DAVIE On ‘All in the Family,' Style Influences, & “Black Joy”
Meet DAVIE, your fresh favorite soulful crooner with a sterling background stemming from a childhood initially rooted in gospel music before catching the attention of vocal coach Brett Manning (Taylor Swift, Leona Lewis, Miley Cyrus). Much has changed since his early beginnings. For example, DAVIE co-starred alongside Matthew McConaughey in a Wild Turkey advert with his hit “Testify” playing in the background. DAVIE also sang backup vocals for A-list artists such as Childish Gambino and Selena Gomez, plus performed at mega festivals Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza.
Though he isn’t new to his craft, DAVIE’s now taking center stage with his brilliant, bold sound and inimitable fashion sense, positioning himself as the dynamic R&B artist you need to know. We had the opportunity to speak with DAVIE about the inner workings of his newest All in the Family EP, the thought that goes into his distinct style, and the values that shape him on an artistic and personal level.
You grew up in a musical family. So, tell me a bit about how that was growing up. How did this impact you as an artist?
I grew up in a musical family because my dad was a preacher. My mom and her siblings did the music. So, even when I was a baby, we would travel around the world. My dad would speak, and then my mom's brother would play the piano. My mom's sister would sing. So really, early on, that's kind of how I got into music. It was like once you got a certain age, they’re putting a mic in your face.
At what point did you know you wanted to pursue music as a career?
My dad had started a Christian music label. We would play around and do gospel music. I had my own gospel project and a vocal coach named Brett Manning. He had a consultation with him. I had sung a song I wrote for him. I was 14 or 15. He stopped me in the middle and was like, ‘Who wrote that song?’ I said, “Oh, I did.” After the session, he approached my parents and was like, ‘This kid really has a thing. He writes music, and he sings so well. I really think you guys should pursue this.’ So, I relocated to Nashville for a little period of time with my parents while we worked and kind of like pursued it for real and had the meetings, and that was kind of my introduction to like, ‘Oh, we can do this for real!’ It was through that vocal teacher kind of like nudging me and my parents to really kind of learn and start in Nashville, which in my opinion, is like the best training ground for songwriters. So, that that kind of started the whole professional route. I knew I wanted to do it was when people were just like, “Oh, who wrote that?” I was like, ‘I can do this.’
Nashville is a great music city. It’s awesome you got some experience there.
People think I'm from the South because Nashville was my first introduction to music personally. I did grow up in a gospel choir and sung with my dad, but Nashville was the first place where I got to write for myself and learn how to do my own music.
What are you hoping the listener and viewer will take away from All in the Family?
That's an incredible question. As an artist, my goal is to always reflect the world from a lens that maybe people don't see right now. I feel like I grew up around a lot of Black joy, Black creativity, and Black triumph. There was just so much story around me. So, my goal with this is I wanted to make an EP that everybody in the family can really listen to. I have little cousins and nephews and nieces, and I realized there isn't really much music that the whole family can enjoy. So, my goal with calling it All in the Family was I wanted it to be something that each member of the family can jam to and have a moment.
With the short film, I wanted to tribute my grandmother. Everybody in my family will say that she always created experiences at her house. We had Christmas there after church. Since I was a kid, I would go to my grandmother's house. Every time I would sing, I would always see her in the middle smiling and supporting and so on. Two years ago, she had passed away. So, I just wanted to do this project kind of as a tribute to her and share that story of just growing up in just this beautiful Black family where there was always something going on – whether that was music or falling in love or just fun. That’s kind of what the short film shows. It shows more about this house and the crazy amazing, beautiful things that happened in this house.
Well, you touched on a few things that resonate with me. One is the Black joy, and the other is that you've always had a great support system. So, what’s the importance of having a solid support system?
You know, I do feel blessed. I have family and friends that I feel are a great support system, but I’ve also met people who’ve become chosen family. So, I always tell people, you just got to find the people that know where you're going and, in some form, they want to tag along kind of like the Wizard of Oz. Everybody has their own mission, and if we're going the same way, and we can support each other for a season, for a lifetime, or who knows, those are the kinds of people that I kind of ride with. I think it's really important because we can't do life alone. I know that’s a very cliche thing, but it's true. We need people not just necessarily to help us, but we need people to come alongside us and partner with us and encourage us and remind us of the worth that we have and who we actually are sometimes because we don't see ourselves; they do.
Yeah, I love that you brought that out. But on a side note, we must talk about your style. I had a chance to go through your Instagram and saw some cool photos. In what ways do you feel like music has impacted your style?
I am a very visual person. I see the music video sometime before the song is fully done. I see what I want to wear. Growing up, I went to a private school. We had these generic, bland blazers. I've always realized the power of accessories in the sense of like chains, bucket hats, or just cool things you can do with your hair, and just to make it more you. It’s the opposite. I think my style has formed my music because I am always thinking, I know how to come in a room and stand out style-wise and be myself and somebody be like, “Only you can pull that off. That's such a DAVIE thing.” So, I've had to learn to do that even more in my music, but it all kind of feeds itself. Sometimes I don't feel like “DAVIE,” or I feel insecure about a show or a moment; honestly, putting on an outfit like a bright color or doing something crazy with my hair gets me there.
I'm here for it. That makes complete sense. I can tell just by this conversation that you’re comfortable in your skin. How have you been able to get this confidence? What encouragement would you give other artists when it comes to this quality?
We’re always getting to know ourselves. I had to spend a lot of time, not alone, but in solitude, getting to know myself – not just creatively, but as a person. I think there are so many distractions, and there are thousands of new artists coming out. So, for me personally as an artist, it's getting away, it's silence, it's really like getting to know myself and where I'm at before I give to anybody else or before I write a song before I show up. Sometimes I feel – and I didn’t make this up – if I'm not pouring into myself and like my cup isn't full, then I'm just like basically giving out emptiness. So, the best advice I would give someone is to get to know themselves, get to know what they like, get to know what they want to bring into the world. Also, find out what you have to say that you feel like nobody else is saying. I feel like as a Black artist, especially a Black male, I really look up to Pharrell and Andre 3000 and artists that when I watched them, they brought me so much joy and so I was like I want to bring that to the world – Black style and Black joy.