Alumni Special: David Lawrie

From Pink Floyd to producing film music

David studied both BA and MA at LCoM, and with a passion for storytelling in his music, has developed a creative career as a producer and sound designer. He has worked around the world, in the studio, in theatre and film.

David is releasing his crowdfunded album 'Dorothea's Boat' on March 9th, which is going to be"a lovely, tangible, eye-popping 12" vinyl record as well as a digital release" - amazing!

What was your earliest musical experience?
My first musical experience, other than playing pots and pans as a toddler, and recorder in my first years at primary school, was hearing a performance of Für Elise and subsequently being bought a piano at the age of seven for the sole purpose of learning that piece. I would say, however, that my first truly significant experience was at the age of nine when my father got hold of an advance copy of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell from a friend of a friend at EMI. We sat down together to listen, and it was the first time I had properly heard a “concept” album. This album has undoubtedly shaped the way I think about music, and is one album to which I constantly refer. “High Hopes” remains as my favourite piece of music.
How were you then motivated to pursue a career in music?
I was very fortunate in that I had parents and teachers who pushed me to improve and stick with it. When I started to study music technology at sixteen I realised that, actually, I was quite good at it, so I spent all of my spare money on equipment and all of my spare time writing and experimenting. From there it was a very natural progression.
Who’s your greatest inspiration?
That is a very difficult question. I don’t think there is any one “greatest” inspiration, but many inspirations whose influences are apparent at different moments in time.
What was your favourite thing about living, studying and being a musician in Leeds?
Leeds is great. There is always something going on with which to get involved and the centre is not so big that distance becomes a problem for getting involved. The college was very well equipped, both with musical equipment and musical minds, so my time there was a period of rapid musical growth.
How would you describe your challenges and joys of that time?
Being a student is hard. Money is tight, there are pressures to be out all night and it is most people’s first experience of independence. It would have been very easy to fall into the trap of making university a three-year-long night out with the premise of “study”. Fortunately it wasn’t too difficult for me to bypass the nights out and I was really hard on myself and made sure I worked on music as much as possible (i.e. all the time).
What would be your dream collaboration?
There are four that spring to mind – each for very different reasons; David Gilmour, Björk, Nico Muhly and Mike Einziger. Or all four of them, and me, at once! That would be good.
Can you make it happen for me?
Well, seeing as we’re coming up to our 50th Anniversary, maybe we can pull something special out of the bag!
So considering all this inspiration and study, how has your career developed since leaving LCoM?

Since leaving Leeds College of Music I have found myself in England, New York and California, working as a composer and producer for and with many artists. I worked on the sound design and musical arrangements/productions for theatre productions, and I produced albums for many artists (some of which got me some nice prime-time airplay on national BBC Radio). I have found myself working as a mastering engineer for many artists, and most recently I have been recruited as the main sound designer and mix engineer for David Diley’s feature length documentary Of Shark And Man. I have also just begun working with two others to launch a record label/community called Ishikawa Records, which is in its infancy. My newest album Dorothea’s Boat will be the first physical release for the label at the start of 2015.

How has your study and musical development at LCoM aided your career?
I spent a lot of time working out my own ways of approaching music production at Leeds College of Music, during the creative time that was afforded to me during my BA and MA. Since leaving the College I have been able to develop these approaches in all of the projects on which I have worked. I’d like to think that I now have a unique style, and it is this style that is attracting new clients and collaborators to me.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I would say that one of my proudest moments was when one of my productions was aired on BBC Radio 2 on a Saturday afternoon, and from there, the artist was invited to perform the song live for Dermot O’Leary’s show a few weeks later.
And finally, where would you like to be in five years, apart from performing with David Gilmour...? 
I hope to see Ishikawa Records take flight, along with my solo career. Apart from those two milestones, I would just like to be doing a lot more production and composition with and for other artists!
Read more about David's work, and listen to his music...

Or watch here!

(All photo credits to eYe SeE yA Photography)



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"I spent a lot of time working out my own ways of approaching music production at Leeds College of Music, during the creative time that was afforded to me... I now have a unique style, and it is this style that is attracting new clients and collaborators to me."

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