J*Davey: A League Of Their Own
If you can’t quite put your finger on the J*Davey sound, you’re not alone…and you need to use your whole hand. The words meets music tandem of Miss Jack Davey and Brook D’Leau have been taking bits and pieces of the map to completely chart their own path. Utilizing influences without reservations, J*Davey has also won over fans and music aficionados with their special blend of electronic, soul, funk and Hip Hop that can be defined as cooly original, if nothing else.
Songs and snippets have been circulating for the past few years, and on July 1st, will finally see a proper release via the group’s double-EP, The Beauty In Distortion/The Land of The Lost. RubyHornet’s RTC caught up with Jack and Brook on the verge of the EP’s release to talk about timing, musical fusions, and creativity without fear. Check it out.
RubyHornet: I know that this album is out on Interdependent Media, and I read last year you had a deal with Warner Bros. Are you still with Warner Bros?
Jack Davey: We are.
Brook: This is a separate thing from that. We had these songs already, before even getting signed to Warner. So it was a project we were going to put out regardless. Warner was initially going to put it out, but we then decided to take the opportunity to put it out ourselves. We are still signed with Warner. As a matter of fact, we are finishing our record with Warner over the summer to hopefully be out by the end of the year.
RubyHornet: I know bits and pieces have come out from you guys over the past couple of years, and this is now fully all put together in a proper release. How do you feel about the timing of this release, The Beauty In Distortion and The Land of The Lost? Do you feel this is the right time, or do you wish it came out a little earlier?
Brook: I think we always wish it would have come out a little earlier, we’ve been sitting on a lot of this music for about three or four years. But I think the timing is proper, given that we’ve done so much over the last three or four years to even have the visibility to tell so many people at the same time that our record is coming out. I mean, in music you hear about a lot of artists that have been out for years, and have not gotten the shine yet, or whatever you want to call it. But when it pops off, it’s always the right time for it to pop off. I personally feel that we’ve gotten to the point where we’re confident enough in what we do to just stick our chests out and tell everybody about it. I think this is definitely the most opportune time to come out with it.
RubyHornet: Speaking of sticking your chest out and doing what you guys do, are there any drawbacks to having such a diverse sound as yours? Do you ever get tired of explaining, and the questions like, ‘so, tell us about your sound?’
Jack Davey: Right now, it might be a little annoying. I feel like in a year or so it won’t be. People will be like, ‘oh, that’s that J*Davey sound,’ which is what we’ve been going for, period. We’ve been trying to implement a sound that was particular to us, and letting that set the standard for years to come. So, I mean, no, you can’t really get sick of it. That would be like being an artist and not wanting to do any interviews. You’re always going to be asked to explain what you create, and I feel like I’d rather have us explain it than have someone else go out on a limb and try to explain it. I think we were mentioned on some site as Neo-Soul. Not that the category matters that much if people need to put it in a category for their own sake, then that’s cool. But we kind of grimaced a bit like, ‘eeek..we’re not Neo-Soul? Are we?’ So no, we never get sick of it, and it will get easier as time progresses, we’re just getting started.
Brook: I think it gives people insight to what we do and helps people feel connected with it. When they can understand it, it’s explained to them by us.
RubyHornet: I was reading a little bit on your blog, and you recently said that the show at SOB’s was the best one so far. You also said that you finally achieved the sound you were waiting for. What do you mean by that, and what is the ideal J*Davey sound that you’re talking about?
Jack Davey: I feel like sometimes it’s hard to translate what you do on record over to what you do live, just because you have to figure out how to get all of those elements on stage without a) breaking your bank paying musicians, and b) without totally compromising the sound. We are a duo that does everything in-house. Brook produces all of the music himself, and he can’t get on stage and play everything himself. So we’re reliant on other musicians to help us, to take that sound further. At the SOB’s show there were no holes in the sound. Everything sounded full and together, and it sounded like we had been playing together for a long time. It was effortless, and when all of that is right then I can get on stage and completely zone out and be possessed and hallucinate and not worry about, ‘well, why does this not sound like this?…’ We’re all looking for something different when we get on stage. Just from hearing it on stage, and I’ve watched a few clips, it just sounded like it was right there. The energy was on point on stage too.
RubyHornet: I saw a piece on Rest In Beats that Brook did, and you said that the music is a very truthful representation of who you guys are as individuals, and you also just talked about you guys being a duo. How do you take your individuality and express that while still creating a larger group identity?
Brook: That’s something a little deeper than us physically making the effort to fuse our individual perspectives. And we knew this from the first time we worked together, that my music and her lyrics and melodies just kind of fit. I think that’s like a shot in the dark. It either works or it doesn’t. It just so happened that our individual experiences and influences complimented each other. We never really make a strong attempt or effort to fit our sounds or perspectives into one another. It’s really a no brainer kind of thing.
RubyHornet: Talking a bit more about the album, you have a song, “Everybody Touch It.” You say, ‘everybody touch it/don’t be afraid.’ Can you talk about what the ‘it’ is that you’re referring.
