Davo has been surrounded by music his whole life, and he arrives with his own sound and style: psychedelic R&B. With his father Junior Marvin being a guitarist for Bob Marley & The Wailers, the Jamaican-born artist grew up surrounded by a melting pot of genres — but it was Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle that changed his entire outlook on music.
Being friends with Tory Lanez for over 15 years and growing up together in the neighborhood in Miami arrives with its own perks. Davo has produced and co-wrote numerous records, including “Super Freak” featuring Rick Ross off Tory’s 2013 mixtape Conflicts Of My Soul. He also co-wrote and was featured alongside New York’s own Fabolous on the record “Connection,” from Tory’s 2018 sophomore album Memories Don’t Die.
Davo calls himself “a young forever rockstar,” because he’s constantly carrying the mindset of a child. “To always have an imagination, to stay young, stay outgoing. Have that energy as a child to be creative and try new things. As a rockstar, you have to be able to keep up with the kids and turn up.” In other words, you have to have that young forever energy.
Fast forward to 2020, he releases his new single titled “Say Something,” inspired by the legendary Sade. The track can be found on his forthcoming album titled LXD, featuring producers Smash David (Big Sean, Khalid), Foreign Teck (Chris Brown, Bryson Tiller, Post Malone), and Wallis Lane (Trey Songz, Mac Miller). He even has a song on the project called “Señorita” featuring his father on the guitar.
Flaunt caught up with Davo via FaceTime, who was chillin’ at the crib in Miami with his mother and nieces. Read below as we discuss his fondest memories coming up with Tory, love for producing, love for fashion, and the meaning behind LXD.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, what was the household like growing up?
It was a good thing for me because I wasn’t born into this life. They say some kids are born with a silver spoon, they don’t get to see what it’s like being in the ghetto or certain areas. Jamaica’s so small that you could be born uptown in a good neighborhood or a good place but right down the street, you’ll see poverty. You see people going through struggles, you have friends living in those situations. It always made me more appreciative of my life: what I’ve been given, what I’m born with. Knowing more, knowing both sides of the story.
Jamaica’s third world country, you see it all. You see hustlers down there, people working, working, working. It gives a lot of inspiration. For a country that small, we probably had the biggest impact in the world. The biggest music right now is Reggaeton. That’s international, Reggae music is from Jamaica. We have the fastest runner in the world too so my country’s done a lot for the world. I’m happy to be from there.
How did you meet Tory Lanez originally?
Tory used to live in Miami, in Broward/Miramar when we’re in elementary. His family moved to Miami when he’s a kid, we all were in the same neighborhood. Tory lived in Miami in elementary, middle school, early years of high school, then he moved back to Toronto.
What was it like growing up in the neighborhood with Tory?
I moved to Miami when I was 10 years old. I always had friends in the neighborhood because I’d go outside to play basketball. Tory’s brothers and my brothers were all around the same age, we all went to school together. My little brother and Tory’s older brother were best friends, we all used to rap and freestyle battle in the neighborhood. Because my dad was the lead guitarist in the Bob Marley & The Wailers band, everybody knew that we’re a musical family. We had music equipment, a pre-production room/studio setup in the house. Friends would come over, we’d record freestyles and demos. Get active, try it out and have fun with it. Tory’s first ever recordings were recorded in my house when he’s 10 years old. I still have the tapes today, he sounds exactly like a chipmunk. It’s cool because you can go back and document all that.
Did you spend time in Toronto at all?
I went to Toronto a bunch of times because I have family there. In 9th grade, I moved to upstate New York. I used to take trips to Toronto to see my family and hang out. I like Toronto because a lot of Jamaicans are from there. Toronto had an artist back in the day named Kardinal Offishall, he did a song with Sean Paul. He was huge. For him coming from Canada and representing for Jamaica, I’ve always had a special place for Canada.
Your father Junior Marvin was a guitarist for Bob Marley & The Wailers. How did that influence you musically?
I grew up playing more drums. As I realized my dad was so legendary for his guitar, I started practicing, learning, taking lessons. I grew up playing drums, then played guitar towards middle school, high school. It was a good experience because I was always into hip-hop, but I was rooted in Reggae music. I used to practice Reggae music, used to sing Reggae. I used to sing Bob Marley. That’s why I started singing R&B because Bob Marley’s vocals take so much strength, it built my vocal chords to where I could sing anything. The guitar was a big influence. I loved Coldplay. I used to play pop rock, soft rock, practice to those types of songs. As an artist, I’m very experimental. I’m very alternative. I do pop rock, next thing you know I’m doing R&B, then I’m doing hip-hop. They’re influenced altogether. I have my own style called psychedelic R&B.
What was it about Snoop’s Doggystyle that you resonated with most?
I remember my first musical experience. Probably 5 years old, my dad brought all my brothers together and asked us “what kind of music do you want to do? Rap, reggae…?” My brother said rap, so I said I wanted to rap. I copied my big brother, you know how kids are. I went to the music store, walked around trying to find something that looked cool. I saw the Snoop Dogg cover which really got my attention. The cover was in cartoon. I always wanted to make a cover in cartoon to reach out to kids, they’ll see it and ask “what is it?”
I listened to it and was blown away. He had so much characteristic, style, a cool sound going on. Being my first, he was my favorite artist. Then we bought the Will Smith album because we used to watch Fresh Prince. We’re like “oh, Will Smith raps? Wow.” Snoop Dogg was obviously cursing, hearing curse words as a little boy like “oh my gosh, he cursed.” I wanted to listen more to that than anything.
