Smooth jazz artist and guitar player Dave Sereny‘s talent extends from his love of the great jazz and blues artists, including exceptional guitar players. Sereny studied composition and arranging at Berklee College of Music, where he was able to work with some of the most renowned jazz musicians and producers. Although he really enjoys playing guitar, he was encouraged to begin singing, so he did.
Sereny recently released the music video for his single, “Talk To Me,” featuring him as a vocalist. With his new single and music video for “Spotlite,” the focus is on Sereny’s musicianship, as there are no vocals or lyrics. We had a fun, lengthy chat with Dave about his new music video, “Spotlite,” his love of singing and playing guitar, the recording of his new album, Talk To Me, and working with director, Kyle Ingram. Read on to discover unique discoveries about Dave Sereny!
When is it that you knew your talent as not only a composer, but a vocalist also?
Dave Sereny: I had no idea! I could never get through a song! Everyone told me not to sing! I was recording guitars for a great producer named Marcus Kane, on some pop project he was working on. I was humming along to my guitar and Marcus kept turning around asking me to sing what I had just subconsciously sang. I said I didn’t sing anything and he said yes you did and you sound like Michael Franks! He then said he wants to do a song together, Thats when I told him he has lost his mind and maybe should get his hearing checked. That song is “Talk To Me”! I can now say I am getting more comfortable with my voice and have been going to local jam sessions and working it out! So thank you MK it’s been fun! The best part of working out my singing is that I developed a new way to accompany myself on the guitar that sounds like a whole band! Stay tuned I will be putting some of that on my next project!
You also run your own independent label out of your home in Toronto…what led and/or inspired you to run your own label?
Dave: When you own recording equipment all of a sudden every musician in town wants to be your best friend! When home recording became available and you weren’t beholden to a studio or a engineer it was quite exciting to try and venture into the world of acoustics and engineering. Still to this day I carry on. There is always something new to learn! Also, I think I was hiding behind doing other people’s music and records so I could learn to do it for myself at some later point in life. It’s a real struggle for me somedays feeling like your back at square one, but that is the challenge. I would like to thank Akai products; they make making music easier for me!
Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of your latest album, ‘Talk To Me?’
Dave: This ties into the previous question. I set up a studio up in the country over looking a lake. Once again, a new set up and recording process. That process of capturing music via recording equipment a new set up, and the new Akai software! I got inspired and I woke everyday at 4am and started recording and writing. I had a burst of creativity and was lucky enough to be able to capture it and finish it to a final product. I heard a funny story about Donald Fagen of Steely Dan saying that when he released the Babylon Sister album and heard it back, he thought that the whole thing was out of tune! I can relate and kind of had a similar experience before releasing this music, especially because I am singing for the first time!
Ironically, your latest single “Spotlite,” which features no vocals or lyrics, and solely focuses on the music. What drives you to release music with vocals and music without? What creative freedom do you get with both?
Dave: What drives me is my relationship to the guitar! I love the guitar; it can be played so many ways and has been played by so many fantastic human beings who are so good in their respective styles that it is overwhelming! George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Paco De Lucia, Tommy Emanuel, Paul Gilbert, Jeff Beck…so, to answer the question…What came first, the chicken or the egg? They are all just sounds to me! Starting out as a guitarist and now only recently have I started using my voice, I would say the song dictates whether or not there should be lyrics. “Spotlite” was initially conceived for a vocalist, and it became an instrumental! I guess it’s like a casino, 50/50, but the song always wins! As for the creative freedom part, I have yet to attain that sense of being! Learning guitar and music for me is like running through mud! I hear what I want to learn, then I proceed to wear out the tape deck until I have learned the music, and sometimes having to rewind small sections eight million times! Creative freedom has appeared now that I am able to accompany myself on the guitar while singing! This and playing with great musicians, making music without borders, with friends, is also for me the pinnacle of creative freedom!
You worked with director Kyle Ingram on the music video for “Spotlite.” What was that experience like, and was the vision behind the video both you and the director or yours?
Dave: Kyle Ingram; a great guy! The concept was Kyle’s! I was thinking more detective with chase scenes – kind of like a 70’s show for example “Starsky and Hutch”! He said “No, you’re the pied piper and Im like OK!” I’m glad I listened to him – thanks Kyle! The experience of it was fun especially having to play requests from passers by! The jam at the club scene was fun and the guys in the band were great; Butch who is Kyles dad, Arnold, Satch! Thanks guys; that made the experience very special!
Who was your first concert, and who has been your favorite so far?
Dave: This is one for the record books! Doobie Brothers,1974, Maple Leaf Gardens. Michael McDonald and the boys full tilt! It doesn’t get much better than that. I just saw Michael McDonald recently and he was fantastic as usual! A true gift to the world of music! Favourite concerts of all time
1. Bootsy Collins
2. Parliament Funkadelic
3. Miles Davis with Robben Ford on guitar. If anybody listening or reading has any bootlegs of Robben Playing guitar with the Miles Davis Band please send them to me!
4. Stevie Wonder
5. Aretha Franklin
6. Chaka Khan
7. I was lucky enough to have seen most of the blues and jazz greats when I was a kid! Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard with VSOP, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howling Wolf, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorious, Joe Zawinul, and for smooth jazz I saw Grover Washington at Ontario Place with the 360 degree revolving stage backed up by Pieces Of A Dream! I was probably 15 years old at the time and remember being completely blown away!
What was your first album on vinyl, cassette and/or CD?
Dave: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John! I was 9 years old! it was on vinyl and I still have it and listen to it. I remember buying it and being so excited about going home to listen to it and I wasn’t disappointed. I remember listening to “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting,” get a little action in! Another gift to music thanks Elton!
Which five albums or artists would you not want to live without?
Dave: James Brown/Maceo Parker, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Delilah aka Beata Lakatos Sereny, super star! Ray Charles, MJ!
What album are you currently playing in rotation?
Dave: Jamariquoi, Maceo Parker, Led Zeppelin, Michael McDonald, Roger and Zapp; Micheal Jackson.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
Dave: I don’t really like feeling guilty about anything and the things that give me pleasure are affirmations from friends, family and colleagues, playing music, making love a priority, dancing!