Born Dumbarton, Scotland. Currently lives in New York.
David Byrne is well known as the musician who co-founded the group Talking Heads (1976–88) in New York. On record and in concert, the band was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike; more importantly, however, they have proven to be extremely influential. Talking Heads took popular music in new directions, both in terms of sound and lyrics, and also introduced an innovative visual approach to the genre. In 2002 Talking Heads were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2003 a lovely boxed set was released which includes a DVD of all the band's videos, and in 2005 a Brick was released with the complete studio catalog on dualdisc with previously unreleased audio and video material.
During his time with the group, Byrne was involved with several other projects, including the following:
• The Catherine Wheel, an evening-length ballet score for choreographer Twyla Tharp
More records and projects followed:
• Rei Momo, collaboration with 15 of the best Latin musicians in New York
David Byrne has been involved with photography and design since his college days and has been publishing and exhibiting his work for many years. His artwork is often described as elevating the mundane or the banal to the level of art, creating icons out of everyday materials to find the sacred in the profane.
Museum shows in Germany, Italy, and Japan mixed these pieces with audio elements, acoustiguides, and sculptural elements. Since the beginning Byrne has combined exhibitions with public art: billboards in Belfast and Toronto, subway posters in Stockholm, fly posters during the presidential election in NY, LA and Chicago and lightboxes in the streets of San Francisco and Sydney, Australia. He has also created a 215-foot long flow chart covering the 5th Avenue side of Saks 5th Ave, multiple-choice questions on the Tokyo subways, an audio piece in the World Financial Center in NYC, and PowerPoint installations in a building lobby on Times Square. More recent projects include Playing the Building, an interactive installation which turned a building into a giant musical instrument; Voice of Julio / Vox de Julio, a singing robot, and a series of bike racks installed on streets of New York city.
Several books have appeared in recent years, each a kind of piece on its own. The first, Strange Ritual (Chronicle Press, 1995) mixed text and image in a notebook-type format. The second, Your Action World (Edimar, Italy, 1998 and Chronicle, 1999), was modeled after corporate reports and inspirational and motivational literature. The third book, The New Sins / Los Nuevos Pecados, looks like a bible and was created for the Valencia Biennial, where copies were placed anonymously in hotel room drawers. It was published by McSweeney's in the USA and by Faber & Faber in the UK, and there is a Bulgarian edition as well. Another book project, Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (Steidl/PaceMacGill, 2003) focuses on Byrne's use of the presentation software PowerPoint as an art medium and contains a DVD of five PowerPoint presentations set to music. Arboretum is a sketchbook facsimile of his "tree drawings"; it was published by McSweeney's in September 2006.
Byrne's most recent book, Bicycle Diaries (Viking, 2009), chronicles his observations and insights — what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about — as he pedals through and engages with some of the world’s major cities.
Most recently Byrne released an audio book version of Bicycle Diaries complete with street sounds, narration and music by Byrne. His latest book, How Music Works was published by McSweeney’s on September 12, 2012.
Byrne is represented Pace/MacGill Gallery in NYC.