DAVID Choi arrived in Melbourne to fine weather, lots of sunshine and blue skies, and on barely two hours of sleep. I told him he was fortunate to experience the excellent weather – for Melbourne, at least.
“Really?” he laughs. “It’s cold!”
Choi’s tour had brought him all the way to Asia Pacific from his hometown in Los Angeles, and his Australian shows were the final leg. The Melbourne show was held on Friday July 1 at the Melbourne City Conference Centre.
In person, Choi is humble and down-to-earth, but it’s hard not to be star-struck by the talented singer-songwriter that has attracted an incredible following worldwide through YouTube.
Befittingly, Australian’s own Jayesslee were among the special guests that opened the concert for Choi.
Like Choi, Jayesslee – the moniker of twins Janice and Sonia Lee – found their fame through Youtube as well. The talented twins from Sydney kicked off the evening with half an hour of acoustic covers, interspersed with their own original material.
When Choi finally stepped onto the stage, the crowd roared with enthusiasm. And quite appropriately, Choi opened with The YouTube Love Song – a nod to how YouTube gave him his start.
The night’s set consisted mainly of material from his second album By My Side. Fans were also treated to a preview of his new song, You Were My Friend.
Watching him, it’s hard not to be won over by Choi. As someone who may not naturally warm to the idea of being in the spotlight, but understands that it is part of what it means to be an artist, he is happy to simply “bask in the awkwardness”. And when the artist is this comfortable on stage, the audience can’t help but feel at ease as well.
Choi’s fascination with the Australian accent also provided for many lighthearted moments throughout the concert. His perception of Australia as an outback with kangaroos and koalas everywhere, he told us, was shattered by the sight of buildings and high-rises that greeted him upon landing in Melbourne.
Jokes aside, you could see how the strain of a rigorous tour schedule with back-to-back concerts in a different city almost every night did eventually catch up with Choi. He was nursing a cough and sore throat, but still managed to sail through the evening in top form between sips of hot water.
Choi’s lyrics usually revolve around the subjects of love, heartbreak and friendship – issues that resonate strongly with a fanbase mainly made up of teenagers and young adults. One of his songs, “So Weightless”, was used in a recent Wong Fu video production, “Strangers Again”, a narrative about the different stages of a relationship.
Choi tells me that while his music inspirations are more varied (he listened to a lot of jazz and classical growing up and among his favourite artists were Stevie Wonder, Babyface and India Arie and French composer from the Impressionist era Claude Debussy) – he draws inspiration for his songs from real life experiences.
“From my life, things that have happened to me,” he says.
“Things that have happened. People around me. I try to make my songs from me as much as possible.”
And it is this authenticity that has won him many fans. Speaking to fans before the concert, you hear the same refrain – a love for his originality and most of all, sincerity.
“The way he writes his lyrics – there are emotions you can’t usually comprehend,” Michelle, 17, says.
Like most, she discovered Choi through Youtube.
“What he writes and what he sings about, you can relate to yourself and friends and family. It’s from the heart… you can hear it. Some artists can just sing a song, but he sings from the heart.”
Choi would certainly appreciate those words. For him, the most fulfilling part of his journey so far has been the reception he’s received from his songs, knowing that “people enjoy it, and people feel happier or whatever, and can relate to the song”.
Apart from his original material, Choi also performed a couple of covers – a tender rendition of Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and Far*East Movement’s “Rocketeer”.
He saved his two most popular songs for the last – “That Girl” and “By My Side” – and the crowd was certainly sorry that the night had ended so quickly.
So what next?
Fame has put an unexpected fork in his road, Choi says. And he’s not quite sure where this journey will be taking him.
“If you were to ask me that five years ago, ‘David, do you see yourself in Australia, doing a tour, doing shows’, I would not have said this. I would have said something completely different. So you never know. Take it day by day.”
In the meantime, he has begun work on his third album, which he hopes to complete by October.
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