J*Davey: A Space-Funk Odyssey
At an undisclosed location on the left coast, a makeshift craft fashioned with MicroKorgs, MPCs, and an endless cavalcade of blinking LED outboard gear has impacted Earth with the force of an atomic bomb. After years of intercepting radio waves from US hip-hop/R&B stations, its inhabitants have arrived to tweak the algorithms of urban music. Light years ahead of the curve and devoid of factory presets, the result is a new sound that references Parliament/Funkadelic, Kraftwerk, Vanity 6, and Soft Cell all in the same breath. At least, that's the fantasy that J*Davey's newest song, "Touchit," illustrates.
J*Davey's first forays into uncharted sound weren't exactly encouraged. "We finished 'Mr. Mister' and we were so amped about it," recalls lead vocalist Miss Jack Davey of their first endeavor. "We called some people into the studio to listen, and the response was blank faces and crickets." Whether it was the fact that the song clocked in at a hyper 140 BPMs or that the subsequent video featured Miss Davey getting hot and heavy with a crash test dummy, "Mr. Mister" was definitely the genesis of something different. "It was pretty revolutionary for us because it didn't sound like anything we'd ever heard before," concurs Davey. "We didn't even know we were capable of pulling that off."
Full of warbling synths, salacious prose, and angular rhythms, the J*Davey sound is as brazen a statement as Grace Jones crashing a ceremony at the Vatican. But bucking urban music archetypes inevitably subjected them to hating. "We got so much criticism," Davey says. "'It's too dark,' 'It's not structured right,' 'It's not a real song,' 'Where's the hook?'" Some years later, it seems these same haters are remixing; J*Davey bootlegs–bangers featuring the sleazy "Private Parts" and the electro/New Wave romp "Division Of Joy"–are getting major burn on the iPods of the most notable leftfield urban music heads. "I've had situations where some of those same people that had mad criticism came back to me and said that our shit is classic," says beatsmith Brook D'Leau. "And that's hard to take from fickle people that really didn't understand it from the get-go."
The get-go is L.A. circa 1999, when the duo began collaborating on tunes in D'Leau's father's recording studio. "I was an MC back then," Davey remembers. "We made a crazy transition where I started singing more and my singing voice just took its own character." Now after six years of fine-tuning their craft, dazzling crowds at last year's CMJ, and doing shows with the likes of ?uestlove and The Roots, J*Davey is ready to do the damn thing. And if you think the tremors were dope, wait 'til you experience the full-on quake. "The songs that are circulating now are from when we first started," reminds D'Leau. "People tend to judge off the first things they hear," chides Davey. "But y'all ain't heard shit yet."