March 8, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
Each year in college basketball, the month of March provides a new set of Cinderella stories and spectacular individual performances that live on long after the nets are cut down.
Much like buzzer beaters and big shots, the music of March plays a major role in making the NCAA Tournament one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. Just hearing the first few seconds of the CBS college basketball theme is enough to trigger an adrenaline rush for players and fans, and songs like Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” and Fort Minor’s “Remember The Name” have gained popularity because of their inclusion in conference tournament broadcasts.
Former Notre Dame swimmer and current singer/songwriter Dave Moisan (’05) is hoping for similar results this season, as his hit, “Don’t Need To Worry ‘Bout Me,” will be featured throughout ESPN’s Championship Week men’s basketball telecasts. Moisan’s song earned the most fan votes in a contest held on the ESPN Home Court Facebook page over the last few weeks to secure the promotion.
While at Notre Dame, Moisan earned four Monograms in swimming and set the Rolfs Aquatic Center record (3:57.62) in the 400 IM as a junior. He garnered all-BIG EAST accolades in 2004 and was honored with the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award as a senior in 2005.
Moisan caught up with the Monogram Club this week to talk about his music, what it feels like to hear his work on ESPN and the lessons he still utilizes from his swimming career during performances.
What was your career plan after graduating from Notre Dame?
“One of the beautiful things about Notre Dame is the Alumni Network that you are immediately adopted into once you graduate. I remember emailing the Notre Dame club of Los Angeles with my resume and within an hour I had five interviews lined up. Music was always something I wanted to do after college but I also wanted to be smart about it and set myself up to have the best chance at having a sustainable career. I ended up taking a medical device sales job that brought me back to my hometown in Louisville.”
How did you get into music?
“My Dad recently reminded me of a conversation he and I had when I was about 10 years old, before I even played music, in which I told him that I knew I was going to do something with music someday because it “made me happy.” I didn’t actually start playing and performing until my sophomore year at Notre Dame. That year, my roommates overheard me singing to myself and tried to convince me that I actually sounded good. I thought they were messing with me because I had never sang seriously, but thankfully, they were persistent and persuaded me to give it a try.
“I remember my first ever public performance at the Acoustic CafÃƒÆ’Â© in LaFortune. I about peed myself I was so nervous and my leg was doing the uncontrollable dog bicycle kick thing. Despite feeling like my leg was possessed, I had officially caught the bug and started writing and playing as much music as I possibly could.
“After college, I got involved with an amazing community of musicians at my church, Sojourn, in Louisville. That’s where I developed a lot of my musical abilities, because I was playing with folks that were much much better than me. Getting into a community of singers and songwriters – it’s like being on a good team. If you’re with a bunch of people that are better than you, you’re going to improve.
“I met my producer Neil DeGraide there as well – he’s one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever played with and he can bust out a wicked awesome accordion solo. He and I started writing and working together and hit it off immediately.
“We worked on my album, Ungravity, for the past two years – it was a long process, but after finally releasing it this past November, it’s nice to see the hard work come to fruition and let the music have some legs of its own.”
How do you describe your music style?
“I’ve heard people compare it to everything from Chicago to Maroon 5. When I play live, I play with a full brass section – sax, trumpet, and trombone. It’s kind of like throwback soul pop. I grew up listening to old soul music like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Bill Withers so if you listen to the song “Down To The Felt” you’re going to hear a lot more of these influences. When you listen to “Don’t Need To Worry Bout Me,” you’re going to hear more of a Maroon 5 vibe. “Mexico” is more like Jason Mraz. One writer here in Louisville even described my music as “Indie Folk Pop”, which I think is kind of fun.
“If you sit down and listen to the album from beginning to end, each song will fit a different genre. I didn’t want to write the same song over and over. For the listener, I think it’s more interesting that way. What’s really encouraging is that I’ve heard each song on the album described by a fan as their favorite, so I think the album is appealing to a number of different people and music tastes.”
What’s it been like to interact with fans?
“I just had my song “Mexico” licensed into Hollister stores globally. When I started seeing people visit my Facebook page from all over the world, I was pretty amazed. They heard my song and took the time to actually look up the lyrics, come find me on Facebook, and then on top of all that, take the time to write me. I consider word of mouth the biggest compliment, so to hear that someone found out about my music through a friend is pretty awesome.”
