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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interview: J*DaVeY brings testosterone and vomit to ATL, Sat., March 14

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They’ve been called the black Eurythmics. They even ate pancakes with Prince.

And all of that before dropping their first official release, last year’s double EP The Beauty in Distortion/Land of the Lost.

Yep, the genre-mashing, L.A.-based duo J*Davey is kind of a big deal. Which is why we lept at the chance to e-mail Jack Davey (the female singer with the dude's name) and Brook D'Leau (the male producer with the chick's name) some questions in advance of their Sat., March 14 Atlanta concert at Sugarhill (see show info below).

The first couple of electro-pop/future-soul/fill-in-the-blank-fusion explains how the right mixture of testosterone and vomit can create a beautiful love child.

Jack, on top of rocking a dude’s name, your lyrics and stage show drip with feminine sexuality, yet you convey a strength that’s almost masculine. Ever feel like you’re walking a tightrope between the two?

Jack: Not really. The music forces certain things out of me that I wasn't previously aware of, so I just go with it without really thinking about it. I'm simply a vessel at the whim of the genius. I feel as though I embody a little bit of everything a lover wants his/her girl to be: strong, confident, sexy, yet vulnerable. The boy's name is really just a moniker for the adventurous spirit, the little gypsy pirate who comes along to shake things up a bit. It's funny … my nutritionist recently told me that I have high levels of testosterone, which explains why the music and the stage show are so sexually charged. I have the hormones of a 16-year-old boy. Lucky me!

Brook, as a producer how do you balance your eclectic, hodge-podge of sounds with a final product that’s so palatable and sweet without dumbing it down?

Brook: To be honest, I really don't have a clear-cut approach to my production style. I vomit and then sift through it and shape it to make it presentable. Going into the studio with any preconceived notions of what I want to hear will always lead to something I will end up loathing.

What was the single best piece of advice Prince gave y’all as emerging artists negotiating your way through the industry?

Jack: No comment.

Brook: Shake the tree.

I hear y’all ate breakfast with him after opening for him at his Las Vegas club a couple of years ago. Did he cook himself? If so, how did it taste?

Jack: Ha. No comment.

Brook: I have this strange craving for pancakes ... seriously.

Despite being genre-benders who mash snatches of electro, punk, soul and funk together, J*Davey still gets filed under ‘hip-hop’ in a lot of record stores. What do you all prefer to be filed under, if forced to pick?

Jack: We could care less about how it's labeled as long as it's in the stores. The Beauty in Distortion/Land of the Lost is definitely more 'hip-hop' than the record we're currently finishing, and we are signed to the rock division of our label, so perhaps the category will change. Who knows? We're not really concerned with that as long as it's available for people to enjoy.

Brook: We did come from hip-hop so it doesn't upset us when people hear that influence in our music. We're X genre or Pop Fusion if we're making up categories.

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Your highly-anticipated Warner Bros. follow-up to The Beauty in Distortion/Land of the Lost has been pushed back. Is that due to the same old industry ups-and-downs, or has the response to the double EP been so strong that you wanted to keep building off the momentum of that release?

Jack: The Warner release has nothing to do with our indie release. We were lucky to have the freedom to license our previous material and receive such a great response while working on our major label album. The recording process has taken us a little longer than we expected. We're taking our time with it, making sure we are putting out the best representation of J*DaVeY as possible. Such a big opportunity deserves the perfect amount of time and hard work, and we're finally there so expect something soon.

How does the new, unreleased material compare to the double EP? And are there any collaborations in store?

Jack: On our latest record we've had the pleasure of collaborating with Greg Wells, whom we love working with as he is a great ear and musical mind to have in the room. We also worked with Greg Kurstin, one half of a brilliant band the Bird & the Bee. Of course, we stuck with our usual suspects, Khari Ferrari, Thundercat, Ron Bruner Jr, ?uestlove, and Muhsinah. The new music is a lot more mature, we had a bigger canvas to paint on and we've learned so much about production and completing ideas. It's not as rough and "left to the imagination" as the double EP. In my opinion it's a nice, natural progression. We've gotten older, we've matured ... the music should and has done the same.

Brook: The EP was more so a compilation of the music we've created over the last five years. The new record is a true display of something we've taken our time to thematically develop.

Speaking of collabos, I remember hearing Saul Williams predict L.A. would be the next music hotspot nearly four or five years ago. What’s in the water out there in L.A. that’s sparked this cool collective of emerging artists that you all are a part of along with acts like Sa-Ra, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Bleu Collar, etc? How close-knit is the scene?

Jack: Yes, LA is bubbling right now. There's so much amazing music happening, but there hasn't really been a common meeting ground for all of that brilliant creative energy. LA is so spread out and people tend to keep to themselves. Now we're attempting to create a common space for all of us to come together and show the world what this town and it's culture is all about. We, along with Bleu Collar and our good friend DJ Kiilu Grand, are starting a series of house parties where we invite everyone to come out and enjoy live performances and DJ sets in a relaxed house party environment. We just did our first party a few weeks ago and it was a phenomenon, there were so many amazing LA based artists in the place: Taz Arnold of Sa-Ra, Mars Volta, Blu, Pacific Division, the Knux, members of Freestyle Fellowship, major LA fashion/jewelry designers, and hundreds of fans and party people … it had nothing to do with hollywood, nothing to do with the pretentious bullshit that stigmatizes LA. No list, no VIP room, just a melange of folks who are into creating and being a part of the new LA scene. LA folks are gangsters at heart, hippies at the core so the event definitely reflected a true LA essence. We're coming together to make the world take notice.

You’ve called yourselves the black Eurythmics. And sonically, that’s spot on. But eventually, the Eurythmics split and didn’t reconnect for years. A lot of that had to do with their evolving relationship from former lovers to creative partners. How do you all define your relationship outside of music? Have you ever been romantically linked? And how would you venture to guess that your relationship/friendship affects your creative energy/music?

Jack: Brook and I are so deeply connected, it's on a level that transcends romance and friendship. It's a destiny that is beyond our control, so who are we to disallow that destiny to manifest? Our music is like a love child we created out of wedlock, and we've made the decision to raise it together because it's something so special and beautiful that it deserves both of our love and attention. This thing wouldn't work without one of us, so we've done a good job at leaving petty indiscretions outside of this union.

Brook: We've definitely been placed on this earth to meet and create J*DaVeY. I think its wonderful that the two of us have put so much focus on beautifying such a connection. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

J*DaVeY with Brittany Bosco, and Doll Daze. $15. 9 p.m. Sugarhill, 50 Upper Alabama St. 404-658-0068. After party with J*DaVeY and Audubon Society on 1s and 2s. Free with concert ticket stub. 11 p.m.-3 a.m. The Bureau, 327 Edgewood Ave. 678-732-0067.

(Photo courtesy J*DaVeY)

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