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26 February 2024

‘Dubai is like watching time-lapse photography ’

By Adrian Murphy



David Gray performed last night at the Dubai Jazz Festival in Media City.  This headline performance comes in the middle of a current tour of the United Kingdom.

He took time out after his sound check on Friday to speak to Emirates Business about his personal business philosophy and his impressions of Dubai.


You have sold millions of albums around the world and are a major success story in the music industry. Where do you invest your money?
I haven’t widely invested. I have my own property in London with a place in the country. I have also bought a recording studio.

Accountants tell me about what I should do when the money starts pouring in, but it never appeals to me. I haven’t taken any impulsive moves to keep the taxman at bay and I haven’t bought a Ferrari yet either.
I have my house in London but I don’t think I’ll be buying in Dubai as it’s too far to fly. Also, I like the rubbish weather [at home].
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who are starting out in the industry?
Just do it. If they are good then doors will open. Computers nowadays are democratising making music - people can make songs in their home. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money, just maybe a bit on the production.

Radiohead made headlines around the world when they released their most recent album online before selling it in the shops.
Is this the way forward for musicians?
They did something very clever as they wanted to make as much commercial success as they could. Because it’s Radiohead, fans seized the idea and they served a demand.
But I don’t believe the internet is going to take over things. You still need the man to be here singing. I don’t do much with my Website – it’s enough to do the music.
Your fourth album, White Ladder, was a massive success. How did you market that?
Marketing is a mystery to me, and there is no magic touch that can make it happen. When I look at White Ladder and consider the mountain we had to climb to get there it took a ludicrous amount of self belief, which made it all the more glorious.
Where did your interest in music come from?
When I was growing up in a valley in Wales I didn’t have a radio. I discovered things by word of mouth from friends. My love of music was born through the need for an artistic process.

Artists are like tourists – we watch and feel things, we look at what is going on in the street, what has happened to you or your friends. You get inspired by things. My influences were Bob Dylan, the Specials and The Cure.
I have not got an alter ego. Pop music is a myth but I have chosen a path where I am myself.
You recently changed your band members. What was the reason?

It was something that needed to be done as some of the band members were fading out. I kept bassist Robbie as he was fading in at the time.

We are now at 100 per cent. The problem was we’re touring a lot, sitting at the back of a bus, and it distracts some people. I knew when we recorded Life in Slow Motion, that things were changing. I started out on my own and I needed to do it. I don’t know why I am so compelled but I am.
You career is still on an upward curve but last year you released a greatest hits album. Was this the right time to do so?
I never really wanted to release a greatest hits album. But when I thought about it, a lot of the music I got into such as Marvin Gaye and even Bob Marley was through greatest hits albums, so it was with this in mind.

What is your perception of Dubai? Is it different to how you imagined?

It’s the biggest construction site I have ever seen – it’s breathtaking. It’s like watching time-lapse photography where a city is formed overnight. I have read many books about this area, including Sir Wilfred Thesiger, and my mind is always thinking of the ancient Arab world and the desert, but it doesn’t look like I’ll get to see that this time.


David Gray, Singer/Songwriter


Gray was born in 1968 in Sale, Greater Manchester. His mix of rock, pop and folk music has seen him rise to fame in the past decade.

Although he released his first studio album in 1993, it was the release of White Ladder in 1999 that propelled him on to the world stage. Songs such as Babylon, This Year’s Love and Please Forgive Me from the album are now synonymous with Gray’s work.

White Ladder has sold more than six million copies around the world and led to two more UK chart-topping albums – A New Day At Midnight and Life in Slow Motion.

In March 2007, Gray released the compilation album Shine: The Best of the Early Years and this was followed later that year by a greatest hits album. Gray is currently working on a new album, which is scheduled to be released sometime this year.