J*Davey was successful in the past by challenging music listeners' perception of what R&B is supposed to sound like. While many pine for the sound and flavor of the '90s, the duo — consisting of female singer/songwriter Jack Davey and male producer Brook D'Leau — took elements from traditional R&B and blended them with pieces of spaced out funk, rock and alternative to create a sound that could only be delivered by a group whose personality is as left of center as theirs.
After dealing with a failed major label deal, Davey and D'Leau went on a hiatus, which included having children and writing and producing songs with R&B superstar Miguel and various other artists. J*Davey is back and waving their freak flag proudly with the new song "Strong Anticipation." They are working toward the release of the EP titled POMP. They've also found themselves in a partnership with new photo app Fyuse.
J*Davey spoke to BET.com about their forthcoming music, how they manage to stay ahead of the curve musically and how their brand of authenticity keeps their fans coming back for more.
BET.com: I just heard your new song "Strong Anticipation." Is that a good example of what we're going to hear on your new EP, POMP?
Jack Davey: I think it's a good setup for what the rest of the EP sounds like. Most of the EP is pretty uptempo. It's what we do best. It's a little bit quirky. It's soulful. It's sexy. So "Strong Anticipation" is the perfect setup. Not saying that all of the songs are going to sound exactly like that, but the sound is definitely more streamlined this time around.
You guys are always ahead of the trend. How do you stay ahead of the curve? How do you know what the next hot sound in music is going to be?
Jack Davey: We don't.
Brook D'Leau: Yeah, it's accidental. [laughs]
Jack Davey: I think that's the brilliance. Great creative minds are all on the same wave length at the same time. We're all tapped into the same frequencies. In our case, it's just being who we are and the frequency we're tapped into.
When you first started out, alternative music wasn't necessarily that popular. Now, that sound is all over the place. How does it feel to have ushered that new wave of music in?
Brook D'Leau: It feels great. It's something that we don't necessarily try to point that out to people, but it's always great to watch how society and the music industry evolves and changes. You never know what to expect. I think it's confirmation of sticking with your gut as opposed to trying to do things that are of the time. We were never interested in doing things that were of the time. We were only interested in making the music that we want to hear. So oftentimes, it doesn't apply to what is happening. But it's an awesome compliment to say, "Oh okay. When we were on that, people weren't on that and years later, people are on that." But it's all a cycle.
Jack Davey: It's great for us because it just gives us longevity. We've been around for about ten years and we can be around for another ten more.
I've been to two of your shows and I, like the fans, need to know when is the next time you guys are going on a tour?
Jack Davey: I think that's what we're gearing up for. For right now, we're more focused on releasing music. We haven't really done that in a long while. So right now it's about feeding the fans sonically. When it's really right, we'll get back up on stage. Hopefully, sometime later in the year, but right now it's about feeding our fan base with the music.
You guys are also working with this new app Fyuse (pronounced fee-use). Why did you choose to link up with this app instead of an app with a bigger name and following?
Jack Davey: Well, does Instagram really need an artist partnership? No. Fyuse is just the new kid on the block and it's just different. It really stands out and it's its own thing. They wanted a fresh way to get it out to more people and different types of people. It was just one of those kismet things where they were new and different and on their own path and that's what we're all about as a group. So it was just the right partnership. And it's a really cool app. It's next in line after Instagram and Vine and all of the other photo communities, but it's got it's own little twist to it. It's dope!
The Internet has gotten fans accustomed to not paying for music. How do artists leverage the Internet to get fans to pay for music?
Jack Davey: I don't think that's entirely true. People are willing to pay for music. It just depends on what music they're paying for. If it's a fly by night type of thing and you know you're not going to be interested in it, you might not be inclined to pay for it rather than an artist whose music really speaks to you and grabs you. I think people are willing to pay for music. I think artists need to get creative as to how we allow people to pay for music they want.
Brook D'Leau: It's a matter of artists not putting value on their own work. Just because everybody is giving out free music here and there, I mean we've put out free music, but at the same time it's based in the value you place on it. If you tell somebody something is free, then they kind of look at it just like that. It doesn't hold as much value. If you tell somebody that it's worth paying for and they genuinely believe in what you're doing, they'll pay for it.
Jack Davey: Yeah. People are willing to pay. It's just that they know there is a lot of free music out there and they've come to expect it. But we're not really they types to feed people's expectations. [laughs]
Being that you guys have worked behind the scenes writing and producing and are recording artists, what's more rewarding?
Jack Davey: For me, it's both. I love being an artist. I love performing. It's a rush unlike anything. It's like taking drugs. At the same time, my life is different now. I'm a mom. So spending time at home and having a more consistent schedule and working with different artists, I'm definitely enjoying that. But of course I can't wait to tour and perform again. It's all rewarding. It's creating a legacy in different aspects.
Brook D'Leau: I'd have to agree. Even though most of the things I do require me to be behind the scenes, it doesn't take away from anything. Either way, I'm getting my creativity out in both avenues. It's rewarding in different ways.
You were once signed to Warner Bros. Records. That situation didn't work out. What did being signed to a major label teach you about yourselves and making music?
Jack Davey: Stick to your gut. We have intuition for a reason. If it doesn't feel right, it ain't right. At the same time, it taught us so many positive things. Overall, it was a great and positive experience. Granted, at the time I didn't look at it like that. It taught us how to finish. That was something we never did before. We were indies and we're working on borrowed studio time. We didn't have a lot of our own equipment. Our hard drives crashed, we lost all of our songs. So mixing, mastering and finishing for us was new until we got signed and started going into real studios and really getting to dig into the process. It was school for us. We learned a lot about music. We learned a lot about ourselves as a group. We also learned a lot about the industry, like what we were willing to put up with and what we weren't. That's why we left Warner Bros. and started an imprint because we wanted to do it our way.
Your fan base is very diverse and loyal. How do you cultivate that legion of fans?
Brook D'Leau: It's all about creativity and authenticity. More often than not, people identify with things they might not know for a fact are authentic, but feel that way. I feel that we always wave the authentic flag. That's the only way we can create — if it comes directly from our heart and is sincere. I truly believe that's what our fans connect with. I think it's great we have an audience that connects with that sentiment.
What are each of your favorite J*Davey songs?
Jack Davey: I'm a weirdo, so there's not many J*Davey songs I can listen to. It's not because they're not good. It's because they're attached to some deep emotions that I don't want to feel all of the time. My favorite favorite song is "Queen of Wonderland," but I can't listen to it. The one song I do love and can listen to it all of the time is "Raincheck." That one does it for me.
What's next for J Davey?
Brook D'Leau: Being difficult. [laughs]
Jack Davey: We have another album that's ready to go after the EP. We also have a book to accompany that album. We've been working with a lot of different artists so we have songs that we've placed that will be coming out this year.
(Photo: Anthony Williams)
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