Celebrating 25 years of David Fonseca

Few artists have dominated the popular music charts and influenced popular culture quite like David Fonseca. Singer, composer, musician, performer, and photographer, David also happens to be one of the most charming people you could wish to meet.

“I was in love with music before I started playing music, but I never once thought of it as a career. When I started out with my first band (Silence 4), performing music felt very natural to me. I took to the stage and immediately felt at ease. I loved it. I thought this is fun, let’s do it again!”

Born in Leiria in central Portugal, David studied cinema at the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema (Lisbon Theatre and Film School) before going on to study at Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa (Lisbon Superior School of Fine Arts). David started his professional life as a fashion photographer and, in his spare time, he started singing, composing, and performing music with his friends under the name Silence 4. Before too long, they were winning competitions, performing at festivals and garnering attention from the music press and publishers.

With David as the lead singer and composer, Silence 4 transformed the music scene. Singing mainly in English and with a more acoustic sound than was the norm at that time, they recorded their own compositions along with covers of contemporary songs from the UK charts. Their first album, Silence Becomes It, was released in 1998 and was a huge success, selling 250,000 copies, the equivalent to six platinum records. Sell-out concerts followed and two years later, a critically acclaimed second album Only Pain Is Real. In 2002, it came as a shock to their many fans when the band “froze” their activities, but it gave David the opportunity to pursue a solo career and the opportunity to work with different musicians and explore new sounds.

David performs the vast majority of his music in English. As I discovered, he speaks the language perfectly, with an American accent, something he credits to his love of cinema. “I’m really obsessed with movies,” he said. “Especially those you can watch more than once and continually reveal something different to what you experienced the first time. I also love their ability to unsettle and inspire us to read between the lines.” This is also true of David’s music videos, all of which he directs himself. They too push the boundaries of creativity, merging music and lyrics with storytelling and striking imagery, and no more so than on his most recent album Living Room Bohemian Apocalypse.

© Maria Rita
© Maria Rita

It has been a phenomenal solo career. David’s released 10 albums all of which have reached the Top 10, with seven of them hitting the coveted number one spot, a fantastic achievement by any standards. It’s been a sustained level of success rarely seen in modern times, and there’s more to come. Indeed, the year ahead promises to be a special one. Concerts are currently being scheduled – including for here in the Algarve. In November, there will be shows at the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon. The demand for tickets has been overwhelming, so much so that an extra date has been added. Tickets are available via the Bilheteria Online website (www.bol.pt). If this wasn’t exciting enough, a new album will be out in the last quarter of the year.

I asked David about the tour, celebrating his 25 years in the music business. “The live dates this year will be something different. They’ll be theatre shows where I use imagery, photography, video and music to tell the story of my songs and how they came about. I’m always looking to do something different because that’s what keeps me interested and the more interesting it is for me, the more interesting it tends to be for the audience. I’m really excited about what we’ve prepared and I can’t wait to share it.”

It was a delight to speak with David. He was engaging, interesting and good fun. And, despite all his success, he’s remained very down to earth. “Music is an important part of my life,” he told me, “But it doesn’t consume me, and I’m certainly not obsessed by it. I do so many other things: photography, watching movies, reading and travel are my other passions.”

With such an impressive back catalogue of work and a new album out soon, I asked David what he thought his legacy might be. “Oh My God”, he said, “I don’t think in those terms. I can think of nothing worse than living my life like that. My children are my legacy. I hope they’ve learned something from me as I did from my parents – how I’m living and how I view the world. I think the world is very divided just now into negatives and positives. The way I deal with that is, if I encounter something negative, I try to do something positive. I certainly don’t believe life owes me anything. If anything, I believe I owe life something. If I happen to influence someone to pick up a camera or an instrument, or sing or do something positive, that’s more than enough reward for me.”

Main Image: © Filipe Ferreira

Did you know?

As a teenager, David was an avid reader of the legendary British magazine Smash Hits. He credits it with helping him with his English and keeping him in touch with his favourite bands.

David once made it his mission to watch a different film every day, something which he did for three years running. He cites Vertigo, Blue Velvet, and Do The Right Thing as being among his favourite films.

Everywhere he goes, David takes a camera with him. “It helps keep me open to the world because I’m always looking – and listening – at what’s around me”.

More information about David’s new album and tour is available at www.davidfonseca.com

If you’ve still to discover David’s music, then you’re in for a treat. Check out these highlights and many more on YouTube and David’s website:


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