David Usher

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David Usher
David Usher 2012.jpg
Usher in May 2012
Background information
Born (1966-04-24) April 24, 1966 (age 53)
Oxford, England
OriginMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Genres
Years active1992–present
Labels
Associated actsMoist
Websitedavidusher.com

David Usher (born April 24, 1966) is a British-born Canadian musician, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and activist[1] best known as the front man for the band Moist. He has also released a number of solo albums.

Early life[edit]

David Usher was born in Oxford, England to Thai Buddhist artist Samphan Usher and a Jewish man from Montreal. He has lived in various places such as Malaysia, New York City, California, and Thailand since early childhood, before his family settled in Kingston, Ontario. He attended high school at Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute.[citation needed] Usher attended Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, majoring in political science.[2]

Career[edit]

While studying in Vancouver, Usher helped form the second incarnation of a band called Moist, composed of Usher on vocals, Mark Makoway on guitars, Jeff Pearce on bass, Kevin Young, who, like Usher, had moved to Vancouver from Kingston, on keyboards, and Paul Wilcox on drums. Usher became the principal songwriter for the band.

Moist's debut album Silver was released in 1994 and went on to achieve four-time platinum status, selling 400,000 copies in Canada. Their sophomore album, titled Creature, was released in 1996 and also reached multi-platinum status, selling over 300,000 copies.

In 1998, Usher took a year to work on his own recordings.[3][4] He released his first solo album, Little Songs. Most of the album was recorded in the kitchen of David's apartment. The album contains a track titled "Baby Skin Tattoo", which bears no relation to the song of the same name on the Moist album Creature.

In 1999, Moist released their third album, titled Mercedes 5 and Dime, once again achieving multi-platinum status. They followed this with a compilation album and DVD in 2001, titled Machine Punch Through: The Singles Collection, and thereafter entered a hiatus period that would last 12 years.

Usher continued with his solo career, releasing his second solo album, Morning Orbit, which sold 90,000 copies. The song "Alone in the Universe" was released as the first single, and the album featured collaborations with some members of Moist and with several figures of the Canadian music scene including Jagori Tanna and Bruce Gordon of I Mother Earth, Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip, and the rapper Snow. The album also included a cover of the Tracy Chapman song "Fast Car". A Thai version of the record was released, and included Usher singing in Thai on two of the tracks.

Usher's third solo album, Hallucinations, came out in 2003, and includes a cover of the Manic Street Preachers song "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next".

Hallucinations was followed by If God Had Curves, which includes collaborations with Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara, and Bruce Cockburn.

Usher continued to release solo albums throughout the first decade of the 2000's, with Strange Birds (2007) and Wake Up and Say Goodbye (2008). Strange Birds contains themes inspired by New York City, where Usher had moved with his family. It also includes extensive collaborations with other members of Moist. Wake Up and Say Goodbye includes a bonus track featuring Quebec-based singer Marie-Mai, and the album was nominated for a Juno award.

In the early 2010's, David Usher released two more solo albums before reforming the band Moist. The Mile End Sessions came out in 2010, and Songs from the Last Day on Earth in 2012. The Mile End Sessions is composed mostly of previously released songs re-recorded in acoustic arrangements, is produced by Moist member Jonathan Gallivan, contains Usher's first French-language recording, and features contributions from Marie-Mai and Cœur de pirate. Songs from the Last Day on Earth is also produced by Jonathan Gallivan.

In 2013, Moist returned from a 12-year hiatus and recorded their fourth studio album, Glory Under Dangerous Skies, the following year.

In 2016, Usher released his ninth solo studio album, titled Let It Play. The album features English translations of French-Canadian songs[5][6], re-recorded originals from Usher's repertoire, as well as high-profile collaborations with artists such as Marie-Mai, Alex Nevsky, Monogrenade, Karim Ouellet, Dumas, Ingrid St-Pierre, Caracol, Daniel Lavoie, Dominique A, and Baden Baden.

Throughout his musical career, Usher has sold more than 1.4 million albums, won four Juno awards, and had several #1 singles singing in English, French, and Thai.

Usher is also the founder of Reimagine AI, an "artificial intelligence creative studio" based out of Montreal. The purpose of the studio is to develop partnerships with AI project teams, including Google's Google Brain, to work on using artificial intelligence as a tool for artists.

Usher founded and is the creative director of the non-profit Human Impact Lab at Concordia University. The lab uses interactive storytelling to explore the subject of climate change and the second machine age. He is the co-creator (with Dr. Damon Matthews) of the Climate Clock.[7]

In 2012 Usher made a presentation about the creative process at the Mesh Marketing conference in Toronto.[8] In 2015 he published a book on creativity and the creative process, titled Let the Elephants Run • Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Usher has been involved in the causes War Child Canada, White Ribbon Campaign, and Amnesty International.[citation needed] He is featured in the 2001 MuchMusic special Musicians in the WarZone, a humanitarian documentary directed by filmmaker Liz Marshall, in which he journeys to the northern border of Thailand to visit a large Burmese refugee community. Usher is on the advisory board of McGill University’s Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas, and is the founding director of Amnesty International’s Artists for Amnesty.

