If a musical mad scientist mixed together the genes of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry, adding a dash of Chet Baker and James Taylor, the end result might very well be East Coast singer-songwriter David Myles.
Sporting his black-framed glasses and wearing stylish suits, the 37-year-old New Brunswick native certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to Buddy Holly.
But when it comes to his music, it’s difficult to pigeonhole him into a single genre. Over the course of his career, he’s covered almost every genre, including jazz, folk, pop, rockabilly, R&B, gospel, and even hip hop.
“I have a hard time doing that too,” Myles says in a 2018 interview with North Carolina’ Asheville Citizen-Times. “Each record is a journey for me … a journey into a different genre.”
“I love the way that songs are built and love experimenting with all these different styles. My bread and butter is American roots music — a little bit of folk, a little bit of jazz — but I’ve done pop, hip-hop, gospel, R&B.”
VIDEO: “Real Love” – David Myles
Peterborough music fans have an opportunity to experience his eclectic music and entertaining live performance (he’s quite the dancer) on Wednesday, April 24th when Myles comes to the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre in downtown Peterborough.
He’ll be accompanied by his long-time bandmates Alan Jeffries on guitar (named the Atlantic Canada Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Association’s Bluegrass Guitar Player of the Year in 2005) and Kyle Cunjak on bass.
“I know that’s a lot of different styles,” he adds. “But because it’s just the three of us onstage playing the same instruments, it’s consistent. The vibe never changes. It’s all about making an accessible, fun, diverse show for the audience.”
VIDEO: “If You Want Tonight” – David Myles
Like many successful musicians, Myles was surrounded by music as a child. While growing up in Fredericton, his family had two pianos and his father, who was a biology teacher at a local high school, directed the school’s musicals.
With a particular love for jazz, Myles began learning trumpet when he was 10 years old, playing in school bands and even studying at The Royal Conservatory of Music.
Despite his passion for music, Myles decided he was going to become a lawyer. He attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, and graduated in 2003 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in political science, with a minor in Chinese.
In was that minor in Chinese that ultimately changed his career decision. In 2001, at the age of 21, he travelled to Hangzhou in China as a foreign exchange student to learn Mandarin. While he was there, he bought a $30 plywood guitar and began writing songs.
VIDEO: “Night & Day” – David Myles
“All my spare time was spent playing”, he recalls in a 2007 interview with Sean Flinn of The Coast. “I went from not playing at all to getting completely into the idea of being a songwriter.”
When he returned to Canada, he decided to pursue a career in music after graduating rather than going on to law school. But Myles promised his father (who passed away in 2017) that, even if he wasn’t going to become a lawyer, he would wear a suit and tie at his job — which he continues to do every time he steps on stage.
In 2005, Myles released his debut album, Together and Alone, before moving to Halifax where he currently resides with his wife, CBC radio producer Nina Corfu, and their two daughters.
In 2006, he released his second album Things Have Changed, which earned him two Music Nova Scotia Awards and nominations for both the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Best New Artist Award and the East Coast Music Awards Galaxie Rising Star Recording of the Year.
VIDEO: “When It Comes My Turn” – David Myles
The song “When it Comes My Turn” from Things Have Changed went on to win the folk category at the 2008 Chris Austin Merlefest Songwriting Contest and the contemporary acoustic/folk category of the 2009 Great American Song Contest.
Since then, he has released 11 more albums, with his most recent being the 2018 acoustic version of 2017’s Real Love, which has a sound some listeners have described as ‘Elvis in Motown’.
“It is really reminiscent of the ’50s, early rock and roll country music,” Myles says in an interview with CBC. “It is hard to put a finger exactly on what it sounds like, but it takes you back and makes you want to dance.”
VIDEO: “Inner Ninja” – Classified featuring David Myles
Over the years, Myles has accumulated a slew of award nominations and wins, including a Juno Award in 2013 for Rap Recording of the Year for the song “Inner Nija” that he co-wrote with Nova Scotia rapper Luke Boyd (better known by his stage name Classified).
Myles also appears alongside Classified in the video accompanying the tune, which went triple platinum in Canada, becoming the best selling rap single in Canadian history. The video has almost 4.5 million views on YouTube.
“After a Classified show in Edmonton, I ran into a fan,” Myles writes in a 2013 blog post on the Huffington Post website. “He looked at me, amazed, and said: ‘Hey, aren’t you the guy who plays the nerd in the video?’ I sure am. I don’t play the nerd, I AM the nerd.”
VIDEO: “Cry, Cry, Cry” – David Myles
Along with Classified, Myles’ friends and musical collaborators include Joel Plaskett, who produced Myles’ 2010 album Turn Time Off, and fellow native New Brunswicker Measha Brueggergosman, the acclaimed Canadian soprano.
Last fall saw a few firsts for Myles. He released his first francophone record Le Grand Départ, along with the acoustic version of Real Love. He debuted his first radio show, ” Myles From Home”, on CKUA in Alberta.
And he published his first book, Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo, a the children’s picture book illustrated by Murray Bain. It’s based on a Christmas song Myles wrote in 2014 (one of his daughters suggested he make the song into a book).
VIDEO: “Out of Love” – David Myles
Currently, Myles is working on a new full-length album he’ll be recording in June after his current tour, the first stop of which is at the Market Hall on April 24th.
“The most important part of my career is to be an entertainer, showing up where no one knows who I am and playing for a couple hundred people,” Myles tells the Asheville Citizen-Times. “They’re taking a risk spending money to come see me, and my job is to make sure that they have an awesome time — whether they’re 80 or 20.”
Tickets for David Myles’ April 24th concert at the Market Hall are $28 for general admission, or $33 for an assigned cabaret table seat, and are available at the Market Hall box office, by phone at 705-749-1146, or online at markethall.org.