Dave Stutts has been part of the Sam Ash Music Family for 6 years. Hailing from Hampton, Virginia, he began his tenure with Sam Ash when he moved to his current home in Long Island, New York. Starting his career in sales, he worked his way up to become the recognizable face of the Sam Ash YouTube channel. Dave is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer, whose primary focus is orchestral composition.
What Artist/Moment Inspired You To Pursue Music?
When I was in High School, I was all about John Mayer (I still am). I went to music school to learn how to be him. Little did I know, music schools don’t tend to mold you into becoming a pop musician. In college, I picked up orchestral writing, and I turned to film and video game composers like John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, Harry Gregson-Williams and others.
I also remember a special moment when I played Valkyria Chronicles for the first time and heard the opening credits “Succeeded Wish” written by Hitoshi Sakimoto. That soundtrack is the perfect bridge from orchestral music to video game music. Another Japanese composer that meant a lot to me growing up was Takenobu Mitsuyoshi with his work in the Shenmue series.
Tell Us About Your Musical Background
I started playing electric guitar when I was very young (somewhere between 5-7 years old). I really liked it and kept going with it. From there, I picked up an electric bass in church one morning, and they liked how I played it. So, I did that for a few years, and learned as much piano as I could along the way (later becoming proficient in college). I was in one garage band in high school, and I was into songwriting and recording as much as I could. I joined the high school symphonic band senior year as a percussionist which led me into college.
I was accepted into the Christopher Newport University music program at the esteemed Ferguson Center for the Arts which was only in its second year. I still consider myself one of the veterans even though I started a year later. I received amazing instruction in my four years there and graduated with my degree in Music Theory & Composition.
From there, I’ve done a lot of really cool things. I was an adjunct music teacher for a while and helped bands receive superior ratings at competition. I rebuilt a church choir’s program from the ground up and showed them what a choir could really sound like which was very inspiring to us all. After moving to New York, I began to rise the ranks at Sam Ash. I started out selling guitars, then managing the department, then worked as a sales auditor, and then finally as the video marketing guy that I am today. I’ve interviewed several amazing musicians, written really cool music, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done.
Describe What is Unique About You Musically
Coming from almost every musical situation possible, I gained a lot of perspective. I started out playing guitar, then moved to bass, drums, piano, and anything else I could find. Then in music school, I was a percussionist in wind ensembles, orchestras, and the like. I was also a member of an award winning drumline in college and competed in both indoor and outdoor competitions all while taking private percussion and composition lessons every week. That’s a lot of musical information to take in.
So, fast forward to today where every composer writes music with sampled instruments at their computer. I think I have the unique opportunity to take all of that information and turn it into inspiration. I try to imagine what real musicians would think of these parts that I’ve just written if I were to print them out and have them play it. My percussion background always tends to seep in as well and I try to incorporate a lot of rhythmic variety where I can in my music.
How Are You Involved With Your Local Music Scene?
I’ve interviewed several acts that come into town from Halestorm, to Ace Frehley, Dennis Quaid, John Petrucci, and many others. I’ve also personally executed passion projects with local bands such as Long Island’s number one cover band “The 90’s Band” which is a project that I’m very proud of. I’ve also been apart of New York’s underground music scene playing gigs at a lot of legendary breakthrough venues in the city.
What Are Your Personal Goals as A Musician?
The goal has always been and always will be to write as much music as I can, and eventually become self-sustaining with it. I’d love to work more closely with video games, film, and other sonically creative projects.
Tell Us About Your Latest Projects
All of my musical and creative energy has gone into the Sam Ash projects we’ve done over the years. I’ve written a lot of music for all of our various videos, and I’m proud of them all. There’s nothing like writing a quick piece on a deadline.