As of 2018, he lives in Montreal, Quebec, with his family.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart
positions
CAN
Little Songs
  • Release date: March 17, 1998
  • Label: EMI
19
Morning Orbit
  • Release date: July 31, 2001
  • Label: EMI
9
Hallucinations
  • Release date: September 9, 2003
  • Label: EMI
6
If God Had Curves
  • Release date: April 26, 2005
  • Label: EMI
12
Strange Birds 10
Wake Up and Say Goodbye
  • Release date: September 23, 2008
  • Label: Maple Music
12
The Mile End Sessions
  • Release date: September 14, 2010
  • Label: Maple Music
18
Songs from the Last Day on Earth
  • Release date: October 2, 2012
  • Label: Maple Music
Let It Play
  • Release date: November 4, 2016
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
iTunes Live from Montreal
  • Release date: Jan 13, 2009
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.

Singles[edit]

Title Details Album
Jesus Was My Girl
  • Release date: 1998
  • Label: EMI
Little Songs
St Lawrence River
  • Release date: 1998
  • Label: EMI
Little Songs
Forestfire
  • Release date: 1998
  • Label: EMI
Little Songs
Black Black Heart
  • Release date: 2001
  • Label: EMI
Morning Orbit
A Day in the Life
  • Release date: 2001
  • Label: EMI
Morning Orbit
My Way Out
  • Release date: 2001
  • Label: EMI
Morning Orbit
Alone in the Universe
  • Release date: 2001
  • Label: EMI
Morning Orbit
Time of our Lives
  • Release date: 2003
  • Label: EMI
Hallucinations
Galaxy
  • Release date: Feb 10, 2004
  • Label: EMI
Non-album single
Love Will Save the Day
  • Release date: Mar 08, 2005
  • Label: Maple Music
If God Had Curves
The Music
  • Release date: Feb 06, 2007
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
Strange Birds
Ugly Is Beautiful
  • Release date: 2007
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
Strange Birds
Kill the Lights
  • Release date: Jun 24, 2008
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
Wake Up and Say Goodbye
Kill the Lights (feat. Marie-Mai)
  • Release date: Jun 24, 2008
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
Wake Up and Say Goodbye
I'm Coming Down (Acoustic)
  • Release date: Aug 03, 2010
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
The Mile End Sessions
Je repars (feat. Marie-Mai)
  • Release date: Aug 03, 2010
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
The Mile End Sessions
Everyday Things (feat. Cœur de pirate) (Radio Remix)
  • Release date: Feb 15, 2011
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
The Mile End Sessions
Tous ces petits gestes (Radio Remix)
  • Release date: Feb 15, 2011
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
The Mile End Sessions
Black Black Heart (feat. Marie-Mai)
  • Release date: Sep 24, 2016
  • Label: Evil Empire Inc.
Let It Play

Albums with Moist[edit]

Title Year
Silver

1994

Creature

1996

Mercedes 5 and Dime

1999

Machine Punch Through: The Singles Collection

2001

Glory Under Dangerous Skies

2014

Other appearances[edit]

  • "Watching the Wheels" (John Lennon cover) (Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, 2007)

DVDs[edit]

  • walk.don't.run (Maple Music, 2005)

Videography[edit]

  • Appears in Building a Mystery from Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing (1997)
  • Forestfire from Little Songs (1998)
  • Jesus Was My Girl from Little Songs (1998)
  • St. Lawrence River from Little Songs (1998)
  • Alone in the Universe from Morning Orbit (2001)
  • Black Black Heart V 1.0-2.0 from Morning Orbit (2001)
  • A Day in the Life from Morning Orbit (2002)
  • My Way Out from Morning Orbit (2002)
  • Time of Our Lives from Hallucinations (2003)
  • Surfacing from Hallucinations (2003)
  • Love Will Save The Day from If God Had Curves (May 2005)
  • The Music from Strange Birds (2007)
  • Ugly is Beautiful from Strange Birds (July 2007)
  • Kill the Lights from Wake Up and Say Goodbye (November 2008)
  • Je repars from "The Mile End Sessions" (August 2010)
  • Rice Paper from "Songs from the Last Day on Earth" (October 2012)
  • Partir ailleurs from "Songs from the Last Day on Earth" (October 2012)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Resurrected again". Winnipeg Free Press, By: Alan Small, 08/30/2018
  2. ^ "Usher continually challenging himself". Kingston Whig, By Jane Willsie May 13, 2016
  3. ^ "DAVID USHER: LIFESTYLES OF THE MOIST AND FAMOUS". Chart Attack, May 25, 1999, Interview by Christophe Bergeron
  4. ^ "Five Questions With… David Usher". FYI Music News, Nov 10, 2016 by Jason Schneider
  5. ^ JRKM. "LISTEN: David Usher releases bilingual version of 'Black Black Heart'". Pop goes the news. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  6. ^ KENNEDY, JOHN R (22 April 2016). "David Usher's New Album 'Let It Play' Is A Collection of English Versions Of French Songs". iheartradio.ca. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  7. ^ "David Usher sets Climate Clock and it’s approaching two degrees". National Observer, By Clothilde Goujard | May 19th 2017
  8. ^ "In Internet age, creativity is a necessity in business". Financial Post, Rick Spence, November 12, 2012
  9. ^ "David Usher helps you unleash your inner artist". Montreal Gazette, Ian McGillis, March 9, 2015

External links[edit]