NYC’s Dave + Sam Offer a Soulful and Empowering Mix For These Chaotic Times
The slick new NYC-based duo Dave + Sam, a zesty collaborative project from vocalist Dave Giles II and DJ-producer Sam O.B., are pros at making the dancefloor flourish and smile. Originally hailing from Chicago, Dave eventually made his way to the Big Apple, where he regularly attended Astro Nautico showcases — a collective run by Sam O.B. (formerly known as Obey City). Bonding over a mutual love for the house and footwork-inspired sounds of Chicago after Dave started an impromptu freestyle session over one of Sam’s sets, it became evident that the pair were destined to hit the studio together.
With Sam’s firm reputation as a top-tier DJ-producer/multi-instrumentalist, and Dave’s industrious background in MCing, beat making, design, and promotion, all the pieces fell into place to create one of NYC’s most stylish and witty house music duos. Their first single, “YOU DA SHIT GIRL,” dropped in 2017 and was released alongside remixes from two legends: Seven Davis Jr. and Derrick Carter. After hearing Sam’s glowing track arrangement and Dave’s red-hot incantations on the tune, Classic Music Company boss Luke Solomon signed the pair to his imprint.
After releasing a breezy remix of Sticks & Stonez’s “Your My” on Glitterbox and pairing up with Mike Dunn for their hit single “Til The World Blow Up,” Dave + Sam are now gearing up to release their debut album No Shade on March 27 via Classic Music Company. Described by Dave as “an homage to our mutual reverence for early Chicago house music and the golden era of underground parties and dance music in New York,” it’s an album that’s packed with love, contemplation, and unadulterated moments of celebration.
Ahead of their album drop, we pick the collective Dave + Sam brain, and they’ve provided an hour-long mix of unreleased gems and gyrating tracks to get your mind racing and your blood pumping.
Dave + Sam’s debut album ‘No Shade’ drops on March 27 via Classic Music Company. Purchase it here.
How did you two meet and first start producing music together as Dave + Sam?
Dave — We met through a mutual friend, Niyre, in maybe 2010 or 2011. At that time, I was in a rap group with Ceeverything called The Paxtons, and Sam was DJing with his collective, Astro Nautico, and touring with Flatbush Zombies. Niyre was working on some records with him and would play his beats at the house I shared with Cee. We all collaborated on one of Sam’s tracks to release “Stay In Love” in January 2012 and started performing and partying together. I remember one night, in particular, pulling up to the Astro Nautico residency at this DIY warehouse space FreeCandy (RIP) and freestyling over Sam’s footwork set. At some point, it clicked that we had a mutual love for Chicago house, and around the end of 2012, he sent over the beat that became “You Da Shit Girl.”
For Sam: Can you walk us through your early days with Astro Nautico as Obey City and how it both informs and differs from your Dave + Sam project?
I came to production first through a hip-hop background, and then that slowly morphed into more instrumental-focused tracks. My good friends and I were using Astro Nautico as an outlet for our own productions, and it sort of grew naturally from there. I was dabbling in different forms of dance music as Obey City, and so I inevitably touched on house music from time to time. However, this project allowed me to focus in on the sound and production a lot more to create a specific world for Dave’s words to live in.
For Dave: Tell us a little bit about how you first got into music and your transition from Chicago to Brooklyn.
I started in ’98 as an MC and a hip-hop DJ for teen parties and poetry sets. The Chicago shops like Dr. Wax and Gramophone, where I used to buy vinyl. This was one of the first places to consign my CDs and carry me and my friends’ flyers. I went to college in St. Louis, and as my focus shifted to rap, I got into beat making, design, and promotions to subsidize costs and build an audience. After school, I moved east and started recording with Ceeverything as The Paxtons and throwing parties and shows from the DMV to Philly to the Tri-State area with South Shore Social Club. When I got to Brooklyn, all the DIY skills I had been using to push my music eventually led to me working in the corporate creative industry and fellowshipping in independent creative spaces. I was doing this while simultaneously releasing music with acts like The Paxtons, Old Gold (with Nelson Bandela), and eventually Dave + Sam.
What’s your process like in the studio? Do you have set roles where Dave handles the writing/vocals, and Sam handles the production, or is there some crossover?
