Guitarist David Clifton Crimson talks to NIKHIL VARMA about his love affair with the guitar, music in India and his upcoming projects

In school in Singapore, David Clifton Crimson was like any other youngster. “I was involved in all kinds of sports and won trophies with the football and basketball teams. Music was not a priority then and I never received any professional training.”

He moved back to Bangalore with his family when he was in the eighth standard. “I was diagnosed with asthma when I was in the 10th standard and could no longer go for outdoor activities. I was terribly bored sitting at home and picked up my dad’s guitar. It was love at the first strum.”

The 25-year-old guitarist, is also a music producer and guitar tutor. David plays guitar for a clutch of bands ranging from those such as Swaratma (folk), Vasundhara Das band (classical), One Night Stand (pop music) and the Christ college band among many others. He also performs solo live occasionally and is the lead guitarist for a Delhi-based Hindi rock band Bandish, where he has collaborated with a host of artistes including Shubha Mudgal, KK and many others. He is part of metal bands such as Whitenoiz and the Thaalavattam project that uses recycled junk to create music.

David says that he is a self-taught guitarist. “I was extremely shy as a child and could not bring myself to meet a teacher and enrol for classes. In a couple of years, my love affair with the guitar continued and I decided to pursue it as a profession.”

He adds, “In the second year of college, I decided to drop out and make an attempt to make a career out of the guitar. I got a job at a music company, Unwind Centre, a music school and performing arts troupe based out of Chennai. I was noticed after I performed with my college band at some of the events in their school. They hired me to look after their branch in Bangalore. I was still not very sure about music being a full time career option.”

He adds, “It is not a very easy career path. I had to struggle to get established and earn my living. The key to making a career in this field is to have a lot of patience, continue to hone your skills and look for the best opportunity. It gives me immense satisfaction to work on something that I am very passionate about.”

His work at the school helped him network with people in the industry and got him his first assignment. “Bands like Swaratma and others noticed me when I began uploading videos online. The internet played a very important role in shaping my career. The advent of YouTube and numerous recording platforms has changed the manner in which the music industry operates. You can upload some videos and become popular without running after numerous music companies and producers. I feel that people who listen to songs online must also buy the CDs. It helps the artistes and keeps the industry afloat. The best feeling in the world is when people buy your music that they have heard on the internet.”

Is playing for bands that focus on different genres of music a very difficult task? “Not really, before taking up work for a band, I listen to their music, look out for the sounds of the guitar in their songs and prepare accordingly. I enjoy playing all kind of music on my guitar.”

David feels more comfortable working in a band, rather than solo performances. “I prefer working with a band, where i can follow a specific style. I do conduct small performances for friends and family. I like any music that is guitar oriented.”

Apart from working with these bands, David is currently working on a project with music director Judah Sandhy. He says, “We are in the process of recording the album. The album is a mashup of a range of my favourite sounds and includes a dash of electronic, Indian and rock music. It is scheduled to release later this year. I have also received some offers in films and am looking at it.”