I'm a modern guitarist with a skill set that spans almost any genre. As a hired musician, I make your goals my goals and tap into a wealth of performing experience playing with Grammy caliber talent to make your music better than you thought it could be. I'm as easy going as players come and am adaptable to almost any working environment.
Blood & sweat, like fortified concrete, are the foundation of any hard fought musical legacy. For Dave Cavalier, from the controlled chaos of his live shows to his bleeding fingers after a raucous set, they seem to be essential ingredients of his art, his persona & his music. With the emotional capacity of a hurricane, Cavalier’s guitar playing is almost as if a tattooed James Dean played guitar like Hendrix, bending his memories into music at every turn, snapping strings most nights in the process. Unfazed, it’s clear that pushing such on-stage, musical exorcisms to the very edge is part of Cavalier’s process and that his relatable & genuine personal stories want to bring you along for the ride.
The Huffington Post has called him, “Jack White merging his talents with those of Robert Palmer...his music defines what is known as the carnal arts - sexy, sensuous, gritty music.” After his 2015 release, “HOWL,” with Grammy nominated producer, Hal Winer, Cavalier has performed with Buddy Guy, Eddie Vedder, Don Henley, Aloe Blacc, Kendrick Lamar, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Amos Lee, Band of Horses & many more at festivals across the country, continuing to fine tune his sound in the process. He is an award winning film composer and has been the focus of both national and international marketing campaigns for brands such as Peugeot, Best Buy, HTC Vive, Las Vegas & San Diego Tourism.
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Interview with Dave Cavalier
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: My debut solo release, the "HOWL" EP was a turning point in my musical growth and my career. It was my first experience with a Grammy nominated producer & engineer and being exposed to the detail and expertise of that process was eye opening. I hired a phenomenal team of musicians to back me up so I understand the artist's role in that regard and what great musicians can bring to the table and how they can really bring a record to life.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: A new record of my own, launching a new pop project & continuing to write & record music for film & television.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog if you can afford to do it and have a distinct artistic vision as to why. Just saying, "Jack White did it" doesn't count, haha. Otherwise, I really love digital for the ease and speed of the work process (slow work impedes creativity) and I really do believe in the quality of the plug ins available to artists now.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: Wherever "there" is for you, I promise we'll get there.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: As an artist myself, I know that feeling when you listen to something through headphones that once was only some crazy dream bouncing around inside of your head. That fulfilling emotion is magical and the idea that I can play a small role in helping someone get to that moment makes playing music so much more than notes & melody. Music becomes a way to connect with other individuals and contribute to their happiness in a complicated world.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: "Are you any good?" "Hell yes."
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: The biggest misconception is that if I play blues rock, maybe that's all I can do? It's not. I listen to & love so many different genres of music and find it inspiring to play as many different styles as I can. I know I'll always have something valuable to contribute.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Where have you been? Where are you now? Where do you want to be?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: It's not about finding the best player, it's about finding the right player that makes you the best musician YOU can be. Be honest & identify your personal weaknesses and then go find an individual that is excellent at doing what you're not so good at. Personally, I'm confident in my skill set because I can do a lot of very different things very well which allows me the chance to serve a wide variety of artists successfully.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My Les Paul, Red Plate Magica, Cry Baby Wah, a comfy chair & someone to jam with. Those last two count, right?? :)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: My path has been and still is to pursue a career as a recording artist. I found that my music only got better the more I was able to collaborate with other musicians so now, I actively look for those opportunities to personally grow as an artist & I genuinely find joy in helping others achieve their goals.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm a modern blues guitarist adaptable to any genre. I focus on the emotional quality of every note on every take and try to say more with less, using empty space as a big weapon to create tension and capture the listener's ears. I believe there aren't any "wrong" notes if you play them "right," and I understand people listen to records first & foremost because of how the music makes them feel.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I've always dreamed of working with New Zealand artist, Kimbra. An incredible jazz influenced pop artist most notably known for her duet with Gotye in "Somebody That I Used To Know," her solo material is inventive in it's production and utilizes her voice in incredible ways. I think we'd make a phenomenally creative duo. I also have a great love for the music of Chet Faker (aka Nick Murphy), whose laid back vibes & sexy grooves I play along with at home all the time. Chet and I could definitely create some grooves that would result in at least a handful of pregnancies, ha.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Hire great musicians & trust their input & experience. If you worked tirelessly to write great music, don't sell yourself short by hiring anything less than a great team. Great musicians usually have some invaluable experience. By hiring good people & keeping an open mind, you're actually hiring every musician they've had the pleasure to work with before meeting you. By allowing that wisdom to influence your record, that's when the "studio magic" starts to happen and you can create something well beyond any of your initial expectations.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: My personal project, Dave Cavalier Trio, is alternative blues rock with a heavy focus on blues improv & thick, danceable grooves, both heavily distorted and not. I also perform acoustic fingerstyle compositions as well top 40 pop music.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I speak "Artist," priding myself on my easy to work with personality & my excellent communication skills. Relying on my experience as a recording artist who has hired studio musicians, I know how to identify what an artist is really looking to achieve. My ability to play lead guitar in a blues or blues rock setting is my strongest asset as a player.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As a producer/songwriter myself, I understand more than just structure & how to balance between instruments/parts, but I also deeply value tension & release which can create movement and emotion. Having worked in a variety of genres, I understand the marketability goals of some artists & how that affects the overall sound. As a performer, I'm cognizant of the restrictions one may face translating studio recordings to a live setting and how to achieve maximum results in the studio while still setting the artist up for success later. All of this knowledge influences the creative decisions I make in the studio to assist in achieving an artist's ultimate goals beyond the recording process.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I usually begin with a lot of questions to identify how specific a vision the artist I'm collaborating with has already. If he/she knows exactly what they're looking for, I immediately focus on how best to achieve that sound & approach while sprinkling in suggestions based on my musicianship & experience where I think they may be beneficial. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if an artist has no idea what they'd like at the outset, I'll start with some broad questions & examples to begin narrowing down what seems to be the best fit and fine tune from there (pun intended, ha). No matter what, my goal is to serve the song first, which, in turn, always serves the artist I'm working with.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My rig is as follows: -RedPlate Magica : a beautifully ballsy boutique amp based out of Phoenix. The Magica offers both an 18w & 50w setting for a warm, naturally overdriven distortion or a warm, full bodied clean tone that really sings. It's Lead & Gain channels are laser precise when it comes to great tones, no fillers here. -TC Electronic Chorus + TC Electronic Delay (FX loop) -TC Electronic PolyTune + Mooer Compressor + Dunlop 535Q Cry Baby Multi-Wah + Mooer Pure Octave + Empress Fuzz + MXR M77 Custom Badass Modified Overdrive
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I've always been drawn to four players that make up the pillars of who I am as a player: B.B., Jimi, Eric & Stevie.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: My goal as a hired guitarist is always to achieve the artistic vision of the musicians I'm collaborating with. With a heavy background in blues, I'm typically tasked with performing and/or writing lead guitar parts and/or solos. My "less is more" approach, however, leaves room for any artist I'm supporting to shine. My skills provide comfortable rhythm guitar playing with a great pocket to fill any necessary space where needed as well.