Celectrixx Interview

 

Having escaped the horrors of the recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, Brand New Heavies vocalist N’Dea Davenport and Katsuya talk to John Thornton about their new project, Celectrixx, past collaborators and being on the road.

 

 

How did you come up with the name?

N’Dea: What’s interesting about the group is that both Katuya and I can DJ. That means being selectors. So with Celectrixx we have the ability to take a jazz standard, completely flip it and bring up the BPMs. Some of our original material is imbedded in dubstep, some of it’s soulful, and generally comprises a lot of things a DJ would probably select. Considering that we have an electro bass along with that, I think that title was most appropriate.

Video of the interview with N’Dea Davenport and Katsuya including tracks from the duo’s latest project.

 

Is there a Celectrixx album in the works? 

N’Dea: We’re working on that as we speak. It’s too early to talk about the specifics but we hope to have it out later this year.

What do you like to play when you DJ?

Katsuya: I like to mix everything from funk and dubstep to hip-hop, techno and electro-house. It depends on the vibe and the audience.

What are the best aspects of being on the road? 

N’Dea: To be able to perform live and see people enjoying it. With us, it’s like an interesting experiment, we keep developing and have a plan to be much more media-related, specifically with installations and projections that also tie into our project. It’s nice to be able to throw out what we do to people in a non-typical way.

You’ve collaborated with a long and varied list of musicians over the years, including Madonna, Massive Attack and Robbie Williams. What’s it like working with such different types of artists and has it had any affect on you?

N’Dea: Collaboration has always been a big part of my career. That’s inevitably how I joined the Brand New Heavies. My whole thing is evolution. You can’t just continuously stay the same because you end up stifling yourself and become complacent. I think it’s important to have different outlets and ways to say different things about who you are as a person.

You also previously collaborated with the late Guru, one half of hip-hop duo Gangstarr, on the 1993 track ?Trust Me’. DJ Premier played here last year and talked candidly about his former partner. What are your memories of working with Guru?

N’Dea: Wow, that’s almost an emotional point because we were friends before we worked together. We did several tours around Europe together and also collaborated on another track called �?When You’re Near’.  In the latter years he went off in his own direction and didn’t communicate as much, but sometimes artists have to completely shut down ties with past collaborators and friends to be able to continue to grow into their own life. It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost a really great MC and communicator who was educated with a strong background and who provided really strong information through his work. In some ways Guru didn’t really get his shine like he should have and I find that quite disturbing. I just hope that in his passing people continue to celebrate his life and what he contributed. That’s the only way to keep music legends alive.

What types of music are really big in Japan right now?

Katsuya: Dubstep, but it’s mainly from the UK. We have a strong local electro scene and J-Pop is really popular because a lot of people don’t speak English. Interestingly, there’s a lot of Japanese artists working outside of Japan making modern Japanese music, but they’re more popular internationally than at home.

If you weren’t musicians what would you be doing instead? 

N’Dea: I’d be working in architecture and interior design or involved in graphic art. You never know, that may still be something I pursue!
Katsuya: Maybe I’d be a chef or a farmer or a teacher; I can do everything! I haven’t always been a musician, though. I used to work for Microsoft as an office guy, wearing a suit every day. How was it? Very stressful!