ambient loop guitarist - dave stafford

 

dave stafford is an accomplished electric guitarist, specializing in working in the new standard tuning for guitar, and also in the use of the energy bow as an alternative to picking. as well as his electric guitar and ambient loop guitar work, dave is proficient at acoustic guitar, bass and keyboards, being self-taught on the piano since age four.

 

aside from guitar based music, he is also particularly interested in the possibilities presented by software synthesizers, and indeed his latest album “sky full of stars” has been created by exclusively using a single instrument, the remarkable m-tron “mellotron” software synth – one instrument, but in the hands of stafford, a myriad of moods, atmospheres and ambiences.

 

as an ambient loop guitarist, dave has worked extensively in the field of looping, using loops as a musical tool, often coupled with the ebow, to create both ambient and more active musical works.  besides his solo work, he has collaborated with many other musicians and appears on broad selection of CD releases, compilations, collaborations and special musical projects, as well as having an ongoing involvement with guitar craft since 1989.

to learn more about his earliest involvement with music, please read this archival interview with dave stafford taken from AUTOreverse magazine (the paper version, from the 1990s). by way of comparison, a current interview from 2011, also coincidentally from AUTOreverse magazine - but the current electronic version online.

 

historically, dave has been a member of: crafty acoustic guitar duo the dozey lumps; their electric-power trio alternate configuration luxury yacht; the ambient electronic looping duo bindlestiff; the inventors of the drone, drone forest; and more recently, the orchestra of crafty guitarists.  dave participated in the orchestra’s debut live performance in san cugat, spain in february 2009.

 

beginning in 2003, dave became a contributing member of the drone forest collective, an experimental four piece that utilised the internet to create their unique collaborative “drones” - a different kind of ambient. during one of his stints in drone forest, he mixed and mastered the album “ZOSO” as well as appearing on many of the bands releases, all of which can be downloaded for free from the drone forest web site.

 

in between these collaborations, dave is a solo artist, performing ambient/active loop guitar whenever the opportunity presents itself.

 

born and raised in southern california, where he played in various bands from age 13 onwards, and also performed as a solo artist, dave now permanently lives and works in scotland where he is currently preparing both his latest ambient album, entitled “sky full of stars” (expected late 2011); as well as his new progressive rock album, entitled “gone native” (expected mid to late 2012). in august 2011, dave released a very ambient album, entitled “the haunting”. consisting entirely of energy bow guitar loops - which is a return to the trademark ambient ebow sound that he developed in the early 1990s, which means that now, some 20 years later, this special kind of ambience in stafford’s capable hands, is just transcendent.

other current projects are an early involvement in creating music and sound effects for e-reader (such as the kindle) content, working on the future development of embedding music and sounds directly into e-books, graphic novels and other electronically-delivered mobile content.

 

 

 

 

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dave stafford - news

for the most recent dave stafford news and also for free downloadable MP3 audio tracks, please see the pureambient news page.

 

in older news, in late 2009, dave stafford played a showcase gig at the tolbooth in stirling, scotland, featuring new loop / compositions from his forthcoming active album, "gone native", as well as the more traditional quiet, ambient loop material from his back catalogue, along with new and improvised material.

 

dave stafford returned to the stage as part of the tolbooth's electronic bar series, which features djs interspersed with live performances.  the tolbooth audience was absolutely brilliant, listening quietly and responding well to both the "louder" active material, as well as the very quiet ambient material.

 

overheard in the audience: "this is utterly unique, I have never heard anything like it". high praise indeed.

 

 

 

earlier in 2009, dave performed onstage with robert fripp and the orchestra of crafty guitarists, at their debut live performance in san cugat, spain.

dave stafford - gallery

 

blast from the past - early photos and newspaper clippings

 

 

 

 

 

 

1971: Looking very cool (standing at the back, right) with my first electric guitar, a no-brand semi-hollow body electric.

This was so long ago I don’t know the name of the band, but that’s Rick Snodgrass (far left) on electrified acoustic guitar and Brian Monaco on the drums.  I have no idea who the other guitarist is. Tommy someone.

Typically, since no one played bass (as usual), this was a band with three guitarists and a drummer - a bit ungainly.  We played all covers, a lot of Creedence Clearwater Revival or Beatles songs, but of course in a very primitive way!

Brian and I shared lead vocal duties, with our 2 Shure microphones plugged into tiny guitar amps - alongside the three guitars!

A sonic travesty, but we loved it.

1977: A few years later, I’m posing for the publicity shot with the bass, because I often was the bassist - because no one else could play bass.  In Pyramid, I did it all - I played lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and sang lead vocals.

We rehearsed a lot but didn’t gig much - it was this band that tackled the big, ambitious music of the day - anything from trying to learn an entire album side of Nektar’s “Remember The Future” to picking apart tracks from Led Zeppelin’s “new” album “Physical Graffiti” - we played “The Rover” and spent months learning “Ten Years Gone” - and then never performed it live.

Later, we tackled even more difficult material, such as the title track from King Crimson’s “Red” album.

Pyramid was more of a dream band than a real band, and we could never find a real bass player - so, there I was, filling the bass player’s shoes once again!

 

 

1978: A year later, and my friend Mike Packard asked me to form a band with him, so we did.  Things were much simpler back then - you could just do that - “hey, let’s start a band, OK?”.  “Sure, why not”.

I had played a one-off gig with Mike before, in the short lived but curiously named “Uncle Wiggly’s Lost Parade”.  We didn’t have any material, so we played Neil Young’s “Southern Man” for 20 minutes - which I taught them on the day of the show.

Later, Slipstream developed a decent repertoire of covers, some detestable, others brilliant (such as Steely Dan’s “Barrytown” and The Allman Brothers “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”).

We gigged quite a bit more than Pyramid had, which was good, and we also had a sixth member, a female singer, Elen Maisen, and when we had her on lead vocals and played the Enlisted Men’s Club down at the Navy Base, the sailors went absolutely mad for her renditions of Stevie Nicks (better than the original if you ask me) when we covered the then very popular Fleetwood Mac (this is very difficult to admit).

For me, that was the worst of it, having to play rubbish Top 40 just so I could then enjoy a few stolen moments of playing REAL music - “Elizabeth Reed” (where I played both organ and lead guitar) or take the lead vocal on my beloved Steely Dan cover. After all, everyone knows - Barrytown people got to be from another world.....

quiet... peaceful...  ambient music.  pureambient music.

                 dave stafford      

the ambient music microlabel

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