afropunk exlusive! jck dvy talks about her double ep “lo-fi”, j*davey and the future of the music industry. #soundcheck

March 15, 2013

Jck Dvy made her name as the lead singer of synth-pop duo J*DaVeY. She’s released her first solo record, a gritty lo-fi double EP fittingly titled L0-F!. The EP combines her innate pop sensibility with noisy overdriven guitars for something fresh. Stream the record below, and click here to check out the accompanying gorgeous full color eBook, which includes videos, 3 bonus songs and liner notes!

Interview by Nathan Leigh
Photo by Nai-Vasha

You’ve chosen lo-fi as a bit of a rallying cry. Was that lo-fi sound on the EP a choice that you made or was it a necessity?

Yeah it was what I had available to me at the time. A very basic home studio computer set-up. I wouldn’t really call it a studio, you know. But when you have the urge to create then you’ll do it no matter what. So I just had to do it and go for it.

Were these all songs you had written before? Or did you write them as you were going?

Some of them, and a few of them I wrote on the spot.

Did you take any inspiration from that lo-fi movement from the 80’s and 90’s? Folk Implosion, onelinedrawing, Daniel Johnston, that kind of thing?

Definitely. Definitely. Because there’s the indie scene, but even the indie scene is kind of like the major scene now. It’s like the redheaded stepchildren movement or something. (laughs) You know what I’m saying. It’s not a large group, but it’s out there. And that’s what it was like back then. I definitely see that coming back around now.

Did you see your new stuff as part of a movement headed in that direction—really stripping things down again?

I don’t know. I’m not sure. I feel like there’s a place for a little bit of everything. But there is a necessity for something that’s just straight to the core. And there’s a lot of artists who are doing it already. Jack White does it brilliantly. It’s already in existence. I think there will be a cultural shift where it will come back and be on top. I think rock music in general is getting a facelift right now. It’s really dope.

Oh for sure! What is it about that lo-fi sound that people keep coming back to every ten years or so?

You feel the raw power of the emotion. It’s real. You can feel it and hear it. It really strikes a chord. Whereas when you’re listening to big studio production and they start to sound so glossy that they don’t have any soul.

You mention “Raw Power” and you’ve talked about Iggy Pop and Patty Smith as inspiration.

Yeah definitely. The movement in the late 60’s, early 70’s. That whole punk movement is one of my favorite eras of music. Iggy Pop is my stuff. He’s like the godfather of that to me.

It’s funny. I hear more T-Rex; Marc Bolan in this record.

I love T-Rex. Like T-Rex’s “Mambo Sun” where it’s that sloppy groovy thing. All of Fun House by the Stooges. It has that raw emotion that just gets in you. You feel it and you just have to react.

You know the Stooges are coming out with a new record!

You know, I follow them on twitter. (laughs) I don’t know if it’s actually them or not. But I know they’ve been doing a lot of shows. So that’s exciting. They actually did a show here in LA but I was pregnant. I was like big and pregnant!

Did you go?!

No! I didn’t.

Come on, you gotta indoctrinate the kids into that shit early!

I know! I know! You’re so right. I would definitely love to take him to a show soon. He would definitely dig that.

You’ve talked about the birth of your son as the inspiration for this record. How did he inspire it?

Oh he made me more…(right on cue, her son coos in the background) I don’t know I was just so creative. Focused on creating and sharing. He just gave me the get-up and go for everything in life. I feel like I can put nothing off. Crazy. My whole focus has really shifted. Every dream that I’ve had, every sound that I had in my head, I wanted to get it out there.

When he’s older are you gonna play this record for him? Is that gonna be part of your relationship with him?

Oh definitely. I play it for him now. And if he’s crying in the car, I’ll put it on and he instantly chills out. It’s trippy. So he’s connected to it. I mean, he was there when it was being made. It’s a part of his world. I want him to listen to everything. I play him everything because I listen to everything.

You covered “Smells Like Teen Spirit” back in the J*Davey days. Was alt-rock something you’ve always wanted to explore?

I love alternative. Listening to it in Junior High School. Going to buy the Nirvana CD the day that it came out. It was such a poignant time in my life. Teen angst—I mean, not that deep—but I totally connect. There were such great songs from the early 90’s. Really pop, but still left of center. I think that’s a little bit of what J*Davey is, there’s all these pop sensibilities, but put together in this crazy way; this unexpected way. So yeah, we draw a lot from that.

You learned to play guitar for this record, right? Or had you been working on that before?

It was something I’d always been kinda doing. It was like 3 years. I was just taking it slow and getting more and more comfortable with it. I was actually starting to write riffs, which was new for me. So yeah, it just felt right finally. I’m glad I took my time though.

