Music Catches Up To Korn, Jonathan Davis’ Lifelong Love Of EDM, Skrillex, & DJ Alterego J-Devil
[pullquote quote="That's what's kept us around for so long. Just constantly experimenting and evolving and having fun being musicians."]Jonathan Davis, currently on an international tour with Korn to promote 2011’s The Path of Totality, isn’t totally concerned with the ins-and-outs of his path as long he reaches his destination.
“I just get on the bus and I show up where I show up ’cause I go crazy,” said the Korn frontman. “I don’t know where I’m going tomorrow or anything. And that’s how I roll.”
The same could be said for Davis’ musical path, a journey that took him from the desolate suburbia of Bakersfield, California to listening to Depeche Mode as a child to DJ’ing “eletrohop” at the age of sixteen to becoming one of alternative metal’s most notable voices to working on an album with dubstep king, Skrillex, to where he is now–manifesting his lifelong love of electronic dance music through his DJ alter-ego, JDevil.
[pullquote quote="All I ever listened to is Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, old school Ministry. All these crazy goth bands back in the day."]“I’ve been in the electronic music scene for a long ass time. I never left. I love it,” said Davis. “I grew up in Bakersfield…All I ever listened to is Depeche Mode, Skinny Puppy, old school Ministry. All these crazy goth bands back in the day.”
“I didn’t listen to any metal whatsoever,” Davis admitted. “I started listening to metal when Vulgar Display of Power came out from Pantera. That was the first metal album I heard.”
On The Path Of Totality, many Korn fans were shocked when the band, so renowned for their raucous metal sounds, fused what people knew of Korn with the modern craze of dubstep.
The album included collaborations with Skrillex, Noisia, Excision and on Korn’s current tour Davis opens with a solo performance as his “demonized” DJ alterego.
Flashing “black eyes” and “black teeth,” Davis said that he uses JDevil to “embrace a darker side” of himself.
[pullquote quote="I was really into the electro-hop scene which was like Egyptian Lover...Afrika Bambaataa and Kraftwerk...Basically, the invention of electro music."]Some critics were fast to accuse Korn of jumping onto the EDM bandwagon, but Davis confessed that he’s an “electro-head” who “loves to dance” and has been DJ’ing since he was a teenager.
“I was really into the electro-hop scene which was like Egyptian Lover…Afrika Bambaataa and Kraftwerk,” confided Davis. “All that stuff. Basically, the invention of electro music.”
“When I DJ’d, I DJ’d electro-hop, New York freestyle music, and Miami Bass music at the time.” That was the mid-’80s. Now the Dimmak-signed Davis, or JDevil, said his DJ’ing includes “all kinds of genres” like “bass music, electro, metal, everything. “
Even though there are a lot of Korn “purists that don’t want to get it,” Davis said that “a lot more people come and are…digging it” and that he goes to “all these EDM events” where people treat him like a “god.”
[pullquote quote="That scene is about open-mindedness, love, and just enjoying all types of music. Just come out and have a good time. "]“There’s actually EDM fans coming out so at Korn shows who’ve got glowsticks and stuff. It’s crazy. So, it’s being embraced by both worlds,” said Davis, excitedly. “That scene–I mean, there’s always purists in everything–that scene is about open-mindedness, love, and just enjoying all types of music. Just come out and have a good time. It’s really cool.”
Davis said that writing electronic dance music was a different process than writing a metal album. It was a passion project full “monotonous stupid tweaking on a computer” that one has to really love in order to not “half-ass.”
For The Path of Totality, Davis even convinced the guys in the band to change their way of playing after he got “a wishlist of all [his] favorite producers” and he “got to work with all of them,” including Skrillex.
[pullquote quote="I think we always try to do something different every time, so there won't be another Korn album like this. "]“It could have easily went bad, one or another, so it was a lot of work,” admitted Davis. “Everybody had fun making it. Ray [Luzier] was a sport because I took his kick drum and his snare away from him so he was playing the high hat cymbals and toms…It was a very delicate, hard thing to do and it took a lot of time on my part because I wanted to keep the integrity of both sides.“
Crediting this ability to evolve as the reason Korn continues to prosper, Davis doesn’t consider embracing EDM as a musical “detour.”
“It’s just another evolution of the band,” David elaborated. “I think we always try to do something different every time, so there won’t be another Korn album like this. I mean, I’m sure we’ll learn from this, but we want to keep exploring and keep doing this.
“That’s what’s kept us around for so long,” Davis attested. “Just constantly experimenting and evolving and having fun being musicians. That’s what it’s all about to us: to challenge ourselves. If we made the same album over and over again it would be insanity.”
[pullquote quote="I learned a long time ago you can't make everybody happy so if you have your opinion and think we're selling out and you don't like it, don't listen to it. It's that simple."]Working on his EP for JDevil is not the only EDM project in Davis has in his pocket. He also told us that he’d “already started recording” music with a “supergroup” called Killbot.
“Which is me, Sluggo, who’s a dubstep artist from the old-school, and this kid Tyler Blue. And it’s really crazy.”
In the end, Davis is doing what he’s always done–making and enjoying electronic dance music. And he doesn’t really care what the haters think.
“Man, I’ve been in this game so damn long, I do not care,” Davis concluded. “I really don’t. I do this for the pure art-form of it and love and to challenge myself.”
“I learned a long time ago you can’t make everybody happy so if you have your opinion and think we’re selling out and you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. It’s that simple.”