Shortly after Christmas many years ago, LMFAO guitarist David Boyles ’98 traded in an electronic keyboard he received as a holiday gift from his parents for a guitar. On that same day, he taught himself six chords. By the time he went to sleep, he had composed his first song. “It was kind of a first love, I guess, after that,” said David’s father, Irving. “He was captivated by the music.”
Years later, David Boyles is still spellbound by the music. He is currently touring with LMFAO, an American electro-hop duo consisting of Stefan Kendal Gordy (also known as Redfoo) and Skyler Husten Gordy (aka SkyBlu), the son and grandson of legendary Motown records founder Berry Gordy. In mid-August, LMFAO’s single “Party Rock Anthem” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with its lyric “Every day I’m shufflin’” a pop-culture catchphrase. “We’ve been working really hard,” Boyles said recently. “We are out playing nonstop. With these guys, it is going to be
Boyles met Redfoo about 11 years ago. “We ended up playing together on some gigs,” Boyles said. He and Redfoo stayed in touch over the years, and in March 2010, he called Redfoo to catch up. Boyles told him about a new solo record due to come out in Japan in August 2010 and asked Redfoo to listen to the tracks and give some feedback. Shortly afterward, Redfoo invited him to his band practice. “We started playing. Five to 10 minutes later he was inviting me to join,” Boyles said.
Long before LMFAO, Boyles was playing for bands in the western part of the state when he decided to attend Western Carolina to study music. Instructor Eliot Wadopian remembers Boyles asking often about the music business. “I encouraged him to make sure his material was copyrighted and that he understood royalty agreements, contracts and how one survives in music. It looks like he listened,” Wadopian said. Bruce Frazier, WCU’s Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music, oversaw his work on several student recording projects, including an album that featured his work as a composer and performer. “Dave was a talented guitarist and bass player who was serious about his music study and was focused on landing a job in the music business,” Frazier said. “When school was out, he headed for Los Angeles to pursue his career. He worked hard producing an album of original songs that was helpful in getting him established.”
That first CD, “Bedroom Demos,” was picked up by DIAA/Domo records in 2005 and helped land a deal with Columbia Music Entertainment in Japan. In 2005, Boyles released “Thank You,” which was combined with the “Bedroom Demos” and hit No. 1 at Tower and HMV stores throughout Japan.
Boyles said his WCU professors provided intensive training. “That is really what put the language of music together for me. Music is a language, and we all use the same words. It’s all derived from the same principles,” he said. “I have nothing but great things to say about the education I received from Western Carolina University. Mr. Wadopian, along with Marc Yaxley, Dr. Frazier and department head Dr. [Robert] Kehrberg, were very supportive and instrumental in my development as a musician, not only fundamentally but in also encouraging and supporting my own artistic vision.”
Reprinted in edited format with permission of the Statesville Record & Landmark.