When you play live are you going to have a band or will it be just you solo?

It’ll be me and a drummer. I’ll probably add pieces as we go along. I’ll play guitar, he’ll drum, and we’ll just jam out. It’s really free.

In J*Davey there’s so many loops and synths, have you found the process of playing unbound to computers liberating? How is that different for you?

It’s definitely liberating. With a computer, you always know how it’s gonna go. That element of not knowing is pretty cool sometimes, you know? And computers can be weird. They glitch. We’ve had computers have complete mental breakdowns on stage. It’s nice to be in control and know that it’s gonna be different every time you do it.

Are plans to do anything with J*Davey in the future?

Oh yeah, we’ve already started recording material!

Oh cool!

Yeah, we’re still the best of friends. We hang out. We still work on stuff. We’re trying to get something out by the end of this year. But we’re working on it.

Is that going to be on your own label again?

Of course.

You were briefly involved with Warner with J*Davey, what do you think about the majors vs. the indies vs. the self-run? Do you think the majors have any future? Or are they just treading water?

I don’t know really. As a cultural phenomenon, are labels dying metaphorically? Yeah. Like I said before, there’s no soul in that system anymore. It’s a factory. But is it working? Is it doing what it’s meant to do? Yeah. And if you make music that is viable in that platform, then totally go for it. Make that shit happen. It’s there for who and what it’s there for. Are they going anywhere? I don’t think so. I mean, indies and the self-runs, when you’ve got an indie artist like Macklemore who hits number one, this is a guy who was indie for awhile. He hits number one and it’s like “oh OK. There are other avenues.” I think the indies need majors. The majors need indies. The self-runs, we’re all kinda running on that same major system. And it’s the same reasons to eventually sell 20 million copies. (laughs) They’re there, but they’re lacking the soul. The indies and the self-runs pick up the slack. I think it’s all necessary. You need it all.

With guys like Macklemore and also the Arcade Fire winning a Grammy a few years back, there’s that question of what does “indie” even mean anymore?

Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. Even indies and self-runs we all run on miniature versions of that same system. Everything that a major feels is important—licensing and merchandising and touring—indies and self-runs think those same things are important. It’s just a matter of money.

Right. The majors can subsidize a failure, whereas if you’re self-run or indie…

It takes a lot longer that way. But it’s much nicer when it happens organically. I was watching the Grammies and I saw that group Fun. and they were talking about how they’re not so young. Supposedly they’ve been doing it for like twelve years, and here they are. Building that fanbase and having that longevity is something special when it does hit. And it always does. All these groups have the same story. Blondie has the same story. They were a group for twelve years. And that’s what indies and self-runs can do is create that longevity. And that’s what’s lacking in the majors.

You’ve got like two tiers almost. You’ve got artists who are in it for the long haul and have been practicing their craft and expanding their fanbase, and then you’ve got those fly-by-night pop sensations who are around for a few years, and then they’re on “Dancing With the Stars” or whatever. It’s interesting seeing guys like Macklemore and Fun. and you guys too, where you’ve just been doing what you’ve been doing for a while, and every time you do something new, people go “oh that’s cool! I wanna pay attention to that.”

Yeah. My good friend Def Sound always says “if you don’t stop, they can’t stop you.” So I do feel a shift is happening. Definitely. It feels really cool. It’s vibrating on a different frequency. Like the music that’s happening. The young people—I’ve been listening to some stuff from young up and coming people, kids who are 17, 18 years old and the concepts that they’re coming up with is just really good and cool and fresh. So I’m excited.

What are you listening to?

I heard this girl last night, and I’m not allowed to say anything about her. They don’t want anyone to talk about her yet. But she’s really dope. And even what Odd Future came and did; that was kinda the first wave. Showing people “fuck all this shit, there’s something way cooler going on. This shit is not real.” I thought that shit was cool!

They’re blowing up in a way that’s really surprising. I remember when they first burst out on the scene and everyone said “these guys are dope, but they’re too out there. They’ll never be big,” and now they’re like the biggest thing in the world.

It’s the thing that you’d never suspect. You think that’ll never work, but it always works!

So what’s next for you?

In terms of solo stuff. I’m working on new stuff. Still doing some lo-fi stuff. Merchandising stuff mainly. And then working on J*Davey stuff. We’ll most likely do some shows, somewhere I’m sure. Just kinda relaxing and working on music.

Are there any plans to tour anytime soon?

Maybe later in the spring. I wanna wait until the weather is better. I just traveled and it was pretty harrowing. It’s like 75 almost 80 degrees and sunny in LA. I’d rather just stay put for a while and get back to work in the spring.