This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing the St. Louis-based singer-songwriter David Trull, who just released his first full-length album, Coin Toss, in June. A lyrically strong and diverse set of songs in the Americana vein, the album is well worth your listening time. To get a taste of it, check out his single “Dark Magic” and get to know him through this interview.
MM: I really enjoyed your song lyrics. Where do you typically drawn inspiration from?
DT: I’m the type of songwriter that can sit down and bang out a song just because I need to write one. I come up with hooks very easily, but as far as lyrics I pretty much have to wait for them to strike. I’ve written songs in a clinical way, but I’ve found that these are never the ones people remember. The main approach I use to get inspired is to put myself in new or unusual situations in order to trigger emotions necessary to write lyrics. Once I get to that state, they start flowing and I just write until the flow stops. Then I edit what I have written into a song.
MM: Obviously you play guitar and sing. Any other instruments?
DT: I was a very serious slide guitar player for years (still play as much as possible). Electric blues was the setting in which I learned about guitar and music in general
MM: You have a great voice! Have you had any vocal training? If so, what was it like?
DT: No training, just old fashioned trial and error. Still have a long way to go, but I am glad that those who have heard the album have enjoyed where I am at vocally right now.
MM: How did you get started in music? In songwriting?
DT: Music in general when my uncle gave me an electric guitar at age 13 and taught me the basics. I spent several years completely immersed in blues and jazz. Later, during college, a friend asked me to accompany him on guitar while he performed a few originals that were in the “folk” vein. People reacted so well to his originals that I decided that I wanted some too, so I began listening to as many great songwriters as I could and imitating them until I started to come up with ones that were legitimately my own.
MM: What would you call your musical style?
DT: Perhaps Americana? I think it’s a pretty rounded style. I tried not to dip too far into either country or very “traditional” sounding folk to keep the focus on the lyrics and song itself. I think in the future I will try to keep the musical backing as much of a blend as I can, although I think the lyrics fall solidly into the “Americana singer-songwriter” vein. The goal I have for future albums is to continue to vary the instrumental backing in order to keep myself from getting too settled into one style.
MM: What music did you grow up with that influenced your style?
DT: My parents had a small collection of CD’s and records around the house that I listened to on my own or when we would go on roadtrips. They had a handful of albums by songwriters that were having their heyday in the 90’s when I was a kid that I listened to countless times: Greg Brown, Kate Wolf, Ben Vaughn, Lucinda Williams. When I got into high school I got very heavily into blues and jazz and spent hours wading through the catalogue of classics in those genres. I was always a heavy radio listener as a kid, so I think I developed a pop sensibility over the years just from absorbing the hooks I heard on the radio.
MM: If you were stranded on an island and could only have one album with you, what would it be?
DT: Only one album is a brutal fate! I think I would go with “Songlines” by Derek Trucks. While I do not think it is the greatest album ever made, it is the album that got me into “good” music and first inspired me to play guitar and want to be a musician. I think all musicians have an album like that that for one reason or another snaps them out of simply being a passive listener and makes them say to themselves: “Hey, I want to do that too”. “Songlines” was that album for me.
MM: Do you tend to write solo or collaborate with other musicians in the process?
DT: Always solo for the songs themselves. I have never co-written. When it comes to the actual recording I usually direct most of the process, but I have definitely solicited advice and taken suggestions from engineers and studio musicians about arrangement and instrumentation when recording.
MM: What are your near and distant future plans and goals?
DT: I plan to spend the next year touring as much as I can and just trying to get the songs to connect with people. I love the feeling when someone messages me and says that they’ve been playing my song in the car all day, or even once that a song I had written had made them cry. I think focusing on getting in front of people live is the most important thing to me at this stage. At some point I will have to force myself to do something crazy again in order to inspire some more songs.