When he tried singing at a local event held by the Mosta Community, few would have known that this will launch his music career. Now 23 years old, David Jr Meilak, better known as Dav.Jr finds his passion mainly in songwriting, having written his first song at the age of 11.
Having taught himself guitar, he decided to form his first band. After several band names making rounds, they settled down with Desvidian. He formed his second band, Monsters Ate My Grandma, at the age of 13, and Criminal Kiss at the age of 15. With only two songs, Criminal Kiss lasted for around six years, complete with live performances and recording seven times. While still with Criminal Kiss, David joined a band called Auntie’s Yellow Sofa, writing many different tunes and melodies which led him to perform at Beer Fest 2016 and 2017.
All of the above has given him the know-how and experience he needed to branch out into his solo project, Dav.Jr. It kicked off in January 2017 with a Facebook page and a debut launch ‘Everyday,’ which gave him the courage to persist in writing – with at least 25 songs in one year.
Eve: Where did you get your stage name, Dav.Jr.?
Dav.Jr.: I was named after my father, so naturally people started referring to me as the Junior. I have always endured this nickname, and am very comfortable having it represent the person I am today.
Eve: Apart from music, you are very fond of the arts – performing arts and digital arts. Let us know more about all these personal interests.
Dav.Jr.: I have always been fond of non-verbal communication in general. At a young age, I was interested in body language, and different mediums of getting a message through. My attempt at art classes didn’t result in much, but they were followed by theatre, dancing a bit with my sisters. However, I never really felt that one modality was enough. So I kept on looking for new ways of communication. I then delved into poetry, also managed to write my own. Then after learning the guitar I turned [poems] into songs. At the age of 13, I started teaching myself Photoshop and Illustrator, which led me to take up an introductory course. From there I delved into photography and graphic design. During 2016 and 2017. I went all out and invested a lot of time to reconnect with videography, photography, graphic design, sound design, music production and songwriting.
Eve: Your music is mostly acoustic, based on many influences from diverse artists and personal experiences. Can you tell us more and how it all developed along the years?
Dav.Jr.: I have always listened to a wide variety of artists, as the saying goes, ‘My taste in music ranges from “you need to listen to this” to “I know, please don’t judge me.” This wide variety gave me a lot of different flavours I could put into my music. There’s always something to learn from asking “why is it bad?” or “why is it good?”
I love acoustic-based music, I love how you can just take one instrument everywhere you go and replicate a song using that one instrument. Having said that, during the summer of 2017, I decided to teach myself the piano and got to write many songs that are piano-based as well. Needless to mention, I’ve written other songs and visualised them to turn into a more electronic sound. They might be released later on this year.
Eve: This year you are planning on launching an album titled 11 || eleven, consisting of many tracks you have written over the past years. Tell us more about this new adventure.
Dav.Jr.: 11|| eleven came about during the same time as the name Dav.Jr, in which I started focusing on how I can turn my dreams into reality. At that time I had written 11 songs in which I had started recording bit by bit. This idea comes and goes: I would really love to compile an album under the name Dav.Jr. However, I always delay it, because new music keeps on coming to me. At this point I might postpone this idea further, so as to establish one sound in which I wish the album to have.
Eve: Last December you released your third single ‘I’ve Got You’. This song was written for a Maltese original motion picture Misteru tal-Għoġol tad-Deheb aka The Golden Calf. What is special about this single?
Dav.Jr.: ‘I’ve Got You’ is a song which I cannot pin-point where it came from, up till this day. I remember talking to Charlo C Bonnici on the phone about the possibility of writing a song for their upcoming movie, hanging up, picking up the guitar and suddenly the tune was formed. At that time all I had was the basic idea of a young girl struggling to find her place in a loving home, and not even the possibility that I would need to finish the song, because both Charlo and Ruth Frendo were exploring other options before moving forwards with their plan to have me write it. I received the phone call a month later for a meeting with both producers and, well, then it all worked out in the end.
Eve: At what point in your life did you realise you had a singing talent and when did you start taking your talent seriously?
Dav.Jr.: This is a very funny story for me. Back when I had formed my first band, Desvidian, we needed a singer. On one of our band practices we decided to take it in turns to see who might have the best singing voice. Back then we hadn’t yet gone through puberty, so all of our squeaky voices were more or less fit for the job. Yet we had decided that the keyboardist and the drummer start singing.
Desvidian had broken off, and even though I had kept playing with the same keyboardist, puberty kicked in and we were all out of voices. We had a new drummer to form Monsters Ate My Grandma, in which the band’s sole purpose was to perform at a school event where we had foreign students visiting us, with no singer. Someone had to do it, so I stepped up. We practised one song and performed it in front of 200 people. The band kept on meeting up and gigging. From then on my voice only improved, and I also got more familiar in what I can and cannot do. However, even though all those years singing, I had never really taken it seriously. Only during 2016/2017 did I start looking up exercises, training myself to pitch and breath right.
Eve: If any of our readers were interested in trying to break into singing, what would you recommend them to start with?
Dav.Jr.: Personally, I don’t feel like I am the best person to give such advice. However, what helped me the most was to just sit at a piano, play random notes breath in, and try hard to pitch that note without fluctuating. Hold it. Try the next note, and repeat. Though its sometimes hard to believe, everyone can learn to sing. Yet like most other skills, you just need to practise, practise and practise.