What motivates you to create? For Bill, it was the wake-up call of a cancer diagnosis combined with a deep desire to share his passion for music. In the midst of all this Bill discovered handpans.
Amazing Grace Jam by Bill Davies:
Michael Colley's Album Recorded in Bathrooms:
Sylvain: Hey, it's Sylvain, and this is the handpan podcast.
Sylvain: There is something fundamentally human in telling stories, relating to someone else's experiences and learning from their journey. All of us do it all the time. That's why I like the medium of podcasting a lot because so much transpires through audio. It feels as if you were there. So whether you're listening while driving somewhere, taking a walk or doing the dishes. I hope you enjoyed today's episode with my friend Bill Davies. For some time now, I've been intrigued by Bill's creative drive, his determination... and this conversation explains a lot. I'm excited for you to get to know Bill, as I did in this episode, and to hear what he's doing with the handpan. Here we go.
Sylvain: I love turning a living space into a recording studio for, for an instant. So this is fun. Well Bill, it's really nice to hang out. Thanks for coming all the way. Yeah, thanks for having me, man. Yeah, this is probably the most relaxed episode of the handpan podcast. It's nice to be in person. Sure. And um, you brought me coffee. Thank you for that. Yeah, it's, it's really fun. Um, after jamming we're recording this conversation and, um, why don't you start with telling me a little bit about you, where you're from, where you live now? Um, just a little bit of an introduction.
Bill: Sure. Well, I was born up in upstate New York, like near Syracuse, up in the mountains and there was snow in the winter and stuff like that. So those are good memories. My parents moved out here to Phoenix when I was seven or eight years old. I kind of grew up here ever since. So and I live up in North Peoria right now. Yeah.
Sylvain: Yeah. I remember now that you grew up in upstate New York. My first year in the US was in Albany, NY.
Bill: Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah.
Sylvain: So I got to experience the cold winters. The culture is a little bit different. Describe a little bit of Syracuse. What was that like?
Bill: Oh, I was little. I barely remember it. I mean, I remember getting on the bus to go to school. I remember not having a nickel for my chocolate milk one morning and having like this big problem and you know, and, and uh, I loved nap time when I was a kid, I remember in kindergarten because I was, you know, little then, and I remember tobogganing down hills in the snow and you know, the trees and my lived on a farm actually, so we got to ride the farm owners tractor, you know, he would drive it, but we'd sit in the seat and stuff. Wow. So it was, you know, good, good memories, you know, as a little kid, I didn't understand the world yet, so it was all is all happy and fun.
Sylvain: Were you introduced to music at a young age?
Bill: Um, I don't, well my mom sang, you know, just around the house and things like that, but not, not really. I don't, I don't really know how I actually picked it up. You know, my parents did have a piano and um, I started actually, my very first instrument was an old Thomas organ that had a lighted keyboard underneath. You could flip a switch and it would light up like the c e g to see where a c major was and it would show you the different chords. And that was my first introduction to music theory. So I kind of learned a little bit on that and then, uh, transferred to the piano and played that for awhile. Kind of all self taught stuff. So.
Sylvain: So what brought you to the handpan? How did you discover the handpan?
Bill: Sure. Well, I've been playing guitar and keyboards since I have probably six, 16 or 17 years old, you know, for decades. And it kind of got tired of that and stopped playing that, started doing some artwork and then I saw a video on youtube, probably just like a lot of other people, right? So he see a video somewhere and think, oh my Goodness, wow, what is that? I want that. That's, I got, I've had to, I have to do that. And then as I was doing some music, um, like software workstation on my PC, so I went and bought a sampler that had that, I think it was the soniccotour pan drums, which was a sample of a hand pan and tried to kind of play that, you know, obviously not satisfied with that. Then several years later, finally scraped up the money, sold all my other equipment and started buying handpans.
Bill: I don't know when I actually discovered it, probably it had to be like maybe 2012 or you know, was it was a good number of years ago. Probably when the handpan was pretty new, 20, 2010 maybe. I don't know. It took awhile and it wasn't until December of 2017 that I actually got my first handpan.
Sylvain: Oh Wow. Yes. Yeah. Still pretty recent.
Bill: Still pretty recent. Yeah.
Sylvain: And you've got three now. So you've increased your passion for the handpan very quickly.
Bill: Yes. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I want another one. I mean, how could, you know it's, yeah, it's hard. It's hard not to want more with a slightly different timber slightly different scale. You know, I mean it's, you know, yeah.
Sylvain: it is interesting, right? It's inherent to the instrument wanting another one at some point.
Bill: I think so. It seems like it. Yeah, sure is for me. Yes.
Sylvain: What is the limit, do you think? How many is too many hand pans?
Bill: Oh, you know, that's, that's a personal, I think each individual has to answer that question for themselves. You know, cause I mean, I've seen people play, you know, with six or seven handpans on stage, uh, you know, that they do chromatic orchestral-type arrangements in and that's phenomenal. It was great. And uh, but there's plenty of people who can get by. I'm not just get by, that's, that's kind of a bad Freudian slip probably, but you know, have just one hand pan and be totally good at it. Happy, very skilled, you know?