When you hear of hip hop quartets, general they consist of three rappers and a producer. Alexis Davis flips that ratio on its head. Consisting of producers Mecca:83, Spinnerty, and Simon S and solo vocalist, Replife. I recently got to speak to Mecca:83 about the group, his own solo work, and how the group manages not to uphold the old adage “too many cooks spoil the pot.”
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How did you get interested in producing?
I guess I’ve always been curious in creating music. When I was 5 I wanted to be Michael Jackson if that counts! I started playing piano around age seven and spent more time scribbling melodies on sheet music than I did actually learning real songs.
Fast forward to my teenage years and I was introduced to Hip Hop via A Tribe Called Quest and started making stop-tape loops on my folks’ hi fi. It just progressed from there really!
What kind of equipment/programs do you use?
I go through phases & change my equipment ever couple of years. At first it was just Cubase and an SP303….then I had a “real studio” phase where I had 4 synths, a tape machine and a ton of samplers.
Right now I’m back in streamlined mode: just running a laptop with Ableton, an SP404 and a bunch of Akai controllers. For now I’m more comfortable mastering a few pieces of kit than having a whole room of equipment where I have to dig out manuals every 5 minutes!
How did Alexis Davis come together?
I’ve known the guys for a long time. I first met Replife in a kitchen in north London in 2005. We met up while he was over here to work on tracks for his album “The Unclosed Mind” (released on Futuristica Music in 2007) and have been friends ever since.
I met Simon S shortly after working with Rep; he invited me to London after hearing the work id done for Replife and I eventually signed to his label Futuristica Music.
Spinnerty & myself have been in contact for a few years online….and we finally managed to catch an afternoon of record shopping in London last year.
Alexis Davis has been an idea that has been floating around for a while, eventually the pieces just fell into place so to speak & we ended up throwing tracks back & forth. It just felt like the right thing so we carried on working!
What are the logistics of three producers collaborating on one track, especially when they are so far apart, distance-wise?
Generally an idea will come from one of us – then the draft track is shared amongst the crew & we all go to work. I might add some synth lines, Spinnerty might lay some scratches: we basically pass ideas back and forth until we’ve got something really nice.
We’ve actually got a great group dynamic so things move quite fluidly.
How was it determined that Replife would be the solo vocalist for the project?
The root of AD has always been Replife – we each play our part, but the original conception was his. And to be honest Rep is my favourite emcee period so there’s no one I’d rather have fronting this project.
You recently dropped your debut EP. Is this the culmination of the project or do you have plans for further albums/collaborations?
We’ve actually got at least an album’s worth of material waiting in the wings. Releasing 3 was us testing the waters and trying to gauge the feedback to the group. So far it’s been great so if feel blessed for that.
Alexis Davis is an ongoing project for me. I have every intention of putting out a ton of material with these guys!
With so much emphasis on Alexis Davis recently, your solo output has seemingly taken a back seat. Would you say that Alexis Davis if your current focus or do you still hope to do more as a solo producer? If so, is there anything we can look for in the future?
I’ll never give up on doing instrumental projects, I don’t think I could ever let it go! Right now AD is my primary focus, but I’m still working on new solo material in between. I’ll definitely get another Mecca:83 release out there before 2013 hits.
I’m also working on an EP with the homie DistantStarr which is called “Open”. I’m really excited about that one, I can’t say too much right now but I think it’s going to be insane!