Mike Dawes is an English Fingerstyle guitar player known for composing complex mulit-layered acoustic guitar music. His debut record with CandyRat Records gained strong critical acclaim and spawned a variety world tours and singles, notably a viral virtuoso arrangement of "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. Mike shares some of his thoughts on the acoustic guitar and the community of modern acoustic fingerStyle guitar.
AU: FingerStyle is very much a solo endeavour…does that say something about the players?
MD: I don’t think it does. Because we play music solo, doesn’t mean we like to be alone in our personalities. I mean, a lot of us, myself included play in this style because no other musicians in our vicinities, keep in mind we started this pre-mySpace and pre-Facebook and all of that. There were no other local musicians that shared the same vision so you know if you want something don - do it your self…try and play the drums, try and play the bass. Just because we do that doesn’t mean we’re solitary people because we’re all super sociable, it just so happens the gigs we do are solo shows. When I work and the Moody Blues guys it’s like a family. We all get on the bus together and it’s like a reunion. There’s a whole crew, guitar techs, sound all that stuff. And when I travel solo I’m often gigging with other musicians so we’ll have our own music, our own little compositional studios all over the world but we get together at the guitar festivals. So I don’t think it is lonely or isolated. I think the only time when you are really by yourself is on an aeroplane.
AU: Can you tell us about the Candyrat boom and what that has meant for FingerStyle and yourself personally?
MD: Discovering all these artists and the whole Candyrat Youtube channel, it wasn’t so much a revelation as more of confirming this idea I had that there were musicians out there that started this idea, that shared this kid of “vision:. It was amazing, it made me feel like I was at home. It made me feel that there were other people out there that share the same ideas and that these people all over the world could hang out one day and we do.
MD:Just after I decided I wanted to get into FingerStyle properly I went to university in Bath, and on the refrigerator, you know when you move away from home for the first time and go to uni, there was the local gig list. And there was just this guy “Jon Gomm” playing at the Porter Bar in Bath and it was like that night. And I thought OK, great way to see the town, go to some show you know. And I went and saw this guy and was blown away you know because I thought “Oh my god, there’s other people doing this stuff” you know. It’s not just Eric Roche and Andy Mckee on Youtube. And Jon brought the vocal and all the effects and I hadn’t really seen that before so that was really interesting. I was having some hand troubles at the time as well so he gave me some really great advice on hand health and things and I guess we’ve been friend ever since.