Ken picked up his first guitar in the early 1970’s after playing keyboards for five years previously. He purchased his first synthesizer in 1974 a Mini Korg 700S, developing a deep passion for this instrument, it opened up musical possibilities and allowed his creative mind to create sounds previously unheard of in Australia. He continued performing on guitar, piano and synthesizers until the mid-90’s, when he decided to focus more intently on the keyboards.
As a self-taught player Ken claims that becoming a professional musician was always his dream, a big part of that dream was writing, producing and releasing his own original recordings. “Keyboards became the key to that dream,” he notes, “as the keyboards could transform into saxophone , pan flute, flute, cello, viola or any instrument, allowing me to create the beautiful melodies that have made my music so popular worldwide. Ken purchased a recording studio in January 1989 and learnt how to record and produce his own music and produce master tapes often recording live to tape to capture the moments that are so precious when creating this style of music.
A home studio allowed him all the creative freedom and time to record his music at the most inspirational times of the day or night. His original studio and keyboards are all still working at his private studio in his house in Sydney. It was also 1989 when Ken formed his company with a global vision calling it Ken Davis Music International Pty Ltd. This was the beginning of the global expansion of his music. In May 1989 Ken approached Australian Geographic as a composer of music for there chain of retail stores. They accepted his music and so one of the most successful partnerships began. It was at this time that Dino Music became interested in Kens music and a series of television advertisements were made after a brief TV campaign by J and B Records that did not go to plan, and so Ken continued with his own unique way of merchandising his music through live performance, selling his cassettes and CDS at live performances. This had proved successful before the offer of a major company became involved. Gary Jones from Dino met Ken in 1991 at Midem in Cannes and a long term relationship that still exists today began. Gary produced the TV ads after he saw the success of Kens live performances and sales of his product at the shows. This worked and so a five year relationship with Dino saw Ken’s music reach Australia wide through the TV advertising. Gary Jones organised all of the Dino strategies and Ken kept selling live at his gigs. This worked for both Ken and Dino Music. Ken’s ability to see and feel the future was another reason for his success as he was always coming up with innovative marketing ideas to create more sales including his mail order side of the business. In 1993-1994 Gary Jones had noticed Kens continuous innovations into the marketing of his music and had indicated to Ken that it was time to start looking to the future beyond Dino music.
It was at this time that Ken had been invited to Holborne Canada by CEO Frank Swain. Ken was invited to visit Canada and met all the Holborne Canada staff Time was also spent with Frank Swain discussing plans for more of his releases.
It was at this time that Ken saw the first prototype display of the music interactive.
Ken saw the vision of this new and innovative way of marketing his music in Australia. The first interactive machine displayed 12 titles at a time. A CD player inside the unit played samples of music displayed on a card with CD titles in colour. The samples played when a small button in the corner of the photo of the CD cover was pressed.. The samples were chosen as the best sample to sell the particular CD displayed. Holborne Canada had already designed and was building a thirty two CD rack and this was even more exciting. They later created many different interactives trying out new and innovative ways of selling their music titles. Kens music began to feature on around five hundred music interactives throughout Canada and the USA. Ken on his return to Australia approached Gary Jones to form a company in Australia with Frank Swain from Holborne Canada. Gary Jones had all the experience from Dino Music to run a distribution company and Frank Swain from Holborne Canada was willing to expand his business down under by supplying racks and stock for the Interactive music systems. His close business relationship with Ken and his music gave him the belief to ship all the new music Interactives and stock down under to Gary who started working out of his garage at home, in the early days and so Holborne Australasia was born in 1994.
Kens ideas of expanding the range of music to all Australian themes and titles and aim sales at the tourists paid off although this led to Frank Swain wishing to sell his share of the company. Kens titles with themes of Australia were selling very well and it was at this time that Gary Jones was working closely with Gene Pierson who had moved to Cairns in Queensland. Gene Pierson began marketing and recording an aboriginal artist didgeridoo player David Hudson.
