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With warm vocals that contort over raw, rhythmic soul, Seven Davis Jr.’s disfigured funk and heat-warped disco has been igniting dancefloors since the release of last year’s summer-stretching hit One. It’s a career that’s been 15 years in the making.

Born into the gospel world, a young Samuel Davis’s scuffed vocals were originally polished in church choirs. “I was very religious,” he tells us down the phone from his LA home, “so I was very involved in the church. It was just natural.” Born in Houston into a musical family, he describes being groomed for mainstream success from a young age. “Even since I was a kid I’ve had people teaching me the business.” Discovering hip-hop, house and drum ‘n’ bass as a teenager living in Los Angeles changed everything, and his passion for house dancing sparked an interest in music of a more soulful slant. “I was invited to a party by some hip-hop dancers who were also house dancers,” he recalls. “I went to raves before that, but when I finally went to a house night – something that had a lot more soul – it really clicked.”

With his productions beginning to gather momentum, Davis found himself uncomfortable with the more corporate framings that come with being a working musician. “I found a lot of the things annoying, like promotional videos, photo-shoots, interviews, I thought that stuff was dumb,” he remembers. Soon, honing his style for the mainstream became a necessity. “When I was younger I was, I guess, in the machine. But there really wasn’t an independent scene at the time so I didn’t really have any choice but to go to mainstream rap.” Filling a variety of roles for majors, including interning, promotional work and ghostwriting for various acts, when the time came to sign, Davis decided against it. “I was very happy to be offered; it just didn’t feel like the right direction.”

With his cosmic-futurism deemed too leftfield by record executives, Davis stepped away from the limelight and continued to work on his own sleazy, Prince-indebted funk in his spare time. “At the time, coming up and paying my dues, I found out early that the ideas I had were considered weird, or not the industry norm,” he explains. “So I made the decision to chill out.” Years later these “weird”, playful productions would find their path, as Davis got his break in 2012 courtesy of DJ’s DJ Kutmah. After featuring one of his tracks on a compilation for Brownswood Recordings, Kutmah released The Lost Tapes Vol. 1 on his own IZWID Records. The Lost Tapes…, a collection of demos recorded in the late 90s, dug up Davis’s signature raw soul and packed it with a gritty snarl. The release reopened the doors for Davis. “It kind of reactivated me. Since then I’ve been really happy about the love I’ve been receiving, and for me it’s like progression and consistency: to just keep doing good things, to keep making honest music.”

The Lost Tapes… were quickly followed by the One EP: a collection of shimmering sun-flecked jams. Prior to its release the title track had already become a late summer anthem, not long before his P.A.R.T.Y EP melded scratchy funk and slamming kicks into joyful club tracks for Funkineven’s Apron Records, where Davis seems to have found his spiritual home. “We’re kind of the same creature, in many ways,” he relays. “I’m not going to say darkness, but there’s a similarity in vibes.”

Now working through a heavy touring schedule with his mutating live set, Davis seems to have hit a steady run, with ample time to focus on his interplanetary productions. After spending the majority of the past 15 years in the shadows, he’s been given his own voice. So is he more mindful of what he’s doing with it? “The lyrics come from an honest place. I’m very conscious of what I’m saying so everything has a meaning, maybe more than one.”

As well as a forthcoming collaboration with Doc Daneeka on the producer’s Ten Thousand Yen label – the image for this feature is taken from the video for <em>What’s It Gonna Be?</em> – Davis is currently working on an album. Set for release in 2015, he describes it as “an evolution of different things: a bit theatrical, kind of like a story”. A culmination of over a decade’s work, his beguilingly off-kilter productions look set to entice attention long after the whirlwind has settled. Davis, as ever, remains humble. “I know I’m doing good, that’s how I look at it: it’s a good time.”

For more Seven Davis Jr. head to his Soundcloud