Yussef Dayes is at the heart of London’s new jazz scene
Yussef Dayes returns with new double-visual Duality.
No conversation about the current crop of British jazz musicians is complete without mention of Yussef Dayes. Best known for his work, alongside Kamaal Williams, in now defunct duo Yussef Kamaal, the London-based drummer has been a pillar of the scene since he was a teenager. In the years since he emerged with his brothers in United Vibrations, he’s jammed with Kamasi Washington at 180 The Strand, collaborated with hypebeast Godhead Virgil Abloh, and played with almost every UK jazz musician worth their salt.
In the years since Yussef Kamaal’s seminal record Black Focus, though, Dayes has been uncharacteristically quiet, only releasing a handful of tracks and maintaining a low profile as his peers have found themselves on magazine covers and in the pages of the New York Times. In 2020 that’s set to change, with the release of a collaborative album with South London breakout Tom Misch and quite possibly Dayes’ own debut solo album as well.
Today he gives us a taste of what’s to come with a new video, Duality, which combines two new tracks – also out today – For My Ladies and Othello. Directed by Florian Joahn, the video is a sleek affair, with Dayes playing in front of modernist paintings joined by Georgette, a model, and his regular collaborators Charlie Stacy and Rocco Palladino on keys and bass respectively.
Watch the premiere of Duality below and read our interview with Dayes beneath that.
The video for Duality combines two tracks – how did each of them come about and why did you want to release them together?
The idea had been developing for some time from sessions over the last year with my trio: Charlie Stacey and Rocco Palladino.
We took some time out and did some recording by the sea where we refined it and it became For my Ladies and Othello.[It’s] a yin and yang piece of music, which is why we called it Duality. It shows the two sides of my musical personality.
This is the first taste of new music we’ve had from you in a while – is it indicative of what’s to come?
Yeah, hahaha. I’ve been hibernating on sounds, Nah, this project stands alone, a concept release. I wanted to end this year with a release including some of the people I’ve been working with the most, live and in the studio – Miles James, Rocco Palladino and Charlie Stacey.
You’ve only released a handful of tracks since Black Focus – what else have you been working on in the years since? Is there a longer project in the works?
I have a joint album coming with Tom Misch in 2020 and I’m working on my own debut album. I’ve been planting the seeds to release my music and art in a way that I have creative control and freedom to express myself and others around me. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You’ve collaborated with everyone from Kamasi Washington to Virgil Abloh – who’s your favourite person to work with?
Making music with my brothers, Ahmad, Jamal and Kareem, is the foundation of where I started. Of course Rocco Palladino and Charlie Stacey – it’s been sick performing live with these guys and recording together. Other people that I have connected with musically include Terrace Martin, Jahaan Sweet, Tom Misch and Sampha.