Sam — I’d say that the roles are primarily split in that way, but both of us do welcome input in the other’s role. There are tracks on the records that I composed entirely alone, sent to Dave, and then he sent back vocals, and that was it. Then there are others that Dave was in the room for, and those inevitably have his influence on them. There are also rare times when I may have some input into Dave’s lyrics, but generally, it’s just a timing or a phrasing thing. I might try and simplify something to make it easier to deliver and digest, as Dave tends to be a verbose writer.
Are you fans of the iconic soul duo Sam & Dave? Did that play a role in choosing your moniker?
Dave — I respect their legacy and appreciate their catalog, but I wouldn’t count them as direct influences. Our names are Samuel & David, and as a black rapper from Chicago performing deep house for a mostly European audience, I appreciated the proximity to a gospel-influenced soul duo from Miami taking over the world with rock, the dance music of its day. We did our first demos and gigs as SΛM + DΛVE, but after noticing some Instagram lurking by Isaac Hayes III, we figured it would be best to flip it to DAVE + SAM.
How did you two first link up with Luke Solomon and get signed to Defected Records and Classic Music Company? What made it the perfect home for your music?
Sam — Our friend Nelson, who helped create the video for “You Da Shit Girl,” sent it over to JT Donaldson at New Math Records, who he was working with at the time. JT loved the track and wanted to press it to wax with remixes, so we happily obliged. JT and Luke go way back, and Derrick Carter was one of the remixers, so it inevitably made its way to Luke Solomon’s ears. Luke and Simon Dunmore (the head of Defected) were here in NYC for a gig and decided to stop by my apartment. We chatted and played some other tracks we had been working on for the two of them. From there, talks of an LP came up, and the rest is history.
Tell us about your mix. Where and when did you record it, and what’s the idea behind it?
Sam — I recorded it in my new apartment (just moved to Ridgewood, Queens). It’s an eclectic collection of tunes Dave and myself have been feeling as of late that features appearances from the Classic Music family and some bits and pieces from our unreleased catalog.
Can you share a few words about your upcoming No Shade LP? What’s the inspiration behind the title, and how would you describe the music?
Dave: While recording what became the title track, there was something resonant about the line “Why is no shade always followed by it?”. Be it no disrespect, no offense, or as the queer community first put it… no shade; there are a number of American colloquialisms to prep someone before hitting them with the ugly truth. I then realized that was the undercurrent of the majority of the album. I’m addressing the politics of race, gender, class, and love through jokes, parables, stories, and call and response phrasing over Sam’s warm, progressive, and inherently diasporic dance music. The song’s refrain, ‘sun turns to shade, shade turns to night, night turns to day, today gon be alright…’ led me to the visual concept. I would see 6-foot tall sunflowers in a Brooklyn winter and, upon researching, learned that they often grow as tall as humans in any environment, as long as they can constantly see the sun. Despite our challenges, our potential is unlimited as long as we can see, make or find light in the world.
*BED-STUY BBALL INTRO*
1. SAULT – THINK ABOUT IT
2. AUSTIN ATO ft. DAVE GILES II – DRIP (DAVE N DRUMS DUB MIX)
3. WAJATTA – DON’T LET IT GET YOU DOWN
4. EMOTIONAL ORANGES – MOTION (REJUICED)
5. MIKE NASTY FT. RIO KWESS – LONE WOLF REMIX
6. DAVE + SAM – RAW LOOPZ #6
7. OLIVER DOLLAR – SQIM JELLY
8. BURNA BOY – MY MONEY MY BABY
9. FRED EVERYTHING & THE JAZZ TWIT – SOBECK
10. DAPHNI – MEDE
11. MIKE NASTY – BROWN SUGAR
12. LOUIE VEGA FT. HOUSE OF RHUMBA – STEEL CONGO
13. RAYANA JAY – LOVE ME LIKE (FT. DUCKWRTH)
14. DAN BEAUMONT – TRIPPY PUMPER
15. BRISA – BEHIND THE VEIL (HOUSE EDIT)
16. DAVE + SAM – NOT THE SAME
17. SUNDAY SERVICE CHOIR – FOLLOW ME
Cameron Holbrook is a staff writer for Beatportal. Find him on Twitter.