Modern Griots Interviews: Daví

Davi for BK Museum2Previously, I reviewed musician, dancer and DJ Daví‘s work, now here is an interview with him where he discusses his show at the Brooklyn Museum, The Beginning of Everything eating, his love for Wangechi Mutu’s work, his first EP, Got the Seed and lessons he learned from Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier, Melvin Van Peebles and Cubic Zirconia. Read below:
1) How did you realize and develop your passions for these different creative interests that you have?
I honestly don’t have a moment in my memory when I realized I wanted to be who I am today because it was all I ever knew I was passionate about. When I was 6, my mother took me to see the touring production of The Wiz with Stephanie Mills and I remember for months I would act out the scene when the Wizard debuts for my babysitter, “So-you-wanted-meet the wizaaaaaard.” 
2) How do the multiple ways you express yourself creatively, from music to dancing to DJing, show the different features of who you are?
Music shows my mind. Dance illustrates my understanding. DJing shows my appreciation.

3) What was the process of piecing together your album “Got the Seed” and your performance, “The Beginning of Everything eating?” How did they differ?
Orchestrating the “Got the Seed” EP was really a slow but organic process. Took about a year and some change. I waited to hear production that moved me and once I did, the melodies then words filled themselves in through me. The project as a whole is about recognizing that you got all you need is a seed so what then grows from the seed is as much about an understanding of your seed as it is about doing or being something. Understanding it’s an inward and outward process.
Orchestrating the “The Beginning of Everything eating” was a much different process. I watched Wangechi Mutu’s “The End of eating Everything” countless times, studied many of Mutu’s interviews and visited the “A Fantastic Journey” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum numerous times. Over the course of about 5 month I gradually developed the show you experienced – the concept of the 7 scenes, narrative, music, poetry and choreography were made to hopefully give a reflection Mutu’s intentions within her work. 
The contrast of both our works in my opinion is the necessity of understanding self. In order to contribute the you that only you can to the world, you gotta love and accept the collage of colors, experiences and wonders that you be. 


4) What are your favorite songs on the album and why?

They’re are like my children so I don’t like to choose between them. I love em all. 

5) Why did Wangechi Mutu’s work, “The Ending of eating Everything,” inspire your performance, and how did you weave it into your performance piece and expand on it? Why did you invert the name, what meaning did that have for your performance?
“The End of eating Everything” (video) in particular spoke to me the most in Mutu’s exhibit, “A Fantastic Journey –” 1) because it involved one of my favorite artists, Santigold 2) because of its pacing, you really had to sit and be present to every new detail gradually exposed in the video. Even before the Brooklyn Museum asked me to headline her closing celebration, I was an adamant fan of Wangechi Mutu so it was really an honor. The video was the inspiration for the performance so there was no weaving but more of a growth-from. 
I inverted the name of my show to “The Beginning of Everything eating” to show that my performance was an inversion of Mutu’s work. Mutu’s work in general is mostly centered around women so centering the work around me as a man and telling that story – beginning innocently, meeting the desires and pollutions of life to then discover something higher. 

Got the Seed

6) What was it like, the meeting and process of collaborating with the different artists, like Joyce LeeAnn, for your performance? 

Collaborating was really beautiful because it allowed the show to grow in ways that weren’t initially seen by me but brought the show to new heights. Joyce LeeAnn in particular was powerful to work with because I came to her with, the poetic narrator/typist person that she would serve as in between each of the scenes and the sketches of what I’d like to discuss in her poems; she took it home and she completely floored me with what she came up with (and also with that amazing unicorn costume.) She really got the vision and expounded upon it like a flower blooms in its own hues and shapes from a stem. The process was very similar working with my background singers, Julie Brown and Jasmine Burems and Asst. Musical Director, Zaven Embree. It was truly a joy and honor to share the stage with the caliber of talent that was present. 

7) Are you going to perform “The Beginning of Everything eating” in other venues?
As of now no, it was commissioned specifically for the Brooklyn Museum.

8) You developed a dance style called akhí. Can you give a breakdown of the meaning behind the name and how you came up with the style?
My dance form, akhí is infused by others dance forms including modern, krump, jazz, West Afrikan and hip hop but based on three core principles of understanding:
= Movement is based on the already present frequency and soundings of the mind and body

= Movement illustrates the mind’s responses of imagery to the sounds/music it encounters

= Movement is founded in undercurrents of rhythms; the dancer is like a percussionist

I came up with akhí in an attempt to understand how I was moving and why I was moving in that way. I noticed some patterns and wrote them down in hopes of creating an intellectual home for someone who felt and/or wanted to feel music and movement similarly.  

9) You have worked with several people in the entertainment/creative industries, like Ashanti, Cubic Zirconia, Kerry Washington, Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier, Tyler James Williams, S. Epatha Merkerson, Kali Hawk and Melvin Van Peebles. How was the experience working with them and did your relationships with them have any impact on your other creative endeavors?
Each of my experiences taught me something different so I’ll discuss a few: Kerry Washington taught me focus with charm; David Alan Grier taught me the value of sharing and humor; Melvin Van Peebles taught me to always stay true to your own artistry and to never fear caring…but manage it; Cubic Zirconia (Nick Hook and Tiombe Lockhart) taught me how to negotiate in shared creativity.
10) What elements of afrofuturism do you see in your work?

Well…future belongs to future, now belongs to me. 
11) You have an interest in what you call “humanistic justice.” What kind of social impact do you want your work to have on your audience?
Humanistic Justice: through a self-determined understanding of one’s self-identity, divisive properties of current socialization have the potential to be minimized and humbled while celebrated in their difference.
Through my work, I hope that people begin to understand themselves as beings of a great universe; human beings as one race of so many earthly and non-earthly species.

12) What other projects are you working on and what other plans do you have for the near future?

To be released in the near future:
– The crazy music video for my new single “Clear” with producers FAKEPAKT x Atilla 
– My performance and talk for Google’s AtGoogle Talks
– Dates of more shows internationally!


Thank you Daví for the interview and for more updates about him, you can check his website, facebook and twitter


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