Roy Davis, Jr.’s soulful house re-mix.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
After releasing the soulful and popular 1998 house single “Gabriel,” DJ and musician Roy Davis, Jr. started to field some strange offers from fans of the tune. “A lot of people were asking me to be the godfather of their child,” he says from his current home in Los Angeles.
The song is credited with starting a whole new subgenre of electronic music called two-step. Even though the single helped to get the UK’s garage scene going, Davis is modest about the genre-creating number. “To me, it was just a Chicago soul record,” he says.
His most popular song is still so popular that Davis does not have his own copy of it. He says that every time he gets a new copy and spins it at a party, a member of the audience asks to keep it. “If someone really loved it, I would give it away,” he says.
Now, six years after the release of “Gabriel,” Davis is extremely busy. This past year, the DJ released two CDs: Water For Thirsty Children and Chicago Forever. Davis says Water For Thirsty Children, which was made with his backing band, Soldiers of Universal Love, is the more personal of the two releases. “It’s a lot more intimate,” he says. “Geared more towards Roy Davis himself.”
On the other hand, Chicago Forever is more like a collaborative effort with Davis and other musicians, including Jeremy “Ayro” Ellis, Khalid, and Terry Dexter, the actress who sang “Amazing Grace” in the movie Deliver Us From Eva. “It wasn’t really about a whole Roy Davis thing,” he says about the release. “It’s like a compilation with different artists.”
Chicago Forever was anything but easy for Davis, who says he was going through some major life changes at the time. The DJ took two months off in the midst of making the album to deal with his mother’s death, a divorce from his wife, and relocation from his longtime home of Chicago to Los Angeles. After all the turmoil in his life, Davis had one goal in recording Chicago Forever. “I wanted to keep my album positive,” he says.
Chicago Forever comes on like a melding of soul, disco, R&B and house music. Best of all is “My Soul Is Electric,” where vocalist Khalid recites spoken-word rhymes over psychedelic sounding house music.
Davis admits that his sound is a mix of soul music and house music. “I consider I have the best of both worlds,” he says. “I’m not really jammed into one genre.”
Roy Davis, Jr. performs at Club Octane, 321 Alvarado St. in Monterey, Friday night as part of Mint, Club Octane’s monthly house music night. $10/advance at www.ticketweb.com, $15/at the door. 646-9244.