Brook: That is the first time we’ve ever been asked that question…[laughs]
Jack Davey: Yeah…I guess the ‘it’ could be a lot of things. It can be, ‘don’t be afraid to embrace the sound. Don’t be afraid to embrace the change. Don’t be afraid to embrace the energy.’ We’ll go to rock shows and kids are like crammed on the floor in front of the stage, or jumping up and down, their hands are in the air, they’re rushing the stage, they’re moshing. They’re crowd surfing, they’re throwing s**t all around. And we do shows and we’re always like, ‘damn…how do we get that energy from people? How do we get people to just come to the shows and go crazy, and just take it there?’ I think that song is basically saying that like, ‘don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and just go for it. Everybody touch this experience.’
Brook: That was pretty good, cause I had no idea where to go with that one…so I say, yes.
Jack Davey: It’s like don’t be afraid, it’s a craze.
RubyHornet: Was there a point in your career where you saw how you were venturing into your own thing, and are creating your own thing with J*Davey where as you said, in years to come people will say, ‘oh, that’s that J*Davey type of sound.’ Was there any fear in the beginning like, ‘we’re really going to do this. We’re really going to step out of pre-defined boxes of music…’?
Jack Davey: We never really had any fear. We just kind of went for it. We didn’t really think about it. We recorded “Mr. Mister” and were like, ‘OK, we got to let people hear it.’ And we let people hear it, and everybody hated it. So we were like, ‘whoa, well maybe it’s just them, then.’ We never internalized other people’s lack of response.
Brook: I don’t necessarily think it was a hatred either. I don’t think people hated it, people just didn’t know how to…now this is maybe a year or two before “Hey Ya” came out. And this is not to say, ‘oh, we’re responsible for that sound,’ but a lot of things, you know, especially in America, the American industry, when things are little bit newer and people aren’t sure how to absorb it, they shy away from it until somebody famous does it. ‘Well, Andre 3000 did it so it’s cool now.’ Then all of a sudden people are responsive to “Mr. Mister” and think it’s a great song. Like I said, I think a lot of it had to do with where music was at the time. We’re always attempting to push the envelope when ever we’re doing anything. So when people first heard it they were like, ‘ahh, huh? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this.’
RubyHornet: That goes back to what you said earlier about tming. Now people know more about what to do with it, and there’s more groups doing fusion stuff. I’m wondering if you think that is related to larger things going on in terms of American culture in general, or events happening outside music that gear people towards wanting a fusion and artists creating these kind of fusion sounds?
Brook: I think right now we’re just at a point where there’s definitely a thirst for variety. As much as it’s great when albums are seling through the roof, and singles are becoming super super big off of songs that some people might feel don’t have any substance, it’s not to say that we wish that that type of music didn’t exist because obviously it appeals to a certain amount of people, especially if they’re selling that many units. Our thing has always been the variety. ‘Ok, it can’t just all be that.’ I think a lot of people are starting to realize that there’s an overabundance of that type of music. So where’s the music that touches my soul and gives me a little bit more than just something cool to listen to in the car on the way to the club? I think the fact that the music business is where it is right now, it definitely makes people want something that they can’t usually get. They want something special now.
If you think about the early 80’s when MTV first came out, and even in the early 90’s when Hip Hop was really creative, not to say it wasn’t crative before, but there’s been a couple eras of music when creativity and individuality and being different were embraced a lot more. I think we’re coming into another era like that where people want you to be creative and a little bit off-center. People want to be normal basically. Right now, people want to feel that it’s normal to be a little bit weird, or a little bit cooky because we all have those sides of us that aren’t just streamlined and obvious. I think it’s really great the fact that music has really taken a turn like this. People have been standing in this line to offer something different, but it hasn’t really been given the shine that it deserves.
RubyHornet: It seems that in the title of your songs, the music, the look of the group is all playing with people’s perceptions or maybe the way they see the world. You play with opposites and contrasts, even in the title of The Beauty In Distortion. What do you mean in that title? What do you see as the beauty in distortion?
Jack Davey: I think our beauty in distortion is being able to get this far without being perfect. I think nowadays people look at artists and they’re like, ‘straight from the gate you have to have everything figured out about who you are as an artist and what you do. You have to have the right song, and the right video, and the right look. You have to be down with the right people, and have the right people endorsing you.’ For us, I just feel like we’ve, not made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve taken this grassroots approach that we went directly…man, I don’t know, I just lost my whole train of thought with that one.
Brook: I think I know what you’re saying. We’ve definitely went straight to the people in terms of, ‘look, this is who we are.’ No, we aren’t the perfectly packaged sound or duo, or anything like that. We feel confident enough to let people be exposed to what we do.’ I think that’s kind of like the Beauty In Distortion. There’s beauty within things not being all figured out. It’s like poetry in a sense. People read it and interpret it how they want to interpret it and it might not be the same thing for the next person. They may have read it and felt something different. Why not just expose it and let it be a conversation piece? We’ve allowed the people to blow it up because everybody’s going, ‘this song means this.’ And you asked, ‘what does everybody touch it mean?’ It might mean something different to somebody else. It’s distorted when somebody might look at it and say, ‘well, I know exactly what it is,’ but people may still take something else from that.