When did you realize the music thing could be real?
I always had an idea because of my dad. People always said I looked just like my dad so as a kid, I felt “oh, I guess I’m going to be like my dad.” When I got into high school, I started writing rhymes. One time in class, I don’t know if I was bored but let me start writing lyrics. I was always so talented. In my soul, I feel like a natural at music. I’m good with words. I had an idea that I was a lyricist, so I started jotting down some words. I’m coming up with bars, I thought “wow this is really, really good. Maybe I should start taking this serious.” I started writing rhymes, getting more into recording, taking ownership.
What was it like seeing Tory’s career skyrocket?
Because Tory was a little younger than me, I looked at him as this kid ahead of his time. He was so young, really going hard. He’d be writing books of rhymes, coming over to record. He’d be so professional about it. I always told him “you got something special. You’ll be the one to make it first, you can help us through the door.” I always believed in myself, and I believed in Tory as much as I believed in myself. There’s a time when Tory was already established as an underground rapper, R&B singer. He’s already in the door, signed to Sean Kingston. He was falling out of that deal and wanted to rebrand himself, he always felt that wasn’t a good look for him. I thought the same and we meshed.
We linked back up a lot, like everyday. We worked on his project Conflicts of My Soul. Go to any Tory Lanez project before that, you can tell the difference. You can see the growth, the style. This is when the trill stuff was in. Me and him had a conversation: we need to start making more trill, dark R&B. Something different. I was already working on music to come out with, Tory’s helping me out like “yo, don’t do stuff like this” because of certain experiences he went through.
Were you focused on your own artistry or producing then?
I was still crafting my style as an artist. I went to school for audio engineering. I was such a producer, I fell back from being an artist for a few years. I wanted to study and build as much production as possible, get into that craft. Time went by, I kept crafting my sound. I should’ve dropped in 2015, but it’s been a long road. A lot of things we have to deal with, issues to get past. Now, I’m here and ready to go. My album’s been done for almost a year or more. I have 3 other projects ready to go.
Watching Tory blow up was a miraculous experience for me because I already saw it happening. I envisioned it as a child. Watching it all come to life, watching him get a hit on the radio and going #1 was very thrilling. It was destiny. In time, it’ll come. Same thing with my music. After my first single, I saw reactions of many thousands, got millions of views. I got mad fans now. I went on tour with Tory in 2018, performed unreleased songs from my album. The fact I got over 3,000 people to jump, wave their hands and rock out to a song they never knew, solidified I know what I’m doing. I have what it takes. I have to keep putting out music so people can get to know it. When I come back out and they know the music, it’ll be 10 times crazier because I’ll rock the stage even harder.
You released your new single “Say Something,” how did Sade influence your sound?
When I heard the beat, it had a little Sade vibe. I always thought Sade’s my biggest inspiration as a female. She’s so different. She reminded me of my mom, she’s a very pretty light-skinned woman. Her music moves mountains the way it sounds, it’s so relaxing. I’ve never heard someone’s voice so relaxing. I have those qualities in my voice too, so I wanted to experiment and mess around. I’ve never seen a male R&B artist sound so cool and smooth on a track. Not tooting my own horn, but you know. [laughs]. It’s pretty cool, I love that song.
Was the record inspired by a certain female?
Maybe a few. [laughs]. Sade for sure was a big inspiration. The idea of the beat, let me try to tap into that realm and that’s what came out. A really good experience, I love it. I actually have a whole new style off of that, doing this relaxation R&B vibe on certain beats.
Tory actually edited the video, right?
Yeah, he edited the video. See, I’m into production period. My dad used to do video production around the house, recording family home videos. My mom always bought cameras for us growing up, we’d always experiment acting and making our own little videos. When Tory came back around after the Sean Kingston thing, I was into videography so much that I actually shot a few of his videos. A few videos didn’t come out. I didn’t get him into editing, but we were editing together. He’s come a long way, using Adobe. The Sade video, I do some editing on the effects. This new video I’m working on called “MPR,” I directed and edited most of it. Me and my guy Sensei Mars, we’ve been working for a long while with music and videos. That’s my boy.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I get my swag from my mom and my dad. My dad’s originally from Jamaica, but grew up in London. They’re ahead of the Jamaicans and Americans when it comes to fashion. They get all the wavy, new edge stuff that’s different. My dad’s always on some rockstar leather pants. My mom was a model, so it’s in my genes. She was Miss Jamaica, in pageants and all that. I’m into vintage t-shirts, all the cool retro, old school t-shirts. I have an Iron Maiden shirt on, old school rock band. I love vintage tees. I could rock vintage tees all day, I don’t care if it’s brand new or designer.
I’m into cool rockstar jeans. Designer’s overly used in that industry. I love designer don’t get it twisted, but it’s a one time thing where I wear it once. I can wear vintage over and over, that’s my style. I’m actually in the process of creating a rockstar jeans brand. We’ll be doing denim, cargos, sweatpants. We’re putting rhinestones on cargos, stuff you’ve never seen before.
What’s the meaning in the title of new album, LXD?
In a psychedelic way, get ready for a trip. LXD is an acronym for many different things. My original theme was live & dream, but so many things in life consist of LXD. Love & drugs, life & death, light & darkness, it all plays a role in this LXD which is taking you on a trip, an experience. You have to be able to see it to believe it, you have to be able to live it out. You can dream as much as you want, have these great aspirations, but you can’t live it out, what is it?