Interview – Dave La Fame & best-selling author David La Thangue.
Good afternoon Wire Megazine fans. I am stoked to sit down with this stupendous artist from afar that is and get the scoop on what’s new in his musical realm. Yes, I am referring to the award-winning bassist, vocalist, top world Tribute entertainer, actor, comedian, DJ Dave La Fame who is also a business owner of Bulldog Productions. As well, he is known by his birth name, Oakville’s David La Thangue who is also
From the initial notes of his opening sets to the final bow to his adoring audience, Dave LaFame’s tribute shows capture perfectly the glamour, excitement and sizzle of some of the entertainment industry’s brightest stars. I am a huge fan since 2009 and am amongst the legions of 1000’s that follow Dave’s in-depth brilliance. Never idle, I am g
(Q)1. DEB: Can you highlight aspects of your cultural background that makes you and your work unique? (A)1. DAVE: “Yes, I grew up very working class in the UK .. Essex until I was 9 or 10 and then moved to Fulham Broadway in London until I emigrated (on my own) to Canada at age 19. I think it’s fair to say that Europe has always had a broader appreciation for the arts. So I had a much broader exposure to many art forms. Combined with the classic British humor and wit. Add that to the sledgehammer sensibility and unpleasant realities of life you’re exposed to when growing up in a poor area of a big unforgiving city. All those aspects, I like to think, have allowed my presentations to be more relatable, down to earth, and less pretentious.”
(Q)2. DEB: Did your upbringing prompt a specific reference point with your music? Like, is your music informed by certain concepts or themes from your childhood background, socio-economic status, where you lived, or were raised? In general, how does all this impact how you see the world and create music? (A)2. DAVE: ” Well, in those days most performers were still very “Vaudevillian”. They had to have many skills no matter what they were renowned for. Singing, dancing, acting, comedic timing, and improvisational skills. So I’ve never considered that I was “just” a singer, actor, comedian or musician. I’ve always felt that in order to survive a career in entertainment, the best way is to have other skills in your professional arsenal. So far it’s proven to be the correct choice. The biggest benefit is that it’s helped me to become a more complete entertainer. And a better showman. For example: If I’m there as Tom Jones. The audience experiences comedy and storytelling in addition to the voice, music, and movement. If my performances were an amusement ride; they’d be a rollercoaster, not a Ferris Wheel. In terms of socio-economic upbringing: Self-reliance. Hunger. A need to survive. I know what it’s like to have zero in the bank account. To have no savings or safety net. To not make enough rent for months on end. That sort of experience keeps you on your toes and your feet on the ground. It also puts me at odds with many artists. So many I’ve met think that because they went to university and got a degree or 5 (that their parents paid for) they’re owed a living. And have a bitter dislike for business people or anyone outside the arts community. Reality is that it doesn’t matter what you think of your “art”. The audience will always be the boss when it comes to determining it’s value.”
(Q)3. DEB: Tell your fans what your productions aim to say? Many artists would consider this a loaded question. The purpose of this question, however, is to assess how aware you are of what audiences see in your work and what it provokes, and why you make music. Some of the most historical and revered music always plays a deeper role in the transformation of societies. Some consider how their work relates to the current sociopolitical landscape or how the music can address these themes, (A)3. DAVE: “My productions don’t really have anything to say. My goal … actually my JOB .. is to earn the hard audiences hard-earned money by giving them what they expect and deserve. For them, that may be an escape from their stresses. A chance to rekindle a romance. To laugh. To cry. To relive or reminisce about past times and loved ones. I make music to provide my family with a living doing the (only) thing I’m good at. But I’ve realized that whatever “gifts” I have, I provide something of immense benefit to so many people in the audience. I think most artists start out enjoying the adoration of an audience. For some, it even becomes like a drug. That lasted only a few years for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I never tire of being given a standing ovation! But it’s
(Q)4. DEB: Do you think some of your performances touch on current social or political issues? (A)4. DAVE: “If they do I’m not aware of it and it’s not something I’d directly address in front of my audience. Not my job. However, music has and always will be a tool to enlighten and exchange ideas. To bring issues to light and encourage discussion and bring about change.”
