Alumni Catch Up; Dave Guest - Nexus ICA

We caught up with working bass player and MD David Guest.

You were a student at Nexus from 2004-5.  Briefly sum up what have you been up to since leaving Nexus.

After studying at Nexus, I went on to study Law at Cardiff University from 2005-2008. During that time I began working as a bass player, mainly in theatre and functions. After graduating in 2008, I pressed on attempting to and getting more work in all musical spheres (pop, theatre, recording and functions). I’ve played for Vanessa-Mae, Joe McElderry, Azadeh, Gabrielle Aplin and many others.

What are you currently doing musically?

Currently, I’m MD (Musical Director) for Gabrielle Aplin. I play bass but also sing BV’s, program all tracks that we use for the live show, and work with Gabby to come up with live arrangements. It’s my first pop gig as MD, so whilst I’ve played for other well-known artists, the responsibility on me and the ownership I feel of the music is much increased from anything I’ve done before. She’s a great boss to have and I’m really looking forward to hearing a lot of the second album that’s currently being written.

What does touring look like for you and how do you find managing marriage/church within the life of a working musician?

Touring is obviously part of the job, and completely uncontrollable. As a musician, it’s how you earn a large portion of your income and often in short spaces of time. You have to have an understanding wife and a supportive church family. Thankfully I have both. Knowing the requirements of my job, Kate (my wife) has really embraced it even though it’s totally counter cultural to the way she’s been brought up.  We’re both learning how to thrive best in it. Personally, we find that after I’ve been away on tour, we try to have a week or so at home together and then a few days away somewhere. That’s what works for us.

What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learnt about succeeding as a working musician?

The most important thing I’ve learnt about succeeding as a working musician is, as a very experienced musician friend of mine tells all young musicians: ‘BE GOOD’. That encompasses everything, and counts for everything when you show up for a gig, where you know nobody. Be on time, know the music inside out, and be fully prepared. No excuses.

As an MD, I can’t bear when people turn up not knowing their stuff, and it’s totally unforgivable (musically not spiritually ;o). My first call for a pop gig was Vanessa-Mae. I had about 48 hours with the music before we flew out, 18 tracks, most of which are classical prog in style, which I’d never played before. But if I’d screwed it up, the rest of the band, crew and management wouldn’t have said, ‘oh well you didn’t have much time’, I’d have been kicked out the door and done. As it was, I did pretty well and have been asked back again since.

How do you see your role as a representative of God in what you’re doing?

Representing God in the music industry is a tricky one. There’s a relatively high amount of Christians in the industry and there needs to be; it can be a pretty dark place. In the year after I left university, somebody I didn’t know prophesied over me that I’d be ‘salt and light in the music industry’ and numerous other statements that have also come to pass.

This is how I represent God in the every day of my job: It’s making people a cup of tea, going the extra mile, not gossiping — it’s in the small choices you make. Believe me, I’m far from perfect and make plenty of mistakes, but most people I’ve spent any time with in the industry know I’m a Christian, and not because I’ve shouted it in their faces, but because of my actions or a conversation we’ve had.

What are your hopes for your future?

My hopes for the future are to play with better-known artists, doing bigger gigs, and for my career to progress. Personally I love pop music, I think it’s great, so I don’t have any qualms about playing for pop artists. That said, playing for somebody like Gabby, who writes and crafts her own songs, is really rewarding, and I hope she has so much more success. She really deserves it.

I’d love to come back into Nexus at some point, sounds like it’s going from strength to strength!