Victor Davies is about to release his 3rd solo album, entitled, Hear the Sound. Mat D caught up with him for this exclusive interview for Straightup.com.au
The Album has already been released in Japan, and is gaining wide spread recognition as Victor explained, "The album has been getting a really good response, we've just come back from a sixteen date tour in Japan of all the actual Blue Note venues. I want to go back actually and do another tour because my core audience initially came from the clubs. We found doing this tour, it was a completely different audience because its quite expensive in those clubs and stuff so it was people that are obviously into the music and stuff but the younger clubbers, those venues don't really appeal as you have to buy a meal and stuff so it works out quite expensive. So I want to go back in about six months or so and do a club tour, but it been really great out there doing all the radio shows and the gigs."
Hear the Sound offers a matured approach to Victors music, taking and expanding on the ideas previously touched upon in the album Hoxton Pop Stars, "I think it in a more secure and confident place. A lot of that is to do with recording technique. It takes quite a while to be comfortable and find the best way for you to work because I produce and mix myself. There are two different elements that you have to balance, you know, you're the musician, you want to play along, a guitar solo or whatever but then you have to put on your producers hat and think, you know, its got to work, its got to fit, its got to sound comfortable! Sometimes you do need some outside ears because it can be kind of solitary and you get stuck in a bubble. Little tiny things, because you have been playing the track, working on it for a few weeks, you just totally miss and they could be really glaring, just really simple things that stick out like a sore thumb but you don?t notice it because your so close to it. Its always good to have someone from outside the track to take a listen to it. Normally I find non-musicians are the best, just people that buy records. They will notice the obvious things"
Victor Davies has worked with some massive names in the industry, taking him all over the world for recording sessions and gigs. I wanted to find out who he considered a true genius to work alongside in the studio. "I really liked the guys from Kyoto Jazz Massive, I went to see them the other week playing as a live band. It was Yoshihiro Okino and five or six musicians, Vanessa Freeman on vocals. They were really good, they are very organic in the way they work, they are coming from that club environment but when I have worked with them its very much just get your guitar and kind of start working on it and they would be building up beats in the background, someone working away on Rhodes and its really nice, almost a groove way of working on tracks and I?m not normally like that, I'm very structured and by the time I get to the studio I?ve normally written most of the song on an acoustic guitar or just in my head and thought out some lyrics but they are more just a groove based kind of writing I just like the way they work and they are really nice guys as well so that counts for a real lot!"
Going on from this, I was keen to find out about upcoming remix projects and future collaborations, giving that previous remixes of Victor Davies have come from the like of Nuspirit Helsinki, Wahoo, Masters at Work. You can see from the names mentioned that there are surly going to be some big remixes coming your way soon, "Well actually I'd like to well I don't know if it's a bit of a secret
Oh go on then, I'll tell you I'm actually remixing the whole album myself. Over the years, from when I first started, most of my support came from clubs and Djs and even though the music I was making wasn't that they really supported it so this is my way of giving them something back. I'm re recording the whole album, its like there are going to be two different albums and this is the club version, all the same songs but more clubby, house driven beats. Some re arrangements, re played, re sung and I don't think anyone has ever remixed their whole own album before I'm kind of a bit like a chameleon, once I'm in a zone, and I know this is the album and this is what I do and this is the sound with all those influences from when I was young, not the kind of club influences, it was all kind of like Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Gilberto Gil, Earth Wind and Fire. That's the kind of sounds going round in my head when I was recording the album and now I'm in this zone and its all a lot more clubby. This way, I'm starting getting the original tracks up on the multi track and just starting with completely new beats and maybe playing some new bass lines, playing little bits of guitar that maybe work better so the arrangements will be different. Its really weird doing this because when we came from Japan recently, I only had a three piece. It was me on acoustic guitar, bass and percussion. So I had to completely arrange the songs and we recorded a lot of the live shows and they sound completely different from the album, rhythmically and everything, it almost sounds like a completely different piece of music. Now I'm doing the remixes, its almost like there is going to be three different ideas of there songs, it's the same songs, but completely different arrangements."
Not only content with writing, producing and arranging, Victor Davies also find time to run his own record label, Afro Gigolo. "Originally I started it as a platform to put out stuff myself. When I first started, even though it was supported quite a lot by the clubs and stuff, no one was really making acoustic tracks like that, I was kind of out on my own so it was very difficult to get a label interested so I did it myself and put stuff on vinyl, so it was a vehicle to do my own stuff and to export into Japan. Its only now I've finished a second, another album. The project is called Dahiqi, and again, it basically me writing and producing the whole album but its very much influenced by the music I used to listen to when I was younger. Bands like Chic, Luther Vandross. Its very 80's soul influenced. Something I maybe wouldn't do completely myself, but its stuff I really love. I've got a female vocalist fronting the whole thing who I actually met whilst filming the video for the song, 'Fire'. She was actually a firefly in the video but she has got a great voice so we ended up making a whole album! Basically I'm just putting the finishing touches to the mix down now. it's very different, kind of funky Earth Wind and Fire different. I'd like to work with different artists, it's difficult because I do the production myself and tend to take a long time in doing it so it would probably be more practical for me to sign artists that can actually produce themselves just so I don't have to produce six or seven albums a year! I'd defiantly like to do more of a Brazilian or Latin album with some artists so we're looking round at the moment and once this album is released, we'll be a bit more free to do things like that"
Victor has a pretty hectic touring schedule, taking him to many different venues all over the world, "You know, when I'm on tour, I don't really miss anything about home, well my wife comes with me you see! I love going away and going to different places and the further away they are the better really! The more diverse the culture, the more I'm bound to enjoy myself. For the live shows, it's the three piece that I have been working with so again, the arrangements are very different as to the way they appear on the album. We kind of funk it up a little bit more, it's a bit more open and loose. it's a really enjoyable vibe."
But not all gigs prove to be such an enjoyable experience.
"You know what I really don't like, and I've done a couple, are those Virgin Mega-Store things. They are really weird because you do them and its like the middle of the afternoon, bright daylight and your stone cold sober and there are people walking around buying records and its just really nerve racking actually. They are very weird gigs. Also I did a thing for a Tokyo radio station whereby I sang live to a backing track on the radio, but in front of me was a massive glass window and everyone on the street could see it I felt like a window display, that was kind of strange!"
Whilst researching for this article I discovered another musician with the same name, who has just released an album based on circus performances, "Is that the classical guy? When I first started out, people were getting really confused, but as I've put more stuff out, more sights are cropping up on the internet, it balances it out a lot, but before, when I first started out there was only little bits of me, and loads of this guy, so everyone was clicking on the wrong sites and thinking hang on, that's not the same record. I didn't know Victor made classical records! Ha ha! Yeah, its quite weird actually"
Victor Davies - Hear the sound is available to buy now