On The Record with David
In on the record, we speak with members of the Precious Sound community about their music truths, precious mementos, and more.
In today’s On The Record, we sit down with David Miller who is the project manager the Jazz superstar Avishai Cohen and his indie label Razdaz Recordz! We talk all about David's childhood, the impact of music, and how his kids are discovering that same love for music!
Precious Sound: You worked at one renowned label for over a decade and are now an independent. What do you miss most and what do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
David Miller: I don’t miss anything at all about working for a large, international independent. I also don’t regret a single minute of working there! To me, that is like asking Miles Davis if he preferred his modal period or his electric period. There are distinct eras in a career, and right now the independent route is the appropriate choice for this era of my life. I am thrilled to be able to choose to work exclusively with music I love and people I greatly respect.
PS: So, what is your favorite part of being an artist manager? And what's the hardest?
DM: I love being a manager. There is no role that is closer to the actual creation of music or to the artist – that is thrilling! There is also no better way to get a wide overview of the business and the economics behind it. Finally, being a manager requires you to consistently think outside the box and problem-solve. Handling literally everything can get a little bit overwhelming at times, to be sure, but being trusted by an artist to manage his/her career is a great honor.
David at a Rolling Stones show
PS: What most surprised you about Precious Sound’s silver, gold, and platinum records?
DM: The purity of the material. I sort of assumed this was all a bit of a marketing gimmick – right, ok, a silver record – I guess it’s just a normal record with a silver garnish right? But no – it is fully silver! And then I realized that the Precious Sounds team are all geeks in the same way that I’m a geek – but that you all geek out on precious metals in addition to music! I love to see passion, and there is clearly a lot of passion behind this product.
PS: What is the moment you realized the importance music plays in your life?
DM: I think I sort of always knew because I lived it. But I wrote my college entrance essay about the meaning of music to me. Then, when I took a creative writing course freshman year of college, I got an A+ by writing about an Allman Brothers concert experience. It's always obvious when you put it down on paper, isn’t it??
PS: What did music mean to you growing up?
DM: The age of 14 is when I truly fell in love with music. My friend played me “It’s Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It)” by the Rolling Stones and I was hooked. From that moment on, I have lived through music. In high school, music was cultural currency. Your taste defined who you are. Many of the seminal moments in my life are related to music – like my first concert (Tom Petty) and my first jazz concert (Mike Stern).
PS: And what role does it play in your life today?
DM: You’ve caught me at a very particular moment in my life. With young children, a lot of the ways that I consume music have changed. On the downside, the number of concerts that I attend has dropped, as has the amount of time I have in a day to actively listen to music (kids tend to be loud ...). However, on the upside, I have the joy of watching music play a role in my kids’ life, and I use music to “curate” their development. My oldest son has been to his first concerts in the last year and it is fascinating to watch how his ear and his attention span develop. Or the moment when my youngest kids begin to recognize the Beatles – what a thrill! Music is no longer just an accompaniment to my activities – it is also a tool to educate my children!
PS: Speaking of children, as a father, what role does music play for your your kids and how do you share that love with them?
DM: The most important advice I’ve gotten as it relates to music with kids is to keep it fun! It sounds easy, but my wife and I often try to encourage the racket. Kids are loud – let them be loud! My oldest just got headphones for his keyboard which ironically only make him louder – he tries to sing along with what he’s playing and of course, sings loud enough for the entire apartment to hear. As long as you keep it fun, the role music plays for the kids develops organically depending on their desires and needs.
Seeing Avishai Cohen at a synagogue in Berlin - also his son’s first concert!
PS: What's an album, song, or piece of music that evokes a precious memory for you?
DM: That’s such a great question. For me, certain moments or periods of my life are defined by the music that I was listening to at the time. All the emotions that I felt throughout my study abroad time in Hong Kong are soundtracked by Bill Frisell’s beautiful version of the American standard “Shenandoah.” For some reason, when I’ve had painful breakups, I seem to only be able to listen to James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. The euphoric beginning of my relationship with my now-wife is associated with Mike Stern’s “Wishing Well.” The emotions of the birth of my first child are associated with Francis Cabrel’s “Petite Sirène.” I have a playlist called “Music I Love.” A great part of my music listening involves that playlist on shuffle, and I am constantly adding to it with new music I discover. I would venture to say that each of those 1,747 songs is associated with a particular moment!
PS: What song or artist would you like to see (and hear) on a gold record?
DM: Well, I have the pleasure to work with jazz superstar Avishai Cohen and I would love to see his biggest hit “Remembering” in this format. But I just think there are so many fun possibilities! What about the French 80’s legends Gold and their big hit “Capitaine Abandonné?” What about a "Platinum Voices” series with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Emmylou Harris?