The vocalist has been making a triumphant return in bass music lately, with singers such as Katy B, Sampha and now Bristolian Javeon McCarthy delivering full verses designed intentionally for dancefloor beats.
Growing up listening to the smooth lyrics of r’n’b legends such as R.Kelly, Dru Hill and Jodeci, Javeon McCarthy is surrounded by a wealth of production talent in his native Bristol – home to some of the finest bass producers of the past 20 years (think Massive Attack, Roni Size, Pinch, Joker, Julio Bashmore).
While he may not yet be a household name, McCarthy is no newcomer to the scene, starting his career as an MC under the alias, Shadz, and working with Bristol dubstep collective H.E.N.C.H. Over the past couple of years Javeon has built a strong rapport with the scenes leading DJs and producers, including the aforementioned Bashmore, whom McCarthy has supplied the sultry vocals for on recent ‘Father, Father’, plus L-Vis 1990’s 2010 anthem ‘Forever You’. With latest release ‘Love Without a Heart’ (also made in the Bashmore studio) we caught up with the soul boy to talk bass, Bristol and Justin Beiber.
Who are your musical influences?
My musical influences are Usher, R Kelly, Jodeci, Dru Hill, Craig David (back in 2000), Trey Songz, Frank Ocean.
What inspires your lyrics?
My life and the people in it inspire my lyrics, but it depends on how the music makes me feel whether I creatively work a little different to usual.
Are you a follower of UK Bass?
I’m a big fan and follower of UK Bass music and I always have been, it’s played a major role in where I’ve come from and grew up.
Javeon McCarthy – ‘Love Without A Heart’
As a vocalist, which producers are you listening to at the moment?
Hudson Mohawke, Julio Bashmore, Jai Paul, and whoever the producers are that made the tracks for Frank Ocean’s ‘Nostalgia Ultra’ and The Weeknd’s ‘House of Balloons’ are sick!
You’re doing a couple of gigs this summer with L-Vis 1990 and you’ve previously worked with him, how did that collaboration come about?
In December 2009 I met him in a club in Sheffield, he didn’t have an MC that night so asked me to host his set. After the set I got his details and told him I was a singer as well, and that I’d send him some of my tracks. A couple weeks after Christmas our first collaboration ‘Forever You’ happened, for the last year I’ve been gigging with him, hosting and doing PA’s.
Are there any mainstream R&B singers that you’d like to work with?
Got to be Justin Bieber!
Tell us about the work with Julio Bashmore?
Me and Bashmore have the same management so both being from Bristol, it seemed like the right place to start in terms of finding a sound I was happy with and struck gold within a couple weeks of working.
Other than Julio Bashmore, is there anyone else from Bristol you have or would like to work with?
Although he’s based in London now I would love to work with Redlight, I’ve worked with Joker on his forthcoming album but it’d be good to work some more.
London has a well-established urban music scene, how does Bristol differ?
Well my view is that Bristol is it’s own thing, from all the independent businesses to all the different creative styles of music and art all put together in a small place. Because of our surroundings and the vibe, whatever we do will continue to be ‘it’s own thing’ – interesting and hard to put a label on.
L-VIS 1990 – ‘Forever You (ft. Shadz’)
A few years ago, urban music at Glastonbury was unheard of, what was performing at Glastonbury like for you personally and as an artist?
I wasn’t actually booked this year, I featured on Julio Bashmore’s set. I hosted and we ended with a PA of ‘Father Father’. Being at Glastonbury was amazing, looking out at thousands of people and doing my thing on stage is a great place for me to be. So hopefully I’ll be booked next time for the pyramid stage [laughs], and be able to let you know what that’s like.
Singers like Katy B have made the crossover from niche underground music into the mainstream industry, why do you think this is?
Because if you make music that’s hard to ignore, it makes it harder to pigeonhole, especially if the reaction is crazy in the clubs and on radio.
What can we expect from you in the future?
In the near future you can expect to see me around with L-Vis 1990 quite a bit, as I’ve featured a few times on his forthcoming album plus we’ll be touring. Also watch out for my next solo release, which will be my EP which I’m working on now.
‘Love Without a Heart’ is out now on PMR Records.
Interview: Elissa Bradley