Grateful Web Interview with David Satori of Dirtwire

Article Contributed by Vinh Nguyen | Published on Saturday, August 30, 2014

Multi-instrumentalists David Satori and Evan Fraser make time off from their musical project(s) and come together as Dirtwire to record and release their latest record Carrier ( – due out September 9, 2014.  This is Dirtwire’s third record.  Dirtwire brings together David and Evan’s World music passion, eclectic instruments and electronics.  Grateful Web talks with David before their September 2014 tour.

GW:  Thanks for joining us David.  I’m Vinh Nguyen with Grateful Web.   You and Evan met at the California Institute of Art.  What factors led to the music collaboration?

David:  We’ve just been friends for over 15 years and we studied music back at Cal Arts together.  Evan was really an interesting musician.  He played a lot of different instruments and was inspiring with his approach to music.  I was intrigued by that.  We played in a funk band when we were at Cal Arts together – called Mud house.  We would do a lot of Sly and the Family Stone and sort of classic funk songs.  And then, we started another band called the Funnies.  That was our first sort of professional touring band and we did a west coast tour.  Then, we went our own way for a little while and played in different bands.  We just did a recording project together.  Dirtwire was just an opportunity to record together and make some music.  People started enjoying it so now we’re doing more shows. 

GW:  How did you go from Funk to World Music?

David:  Yeah.   Well, we studied a lot of World Music at Cal Arts.  We’re big fans of traditional music from around the world.  Evan plays a lot of weird of instruments like jaw harps, kalimbas, strange percussion, n’goni African harp…from all over Africa.  We mix this all together in our own bluesy World rootsy sound mix with electronics in the same vain Beats Antique does – my other band.  It’s similar in the way we make music but different in how it comes out. 

GW:  You play a lot of weird instruments yourself.  It looks like a list of 10-15 instruments here: jimbush, kone, guibri, etc.  What’s the craziest or most unique instrument you play?

David:  Maybe, the saz.  It’s called the jimbush or the saz and it’s a Turkish instrument that I made electric, which is a pretty, rare unique instrument – especially in the US.  So, that’s probably the more exotic instrument I play.  I play a mbira, which is a thumb piano from Zimbabwe (South Africa) -- a very specific kind of thumb piano.  I also play the guitar, violin, trumpet, drums and stuff.

GW:  Yeah, I see other ‘traditional’ instruments you play here like the slide guitar and the harmonica.  How do you keep up on the instruments?  Do you actively look for new sounds?

David:  What do you mean?  How do we find instruments?

GW:  Yes.  I’m Googling some of these instruments and they’re not from around here.

David:  Yeah yeah, it’s just because we love the music from those traditions.  And when you like that kind of music, you’re like what instrument is that?  You know, your ear is curious.  You go find it.  And, you can find anything here especially in the Bay area where we’re from.  The Bay area is a really diverse place.

GW:  Is that [the different instruments] something difficult to pick up and learn?

David:  If you’re playing string instruments, a lot of string instruments are similar so you can apply a lot of your technique to different instruments.   But, the trumpet is a very different instrument than a guitar (with the lips and your embouchure) – that’s really hard; it’s a hard transition.

GW: Dirtwire has a new album out September 9, 2014, Carrier.  Tell us about this album. 

David:  The Carrier is an EP of a collection of a bunch of songs we’ve been making.  We’re just excited to be getting some more music out there.  It’s been about two years.  Well, that’s not true.  We put out a release [Ondar EP (] this summer on Six Degrees Record as a dedication to Ondar – Kongar-ol Ondar, a very famous Tuvan throat singer.  So, we were really honored to put that out this summer.   Then, we wanted to come out with a more straight-up original stuff that we’ve been working on.  So, Carrier is more of that.  And, it debuts our singing, which we’re excited about.  Our other albums were instrumental.  The new album we’re singing on it, Evan is singing on it, and I’m singing on it.  We got special guest Rising Appalachia, which is a great band from Georgia. 

GW:  The track “Damn Rooster” on your new Carrier album.  What instruments are on that track and tell us a little about it?

David:  Yeah, that instrument, the bass, is getting played by a n’goni, which is an African harp.   That’s what that background bass line is.  Then, I’m playing slide banjo.  That’s sort of a unique sound – slide on banjo.  Evan is playing Harmonica. 

GW: [Playing a track sample of “Damn Rooster” ( from the Carrier­ record] Do you hear the track playing?

David:  That’s the n’goni.  That’s the African harp – spelled n-g-o-n-i. 

GW:  How did this song come about?

David:  We just started jamming.  We just played and came up with that lick and just put a body over it.

GW:  Let me play another track.   This is another one I really like.  [Playing a track sample of “Thunderbird” ( from the Carrier record].  Can you hear that -- tell us about this one?

David:  Yeah Yeah, I know which one you’re playing now.  That was a collaboration with a really amazing flute player name Tbird.  That’s why it’s named after her; it’s called “Thunderbird”.  She’s a flute player and a singer on that.  She’s an amazing musician.  That was an improvisation that we cut up and edited. 

GW:  Wow.

David:  That’s all improvised.  Yeah!

GW:  That’s great stuff.  Now, there’s vocals in this Carrier record which differs from your first record Dirtwire LP.

David:  Yeah, that’s the big difference.

GW:  I know you guys are both – or you were at least – active in your other projects.  Are you and Evan still involved in other projects outside Dirtwire?

David:  Yes, definitely.  We’re very involved.  Beats Antique is sort of my fulltime gig – my fulltime band.  Dirtwire is sort of finding time to work around that schedule – just because Beats Antique is so busy.  And, Evan is in a lot of different bands.  He’s in a band Stallamara; he’s in a band called the Dogon Lights, which just put out a new album and touring around California.  So, we definitely keep ourselves real busy.  We don’t give ourselves much time off.  It’s because we like playing music, you know. 

GW:  Yeah.  We’re glad you’re keeping Dirtwire around.  How difficult is it to multitask all the projects and put time into Dirtwire?

David:  It’s a challenge.  There are only so many hours in a day and it’s definitely burning the midnight oil.  We put out albums with Dirtwire – and it’s really worth it and we really like it.  It’s all worth it in the end. 

GW:  David, congratulations on the new album, Carrier.  It’s out September 9, 2014. 

David:  Thank you.

GW:  Dirtwire is currently on tour ( through September 2014.  If you have any last words David, please do so and thanks again for joining us. 

David:  Yeah, I encourage people to check out our Soundcloud [], our website [], checkout our music [] and share it with their friends. 

GW:  Great, thanks.