What led you to write “Don’t Need To Worry ‘Bout Me?” (featured on ESPN)
“It’s a pretty funny story. My fiancÃƒÆ’Â©e was at Panera sitting in her car and saw this 10-year-old boy outside the restaurant with his headphones on oblivious that anyone was watching. He was rocking a Michael Jackson vest and had one glove on while practicing the moves to ‘Thriller.’ How do I know it was ‘Thriller’ you may ask? Secret confession – I too have rehearsed these moves. [laughs]
“So he would practice, and if he messed up, he’d throw his head down in frustration and then start again. She drove away and then realized that she would be forever mad at herself if she didn’t get a video of this kid so she drove back and literally hid in the bushes to take a video of him. I’m glad she did because the video is amazing and it gave me the idea for this song.
“I related to that kid, because when I was that age, I daydreamed about everything. Actually I still daydream about everything. I used to daydream all the time about being a professional trampoline-ist. Now I don’t daydream about that anymore. I am a professional trampoline-ist. Kidding. Back on track. So I imagined this kid daydreaming about being in a dance fight with his nemesis at school and in the first round, he is humiliated. He then goes away and subjects himself to rigorous training like in “Batman Begins.” He hones his craft, works on his moves and when he returns to the arena, smoke surrounds him on the dance floor as he destroys the competition and everyone praises his mad dance skills. So that’s what the song is about! [laughs]”
How did you hear about the ESPN contest? Talk about the process of narrowing the field down to the winner.
“It was cool because ESPN reached out to me and asked if I wanted to take part in the competition. I was able to get everything worked out and was excited to do it. They played the song during the Murray State-Saint Mary’s game in February, and voting began after that. It was really cool to see friends, family, and people I didn’t even know posting my stuff and voting so much. It was pretty awesome seeing people come together to support me and the music.”
What’s it feel like to sit on your couch watching basketball and hear your song come on?
“I actually don’t have a TV [laughs], so I didn’t get to see the first game! But one of my friends taped it on their iPhone and texted it to me. To hear my song paired with an ESPN video highlight was surreal. It’s crazy, thinking of where you were when you wrote a song, and then seeing it take off. Hearing people get excited about something that I created is pretty amazing.”
You broke some records while you were swimming at ND both in the pool and in the classroom. What do you attribute to your success?
“When the bar is set high, you learn to figure out a way to get over it. My parents always set the bar high and expected nothing less. My dad always said, ‘success is where preparation meets opportunity.’ We were challenged from a young age to prepare properly so that when an opportunity comes along we can have success. I think that foundation has helped forge the way for some of the successes I’ve experienced.”
Did Coach Tim Welsh serve as a mentor during your time with ND Swimming? What did he do to motivate and push you?
“Coach Welsh and [Coach Matt] Tallman were awesome! Tim was more of an encourager and Tallman was more of a challenger. They were different styles, but both effective and necessary. They worked well at pushing us, encouraging us, and busting our butts when we needed it. There were a lot of times when Tim would take a teaching opportunity with the team for something that had nothing to do with swimming.
“Those were his life coaching moments. He taught us a lot. He is also one of the most well read people I know and as a tradition, buys each of the seniors a different book that is either a summation of advice, wisdom, or encouragement specific to each person. I thought that was such an awesome tradition.”
How did your time at Notre Dame get you get to where you are today?
“With swimming, it was a pretty strict schedule. The time commitment was very demanding. We had to be very organized and deliberate. We’d have practice in the morning, then we’d have breakfast real quick, be in class all day and go practice all night. Then we’d eat dinner, go to tutoring sessions, and start the whole thing over again.
“It instilled a sense of discipline in me and a strong work ethic. I really struggled my first semester academically, because I didn’t know how to study. After my first semester, I got a whole slew of tutors, courtesy of the Monogram Club. That helped raise my GPA substantially.”
What has stuck with you from your swimming career that you still use now?
“It’s funny. Before my races, I would have a pre-race ritual of stretching and it was always the same order every time. One time, I was getting ready to go up on stage for a show and I found myself doing my pre-race ritual. Once I realized what I was doing I started cracking up and immediately had to call Coach Tallman and Coach Welsh to tell them – they got a pretty good kick out of it.”
Editor’s Note: You can follow Dave Moisan on Twitter @davemoisan
— ND —