(Q)5. DEB: Who would you say has influenced you the most musically now and then? (A)5. DAVE: “Well no question Beatles, Beegees, Sinatra and Bobby Darin. Probably the one guy I’d have to mention and place on a pedestal would be Sammy Davis Jr. He could do everything. Sing, dance, act, play drums, trumpet and so much more.”
(Q)6. DEB: Had you imagined 3 decades ago that your career would unfold the way it has and did you ever envision your incredible dedication and extreme talents would impact the entertainment world as it has? (A).6 DAVE: “To be fair I don’t know if my career has had much impact on the world! Maybe a few dozen individuals that I’ve helped get into the business or get more work. My goal 30+ years ago was to work in entertainment full time and make a decent living at it. In the same way that a guy doing real estate or an engineer or whatever would do. And in that regard, I’ve succeeded. I can honestly say that I never had thoughts of doing anything other than entertainment. There was never a question of IF. Only a HOW, WHERE, and WHAT.”
(Q)7. DEB: Contrary to popular belief, ‘making it’ in the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck. It requires talent, strategic, and determined effort based on your vision, goals, etc. Share with your fans information about your creative process, studio work, and about any awards you have received. As well, how have you developed your careers? (A)7. DAVE: “In reverse order: I received a CIC award in Las Vegas back in 2012. It’s an industry award voted on by your peers in attendance. And I was given the award for a top male entertainer. That was pretty cool and looks great on a resume! And here’s my thoughts and processes on the rest. It’s a business first and foremost. And a tough one at that. There’s never been any “magic”, there’s never been a “pill”. Like any business, you’re either prepared to do the work that’s required or you’re not. And workload versus pay for me is a simple mathematical equation Here’s my show biz math: Every minute spent entertaining an audience represents about an hour spent on a phone or meeting a client or cold calling talent buyers/agencies or doing industry research or rehearsing or studying or networking. So that equates to this: A 45-minute show represents 45 hours of me working to get that gig. And if the performance fee was $2000 it means I’ve been paid $55 per hour. Put into the perspective of average working folk it’s not bad at all, right? However, $55 will only get you 11 minutes with a cheap lawyer… As for planning and finding opportunities; To discover opportunities in the music and tribute industries I start by getting answers to the 3 questions “what’s in demand?”, “who’s buying the acts?” and “what is the audience demographic?” On the whole, I believe knowledge is fundamental and the golden key to discovering any opportunity. You need to know all of the intricate details of any business you are trying to become part of. Because what seems like the most amazing idea, in the beginning, will often fail because of unknown factors. Ultimately popping your balloon and wasting your time. The good news is that even if your original idea may be heading for a wall, doing diligent research has a profound way of opening up new things and can often lead you where you need to go. Sometimes in a whole other direction. In my experience, research has resulted in giving me some of my best, opportunities. They have literally popped up as I’m doing it. Seemingly out of the blue and subsequently led down a path of success. Studio work is all about networking and learning the process. To get the work you have to be excellent at what you do. Don’t even try until you know you have reached a very high standard. That standard will not come to you until you’ve put in an extraordinary amount of work and gained a ton of experience. And when the opportunity comes along, there are 4 unbreakable rules: 1. Be on time. 2. Dress smart & be clean. 3. Be way over-prepared and 4. Don’t be a jerk.”
