J*Davey: Beauty & The Beat

posted July 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 0 comments

Great duos consist of an amalgamation of sounds. The ingredients for success vary amongst duos, but J*Davey has taken those ingredients, along with the duet concept, up a notch. Voices blend like a two person choir praising the sounds of the musical gods. Instruments unite in an audible force so strong that multiple head nods are almost involuntaryand it doesnt stop there. Briana "Jack Davey" Cartwright and Brook DLeau decided to mix Funk and Electronica with Soul. For good measure they added a little Punk and Hip Hop to their universal mix and created a sound that even a Prince couldnt ignore.

Coming together in Los Angles, J*Davey formed to create something that has a little bit more substance to it while taking the time to build, grassroots style of course, a fan base that has their new double disc The Beauty in Distortion/The Land of the Lost highly anticipated. Having had the chance to work with Prince, The Legendary Roots Crew, and be featured on the late great producer J Dillas "Red Light" track might have some resting on their laurels. Not J*Davey. They keep pushing boundaries and gaining fans like Barack.

While touring and working on a Warner Brothers release due at the end of the year, J*Davey talks with HipHopDX about what its like to have Prince as a mentor, what lost music files can create, and how you should always expect the unexpected when it comes to their sound.

HipHopDX: How long you been around? When did you two get together?
Jack Davey:
Eight years. Weve been making music for a while, but J*Davey has been together about five years. I met Brook at my high school prom. One of my friends brought him to the prom and we became friends. A year later, we discovered that we were independently working on music and just decided to work together.

DX: How did you know that your sounds would blend?
We didnt really know. She found out that I was doing music, heard a couple of my tracks and was into it. I was working at my dad's studio at the time. We came in and starting working on one song; it was effortless so I guess thats how we knew. It wasnt really anything that required a bunch of thought.

DX: Do either of you come from a musical background?
Not really. I grew up in a house where there was always music blaring at the highest decibel you could find all the time. My mother could sing too, and I was surrounded by that. Brooks father was a musician, and put out a record back in the '70s; both of our families were both musically inclined but didnt pursue music hardcore.

DX: I was looking at a list of some of your favorite albums and you both have eclectic taste. How did the combination of both your influences inspire the J*Davey sound?
It kind of happened automatically. We tend to display all the things we are influenced by. I dont think we make a conscious effort to make sure that we sound like our influences. Its like a gumbo of everything. Our music comes out as its own hybrid - especially since its coming from two people who were also influenced by different types of music. Our music is a big pot of soup.

DX: How many times have people heard you and then seen you and didnt expect to hear your sound? Has your color ever thrown people off?
I feel like that happens all the time.
Brook: I think its a good thing because we always get a chance to surprise people somehow. I know I hate going to shows and people play songs exactly like the record. You should give people a treat when they come and see you live.
Jack: I think people may look at us and expect us to make a certain kind of music. We are more than meets the eye.

DX: How has knowing and opening up for Prince changed your path to success?
Growing up, listening to one of your musical idols, having a rapport with him and being able to have performed with him was and is an amazing experience. When people ask, How do you know when youve made it? I can say Ive pretty much made it even if I never sell a record.
Brook: Hes a great mentor for us and its not necessarily about us doing a whole bunch of music with him either. I feel that he sees that we have the potential. He doesnt really have to step in and guide but just mentors us. I was thinking the other day it might be nerve-wracking to create in the studio with him. Youd be sitting with a dude who has created so many hits. I can appreciate the fact that hes been able to allow us to do what we do while also being a big supporter and advocate for J*Davey.

DX: When Prince came out people couldnt necessarily define his sound either. Does he offer the unique perspective from having lived through a time being of not being easily categorized?
Definitely, especially from a label standpoint too. We dont really get concerned with people liking our music. He gives us a lot of perspective about dealing with the industry. He went through the trenches trying to establish who he was through his personality on record. When there is something new people tend to shy a way from it a little. At the same time, he also understands how to shape it and mold it into a way where its palatable to people.

