Last week I got the chance to speak with Dave. Not long ago, The Invisible were out in Nigeria as part of a collaborative project for something to do with the Olympics where they were working on collaborations with some Nigeria musicians which was culminating in a live performance of the band on their last night there. During the third song Dave was swapping instruments with Tom – as he took hold of Tom’s bass he was still holding the guitar which completed an electric circuit and he sustained an electric shock which lasted ten seconds, passing about 240 volts through Dave’s body. While he remained conscious throughout the ordeal the shock actually caused two breaks in his leg.
“It definitely counts as one of the worst experiences of my life … I feel so, so lucky still be alive – and really, really grateful to Tom and Leo, my band-mates, who pretty much jumped in and saved my life and got me through it – it definitely ranks as quite possible the worst experience I’ve ever had; but it’s a real relief to be on the other side of it.”
Dave’s mum died during the course of making the record – in fact, they were approaching the final stages of making the record when she passed away.
“It felt like an enormous fracture; I felt like I was on the other side of it; there was definitely a period of re-callibration… I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to continue to live my life in the way that I had been.”
Dave flew back home to Kenya to lay his mother to rest; before leaving he had a discussion with the band and their producer telling them to carry on working on the record and that he’d he what state he was in when he got back. He tells me that while he was away, Tom, Leo and Richard File (producer) made some “really bold decisions about the direction and tone of the record… which really matched the state of mind I was in. “
“When I came back, what I discovered when I reconnected with music was that all I was interested in was honoring my mum’s memory and grieving her properly … it was really driven at a most fundamental level by a deep, deep need that I had .”
I had wondered if there was ever any time where he felt that couldn’t, in fact, share, such deeply personal feelings so publicly, “I did keep coming up with that questions.. and I remember this sort of voice within saying ‘you just have to do what to do and kind of just worry about that later’ and when it came to it, I had all my convictions about music and expressed challenged at the most fundamental level, and what it reaffirmed to me in a really profound way was the believe that there is a validity to sharing things as honestly as you possibly can and in an as transparent way as you can – however personal or painful or joyful as they might be , and by doing that you let go of them and you allow them to become universal because we all experience pain and suffering and loss and joy and love and rejection and all of these things – it’s life; and that’s the beauty of what art or music has the potential to do… to communicate and have a dialogue about that that.”
He continued “to almost test myself in quite an extreme way in terms of what I believe music is for and to to recognize that even though it starts with some a personal process, it’s not really about me.. it’s about communicating and connecting with humanity basically.”
Dave told me that he had disconnected with music when his mum died – he said that he couldn’t listen to it, he couldn’t engage with it like he had before – but it was at the funeral for his mother; his grandmother arrive she was accompanied by a group of women who sang traditional spiritual songs. “I just remember hearing that sound; and it was the moment that music returned to me… It was such a beautiful moment they came into our home and they completely transformed the atmosphere with the way that they were using their gift… It was a a really powerful and spiritual moment; where it seemed to have this impact on everyone there; it was so inclusive – I could see that everyone started expressing themselves in a complete way.”
Dave explains that as part of his mother’s grieving those women would come to his grandmothers house every day for the next six months to sing; and he recorded some of those times. When he returned to England he felt compelled to have those sounds stitched into the record. “Again, it was quite a scary thing to do; it felt so personal.. but it really felt like it was the best way to honor my mum”. He told me about when he first experimenting with blending them together, “There was this incredible thing happening with the tonality where they actually blended effortlessly with our recordings; it was a sort of unifying moment and a brilliant way to testify to what had happened… there was a tone to those spirituals that was joyful and celebratory – although there was mourning and grief within it they weren’t just sombre and sad ; these women were celebrating my mothers life; and that’s the sentiment that I really wanted to be present on the record.”
Listen to an audio edit of the whole interview here, we even ended up chatting about our mutual friend Connan Mockasin…
THE INVISIBLE’s sophomore album RISPAH is out now