Roy Davis Jr. : house music architect

Entrevue réalisée par Elsa Fortant
Genres et styles : Electronic / House

renseignements supplémentaires

Roy Davis Jr. is a house music legend. American DJ, producer and musician, his career spans over three decades during which he never stopped to innovate and push boundaries, blending elements of soul, funk, and jazz with electronic music to create a unique sound that has earned him critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase. With a career that has seen him collaborate with some of the biggest names in music and perform at top venues around the world, Roy Davis Jr. remains an influential and highly respected figure in the electronic music scene. Cofounder of the renowned label Undaground Therapy Muzik in the 1990’s, he relaunched it in 2018 and has initiated the digitization of the entire back catalog – a very good news for electronic music lovers and one good reason for PAN M 360 to interview him.

PAN M 360: You grew up in Chicago in the 70’s and 80’s. What genres of music did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you in becoming the artist you are today?

Roy Davis Jr. : I grew up on a lot of different music genres coming from a musical family; Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Soul music and Disco, break dance music from NY to Italo Disco to house and Hip Hop. My musical taste has always been hugely varied and although I am a house music producer my music taste has a wide range still today.

PAN M 360: You are one of the architects of Chicago (and worldwide) house music. How would you describe the essence of house music and what can you tell us about the way it is evolving (what changed, what did not change)?

Roy Davis Jr. : Being one of the originators and architects of house music I remember my early days in the basement in the beginning of the 80s making dope tracks with one keyboard, the Roland Juno 106, and a Roland TR 808 drum machine and being thrilled when they reached the dance floor when played by DJ Pierre, Lil Louis and Ron Hardy. Being recognized by those guys at that time made me a superstar in high school. Radio didn’t really come to mind, also we were a lot simpler back then how we created compared to later when things gradually got more and more musical. We started adding more vocals with messages of unity & love in our lyrics and also incorporated instruments like violins, bass guitars, and such. Having said that, the essence of house music was and is still today very raw and keeps the 4×4 kick drum rolling.

PAN M 360: In 1996, you cofounded Undaground Therapy Muzik with Odell Braziel, which had and still has a huge impact on the house music scene thanks to all the classics you’ve released and key artists you’ve collaborated with. Looking back, how would you describe the birth of the project and the road travelled since?

Roy Davis Jr. : Well in the beginning we never knew what would happen to our vision, we however deeply believed in each other on how to get the job done. We both were djs with a mission to own our own destiny with our music, a lot of the songs we put out had its own individual life. The road we choose to travel was one that created our own journey as opposed to aiming for the hit records per se.

PAN M 360: What made you relaunched the label in 2018 and what happened between then and now?

Roy Davis Jr. : A time came when I was traveling too much to focus on my own label and my partner Odell had moved on to became a college professor and therefore we decided to let things rest for a while. So, I took a break from the label and started selling music to other companies like Miles End, Bombay, Nice and Smooth records out of Canada. I also thought it was a good time to make a shift and move to Los Angeles where I was born to reconnect with family on the west coast and I started doing work in L.A. with artist like Terry Dexter, Patti Labelle, Baby Face, Christina Milian and Seal to name a few from that era. Now, blowing life in the label again, I feel like it is a fantastic time to create and put more music out so I’m keeping my eyes open to younger new talents. I’m also very excited as I just started on my next Roy Davis Jr album that will be launched on UTM.

PAN M 360: The full back catalogue is being digitised for the first time, what can you tell us about this process and the reissue of The Men From The Nile “Watch Them Come”?

Roy Davis Jr. : Well, it wasn’t easy trying to dig up a few of these classic pieces and get them re-mastered but I have a good team and friends that helped me pull it all together, and get new remixes done for today’s time.

PAN M 360: 2022-2023 is an important year for you and for electronic music heads since you are coming back on stage to DJ. How does it feel? What is the thing you are most excited about, and maybe the one you are more stressed about regarding this part of your work?

Roy Davis Jr. : Coming back to the stage since our Covid break has been real great vibes from the crowd having sold out shows in America, France and Canada. It feels good to be back out and about, I’m still being picky and careful of how much I’m doing out there with my body having M.S. and making sure I don’t overdo things. I however also see this as an opportunity to be able to create more special moments for my fans.

PAN M 360: Where can we meet you on the road in the next few months? Are there any cities, clubs, festivals already confirmed you can share with us?

Roy Davis Jr. : Well I just finished up Miami Music Week and I will head back on the road April 21st at Djoon in Paris and then on the 22nd in Berlin at OXI for the month of April and the Chicago House Music Festival June 24th, with more to come over the summer. My gigs are posted on my key channels and I can reassure you I have some more heat coming!

Men From The Nile ft Peven Everett ‘Watch Them Come’ with remixes. Released 20th March (vinyl) / 24th March (digital) on Undaground Therapy Muzik. Buy link .

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