If we travel back to the Lost Tapes Vol.1, a handpicked selection of tracks taken from the vast portfolio of unseen music Seven Davis Jr had amounted early in his producing years, there is a line from ‘I Don’t Give a Fuck’ that paints us a simple picture of Seven’s rags to riches journey: ‘I’m just an everyday man on the hustle trying to survive’. This is a man whose life and music took an early turn for the worse. It seemed the mainstream, for which Seven was aiming, was not ready for his rugged sound. Yet, had his fall out with music not have been so grave, we probably wouldn’t have the same unmistakable Davis Jr sound we are greeted with today. His music embodies the positivity with which he bounced back onto the scene. As such, he has developed his own talismanic style of dance music that lives to crank even the most stubborn of hips into gear.
With his brand new Universes LP set to drop on Ninja Tune this month, we wanted to learn more about what drives this enigmatic talent to make music and how he approaches the blank canvas. Seven talks through four tracks off the forthcoming album, treating us with an intimate delve and unique insight into what each of them mean to him.
Seven Davis Jr’s Universes LP is out 24th July 2015 on Ninja Tune. You can pre-order the album on all formats right now.
I had returned from Europe with a few weeks off in Los Angeles. The next morning was Sunday and I eagerly wanted to get in the studio. First thing in the morning I set everything up, made some coffee, rolled some (medicinal) marijuana and got in the zone. I had been listening to a lot of jacking house, doo-wop style oldies and gospel songs. My goal that session was to musically capture the feeling of a Sunday itself. Sunday mornings truly are different from other mornings. Or maybe that’s my past church boy life talking. In fact, the keys and organs on the song were inspired by memories of church jams I experienced as a child in Sunday service. So what happens sometimes in my private sessions, I’ll start a few micro ideas and then let them rest. But I had this line in my head ” betch you never…”. Was short, sweet and could apply to multi contexts . Fast forward, I’m in Amsterdam and I revisit this track. Again, on a Sunday morning. On the road, I find myself reading or even studying. The subject of confidence vs arrogance had come up that day. The lyric “Look out baby here I come” pops up. The song for me then became about having a healthy confidence in yourself and what you can offer the world, a friend, family, lover. Humbly letting it be known that you are worth the time. Be it going on a date with, hiring, getting married to, or just chilled out on a Sunday morning with 🙂
The Universes LP was recorded between Northern/Southern California and Europe between January 2014 to 2015. But most of the final sessions and production was in Amsterdam, December 2014. As a gift to myself I set up studio there for Christmas and NYE. The last track was actually recorded at midnight on NYE. Before arriving in Amsterdam I was watching footage of the growing race conflict in America. I’d never experienced being in another country and watching this type of thing, happen in your own country. Especially to people from your culture. There was a moment where I felt sad, angry, made me very awkward and uncomfortable for a bit. Before there was this melody in my head. Just something I’d hum while walking and such. To get some of the inner tension out that I was feeling in result, I decided to put it into a song. No real beat, no exact genre, just a song. It was the only thing I could do to help, from where I was. Being that I have all kinds of friends, which include protestors, soldiers, officers, students. An image came into view. The picture of police officers and protestors standing face to face. Both angry, both upset. Both wanting some kind of solution. The lyrics of this song approach the questions that might be asked, points noticed or similarities found if everybody paused to have that conversation.
Again, Julio Bashmore and I had been friends but never recorded anything together. So we started sessioning in Los Angeles and London. It was while recording ideas for his own new album Knocking Boots that I heard the instrumental for ‘Good Vibes‘. It reminded me of some *good techno* James Brown funk French hybrid. We didn’t record it that night. Both our travel schedules were busy so I did a lot of listening to the instrumental at the airport before recording it. Around that time I had somehow ended up playing a lot of clubs that were less open to soul & funk music. It was actually a real life nightmare. To be booked somewhere no one likes soul music, they wanted *bad techno*. My traveling experience became a bit dark then. Anyways, I snapped out of it and decided I’m bringing the good vibes no matter what. When I wrote the lyrics I started remembering things I had seen at some of these bad parties. Really attractive beautifully dressed women being rude, fighting, throwing shade everywhere. Bro-dudes on drugs prowling through the smoke and lasers, grinding their jaw with crazy eye puffing their chests out. No vibes. It made me laugh. The song is basically saying, you can be the hottest person in the world, wear the nicest clothes, know all the coolest people, yadda yadda but none of that means anything if you don’t know how to relax and have a good time. Vibe out.
Be A Man
Flako and I had been friends for a while yet still hadn’t recorded together. So we decided to start sessioning at his private studio in London. One session in particular, I showed up and Flako was playing a new beat he made with Mo Kolours on percussion (Be A Man). Flako also wrote a song to it. Earlier that week, I randomly googled a bunch of articles and came across a few theories of what it means to “be a man”. Some articles suggested that macho cold testosterone overdosed images are making men disconnected from reality and retarding the evolution of man. The articles suggested that being a man includes also a deeper perhaps even gentle side. The magic ingredient in a real man. Flakos lyrics are owning that deeper side. “But the water running down my cheeks / holds everything that makes me complete”, in reference to tears of a real man. The tribal Latin drive of the music and the smooth Native American chant-like moments both agreed with me as well. So “Be A Man” ended up on the album and is also the only track where I did zero production or writing on.