Imagine the coolness of Ryan Adams intermixed with the genius of Beck, then polished with a visual evoking wonderland created entirely by one artist… Well you don’t have to, I’ve met him and his name is David Bennett.
David is one of the lucky 14 contestants chosen to compete on Mtv’s Newest Reality Show: P. Diddy’s “Starmaker.” The show consists of musical artists selected from all over the country; eager to prove they’ve got what it takes to become the world’s next global music superstar and of course, land a recording deal with Bad Boy Records.
The performers must survive eliminations each week while making sure to charm the all-star judges and industry heavyweights, in the likes of; Producer Rodney “Dark Child” Jerkins, Former Billboard Editor in Chief Tamara Conniff, “Making the Band's” favorite choreographer Laurieann Gibson, along with P. Diddy himself making appearances throughout the season.
Upon getting cast on the show, an unassuming David, took it all in stride. “I remember I got up that morning, and walked down to the audition, played a few songs and went home, that was it…..I didn’t know how big it was, till I kept getting callbacks! Like wow, they wanna fly me out to New York for another audition, I’ll take it! It was all sort of surprising to me.” He says.
While David was caught off guard, I’d like to bet others were not. His father introduced him to music as a child by gifting David his very own drum kit! At the age of 12 David’s father had passed away and his English teacher suggested that writing music could serve as a therapeutic approach. It did and also allowed Bennett to discover his true passion; music.
“My musical style or essence... It’s a mixture between alternative rock, with indie rock and a soul background. I bring all my influences, which is a huge amount of people. The Beatles of course, Stevie Wonder, SuperTramps… a lot of modern people as well, like Elliot Smith and the list keeps going.” He tells me.
He moved to Orange County for high school then joined a few bands, jamming out as a teen and began building his foundation. He even chased music to Colorado for a short lived band gig, and finally coming back full circle to his hometown of Los Angeles where he recently graduated from the acclaimed school, the Musicians Institute. Oh yeah, and the P. Diddy show of course!
Interesting enough, this amazing opportunity almost slipped by David. If it wasn’t for his insightful music teacher, he may have missed it. “Right before the show, actually, I had just gotten out of school. One of my teachers at the Musicians Institute told me about the show. He said I should try out. I didn’t believe him, but apparently it worked out.”
David is a calm artist who couldn’t give a fuck about being popular, but will always have a large audience because his music is truthful and clever. He wears his shades the entire interview, and speaks from the soul. He has a quiet, intelligent sensibility that is hard to find these days.
“I had my fair share of nerves throughout the show, but it wasn’t a life or death situation for me. More like... I’ll just try it!”
Veronica Barriga: How did your family and friends react when they heard the news?
David Bennett: They were pretty surprised. I think it really sunk in when I went to New York. That's when they realized this is actually sort of a big deal. Then I made it on the show! It was fun, and nice to change my pace... especially getting right out of school and going into this.
VB: There were many different people and dynamics in the house. What role did you play among everyone?
David: I had a lot of fun playing piano on the show. I helped the other contestants learn the piano. It was especially fun, 'cause it was a Grand Piano. I was thrilled about that!... I wasn’t a very dramatic person on the show.
VB: I joke. You mean you weren’t starting fights? Creating enemies?
David: Oh no, no just having a fun time, soaking it all in.
VB: Describe a typical week in the “Rock Star” mansion where you guys were staying.
David: We had microphones on us at all times. We would wake up and shower, put the mics on... then we carried on with our day and forgot about them after a while. Probably good for the show and bad for us. We did a lot of random things. It was all surprises!
VB: So you had to be constantly on you’re "A" game and prepared, would you say?
David: Well we should have been prepared and constantly on our "A" game, but ……
He doesn't say anything, damn those contracts!
VB: A lot of partiers in the house?
David: Not too much, I was pretty good, tried to be pretty good... there were a few times where it got a little rowdy.
VB: What was it like working with P. Diddy?
David: It was nerve-racking at first. Everything just seemed heavier around him and I had to think before I did something. I was a little nervous around him… He’s a good person. It was just surprising to see him in person. I was trying to read his mannerisms and see what makes him Diddy.
VB: How about Rodney Jerkins?
David: He uses the same program that I use to produce my music, which is cool. I had a nice chat with him about that… He’s a hard judge and definitely knows what he’s looking for.
VB: Tell us about Tamera, Billboard's former top gal.
David: She didn’t really let anyone off easy. She called us on the smallest details, from the way we looked to everything else.
VB: How did you react to that, were you thankful for that, or sort of like, 'I don’t need this.'
David: I was not used to getting judged. I’m also not used to performing cover songs, so I was out of my element in those two situations. It was a little frustrating singing a song I wasn’t familiar with and then getting critiqued on it.
VB: What was the chorography like cause you don’t seem like the boy band type, although I could be wrong….
David: I am definitely not. I’m not trying to be Usher, I’m trying to write songs and perform them, play them live…….(while performing) I’m behind a ucalayly or a keyboard.
VB: Toughest hurddle to overcome in the competition?
David: Getting comfortable being out of my element, trying to figure out how to move on stage without my instruments, because it’s the complete opposite of what I do.
VB: Most eye opening lessons?
David: For me it was... learning other people’s songs and changing the keys around. It was eye opening to me to play them in every different key. It helped me as an instrument player. In doing that, I analyzed the pop form of the song. I performed a lot of songs that I had never heard before... which was interesting.
VB: What are some of your favorite moments from the show.
David: Hanging out in the pool was not a horrible thing, having BBQs- that didn’t suck.
He laughs, and then in true artist form..
My favorite moments were learning songs. My main focus, before and after the show, is writing songs and producing them. Creating. Sort of... painting the picture of myself through music.
VB: What is the message you'd like to send with your music?
David: It changes throughout. There are a lot of songs about loss and relationships. I have abstract songs... sometimes about a dream I had. I’m just trying to tell a story.
For my last question, I ask about him about doing reality tv in the future…
“I’d rather just focus on my music,” he says.
And that is exactly why we dig him.
David is currently working on his debut album, on which he also produces his own tracks. Get a sneak peek for his unique sound at: