Name: David Britto aka Arrows!
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, music journalist
Current release: “To Your World”, the new single by Arrows! is out now.
Recommendations: Indian artists such as Vernon Noronha and Tejas Menon.
If you enjoyed this interview with Arrows!, visit him on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and twitter.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I began writing music around my early teenage years. However, I went ahead and decided to be in a band for about five years before revisiting my solo material in 2018 and since then there has been no looking back.
I grew up listening to rock music through the ages. Beatles, Nirvana, Oasis, Foo Fighters. I’m also big into jazz and blues as well as other genres of music, I’d call myself an open listener.
The main draw to music was just that apart from it being so exciting, the emotion involved within it is such a great feeling.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Oh yes definitely. I’d always want to emulate my music heroes. But I heard a really great quote once from John Mayer where he said “By failing to sound like my heroes, I began to sound like myself.” That resonated with me and I think helped me understand my own development as an artist.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I think more than anything my environment and experiences have influenced my creativity. I try to draw from emotions, relationships, family and that in a sense does hark back to one’s own identity – so more over it is an overall journey that informs my creativity.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I think one of the major hurdles from being a bass player in a band to transitioning to be the sole songwriter for my collaborative project Arrows has been in my ability to write lyrics. I’d often struggle in the beginning but over time I realised I just need to put my thoughts down on paper.
Slowly but surely I’ve gotten more comfortable with opening up that’s allowed me to express myself better through my lyrics.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
I still just use only my acoustic guitar to write songs with. Once I feel that I have something worth taking forward I’ll approach a producer to help me flesh it out.
I consider myself more of a songwriter and when it comes to software and recording equipment, I leave that in the hands of the pros or people who have a better understanding of the tech than me.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
In my case no, I try to keep it simple with just guitars, bass and drums.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
With Arrows! it usually begins with me on acoustic guitar finishing a song which then I take to a producer to enhance. From there it all depends on who best will fit on the track when it comes to instruments or vocals.
I’ve done file sharing, jams and even half a day studio session that have worked. So yes collaborations do take on many forms and all forms are worth trying out.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Since the pandemic and work from home began, I usually wake up at about 9am and begin my work as a music journalist at about 10 which goes on till 6 wherein I sift through emails from artists about their new releases, do interviews whether telephonic, over Zoom or emailers like this one, write down my articles for the day and publish them, put out social media posts etc.
I don’t try to force music out of me, whenever I noodle with my guitar after work and if I feel I’m on to something, I’ll make a note of the idea. Being a music journalist and a musician does make both worlds blend into each other.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I think playing one of the biggest music festivals called NH7 Weekender here in India with my previous band The Tripp is still a highlight in my music career. Although we went on at half past four, the crowd was such a thrill to play for.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I think you just need to be yourself when it comes to your own creativity. And by that I mean work at your own pace, don’t let social media numbers hinder you.
What matters more is your craft and the best way to have that idea state of mind is to just believe in yourself.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I’ve always found music to be healing both as a writer and listener. It is comfort at times for people going through stuff.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
If it is done in a respectful manner with a message of significance it should be considered fine.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I think when the visual and the aural senses both sit well with one another, it makes for a more impactful piece of art.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Personally, for me art is an escapism from reality and a way to say things about myself or others that I wouldn’t normally do in a conversation. My approach to art is for it to be a way to free myself from reality.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Sometimes how people really feel.