Photo: Press (Davis)
Over the past few years, Davis has become one of the most prominent figures of contemporary Brazilian dance music for the European audience, having forged alliances with labels such as Live At Robert Johnson while releasing music by other Brazil natives on the In Their Feelings he co-runs. After the relase of his second LARJ EP Ordinary Sleep, he steps up to the decks to deliver a mix for our Groove podcast that is murky and full retrofuturistic drum work with some Brazilian sounds thrown in – a boundaryless set that mirrors the ODD organiser’s own ambitions.
Besides dance music, you are also very interested in drone and ambient sounds. What draws you to these styles and how do they inspire you when you work in the studio?
This inspiration mostly comes from cinema. I’ve always loved those droning sounds that were instrumental to sci-fi movies in the conjuring of a certain mood, helping build up tension, which is something also very pervasive in the horror genre. But what really gets me is how these pads and sounds render a specific atmosphere of mystery, distress, relief and so on… And, when you hear them alone, they are capable of conveying powerful images.
After playing your first gigs around Germany in 2006, you always had a strong connection to the scene over here and your new EP Ordinary Sleep is your second on Live at Robert Johnson after 2017’s Perle. How would you characterise your relationship with the German community and the Robert Johnson crew especially?
I feel quite privileged to be able to consider myself part of such a tight-knit and remarkable collective, even if a small one. My admiration towards Playhouse cannot be stressed enough in this context, as it was one of the most reliable labels I had among my favorites on some crucial moments of the formation of my identity as a selector and seeing Ata play has always been a delightful experience. So, becoming a part of such a talented group of artists, an innovative set of endeavours and cohesive aesthetic concept that comprise Robert Johnson not only as a brand, but as a family, is indeed very rewarding.
You are involved in a collective that puts on the underground warehouse party series ODD for which you regularly invite over German DJs like Tolouse Low Trax. What is the concept behind the series?
ODD is a constantly evolving concept that aims at becoming an increasingly more open space. One that is able not to engulf a movement or the forces nurturing it, but one that can encompass many sounds, shelter many expressions, embody many desires and reach many places. This might seem as an ambitious goal, but it is actually the result of a work that has been done for a few years now as well as part of a process that is full gear: creating a borderless network of creatively like-minded people. Thus, the elective affinities that guide this project can take us anywhere and that’s the whole purpose. It just so happens that Germany quite often is the source of this creative energy we favor. Ideally, this global community could end up freeing us from those identitary constraints and guide us all towards a more equal common ground where we can disseminate Brazilian and German music in more reciprocal and enriching ways.
The location of ODD events in Rio or São Paulo is usually kept secret until late – why is that?
The whole concept was borne out of the precariousness of many of the conditions that define a fully-fledged event in a utterly bureaucratic environment such as the one that feeds the machine putting a metropolis the size of São Paulo in motion. Avoiding scrutiny by making it harder to be located is a handy resource in such cases, so the secrecy helps to a certain point. Nevertheless, even if now we find ourselves in a state of complete legality regarding licenses and other official duties, we kept this sort of tradition to reinforce the principle that ODD does not depend on a specific physical space, the whole idea is that it takes place due to all the elements that form it: the artists, the vibe, the lights, the crowd, the energy…
You have described ODD as a “cell of resistance” in regards to the recent political developments in your home country Brazil and indeed music has traditionally always played a decisive role in Brazilian history. Which potential do you see in the house and techno scene to facilitate social changes?
ODD proposes a lot of essential things, such as a more organic and human relationship with the city, its components and its inhabitants, showing new possibilities of interaction with it and among ourselves, as well as more options to those devoid of resources to fully enjoy it. Sustainability in all of the term’s meanings is a core value of our endeavours. After all, be it environmentally, financially, socially, culturally, we all have to find ways of living together in this world, especially new ones that allow for everyone – and our planet – to not only survive but thrive as freely as possible. This inclusive aspect has always been a fundamental part of what makes ODD this environment that thrives on freedom of expression in the most genuine sense of this concept: to be yourself and express yourself, which is a quintessential function performed by dancefloors throughout the history of mankind. And, this very moment in which we find ourselves, where the speech is contaminated by hatred and the air filled with fear, begs for such spaces of liberty that also become sources of strength, points of resistance for those who feel that their existence is being stifled or threatened within this toxic political environment. It is a constant quest for improvement and it is interesting to notice that, considering all the places I’ve played at in recent years, each presents different and quite particular answers to these questions. And so do we.
Your label In Their Feelings serves as a platform for mostly, but not exclusively Brazilian artists. Which philosophy does the imprint follow?
There is a thread that unifies what the label tries to showcase in each release, but it binds, it doesn’t tie which is greatly stemmed from the type of collective deliberation that involves all partners – Vermelho, Zopelar and myself – in every curatorial decision made regarding artistic directions of the label or even the horizons we set to guide them. Moreover, inclusiveness also plays a important role here as we seek to provide a creative outlet for the talent we are lucky and proud to concentrate around the events. We try to make everyone from this amazing community of artists the collective managed to gather a active part of what we launch, from the visuals to the music itself. The key here is also to offer creative spaces, room for freedom, which is why we are about to launch ODD Discos, so this diversity we are so lucky to foster can find another outlet.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
The main idea is to delivery sounds that represent this present moment, synths and some retrofuturistic drums, surrounded by Brazilian music. No boundaries. I hope people enjoy the ride.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
Among the perks of running a label is getting a lot of great music getting thrown at you on a regular basis and I am always happy to listen to as well as play whatever I can from that material whenever I have the chance to do so. There is a lot of good music out there, especially Brazilian, that deserves to be heard and valued. A trove of exquisite sounds that I plan on showing across Europe and the globe during my upcoming tours in May and June.
Stream: Davis – Groove Podcast 202
01. Evitceles – Through Safe Space (Yerevan Tapes)
02. CoseyFanniTutti – Orenda (Conspiracy International)
03. CoseyFanniTutti – Tutti (Conspiracy International)
04. Tapirus – Where Are We Heading (Credit 00) (Midnight Shift)
05. ØyvindMorken – Multiple Scarmars (Mysticisms)
06. Zopelar – Show Trash (Forthcoming ODD Discos)
07. Legowelt– Omnibus Babylon (Clone West Coast Series)
07. Odopt – Rag Runner (4$ Captain Morgan Special Offer) (777 Recordings)
08. Nuel – Slow to Peak (Midgar)
09. Pleasure Model – International Geographic (100% Silk)
10. Moderna Y TheusMago – Dog is Calling You (Die Wilde Jagd Remix) (Lumière Noire)
11. Delta Funktionen – Alternate Reality (Earwiggle)
12. Play – Pressure (Studio !K7)
13. Martinelli – Solid (Unreleased)
14. Second Hand Satellite – Orbit 1.3 (Shaboom Records)
15. Acronym &Kalil Malone – Tempest of Joy (Stilla Ton)
16. Ancestral Voices – Revelation (Horo)
17. Off The Meds – Belter (Acapella) (Forthcoming Studio Barnhus)