AMERICAN singer-songwriter David Choi, 28, has made so many trips to Malaysia, he has lost count of the number of times he’s been here. He’s also so familiar with South-East Asia that he recorded a translated version of his song By My Side in Bahasa Indonesia featuring Indonesian artiste Maudy Ayunda.
Still, the multi-talented musician was happy to talk to R.AGE about the stories that inspired his latest album, and how they affect his life.
What can you tell us about Stories of You’s and Me?
It’s still 100% me, but this time around I’ve hired a lot of great musicians. The drummer, Victor Indrizzo, has played on a bunch of hit records (with Gnarls Barkley, Alanis Morissette and Gwen Stefani, to name a few) and the bassist is Sean Hurley (John Mayer’s bassist) so I was very lucky to have big musicians like that play on it.
My last album was released in 2011 and (this record) took a while because I was just living life.
Do the songs you’ve written in the past still hold as much meaning to you now as they did before?
I will say that over time they carry less weight for me personally, but when I do sing them, they bring back memories. It’s just like, if you were to look through photos of your ex.
But they also create new memories through the stories that are told to me. For example, Won’t Even Start is about breaking up and once in a while, people send me emails saying this song helped them get through their break up and they share their stories with me and I read them. It’s really cool.
How do you feel about your fans that reach out to you?
It’s pretty amazing. Just the fact that people from all over the world email me is pretty insane. I get all sorts of emails and I’m appreciative of all of them but sometimes it can get really deep. Like, they share their life story or somebody talked about wanting to commit suicide and they listen to my music and it saves them. Those are the thins that I think are just crazy. I don’t even know how to feel.
Do you see yourself as more of a songwriter or a musician?
Songwriter. I write music for myself and it’s amazing how people can relate to it and I’m very appreciative of that. For me, the songwriting process is a little more personal so even when I share my music, it’s like being vulnerable. It’s almost like talking to a therapist – I feel like I’m expressing myself to a therapist but with an audience.
Do you think songwriting is a talent you were born with, and that some people just naturally express themselves very well?
Do I think people are born with talent? I think some people are. But do I think that musical skills can be developed? Yes, I also think that.
I do not express myself very well that’s why I do it through music. I’ve actually gotten that before (that I don’t express myself well). People have said that.
Who said that?
Girls. People that I’ve dated. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I’ve gotten it a couple of times where they’ve said something like: “Why don’t you tell me how you feel?” But that’s not how I am. But I try. Then I write them songs.
So what sort of tips do you have for aspiring songwriters that you’ve learnt along the way?
I think when writing songs, it’s about being real with yourself, but there also is the craft of songwriting as well. Like phrasing, melodies and structure. So I think those two things need to work together. Being able to be honest with yourself, like writing in a journal, doesn’t have to make sense structurally, but it’s about taking that and then turning it into something that can fit this song structure.BTW