This was a recipe for success Gene Pierson who being very innovative and creative started producing music with Gary’s strong marketing expertise. This combination would become one of the most successful innovative Australian music catalogues of Aboriginal music and videos and DVD’S featuring David Hudson. Gene Pierson had met Nigel Pegrum who was producing at a local studio in Cairns and was looking to expand his horizons. Kens ties and success in sales with Australian Geographic Retail stores led to Holborne Australasia being able to place a music interactive in each of there stores. Australian Geographic have been a major part of the Holborne Australasia success story, as Gary used the success of this venture to get other main retail stores who traditionally did not sell music to sell music through the innovation and proof of sales from Australian Geographic Stores. Gary’s strategy worked and Holborne Australasia placed many hundreds with a final tally in 2005-2006 of over one thousand five hundred racks in all Australian Airport stores, as well as duty free stores. Holborne Australasia became one of the most successful Australian music business’s, producing new music that tourists would purchase whilst visiting Australia. With a large warehouse in Alexandria and a full time staff of eleven people as well as casual employees they distributed product to every corner of Australia and New Zealand .
Titles such as “Spirit of The Pan Flute Australia”, “Australia “ Australian Wilderness “Memories of Australia”. Ken continued his role of creating music for the Music Interactives as well as releasing many of the titles world wide through his network of distributors. Australia is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit. You would find Kens titles in nature style stores, airports and healing centres as well as on most airline relaxation programmes world wide. Ken built an international fan base from people worldwide who have been touched by his music. Ken performed regularly at the Sydney Opera House Bennelong during the mid 90’s.
Visitors to Sydney would hear his unique calling through his music, including airline staff who assisted in getting the music played on international airlines.” Ken’s music continued to feature for more than twenty years on the In-flight programming from Qantas,
United, Singapore, KLM and many others. Ken performed live at universities, shopping centres allowing passers by to be introduced to his music with live performances. Ken performed for fifteen consecutive years at the annual International New Age Trade Show held in Denver Colorado. Ken sold his fifty percent share in Holborne Australasia in 2007 as he wanted to spend more time creating music and travelling the world.
Ken says that his favourite part of being a professional musician is “composing music that people enjoy, that helps them relax. It’s the ultimate job.” For inspiration, Ken spends a great deal of time with nature; whales and dolphins are his passion, as is the rain forest. “When you are at one with nature, you are in balance with life,” he enthuses. “I also love waterfalls, and in the year two thousand released my first DVD release, “Waterfalls.”
Asked about how Ken creates his relaxing sounds, he explains “The melodies of my music come when I play the piano each day. The process usually begins with my early morning piano practice; a melody will come through the chord structures and I’ll feel the excitement of inspiration beginning in my heart. Then I play and play the same patterns, encouraging more melodies to emerge. When I feel intuitively that the music has given all that it can in the structure of the piece, it is logged as part of a new CD. All of my recordings have themes, so I usually work within each theme to completion.”
Unlike the majority of New Age Musicians, Ken has always been at ease with live performance. The entire show would be rehersed and performed within a perfectly organised performance. Later, the confidence that comes from performing live four or five times a week enabled Ken to open up to spontaneity, adding a new dynamic aspect to the shows.
While playing with other artists is inspiring, Ken enjoyed very much the control of being a solo performer; it allowed Kengreater freedom to make decisions about the music, as well as regarding practical items like tour schedules and practicing the routines that improved his performances by watching videos and always looking at improving the live concerts.
Ken balances his work ethic with social responsibility. Ken supported a Ethiopian child from the early age of three till her being accepted into University, a proud moment for Ken. Ken was a member of Greenpeace International for more than 15 years.
Ken performed three Celebration Of Life concerts in Sydney to help create more supportive wards for leukaemia patients,” he shares. “Changing those old hospital wards was necessary, and over $50,000 was raised from ticket sales and donations. The rooms were changed from dull and disenchanting to bright, enlightened places where people felt empowered to be healed. These rooms have been featured on my web site and, for me, it was a great cause. I still visit the ward whenever possible, and talk to the patients.”
This type of endeavour is not unusual for Ken, who believes that “spirit gave me the gift of music.” By following this gift, he says, “my recordings become music for the heart. “I give thanks every day for my gift and never take it for granted, as it can be taken away as quickly as it is given. “This experience of life comes through the music,” he explains. “The melodies in my music encourage listeners to be happy, to follow their hearts and their dreams.
” If life has taught me anything, it is to be who you are, not who you have to be.”