DAVIE is Serving up Soul-Searching R&B With His Debut Record 'Black Gospel Vol 1'
DAVIE’s debut EP is titled Black Gospel Vol 1, but it’s neither a gospel album nor an ironic diss to the religion he grew up with. In fact, the EP sits somewhere in between reverence and realism, marrying the singer’s love of the gospel genre and its culture with a modern man’s take on what it means to pursue your own journey, with or without the backing of an institution like the church. His most casual anticipation is that “people are gonna jam,” while a more serious outlook has him excited to share the voice—his own voice, no strings attached—with an audience that’s ready to listen. Either way, one thing’s clear: we’re all ears.
I’m really excited to talk about your EP. It’s been out a couple months, so how has the reception been so far?
It’s been really good. I think the commercial helped a lot as far as that one song, but I like the fact that people are finding their own favorite songs. It’s like having five babies. I’ve never had babies [Laughs], but each song has its own journey and is finding its way to people who appreciate it. It’s actually going better than I thought. I thought the one song was going to do well, and the others were going to be fillers, but I think the other songs have shined almost more in other ways.
Do you feel like some of the songs surpassed your expectations, or did the reactions from fans surprise you?
I was really surprised by which songs people gravitated towards. Right after the EP came out, we had an opening slot on a tour so a month before the EP came out, and then the month after, just seeing the songs that people wanted to hear and using things like Spotify, seeing people listen to the EP and put their favorite in a playlist, it was awesome.
I know you’re not supposed to play favorites with your kids, but do you have a favorite song off the EP?
I do. “Roll With Me” was really special to me. I’m a writer, that’s what I do for a living, so there were so many songs I was writing and working on for other people and for this EP, so by the time “Roll With Me” rolled around, I was exhausted. I was trying to write a hit, but decided to just do something that was simple, that was classic. People can dance to it, but it’s so simple. We had so much fun in the studio that day. It was my favorite in terms of the process and the fun. It came with such ease, and you can hear that on the record.
I think my favorite is “Heaven Calling”, which I thought might surprise you.
Woah! [Laughs] It definitely does. That one I love too, it’s probably my second favorite from the EP. It was weird because it’s such a deep moment, and I guess I assumed younger kids would want a chill moment. I wasn’t sure that everyone would want that heavy moment. I love that you said that.
Do you feel like there’s a story behind all of the songs, or are they connected in any way?
I think they’re all connected. When I was writing the project, which is why it’s called Black Gospel, I was searching for something. I had lived in LA for a really long time, so these songs were me searching for my voice. I wanted to do music because I grew up loving gospel. Not because of church or religion, I just loved gospel music and how it made me feel. When I was writing the record, I didn’t know what I wanted to say. There are so many great artists coming out, I didn’t want to just do a dope record just to do it. The thread between these songs is me connecting with these hints of gospel sound and my questioning faith, different roles, and questioning. I wanted to know why. I was really trying to connect with the culture of gospel music, and the concepts of heaven in the harmonies, so that’s the thread.
You said you were questioning after your move to LA—have you answered any of those questions or any conclusions after making the EP?
Yeah, for me, I always asked “Why?” Why do you want to do music? How do you want to change the world with this? If you just want to make a dope song and make a dollar, there’s tons of people doing that. If you’re doing it for money, that’s fine. For me, I think the answer to “Why me”, “What do I have special to bring”, that’s why I chose to do Black Gospel. I’m not a gospel artist, but I found my voice and the way I wanted to introduce myself. I lost some of that in LA. In LA, you learn to do a bunch of different things. In the industry, I worked as a backup singer, so I can be really good at sounding like Chris Brown or Trey Songz, but I didn’t know my sound. I needed to find that. It took about two years.
That’s really cool. You obviously come from a musical family. Having that childhood and musical influence, did that influence you as an artist and having your own sound?
My family still helps me. I visit them, and we’re pretty close as a family. When I go home, it’s like boot-camp. My dad’s gonna be playing the piano [Laughs] I always stay sharp. In that environment, where if your grandma is signing one harmony and you better sing the other one, you stay on it. I stay connected and so sharp because I’m expected to be a good musician. Famous or not, a lead or not, you love music, so you should be able to do music. You should be able to do music in different places—at Barclay, at church, just be able to do music.
Do you take their opinions into account when you’re making music?
No, because at this point, they’re so proud of me. I think I make sure that my references are correct. Growing up, we listened to a lot of older music so I wanted to make sure my references or my nods to those things were close enough and not too much of a knockoff. If I’m gonna call a record Black Gospel, it can’t be sacrilegious or a diss to religious gospel.
Now that the EP is out, what are you most looking forward to?
Honestly, I’m looking forward to playing it out live with a full band. I’m looking forward to playing it out live, I love people, I’m an extrovert, so I think of it as my moment. There’s so much going on, so for an hour and a half, people are just going to jam. We’re going to have this big, giant, pop gospel fest. People who’ve never set foot in church are gonna jam to some good music. I’m looking forward to that. I can’t wait for people to see the live aspect of the world, because they’re listening to the EP and they’re so different.
Well, you’ll have to let us know if you come to New York.
Yeah, I’m from Jersey so I’m in New York all the time.
Yeah, we’d love to come out and see the songs come to life a little more.
That’d be so dope.
Images courtesy of DAVIE
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