Change is often a word associated with either a forced adjustment to a day to day practice or the desire and will to make an adjustment to your life for the better. For Jovan Dais change has been a word that has described his oftentimes real, straight to the point and soulful music as well as his burning desire to bring true talent and quality music to the forefront after spending several years in the industry working with the likes of Anthony Hamilton, Mya and Jojo.
No holds barred, Jovan Dais sat down with Singersroom to discuss his plans for Anotha Dais, his independent label, Barack Obama’s inauguration and most of all his brand of music known to some as Rhythm & Streets.
Singersroom: I had a chance to listen to your track “Came A Long Way” …but we still have so far to go…Do you feel that way about your career thus far in that you’ve put in your dues for a number of years?
Jovan Dais: Although I grew up in Atlanta and currently reside here, I’m from South Bronx, New York. From the projects. The culture growing up was music. Right now we’re living comfortably, my family is, when I say we got so far to go there’s still so much growth when you’re trying to get to another level. Ultimately it’s the journey and not the destination. When you reach certain goals it’s not like you’re satisfied, you feel like you want to pursue more. I feel that way just with life in general, whether it be my family, my music or other ventures. There are still other things that are valuable.
Singersroom: I respect that and you just wrapped up a (recording) session right?
Jovan Dais: Yeah man. We’re up till 7 â 8am everyday man, working on records. I haven’t been introduced to the world the way I would like yet, but I still have to deliver so that in the event I’m not here, my family still benefits from it, no different than Pac’s (Tupac’s) family is benefiting from his publishing now. You know its been over ten years.
Singersroom: Now I read that you built your own studio and now the Another Dais team, what made you pursue having your own instead of connecting with a major label?
Jovan Dais: My father was in the music industry and he always taught me indirectly to be a boss. When it came down to me having more songs I realized the value of having my own studio. My grandfather told me one day: “What you don’t know how to do you’re going to have to pay somebody to do.”
Studio costs can get crazy so everytime I got an independent record deal or I got a situation where it was financially rewarding I always invested in myself. I invested in things that couldn’t go away. To me that was the recording studio, equipment, headphones, microphones, ProTools â things that couldn’t be taken and just learning how to mix my own records and record my own songs.
When I first got started my father gave me ‘five grand’ and I went out and bought $4,000 worth of wood. That’s how serious it is to me.
Then the only thing that’s stopping you from moving forward is you.
I encourage all aspiring artists â have your own. Writing your own material is important. I can’t wait around and I’m not interested in nobody else’s returns. That was very important to me. I do film editing as well. You gotta be hands on with your stuff. You can pay somebody else to do it but they won’t care about it the way you do.
Singersroom: You speak the truth on your records, have you received any flack for being too real and not following what some would call the proper formula?
Jovan Dais: I have. Some people have said I need to “dumb it down” a little, or infuse a little auto-tune, but that’s just not me. I feel I have to keep some integrity about myself; I can’t just go out and say anything, I have an active mother in my life, I have daughters, I have nieces, I have grandmothers, I have aunts â I have a lot of women in my life so everything that I’m saying is always going to be respectful to women, it’s always going to be respectful to myself. You can’t please everybody. If you don’t stay true to yourself you’ll get lost in the shuffle.
The funny thing is I grew up in Hip Hop and I think of myself as more of an emcee and not just a singer or R&B guy even though I’m singing and even though I play the guitar. Although, I have a full band I feel I’m on as an entertainer and as an emcee.
When we’re sitting down we’re thinking of songs depending on the project, if I know I’m coming out with a mixtape I can be a little more raw as opposed to making records only for the ladies. You have to put on a different hat as an Artist it requires a different mind frame. That being said I don’t have a problem remaining an independent artist and having major distribution because I like having that control of my creativity.
Singersroom: Is the label Rhythm & Streets real to you, does it accurately describe your music?
Jovan Dais: Yes, I don’t ever want to get caught up in being just a guy that makes love songs, believe me I enjoy it. I enjoy singing ballads and I enjoy playing the guitar but I also like getting on the mic like an emcee, so Rhythm and Streets, the name of the latest CD, is just because I feel like its my best of the two together.
I don’t know too many artists that can, right now, join the stage with Young Jeezy and then join the stage with Babyface and still hold his own with credibility, that’s me. I can do that. So when Seagram’s asked me to tour with Mya and the Clipse, Not a problem!
Singersroom: For those who don’t know who Jovan Dais is, give me three reasons they should check out your music?
Jovan Dais: It’s fresh.
My character as a person, beyond my music I want people to like me. When I went on tour we documented everything. I want people to like me as an individual and as a man and then my music because one song won’t express to you exactly who Jovan Dais is.
