Rotterdam teen David Tomasek – as David J – carving out career in country music

David Tomasek performs and records as country artist David J. (photo provided)

David Tomasek performs and records as country artist David J. (photo provided)

As a 17-year-old, up-and-coming musician, David Tomasek has done his fair share of proving himself worthy of stage time.

When he first started playing out around the Capital Region at 14 years old, he remembers that clubs were hesitant to book him at first because of his age.

“But then I’d go play their open mic night that they’d have and the owner would come up to me and be like ‘Hey, do you want to come play here actually?’ I went from open mic to headline the big Friday and Saturday night shows at Gaffney’s in Saratoga,” said Tomasek, who goes by the name David J as a performing and recording artist.

The Rotterdam resident and Schalmont High School senior was initially inspired to pick up a guitar by pop-icon Justin Bieber.

“I was 13 years old and I watched the Justin Bieber movie. I was a really big fan of his when I was little,” Tomasek said. “So I started that day right after watching the Justin Bieber movie. I taught myself how to play guitar and sing.”

While the movie focused on pop, Tomasek has always leaned more toward the country genre.

“It was pretty much country right off the bat because growing up I would always listen to country and go to the country concerts with my parents around here,” Tomasek said.

Four years ago, after he put a few songs online, producers of NBC’s “The Voice” reached out to him to see if he wanted to come on the show. He auditioned and even flew out to Los Angeles, but didn’t quite make it on the televised portion of the show.

He was invited back to audition for this past season as well.

“But I was in L.A. with my mom, I was about to go do the audition, I was all ready. . . And my COVID test came back positive they said right before I went to get on the bus so we had to go isolate in our room and the teams filled up before I even got to go,” Tomasek said.

Yet, he’s not too bothered by it.

“ . . . honestly, I’m happy with what I’m doing right now,” Tomasek said.

Over the last few years, he’s been working with Nashville-based producer Jordan Lake to record singles like “Stay,” and “Favorite Waste of Time,” the latter of which was released yesterday. Lake has worked with some big names in the country music industry and Tomasek said that Lake has become his “music dad” in a way.

Last year, Tomasek spent a month in Nashville working on new music with Lake. The results of that month can be heard on “Stay,” a country-pop single.

“We just got back from a 36-hour songwriting session before that, no sleep, it was rough. We were exhausted but we got home and he was like ‘Hey, why don’t me and you just try to write one really quick.’ We wrote ‘Stay,’ we finished it at like 5 o’clock in the morning,” Tomasek said.

With “Favorite Waste of Time,” a more somber tune, he did the songwriting on his own.

While the pandemic has cut down on live music opportunities, Tomasek has been able to work through it, connecting with Lake over FaceTime.

“The internet has been really big for us because we’ve been doing everything out of our bedrooms. Like the song that went on the radio, [‘Stay’] we made that in our bedroom with no real studio or anything, we just did it over FaceTime,” Tomasek said.

He’s also been finishing up his last year of high school virtually, which has given him more time to work on music.

Through it all, he said that some of his biggest supporters have been his parents, Anita and David.

“I dragged my mom all over the country this past year, . . . for ‘The Voice,’ when I had to go out there for a month, I brought her,” Tomasek said.

He also has his neighbor and middle school principal Scott Ziomek to thank. When Tomasek was first starting out, he said he and Ziomek would often get together to jam out on guitar.

“Then he brought me to Nashville. We went to an Eric Church concert overnight when I was first

starting and that was like one of the things that [proved to me] ‘Wow I really want to do this,’” Tomasek said.

His advice for young teens trying to get into music is short and sweet: “Don’t stop.”

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Categories: Entertainment, Schenectady County

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