom and allows me to be as expressive and emotional as possible.” His songs often go beyond the typical verse/chorus/bridge structure, instead favouring a loose drifting of lyrics and melodic lines.
So what is his musical process? “If I lay down a beat and put some guitar over it and keys or whatever else, then I’ll kind of freestyle over the top of that. Not rapping. Kind of rapping, but not rapping. The words find themselves. Other times I’ll struggle for days to get just one line… Often when I’m writing a song there are things I just want to get out and I’ll end up with like three pages of lyrics.”
Add this lyrical meandering to a lo-fi, raw aesthetic and you get something subtle, but moving. “It’s much nicer to listen to something that’s been cut raw and has that human touch. If it’s really produced and smooth, like a great pop song, then you can say that that’s great in a different way.” His EP Calming The Wild Brothers is a collection of songs recorded over a year and a half in Dave’s bedrooms in London, England, Siena, Italy and Chambéry, France (you can download the EP for free on his BandCamp page).
This love of the raw, the real, the human does lend a graceful gentleness to his tracks. But, in the words of LeVar Burton, don’t take my word for it. Have a listen to the acoustic session video of ‘Houses of Thought’ below. Or check out the recently released track ‘Twins’ by LÉON (another fantastic artist to watch out for) featuring Dave, and I’m sure you’ll be as hooked as I am.
This article originally appeared in Musika.