“I wouldn’t really class myself as a singer/songwriter, I’d class myself as a musician without a band.”
Rarely have I come across someone at a live performance who I’ve be endlessly enthralled by before they’ve even finished the first song yet when I caught a glimpse of He Is A Pegasus at an Indigo Sessions night a couple of months back I knew instantly that I’d seen something special. For those of you that weren’t fortunate enough to be there, here’s how he kick-started his performance;
Before anything else, it’s probably best to explain where the name comes from. “My friend Charlie had a son who when he was about two drew a pegasus in crayon and he wrote underneath it ‘he is a pegasus’, which we had to talk him through how to spell. Written somewhere now is this picture of a pegasus, which doesn’t really look like a pegasus because he was a child, but he’d written that underneath it and I saw it and it just worked.” Brilliant.
Having travelled down from Coventry, none of David Butler’s energy had waned by the time he took to the stage at the end of the evening and completely stole the hearts and mind of every single audience member. Not too long afterwards I got a chance to meet him and have a chat ahead of his gig at 93 Feet East – split into two halves by his impressive soundcheck. His Jackie Wilson-inspired falsetto blends perfectly with a Jeff Buckley-driven sound to create songs that are quite simply unique.
Despite it being mere minutes before he is scheduled to take to the stage, David is calm and admits he doesn’t even have a setlist. “I don’t think of that until there’s only about five minutes until I have to be on stage,” he says nonchalantly. There’s no heir of arrogance in these words yet he has every right to be confident in his own ability. He has a genuine love of live performance that comes across with ease. “You learn so much more about your songs when you perform them in front of people. You have to keep it fresh and keep it moving, otherwise you’re going to get bored and start resenting the songs which I never want to happen.”
Currently his main project is his Holy Mountain EP which he hopes will be out soon and has just begun gigging again after taking a brief break to put some new material together. “I’ve got enough for an EP, it’s just deciding which ones I’m happy with.” Since the interview he has already performed a short tour to support the album, which he admits is “a little bit ambitious considering I’ve not actually finished it or had any scheduled release date. I feel as if I go on tour and promote it as the Holy Mountain tour then I actually have to get my act together and do it.”
He’s just taken in most of the big cities across the country, including his first performing visit to Liverpool, and expresses that he enjoys playing to people that may not be familiar with his sound. There’s hope for festival season ahead as well, David speaks of how his music is geared towards “summer upbeat good times.” London is the “proper deal” for him as in his Coventry home “the music scene is quite good but it’s quite small, everybody knows everybody so when you go to new places it’s nice to get a reaction from people that haven’t seen it before because they aren’t expecting it.” I concede that we’d assumed he was going to be your run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter before we’d actually seen his performance. “That’s what I like to do, subvert that expectation that people have about singer/songwriters. It’s primarily one of the reasons why I don’t play an acoustic guitar, there’s just a million and one people singing songs about working in a chip shop. That’s fine and some people do that really well but it’s not what I want to do.
“What’s so good about the internet is that so much music is available to you now but one of the downsides of all that music being available to you at the click of a button is that if you’re making music yourself you have to really have something that really separates you from everyone else. I don’t tend to describe myself as a singer/songwriter because the minute you say that to somebody people have a pre-conceived image of what that’s going to be and I don’t want that. One of the reasons that this EP has taken so long is that I’ll write a song and then look at it and go ‘it’s too obvious, if I was listening to that I would expect it to go like that’. Whenever I try and write stuff I always try and make it so it’s something that people haven’t seen before, they can’t quite put a label on it or pin it down.”
So what exactly is David’s sound like? The instant inspiration that comes to mind is that of Jeff Buckley, someone that he’s very happy to be likened to as he spent plenty of time learning covers of tracks from Grace. “I realised I couldn’t sing it at the range he was singing it at. So I tuned my guitar down and started writing stuff in that tuning and settled on it.” He admits that there are considerably worse people to be likened too, his cover of ‘Hallelujah‘ went down a treat at the Indigo Sessions performance and he concedes that it’s a strong way to attract crowds that are otherwise unfamiliar with his sounds. “I try to make it so that every little thing that I do is perfectly crafted by me. It’s the thing that I do, it’s my baby. You write all these songs and then send them off into the world.”
After this recent strain of gigs he’s now gone back to preparing the new EP, though there’s never a real break in performance as he discusses how he constantly belts out these wonderful songs to ensure that his voice is always ready and waiting. His attitude towards songwriting is one that is sure to see him succeed – “If you listen to all kinds of things you can take things from that and make them your own.” Though he admits that he needs to listen to more music, an incubated state is what he prefers when writing music in the hope that he won’t end up accidentally plagiarising someone else’s music. “I want it to just be me, rather than saying ‘it kind of sounds like this or that’. I want it to be an inimitable thing. You hear Jeff Buckley sing and you immediately know who it is, there’s no ambiguity. That’s what I want.”
“I try to make it as honest and legitimately ‘me’ as I can.” The perfect motto to work by.