INTERVIEW: David Brewis | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Peter Brewis

There’s a lot to like about David Brewis; he writes good music, plays great live shows, and is an inspiring figure in the way he deliberately pushes himself into new and challenging creative spaces. 

Perhaps best known for the diversity of sound he has helped create as part of Field Music, the latest challenge sees David pushing himself in a new musical and songwriting direction as he takes on the pressure of working as a solo artist on his debut solo album. Oh, and he’s also starting a record label, releasing other musical acts, and working on a solo tour.   

Ha! Yes, it’s been a busy time for sure,” he confirms, “but going into this I felt the time was right to work on a solo project for the first time and to challenge the way I write.”

Purposefully up-ending his approach to songwriting, David started his album with a central challenge: “There’s a certain belief in music that at the heart of a great song is a song that will still be great if it’s stripped down to an acoustic guitar or piano. In Field Music we often didn’t believe that was true, but with this album I really wanted to explore that idea and challenge myself to write in a different style, one that started off stripped down.” 

The outcome of David’s work and exploration is The Soft Struggles, a truly remarkable album that strips down Brewis’s unique songwriting to its basics and lightly sprinkles the atmosphere with gentle strings and a jazzy undertone. Imagine the immediacy of Neil Diamond’s 12 Songs and Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow blended with the jazz-styled orchestral intricacy of Pet Sounds. 

I really wanted to challenge myself to write in a different style, one that started off stripped down

Set across ten songs, including recent single The Last Day, The Soft Struggles is a lovely, almost seasonal, collection of intimate stories about ageing, relationships and the importance of community. Layered with lush orchestral and brass sounds, the album moves David out of his traditional palette and into a wider space of musical textures and landscapes; The Last Day itself is accompanied with lovely brass coatings which echo Field Music’s recent work with Durham Brass Band (“that was such an enjoyable piece of work which definitely fed into this record”). 

The Soft Struggles will be released under David and brother Peter’s new label Daylight Saving Records, which is intended to be a home for all of their non-Field Music extra-curricular projects and push the Brewis brothers into new creative spaces. “I felt that it was an important step for our music and the music we like, so we’re releasing Slug’s Thy Socialite! album which we couldn’t be happier about, and then we can start to release more music by me and Peter in various forms, which gives us both new possibilities and opportunities.”. 

To support the release a few live shows are planned for early 2023, which will feature a ten-piece band including many of the players from the record, and will include a date at The Customs House in South Shields. “I can’t wait for those shows, there’s a lot of work to do before we play but it’s an exciting prospect and it would be a shame not to give those songs a chance to be played live with a full band.”   

As for the rest of 2023, there are already plans in place for what comes next – but that’s for later – you can be assured there’ll be even more things to like about David soon enough. 

David Brewis releases The Soft Struggles on 24th February via Daylight Saving Records. He performs at The Customs House, South Shields on Saturday 6th May.

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