Mike Dawes: Candyrat's acoustic archer!

Mike Dawes: acoustic archer!
Mike Dawes: In recent years Mike Dawes has helped spearhead the current wave of UK fingerstyle guitarists.

Years of collaboration and touring have provided him with a unique and varied approach to performance, utilising all aspects of the guitar to reference celtic, jazz, rock, and experimental music, all whilst seamlessly referencing a full band on just one instrument!

  • 'Astounding Virtuosity' - Gotye
  • "Completely Spellbinding" - Evening Post
  • "Incredible" - International Guitar Foundation
  • "Beautiful and sensitively played arrangements and compositions" - Acoustic Magazine
  • "Mike Dawes is a F***ing awesome guitarist!" - Jon Gomm
  • "Definitely worth checking out" - Newton Faulkner

Mike Dawes: Boogie Shred MonkeyFest 2011

When did you start playing guitar?

I started playing when I was 12, I played electric guitar for years before switching to acoustic back in 2008. I remember I was very into Iron Maiden when I started so it was pretty much constant galloping for the first few years!

I was very into Adrian Smith's playing so he was definitely a big influence in terms of phrasing. I was never really that into electric guitar soloists, although do I remember butchering Surfing With The Alien for a GCSE exam. 

What made you decide to take guitar seriously?

I'd always taken music seriously, despite the fact that I'd generally write silly things (I believe my main A level music submission was titled 'The Liberation of the Children of Lamaragus Part 3: Battle at the Black Mountain) I guess leaving college really forced me to step up my game, what with 'the working world' being that much closer. Unfortunately I played too much that year and gave myself tendinitis in both arms. 8 months of not being able to use my hands did not make for a fun gap year!

I suppose deep down, as much as music can be pure fun, you need to take it seriously. If you don't 100% believe in what you are doing it's unlikely that it will translate on a bigger stage.

What are your favourite albums?

I think the first album that 'changed my life' was Dream Theater's 'Scenes from a Memory'. A band mate played me the 'Live Scenes...' DVD back at school and I remember my jaw just hit the floor when the Overture 1928 riff hit. It's a fantastic album, I learned the guitar parts to the whole album in college, I think I was a bit obsessed. 

Intuite by Pierre Bensusan is one of the best fingerstyle albums ever made. That was the album that made me focus on fingerstyle playing. The untitled Sigur Ros album is sublime, some of the songs on that are just always appropriate. I guess those 3 albums define my primary influences, I probably sound nothing like either of them, but they've been in my life for a long time and that's always going to have an effect.

Mike Dawes: looking out for the dove from above...

What do you think of the use of social media for promoting your work?

For me it's been essential, the direction of my career at present owes a lot to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It's amazing how they work together, an artists profile can explode from celebrity tweets, facebook shares and YouTube virality. 

I guess there are 2 main types of artists in social media, the ones who connect directly with fans, and the ones who never use it personally to create a barrier between the artist/audience. Myself, I always use social media, I owe a lot to it. I'm a huge Facebook addict and I find It's such a great way to connect and meet other artists on a personal level. 

In terms of advice, I've always found 'status based' social media is great for entertaining existing fans, but not gaining new fans. YouTube is a very powerful tool for gaining an audience, the battle is getting them over to Twitter/Facebook to keep them up to date with your events/releases.

Mike Dawes - Somebody That I Used To Know (Gotye) - Solo Guitar (994,354 views)

If you had a chance to play music with anyone, who would you pick?

I've been fortunate to have shared the stage with some personal guitar heroes over the years, but this is a massively tough question. One of my favourite bands from the college days, a Swedish metal band, have asked me to feature on their next album. Super pumped for that!

One person? dead or alive? hmm.

Besides obvious choices It would be pretty tasty to duet with a band like Sigur Ros, something totally non-guitary (That's definitely not a word) I could imagine Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) would make a wicked jam partner, as would someone like Beardyman. That would be insane!

