With fans hailing from Austin, Texas to Barcelona, Spain, David Morin still chooses to play on the streets of his hometown, Vancouver. You’ve heard his voice echoing through the streets of Downtown, and although it’s an unconventional way of promoting music, his busking adventures have helped launch him into the spotlight. A neo-soul wonder, Morin is bringing smooth vocals, synth loops, and conscious lyrics to the stage of the streets around the world. Inspired by local artist Randy Ponzio, Morin creates music for the people; but don’t be fooled by the seemingly simple mix of electronic, R&B, jazz, soul, and hip-hop. Morin’s songs are filled with stories and themes of love, pain, self-governance and rebellion — stories he hopes will resonate with everyone.
With his debut album Every Colour, soon to be released with Bombay Records, Morin is only at the beginning stages of his success. This year, The Source called him “The Next Big Thing in Music” and for Morin this is a “dream come true.” From his humble beginnings skipping class in high school to play with the KORG keyboard, to the new attention he has garnered recently, he finds this new reality hard to believe.
We had a moment with David Morin over the phone while he waited at the Granville Island busking draw of the day. Nothing we wouldn’t expect from him.
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Hey David! What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on promoting my new album called Every Colour. I’m in the marketing stage, and I’m releasing singles at the moment. I’ve released two singles, one called “Life Goes On” and the other is called “Heaven”.
When is the album coming out?
We’re releasing it near the end of July.
That’s so soon! Anything else other than that?
I’m pretty much working on just that. We’re trying to focus on this project and make sure that it gets to everybody’s eyes and ears. I just finished another music video, so I’m going to be releasing another single and that song will be called “Come Home.”
Do you know when the single is coming out?
We’re just waiting for the edits to be finished. We’re going to be releasing a Kickstarter campaign as well because it costs a lot of money to do these music videos.
So I’m going to reach out to my fanbase and the people that have been watching and supporting and see if they can participate and help out.
I understand you’ve just returned from your trip in Europe. How does busking in Europe compare to Vancouver?
Well…that’s a really great question! Europe is the old world and it is full of culture. I think it is generally more accepted and well received over there than cities that are younger like Vancouver. I feel like the main difference is that people express themselves a little more in Europe, where you get a lot of people dancing and clapping and it is more energy of “give and receive”. Whereas in Vancouver, it is more of a passive reception of that energy. And I think that’s the main difference. I think that the love and the energy is there, it’s just that it’s a different energy. Not good or bad, just a little bit less expressive I’d say.
Would you say the excitement is kept inside almost?
Yeah. The city is younger and it still doesn’t really know who it is yet, so I just think we’re kind of in the adolescent stage. We’re just building our own culture and there’s a lot of fear involved with that. I think that the energy is just internalized and it’s still accepted but just not expressed as much.
Your popularity has been growing recently, and a couple months back The Source called you the “The Next Big Thing in Music”. How do you feel about getting publicity from a publication like that?
How do I feel getting publicity from The Source? I think that’s kind of a dream come true for me. When I was young, the Vibe, the Source and Soul Train have always been yenno. It’s huge for me! It’s almost like I don’t even believe it in way? But I’m really excited about that and I think that’s really going to help shape the perspective of me as an artist in the world of music. In the music industry, you need those kinds of boosts to help build confidence in people’s perception of you. And that’s a good look for me because that’s the kind of genre and palette of music that I’m trying to attract. I’m really excited about that and I just feel like I’m on the right path and I’m accomplishing my goals and following my passion.
Speaking of your new album. You’ve said before that your debut album “Every Colour” runs parallel with your life experiences and acts like a sort of diary, what life experience does your single “Life Goes On” represent?
“Life Goes On” is probably the most accurate depiction of my life. I mean “Life Goes On” is kind of about the struggles that one faces as an artist. Trying to make it or become successful and then the lessons you learn along the way. For me it was less about making it in the end and more about the experiences and the wisdom that I gained through meeting people, busking, and being challenged and overcoming those challenges and becoming a better person and a better musician — trying to push on through the adversity of the music industry and maybe coming from a small town and not having even a stage to perform on. So I think that song actually represents my diary more than anything.
It sounds like you’ve had some bumps in the road in the music industry and trying to put out your music while facing these things. Does anything stand out as the most difficult thing for you starting in the music industry?
I mean the biggest struggle I had was understanding how it works. I think even to this day, I don’t have a full grasp of it? I think it’s kind of about relationships and building good friendships and face and basically acquiring believers. Really kind of funny because I don’t really feel like I’m completely in the music industry? I feel that I’m not actually in it, really. Nowadays it’s more of like if you want to be in the music industry, you kind of have to start doing your stuff. You have to come up with content, start a Youtube channel, make some music, try to get it out there, try to get a team. The music industry kind of doesn’t really want you unless you’ve already done something and nobody is really going to do it for you but yourself. What I’ve learnt is that you kind of need a team for that. That’s one of the bigger and tougher steps or challenges to…find a manager, find a booking agent, find press, and PR, and people like you who want to interview me!
