Interview: Orba Squara’s Mitch Davis “Perfect Timing” for a new Album.
by Daniel Haim
Orba Squara is the indie pop brainchild of Mitch Davis, a New Yorker, a singer and a songwriter with an ear for simple, uncluttered melodies. Here’s the funny thing — I am positive you’ve heard one of his songs before. Here’s why: his song, “Perfect Timing” was the one featured on the first Apple iPhone Commercial. Aha!
The project was launched in the mid-2000s, when Davis decided to replace his former approach to music — which involved the heavy use of electronics and electric instruments with a simple, homegrown sound. Using such “organic” instruments as mandolin, accordion, and toy pianos, Davis single-handed crafted Orba Squara’s debut album, Sunshyness. Word of mouth brought the album to the attention of Universal Records, and Orba Squara’s debut soon became one of the most licensed albums since Moby’sPlay, with nine of its ten songs being used in iPod advertisements, television projects, and feature films.
I’ve had the pleasure to sit down with Orba Squara for an interview, I’ve had some good questions to ask him. Also, he’s coming out with a new album titled “The Trouble with Flying“.
Orba Squara — The Trouble With Flying Music Video (This footage for this time lapse video is taken from the cross country journey)
Daniel: What’s behind the name Orba Squara? Does it have any special meaning?
Davis: “Thinking of a name is always difficult. I didn’t want to just go by my name because I wanted it to be about the music rather than about me personally. I wanted your first impression of the music to be based on what you actually heard.
I figured that if I created a name that had no specifically defined meaning, listeners would be able to read whatever they want into it. It is like a Rorschach test. — whatever it means to you. I thought it rolled off the tongue nicely.”
Daniel: When did you first realize that music was your true calling?
Davis: “There was never a time that I wanted to be involved with anything other than music. It was something I always felt a need to be around. I actually feel lucky that I even HAVE a “true calling” at all! I couldn’t imagine not having this thing that I feel compelled to do.”
Daniel: What inspires you to write?
Davis: Hearing new sounds inspires me to write. I look at music in a rather abstract way. It is not stories and situations. It is shapes and colors. It is rare if ever that I will sit down and say to myself “I am going to write a song about a lake”… I pick up an instrument and its sound inspires what I will write on it. Then that inspires something else.
Then I have something that makes me think “this song feels like a lake.”Hearing noises in the street and I loop them in my head and they become rhythms that inspire music. They *are* music.”
Daniel: You’ve gotten SO much recognition from the Apple commercial — and you know that everyone in the world has seen & heard it. Did you know that it was going to get that viral?
Davis: “You never really know when something will become viral. Things just take on a life of their own for whatever reason and it is really hard to predict. I am happy, though, that people noticed it and people liked it!
The story is that Universal Music had the CD, they gave it to people, one of the people was working with Apple, they gave it to Steve Jobs, he liked it, it made its way into the iPhone ad.
Daniel: You’re very into “Organic Instruments” — What are your favorite instruments to play?
Davis: “When I am recording, I do not have a favorite instrument. I really enjoy the process of recording music and playing different instruments and making it all fit together.
When I perform live, I prefer to play guitar. Guitar was my first instrument and it is the one that I feel most at home with when I just want to “play”.
Daniel: What part of the music life and your music career do you like the most?
Davis: “I like that I can wear whatever I want, look however I want and that I can work whatever hours I like!”
Daniel: This is the best answer I’ve heard anyone say about anything.
Daniel: Your new album is titled ” The Trouble with Flying” what’s the story behind the name?
Davis: “I knew as soon as I had written the song that it would be a good album title. The song is talking about the idea of needing to take a chance if you want an opportunity to succeed. It seemed appropriate for the album since a lot of that is there when you start writing an album.
You have a blank slate and you have to play that first note. It is the hardest note to play. You have whole thing ahead of you and it is as far away as it could possibly be. You kinda just have to lay everything out there and hope for the best.”
Daniel: What kind of change do you think your fans will see in the new album ‘The Trouble with Flying’
Davis: “The biggest change is that I didn’t play everything myself on this one. I have Billy Squier doing some guest vocals and electric guitar work on a couple of the songs. He adds so much to those tracks!”