It’s time for real music to have the opportunity to have the spotlight instead of this commercial mainstream music that has no substance to it. I believe the future of music is going to depend heavily on the quality of music because right now you can go online and you can get whatever music you want. I know that’s what I bring hands down because that’s always been my thing period. It’s about quality, whether you’re going to a fine restaurant or getting a record. If you have one quality song then, guess what, they’ll buy that for a dollar but they’re not buying your album.
My interest in creating music is not nothing that I came up with over night, this is something that I was born to do. Not taking anything away from the artists that just wake up one day and come up with a hit record â that’s wonderful however, there’s no longevity in it.
You’re as good as your last hit when you approach the music game that way.
Singersroom: 2009 is going to be a year of ‘Change’ in more ways that one. How do you feel about Barack Obama’s upcoming inauguration?
Jovan Dais: For me I feel America needs what is about to take place. I know everybody is looking to see ‘what Barack is going to do,’ (but) he still is employed by the United States of America â let’s not get it twisted it’s still a corporation. It’s not going to happen overnight.
I feel like he’s going to be able to come in and keep things a little more positive. It’s hard day to day with everything that’s going on, just for regular people and I consider myself to be a regular guy. Other than my music I still have a life.
In general I think Barack is going to bring hope, not just for African Americans, but to anybody that’s had any type of hard times. It’s just a symbol of “we can do it” and “we can persevere” and “we can achieve our dreams”.
I’ve already thought that before but now you get another great example of people who are black and get the opportunity to be in office. We always heard there would never be a black man in office so for that to be happening is just a symbol to me that anything and everything is possible.
For all people who have ever lost hope or lost faith when it comes to that statement here’s a strong piece of evidence that is credible that “â¦anything is possible and if you believe in yourself enough you can achieve anything that you want to in your life” and this goes way beyond music.
Singersroom: I agree with you there. They say a picture is worth a thousand words..
Jovan Dais: Yeah man, imagine what his daughters’ lives will be like. (Even) if he didn’t win its forever changed. The fact that he won and he’s getting ready to be inaugurated â it’s a beautiful thing.
Singersroom: Being to me an artist who is also a storyteller, has Barack Obama’s run inspired you and any new music?
Jovan Dais: Not necessarily. Again, I listened to Biggie and Pac and they told great stories. Unfortunately they left before their time and we never got to really see that stuff they did illustrated. As far as the visual we never got to see BIG’s potential period and he was an amazing storyteller.
I’ve never been a hot head and just make music that just sinks in without caring what it was saying. I’ve always cared what (my music) was saying.
If anything it pushes me a little harder to stay focused. To me if Barack didn’t stay focused and if he didn’t stay on his mission then he could have fell short.
Singersroom: What is in store for you in 2009?
Jovan Dais: I had the opportunity to work with Jojo from Blackground Records, she’s coming out, and we made a record together (that me, her and DJ Toomp did). I’m really selective about who I work with because I’m not interested in it like that as far as working with so many different people. I really like JoJo. I like her music, I like her voice and I believe she’s a true talent. We came up with some great material.
Right now we’re in the process of solidifying distribution for us (Anotha Dais) independently and believe me I want to stay independent. So whether it be Universal/Fontana or Koch, etc we are in need of distribution. We sell a lot of records in Japan and Germany for some reason, so in addition to distribution I’m looking forward to touring overseas! That’s the plan.
We have a great team in place and years of experience, so we are looking forward to 2009.
We had a single reach number 2 on the Billboard charts and a multi-city major tour without any record label involved â I can’t act like that didn’t happen. I was touring off my mixtape.
We look forward to a big 2009 and we plan on attacking radio real soon.
I believe in my team, we are very capable.
Singersroom: Wrapping up, how does the word ‘Change’ best relate to your life, music and daily grind?
Jovan Dais: For me Change is being able to adjust constantly. Whether that be a football team on the field when they’re being beat 21 to zip and it’s the second half, you need to adjust immediately. Yeah you might have practiced this way 10,000 times but guess what it’s not working.
If you do the same thing and get the same result you have to change, you have to make a difference. For me, Jovan Dais, as a man, I’ve grown and I look forward to continue to grow as a man and to grow as an individual beyond my music. There used to be a part of my life where I wouldn’t leave the studio. I blocked out all the windows and I was so focused: nothing has changed in my focus (since then) but I had to get some type of balance for myself and you know, life is beautiful. Period. You have to enjoy everyday.
There have been plenty of opportunities where we’ve been presented with a deal and it fell through and that would alter my life for months. Its nothing like thinking tomorrow you’re going to be okay financially, you’re going to finally put out to the world what you’ve been wanting to put out and its going to be with a major label. Now its very familiar to me to sit down with a label and have nothing come from it.
That same feeling is what pushed me to do it myself. So either its going to be your rocket fuel which is going to make you blast off or it’s going to be the determining factor that makes you quit – and quitting isn’t an option.
To me change is stepping up to the next level, being open to more ideas, constantly keeping a positive mind frame, staying focused and remembering to enjoy life in the process. —— By: Interview By Njai Joszor