Have you ever had any live show disasters?
Oh yes. I opened for Seth Lakeman in front of about 700 people in Bath. I broke a nail in the first song, the fire alarm went off, the monitors got switched off (I wasn't allowed a sound check and they were feeding back) then the set was cut short. Fond memories of that gig! Fortunately the people were all lovely and we all had a laugh.

I've been fairly lucky considering I used to gig like crazy. The main thing is the old 'battery-in-the-guitar-death-disaster'. The battery in one of my guitars is fixed inside the sound hole, a bit of a pain in the ass if it goes mid set. 

How do you record your music?
I record in a town house beneath the cobbled streets of Bath! I work with a great engineer named Josh Clark at Get Real Audio. He works a lot in the folk music scene. We normally take the signal from my internal pickup/mic, use a stereo pair in the room, and a couple of pencil condensers on the body/bridge and 12th fret area respectively. Sometimes we add an extra microphone above the nut to catch some sparkly resonances. This really helped with the latest track (The Impossible) as there's a fair bit of playing behind the capo.

Mike Dawes: Lap Tapping

What do you think of illegal music downloading?
I suppose before everything else, it's a shame. The fact people are illegally downloading music from artists that can't necessarily afford to support themselves is trumped by the mindset of the majority, that it is not just OK to steal, but it's unfair for musicians to charge 'so much' for 'only music'.

Their main argument is valid, you can't deny that it is exposure. But exposure to what? a career that is limited in creative output, and to a short term? because being a full time niche musician is now an incredibly difficult career to sustain (not that it wasn't before file sharing)

At the end of the day, I have to be optimistic about the situation, otherwise it will affect my output. I enjoy experimenting and now is a great time to bend the industry in new and exciting ways. My next release is an original composition with Candyrat, but I'll also be putting out a multi-instrumental version as 'pay what you want' with a percentage going to the FAB project in Kenya. This version features Nolly (Periphery) and Petteri Sariola.

Can you tell us a bit about your gear?
Sure, I play Nick Benjamin guitars http://www.benjaminguitars.co.uk/ (well, one guitar, but another will be finished soon) Nick is a great luthier based in Lewes UK, my main guitar is an Alpine Spruce/Cocobolo midi jumbo, his #100. I have the usual acoustic rig setup, preamp and reverb unit, but sandwiched between these I go through an Ernie Ball volume pedal, Boss TU2, Boss RC 2 looper and a TC Electronic Nova Delay. I will downsize this setup for overseas touring next year. 

Nick Benjamin guitars http://www.benjaminguitars.co.uk/ 

Can you tell us about your latest recording?
The most recent release was a solo arrangement of Gotye's 'Somebody I used To Know'. It went out with Candyrat Records in June and sort of exploded. Gotye said it was his favourite cover, which was super nice. The next release is the track I mentioned previously, 'The Impossible' and 'The Impossible 2.0'. These will be released on Candyrat/iTunes/Spotify/Bandcamp etc on the 20th of September 2012.

Mike Dawes: Gotye
Mike Dawes : Somebody That I Used To Know (Gotye) https://www.candyrat.com/artists/mikedawes/somebodyIusedtoknow/

© 2012 Candyrat Records / Mike Dawes
A stunning solo arrangement of Gotye's popular tune, "Somebody That I Use To Know". Played without any overdubs.In recent years Mike Dawes has helped spearhead the current wave of UK fingerstyle guitarists. Years of collaboration and touring have provided him with a unique and varied approach to performance, utilising all aspects of the guitar to reference celtic, jazz, rock, and experimental music, all whilst seamlessly referencing a full band on just one instrument!
'Astounding Virtuosity' - Gotye
"Beautiful and sensitively played arrangements and compositions" - Acoustic Magazine
"Definitely worth checking out" - Newton Faulkner
Plus Mike Dawes: Transcriptions Set 1
This download comes with one song in MP3 format and matching (Standard Notation and Guitar Tab Format) transcriptions in Adobe PDF and Guitar Pro formats for the following song: https://www.candyrat.com/artists/mikedawes/somebodyIusedtoknow/

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