October 2017

Jevon & Stu Make Beats

Author: Courtney Hampson | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Jevon is a talker, a writer, a philosopher, a lyricist, a musician. He has a lot to say. If Jevon calls you, he will leave you a voicemail. Ten seconds later, he will send you an e-mail to let you know he left you a voicemail. And then he will text you to make sure you received both. His unabashed efforts to communicate what he is thinking can be best found in his music. There, his lyrics almost appear to be a competing and unedited commentary of precisely what was running through his mind at that very second. This is why he has a song dedicated to the longevity of Keith Richards. This is all conjecture, but I imagine he wrote this song after seeing the 73-year-old singer on some awards show and thought,

“Damn, that dude is still alive?”
Keith Richards just keep on kicking
Keith Richards just keep on living
Jimmy Hendrix and Elvis both bit the dust
Keith Richards just keep on living
Michael Jackson took a soul train Heaven or Bust
Keith Richards just keep on living.

His recent solo album, Genre, also features the top-tapper, “Cow Pie”:

What’s that growing in the cow pie woo hoo hoo
Yonder comes a man with a shotgun
Moonlight shining, gotta run.

And, my personal favorite, “Jump Yer Bones”:

After we done chewing the fat
I wanna jump yer bones.

Admittedly, when he writes, Daly said, “I am looking for that one big, dumb phrase.” I find this interesting, because most musicians will tell you that they write to connect with the audience—to find common ground with their listeners. Perhaps the beauty of Daly is that he isn’t thinking about the end user. He is simply thinking about what he wants to say. Some of it comes easy, like a chorus that pops into his head while he is riding his bike (ahem, Keith Richards just keep on living). “I can’t not be me. The content, the lyrics, sometimes they just hit me over the head.”

Daly is a fixture on the Lowcountry band scene. He plays with half a dozen different bands, Lowcountry Boil and Silicone Sister most notably. (If you were at my company Christmas Party last year, you were lucky enough to hear the crossover. Think Bon Jovi ballads on banjo. People are still talking about it.) “I have so many bands, because I want to do everything with everyone,” he said. So, even for this solo album, he didn’t quite do it alone. Instead, he enlisted the help of Stu Enscoe, a local music producer, with a hip-hop style.

Um, what?

I know, me too. I didn’t get it. So, I dug in.

It turns out Enscoe makes beats. Not the vegetables, the accents and rhythmic units in the music. As a producer, Enscoe has more than one million sounds and beats at his fingertips, and Daly tapped him to add the texture to his songs.

Daly being Daly, he recorded the songs himself, often in one take, gave the raw audio to Enscoe, and then things got interesting. Daly had an idea in his head of what every song should sound like. For example, “Unlucky” needed to remind people of that sound that records make before the music started, that scratch that was ever-present on a record.

I’m unlucky but I like to win.
It is hard to make it in the jungle
I spent too much time monkeying around
and now I got to hunt that woman down
Met her back when she was just a filly
Girl was at the top of the class
Guess I kinda blew my chance shoulda
took her to the high school dance
Her parents shipped her off to a private school
I hit bottom again.

Daly was looking for the sounds that elicit the feeling of music’s “true roots”: tin pan alley, Appalachia, claps, whistling, stomps, chains clanking—real sounds. For Enscoe, the challenge was taking those real sounds and layering them, like dozens of pieces of a fabric, into a patchwork quilt, at varying volumes and speeds to achieve what Daly was seeking.

Together the two managed to create something that harkens back but is still new—an interesting fusion of Daly’s words and a mad scientist working the knobs of a mixing board, channeling hundreds and hundreds of sounds into a song, into an album, into a story.

“People like words,” Daly said. “I will give a song 100 listens, and each time it may change based on how I feel. The meaning of the words can change.” His lyrics certainly give you something to ponder.

You kiss my daughter
I’m a gonna kiss you
You can run
My dogs will find you
Blood’s thicker than water
Love is sticky like glue
You kiss my daughter
All hell breaks loose
You better be strong
You better be smart
Don’t listen to Willie
Listen to your heart
I know about the birds and bees and the flowers and germination
I’m not ready to be a grandpa so don’t make me one
You kiss my daughter
I’m a gonna kiss you
You can run
My dogs will find you

Daly wants to make music that people remember. “I write and I play for the dentist from Wisconsin who is on vacation and wondering what the heck the Hilton Head music scene is. Anyone can play covers of Jimmy Buffet; you can hear that on any beach.”

In the end, of Genre, and the making of the album with Enscoe, Daly had high praise. “It was like I had a mini-me in my head.”

Yikes. Two Jevon Dalys? I am not sure the world is ready for that.

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