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Meet Dave “Mustang” Lang

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave “Mustang” Lang.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dave “Mustang”. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up in Studio City, the son of a psychologist and a first-call studio pianist. I was taking piano lessons at age three and just started adding instruments as I grew up; saxophone in elementary school, guitar in middle school, percussion in high school, bass in college. I was fortunate to have some really good teachers along the way. I studied jazz composition and performance at Bard College – not knowing what kind of professional life it would lead to.

Returning to LA, I began playing with various bands around town and working as an assistant to some composers, learning the ins and outs of the composition studio. As my music community grew, I started to get some work on recording sessions and became interested in record production. While continuing to hone my skills on keyboards, guitars and basses, I started to learn some new instruments, like compressors, eqs and reverbs.

In the past two years, I’ve put together a little home studio where I do a lot of songwriting and composition for film and production libraries. I continue to play gigs, arrange and perform on records, engineer sessions and make music in some way every day – whether it’s arranging a Christmas song in the style of Booker T & the MGs, learning how to play Cuban montunos on the piano (my current obsession), or making up songs with my two-year-old on the back porch (gotta keep those apples close to the tree!).

Currently, I am producing/mixing a record for an Anti-Folk singer/songwriter out of New York and finishing a score for a short film. I also write and perform with my band, Charlie Limousine, and play keyboards and write arrangements for a throwback, Rock&Roll/Soul/R&B outfit, Tom Kenny & the Hi-Seas.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest challenge for me as a musician is figuring out what path to follow. I do a lot of things pretty well, but no one thing better than anyone else. I have a hard time focusing on one particular aspect, be it being a great songwriter, a solid engineer, a composer, etc… I really value diversity and I think it’s important to be able to play a lot of roles, but sometimes I feel spread too thin or that I’m not serving the true musical voice inside of me. It’s a lifelong kind of challenge, but I feel that I am working towards knowing more of the answer every day.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I specialize in soulful, rootsy-type stuff – my big inspirations are The Band, Leon Russell, Harry Nilsson, Sly Stone, among many, many others. That being said, I can get down with some retro synth madness or a beautiful string quartet. I enjoy really simple things, like a country blues, but I also like incredibly dense, complex music, like a jazz orchestra or a Pet Sounds-esque pop record. What matters most to me, in any musical setting, is that the voice of the artist, be it myself or someone I’m working with, shines through.

Collaboration – the musical conversation – is at the heart of what I do: going back and forth with a director over a score to make sure their vision is being carried through the music or sitting with an artist I am producing and figuring out which instruments are going to bring their song to life. Sometimes, it’s finding a new way to communicate a classic idea through a new lens – like collaborating with the past.

One of the things I’m most proud of is that the people I work with continue to want to work with me – it’s a confirmation that I’m getting something right! I think the thing that sets me apart from others is my diversity in skills and my breadth of knowledge of the history of music. So get in touch and let’s make some music together! I’m available to produce your record, arrange your horn section, compose your film score, or play on your session.

What were you like growing up?
I was always a pretty outgoing kid with lots of friends. I think I would border on being the class clown at times, but never in an overly obnoxious way (I hope). As a child of the 80s, I loved Nintendo and collecting baseball cards and comics. I was always a pretty good student, dedicated to keeping up in class and really comfortable with math and science. In my early teens, I started playing the guitar and getting into the “Alternative” rock scene – Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine. In high school, the hard rock gave way to looser, “jammier” music – Phish, Grateful Dead, Medeski Martin & Wood – along with the discovery of mind-altering diversions. It’s funny how musicians always tie their formative experiences to what music they were listening to at the time. Does everyone do that?

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Image Credit:
Sharon Alagna, David Pace, Jillinda Palmer, Yinka Oyelese, Dan Silk

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2 Comments

  1. Michael A Lang

    November 6, 2019 at 17:06

    Congratulations on a very special interview!!

    What a beautiful, communicative, substantive, inspired & articulate introduction to you and your music…

    I am inspired by what you have shared and so proud of you in all that you do!

    Love,
    Dad

  2. Wren Wilder

    November 15, 2019 at 04:01

    This interview is great! Mustang played on my album and he was such an amazing person to create with. No matter what words I used to describe what I was looking for, he understood me and was able to add something very special in our collaborations. Love this piece about him and thankful to have a chance to learn more about his story here.

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