Toronto, ON: After a recent sighting of David Byrne at this summer’s Mostly Mozart Festival’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) performance at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, my interest was peaked to learn more about the legendary musician and his perspectives on crossing boundaries in music. With collaborations that clearly touch, if not overlap with the classical genre, such as his work with Brian Eno and his most recent collaboration with St. Vincent, David Byrne seems to live out of his abundant stream of creativity.
Wednesday evening’s Authors At Harbourfront interview “Wassup Internet?! Music in the Digital Age” gave a small window into how Mr. Byrne ticks. Introducing Mr. Byrne’s new book How Music Works, the conversation immediately dove into issues around copyright and licensing music in the age of sampling and downloading. The forty minutes of banter between host Cory Doctorow, co-editor of the popular blog Boing Boing, and Mr. Byrne, dwelled on factoid musings about Napster, SoundExchange and Digital Rights Management. The brief, but witty and insightful comments from Mr. Byrne nonetheless painted a picture of a man whose success not only lies in his talent and creativity, but his natural affinity to go with the currents.
Following the main conversation, the audience Q & A ranged from advice-seeking to questions exploring how the general atmosphere of music-making has changed for Mr. Byrne over the last 30 years. Mr. Byrne was at times at a loss for words, seemingly because his creative life is so subconscious. He gives the impression that his focus is unwavering, though his process has progressed as the climate and business concerns have changed with the advances in technology. Mr. Byrne suggests that a unique sound is what has drawn him to other’s music and is central to one’s music standing the test of time.
The event left me still curious to know more about Mr. Byrne and there is certainly a wealth to be explored online about him. But maybe the most valuable insight to be taken away from the evening is a confirmation that the mysterious qualities of creativity, channeled through a skillful individual, is the universal key to keeping fans coming back for more.