It's time for our second CMB-ite Spotlight with singer/songwrter David B. Dollar. David is a dear friend and we wanted to promote his debut EP Benefit of the Doubt, and ask him a few questions about his music making journey...
CMB: How did you get started in music?
David B. Dollar: I got started at a very young age listening to my dad and brother playing The Beatles and Bob Dylan records. Oh yeah, and Led Zeppelin. My dad was actually an artist at the time too, having just put out his first and only cassette recording of contemporary Christian tunes.
We had guitars around our house and I would pick them up and make sounds. Eventually I asked my dad to teach me a few things and the rest is history. I got started playing in bands around 11 or 12, mostly in church settings.
CMB: Who would be your top three non-musical influences?
David B. Dollar: Jesus for sure. He's my lord, my savior, but he also wasn't afraid to speak the unpopular truth when it was needed; this reminds me of a good artist, musician or otherwise. My mother has always been my biggest supporter, whether in word or prayer. There's nothing like a mom who doesn't stop praying for you. Watch out.
CMB: How about your top three musical ones?
David B. Dollar: Man, where to start. The Beatles were my first introduction to amazing songwriting so they will always be up there near the top. So creative and groundbreaking, unafraid to try things.
MxPx was a pop-punk group that I latched on to as a teenager. I loved their raw energy but they still had singable, ear-worm melodies. Life in General will always be one of my favorite records ever.
John Mayer is such a talented person. His songwriting, guitar playing, singing and overall musicianship are inspiring. Every record of his sounds different so it's cool to see where he'll end up on the next one. Very versatile.
CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?
David B. Dollar: It depends on the day. Ha. Usually I'll start with a musical idea on guitar that I'll base the whole song on. Other times, I'll create a melody from scratch with a "big idea" lyric and fashion the music around that melody, or I'll just write out some lyrics and attempt to put them to some music that I've previously composed. I love all three of these approaches and find that my music will take different shapes based on which approach I use. It's fun.
CMB: Let’s talk about your new EP, Benefit Of The Doubt. Where did it all start?
David B. Dollar: It mostly started with a handful of songs that I had been working with since around 2011. I had about 7 or 8 good ones that I'd been playing live but knew I could really only afford to do about 4 with my budget. I had my eye on a beautiful studio in downtown Durham, my hometown, and I happened to know a few dudes who worked there. It's all about who you know ;) They got me a great deal for two days and I invited some friends of mine to play on it. We had a great time even though it was kind of a breakneck pace. Two days is nothing. I had never done the solo artist thing so it was fun to be the songwriter, the performer and the producer. Tiring, but fun. Oh, also, I got an anonymous donation two days before I went into the studio that helped me cover all the expenses. Pretty amazing. Thanks, God.
CMB: As a self-produced artist, what recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?
David B. Dollar: Ha, not much of a studio really. Just a copy of Garageband and a few pieces of gear that a friend gave me ;) I have an M-Audio Firewire interface that works really well actually. Also, a 44 key midi controller from M-Audio. It's all I really need for making some pretty decent demos. I have actually just released a song that I did on GB. I'm very pleased with what you can do in Garageband, although I do have my eye on the new Logic X.
CMB: What would be your biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?
David B. Dollar: "I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning." - Faulkner
I love this quote because as creative people we should never run out of inspiration, especially those of us that have a relationship with the living God. He is unsearchable and unfathomable. Obviously, there is a practical element to this as well. Music won't create itself. We need to be disciplined. I recommend reading as a start. It grows our vocabulary, which helps with lyric writing.
CMB: Can you tell us a little about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?
David B. Dollar: I am currently employed at a local church in Raleigh, NC, where I'm the worship director. It's a great group of people. We meet in a movie theater. Being in vocational ministry has definitely played a part in my artistry. I think the two play off of each other very closely. Whether I'm playing music in a church or a bar, I'm expressing art in the local community and my hope is that it's always reflecting my faith in Jesus.
CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online?
David B. Dollar: You can find my new EP on iTunes if you search David B. Dollar. Also, I have all my music on the fine sites below, including my new single, If You Help Me Understand. Go to my Reverb Nation page and help me climb the charts in Durham!