(Q)8. DEB: What does success mean to you and what is your secret to longevity? Some artists seem reluctant to speak of just how frustrating and baffling the whole experience of navigating the general music realm is, let alone add in Covid-19, or how hard they try to still be ambitious about getting their artwork seen or sold. (A)8. DAVE: “Success is: Being able to what I’m best at and help provide a good lifestyle for my family. Longevity? I don’t know if it’s much of a secret, but you have to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat well, exercise regularly. I rarely drink, don’t smoke, and have no interest in drugs. And never be afraid to try something new. Also, in my opinion (and past experience) a complicated lifestyle is a drain on happiness. Keep it simple and drama free. Stop worrying about the things and people you cannot control. Keep love in your heart and show it to everyone. Even the people you don’t like. Work hard, have high professional standards. Remember who writes the cheque (the audience). Don’t forget the ones who helped you. And don’t forget to help those who need it. Spend time with the ones you love. We’re here for a good time .. not a long time (Is that a song?) “
(Q)9. DEB: Explain briefly how you’re currently pursuing your career and going after opportunities and some of the ways you’ve chosen lately to engage with your sea of fans, whether that’s within the top echelon of international art circles or based on your involvement with your local community despite the challenges musicians face trying to bring your art to the new formatted audiences at home, thanks to the Corona Virus. (A)9. DAVE: “So here’s the hard truth(s) with or without COVID: The music industry has been turned on its head since the phenomenal explosion of the internet and technology in general. Theatergoers outside of big cities now have an average age of 55 or older. Attendance is going down every year. Putting a show together is relatively easy but getting bums in seats is extremely hard. Most people don’t read newspapers anymore. Effective advertising has become a hit/miss guessing game. Casinos, Rib-Fests, BIA, and similar large outdoor public events are great, but they have given the public live music for free. So why go to a theater or Music Festival and buy a ticket? So where does that leave us? Look; change in the entertainment industry is nothing new. Think about the impact and what television did to vaudeville, cinemas, and live theaters. The big bands and orchestras of the 40s and 50s were almost wiped out and replaced by 5, 6- and 7-piece bands in the 60s and 70s. In the 80s synthesizers replaced everything from saxophonists to drummers so 3 and 4 pieces became the norm. In the 90s and 2000s, anyone could become a DJ and have a mobile library of 20,000 songs and mix from a laptop. Live bands were reduced to Friday and Saturday duos and bar money for musicians has become a supplement to driving Uber 40 hours a week. But like anything you must roll with the punches. Change is always inevitable. Nothing lasts forever. And the customer is always right. For every negative, the internet has brought us there’s been positive. Music can now be exposed to thousands of media platforms. Thousands of fans can be sent an updated newsletter at the push of a button. Calendars for your favorite act are available at your fingertips while you’re taking the dog for a walk or having coffee with you BFF! Marketing your product and assembling professional looking materials for promotion has never been easier or less expensive. My business is still mainly live but there’s been talk of paid, live, virtual and interactive concerts. And that possibility may become a reality very soon. So I’ve been investing in studio equipment and have already sourced several nearby studios with the capability for broadcast. COVID brought that idea to the forefront. That could actually be a great thing. No plane to catch, no rental car to hire or hotel to check into. I get to sleep in my own bed & have dinner with my other half and still entertain an audience in Georgia or Texas or wherever! I think that’s a win/win for everyone. Although I have to state truthfully, that nothing beats seeing an artist live in front of you. The feel and presence of the live artist, watching great musicians play up close and the atmosphere of a majestic theatre can’t be replicated. At least not yet.”
(Q)10. DEB: What’s next for Dave? (A)10. DAVE: “Business-wise: In the last few years I have been splitting my time between Canada and the USA. When COVID hit I was in the middle of a very busy Florida season that should’ve lasted thru May. To give you an idea: In February we did 26 shows in 29 days and we had 19 scheduled for March. We did 10 before we were shut down. In spite of the news reports, the bookings for January, February, and March 2021 are strong and mostly with private clients. But the theatre and public bookings are all in wait and see mode. Artistically: Tom Jones & Bobby Darin still get booked but the older demographic has been shrinking in over the last 5-10 years. My Elton John has been getting busier since the movie came out. My Police band has a smaller niche market but remains one of my favorite tributes to perform. The Beegees act that I co-produce with Dave Radford is by far the busiest act in my stable. And the demand is growing. I am involved with a unique Beatles production. No costumes. It is the creation of classical concert pianist Haley Marie. It’s a documentary format that explores the “Men Behind The Music”. Haley narrates. I play bass, sing and throw a few scripted one-liners into the mix. I am really stoked about this show! Last year I decided to put my feet back in the acting world. Did a few auditions and got a supporting role in a musical workshop called Billy & The Dreamerz, which was a great experience and it helped shake the rust off my acting chops. So I’ve been pursuing TV and film work again this year. As well as more studio work as things are starting to open up again. On a personal level, my third Grandchild is due in late August so I’m planning on spending as much time with all of them as I can.
(Q)11. DEB: How can fans stay in tune with you? (A)11. DAVE: “You can visit my social platforms and enjoy links to my shows at the following:”
Tom Jones https://youtu.be/hRZjFhTwpso
The Police https://youtu.be/zOOkd08rjHM
CTV interview https://youtu.be/lKB68ad3ofM
Thanks for your time, Dave. Stay safe, be well, and rock on!