And that’s kind of how you build your own stage in the music industry. I’ve learnt that in the music industry it’s more of the labels and the business side of things that don’t have so much of a connection to the music. It’s still a struggle for me to understand because I haven’t really been involved in it too much at this point yet. But yeah, at the moment I’m an unsigned, independent artist. And yeah, I wouldn’t really say I’m in the music industry at this point.
Just got your foot in the door?
Well, I’m almost indifferent. I’m kind of more in it for the music, so if the music industry decides they want to hang out with me then yeah, sure go for it. But I do what I do because I love it. I think those are the kinds of artists that actually have a long term career because they don’t compromise too much and just keep it real. They just try to make the best decisions, and the best choices along the way. So that’s kind of what I’m striving for.
Props to you for trying to keep it original and not giving into what the industry wants.
You busk quite a bit, and I know you’ve had some wild busking adventures. What’s this story I hear about a lady forcefully kissing you?
[Laughter] Yeah. So a long time ago, when I first started busking. It was my second year busking, and I was playing on Granville Street. At Granville, they shut down the street during the summer time so I was sitting on this bench playing to not very many people. Usually if I play late at night, there’s always someone drunk and it can either be good or bad or awkward. And in this sense…it was awkward. I sing at lot and I get a lot of attention, especially from girls young and old. Yeah, they really resonate with the music and sometimes that gets translated into “I want this guy”. [Laughter] She came up from behind me and she just kind of grabbed my shoulder. When I turned around, she just laid one on me. And I was like “Oh hey, wow, what?” I didn’t really make a big stink out of it. When you’re performing like improv for example. Say someone jumps into the scene and says something not really fitting with your story, you kind of have to make it work. The show must go on, sort of. I kind of just played along with it, but I was really uncomfortable. [More laughter]
Wow, way to push through that.
Yeah, you have to do that a lot.
This won’t be your first musical..no, not musical. I mean music festival. All this talk about improv is throwing me off!
This won’t be your first music festival, but Khatsalano is just around the corner. How are you feeling about playing there?
I’m ready because it’s quite difficult to get gigs or festivals in my hometown. It’s always way more difficult in your home town. I’ve always thought I’m not really going to wait around for someone to accept me, I’m just going to play and do my thing. That’s why I play on the streets. The irony was that I was trying to get gigs, and now that I do, I don’t want them as much. The streets actually pay a lot more, and I love the vibe; it’s organic, it’s guerilla and there isn’t much of a stage divide which I love. Now that I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve ironed it out quite a bit. I’m getting all these calls, and I don’t really want to play at these gigs. Festivals I’m really into because you see more people and the energy is more high frequency. I’m really excited to play in a local festival; I think it will be really cool. I know quite a few people on the bill and I know it’s going to be a success; Khatsahlano always has many people.
You’ve mentioned your appreciation of the street vibe; why do you choose to busk instead of using other methods of promotion?
For several reasons actually. I do use other methods of promotion, but this seems to be the most impactful. I’d say that playing on the street shows this sense of vulnerability which creates a certain amount of trust with your audience. When you have that trust, the audience starts to see that other people may be dancing or clapping or getting into it. Other people are kind of in the herd mentality and they just follow, and they turn up. They get a moment as opposed to “Guys, we’re going to this show and we’re going to pay for this thing to see this artist!” Which is cool in its own way, but when you surprise people and they get something out of it, it’s almost like they’re recharged. There’s a strong emotional connection.
On a street corner you see two, three thousand people walk by. That’s a lot of people who are listening — at least on a subconscious level. The people who really resonate will stay and they becomes fan for life. They feel like they’ve participated in something. They come up to me and say “Hey David!” like they know me, and sometimes I have no idea who they are, but I remember their face. They’re going to remember that moment for a really long time. In that sense, they’re going to go to my Facebook and hit the “Like” button, and follow to see what’s happening in my life because they really resonated with what happened. They want to see growth. It’s probably one of the strongest promotion tools. There’s tons of content you get with people on their phones posting it on Youtube. If you check Youtube and type my name there’s thousands of videos — videos I’ve never even seen. It’s free promotion! Guerilla marketing.
The first time I heard you was actually on the streets of Downtown Vancouver. It sounds like this method of promotion is really working for you.
Yeah, I think it is.
I understand that your new album name Every Colour is synonymous with “everybody”, how do you take this concept into consideration when creating your music?
Well, it was more of an introduction. Everybody has got their own story, regardless of where they come from. Culture, race, or whatever. There’s tons of juice in there that I think people can relate to. I’m not really making a record for anyone specifically. I’m just kind of making it for humanity. Its got stories of love, pain, and suffering, and it’s got themes of rebellion, self-governance, and just things I believe in. I’ve been influenced by people like Randy Ponzio; he had a huge impact on my life. He passed away in 2011, and he was always fighting for the people. He sang songs for humanity and that left an impact on me. Hopefully my music does that for everyone.
Final question; what’s next?
Next I’m going to start recording more. I want to put out a new album, and I also want to start releasing new singles. Mostly I just want to collaborate with other artists that I’m a huge fan of. I’m going to dedicate time after we’re done marketing to hit the studio with people I’ve been planning on working with. Start some dialogue with some of my friends, and people that I just look up to. Just put out more content, yenno?
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Vibe with David Morin at the upcoming music festival Khatsalano on July 11th, 2015.