DX: Does it piss you off when people try to categorize your sound?
Its the same thing if you eat some food youve never tasted but theres certain familiarities and flavors. You wonder, "Did I taste this or that?" People try to put their finger on something so they can identify with it and relate to it. It's not because they are trying to limit us in any kind of capacity because only we can do that. It comes down to what we do so we appreciate the fact that people take the time to attempt to make a comparison because they want to be connected to what we do. They want to relate to what we do. The comparisons are interesting. It doesnt really matter as long as people are identifying with it in some form and are attracted to the music. I rather people try to do that then write us off because we sound like Prince or Dilla. Im glad to be compared to people we consider to be great.

DX: From the time you were featured on The Roots' Game Theory [click to read] until now, the J*Davey name seemed to spread in a grassroots way. Was it intentional that people helped spread your sound instead of a label?
Exactly. Thats what gives artists longevity. You see artists nowadays that come out with a hit song, all this buzz, their everywhere and you never hear about them again. They dont release a second single and dont have staying power. Thats because they are manufactured by the business and not by the people. We went to the people first. Its all up to the fans. If you have a great fan base youll be around for a long time. We are really conscious about feeing our fans and building and strong fan base that can sustain us regardless of what happens with our label or record. One thing that our fans love about us is that we are willing to grow with them. We are taking our time to build true fans. Its an amazing thing. We are going to be around for a long time. We arent just here to put out one hit song and make money off of ring tones.

DX: With Beauty In Distortion/The Land of The Lost, are you hoping that fans will just eat it up because they were waiting for it so long?
Jack: Lil Wayne
[click to read] starved the market for years and put out mixtapes and unofficial songs. People waited for his album and by the time he put it out, he sold a million copies [in the first week]. He built up a great anticipation. Not saying we are going to sell a million copies, we might, but that works.

DX: How did you connect with ?uestlove for The Roots CD?
Actually, the record came about cause we were hanging out in the studio. It was random how it happened ?uest has been a mutual friend of ours for some time now. Hes been a fan and a big brother. Hes always down to help with whatever. He wants to see good music win. He brings us in on a lot of projects and [to] open up for them.

DX: Was working with Dilla on the "Red Light" track a random thing too?
Actually I didnt work with him. The song was offered to me right after he passed. It was great to know him for a short time.

DX: Who came up with the concept for the "Mr. Mister" video?
Actually, it was the director [Ethan Lader]. He and one of his partners came up with it. We thought it was cheeky and quirky enough to match what we were doing. It would give people a good introduction to what we do without going over their heads. Shes all over this crash test dummy. It's right in front of your face but not anything thats really so abstract and far fetched. I think it was really something we needed to let people know were good for you to consume on a daily basis but well always give you something extra and raise your eyebrow a little bit.

DX: What's the background story on your album titles? Who came up with the names?
It was a combination of us both.
Jack: The Beauty in Distortion made sense to us because it was a compilation of all the music we were working on for weeks. We were excited, and then Brooks main harddrive crashed and we lost all the files. So basically everything you hear on that is as is, nothing separated and mixed. That was the beauty in our distortion. But we still kept it pushin and put it out.
Brook: Land of the Lost is some of the more recent stuff weve done over the last couple years.
Jack: I like Land of Lost because when I was listening to some of the music I kept getting this visual of a teenage wasteland. Land of the Lost [is] a euphemism for Los Angeles. I was playing with ideas that people think L.A. is all about fake tits, drugs, and silly shit. There is a culture here, but it's just lost in all this other fake shit.
Brook: I think it has a double meaning. Its also referring to the state of the media and music. The album cover for Land of the Lost is a little kid sitting in front of the TV with girls bent over and dollar signs in front of the face. It shows how media is a direct leader in culture. There are a lot of people that pay close attention to that and they are lost in the shuffle. They think thats reality. People need to be you are being fed. I think that was the other meaning behind Land of the Lost. We are utilizing a platform where people are being fed the bullshit to feed them something that has a little bit more substance to it.

DX: What do you want people to know about J*Davey after listening to the album?
We always are always reinventing ourselves and will never be afraid to take chances with our art. We want people to stick with us through are changes and growth. We want Just know that we are not here to be perfect. We are here to be complete artist, so be prepared a long journey.

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