Da'Ville does it his way

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Industry

His  name is Orville Thomas also known as DaVille. He is the producer, songwriter, and entrepreneur of Fashozy Records. Thomas is a man of many talents, originally from Kingston Jamaica. As he says; "born in the first month of the year to a wonderful mother and a wonderful father." He is proud to tell you that he attended Haile Selassie High School, and of the role his grandmother played in raising him.  He is a man who is very grateful for what he has been able to achieve.  He is very appreciative of the people in his life who have encouraged and supported his music. This is evident when he talks about his girlfriend and partner in his label Fashozy records. So often it is the unexpected twists and turns that shape the course and career of artists, this is especially true with regards to artist known as DaVille. For some added insights into the rise of this independent artist Caribbean Posh is pleased to present an interview with DaVille.

Posh : What were some of your early musical influences

D : Well I'm an 80's baby so you have a whole lot of different genres. You had people basically finding new sounds and new music everything was on the scene at the time. So in the midst of that I wasn't just into reggae music, I was a big fan of alternative rock and rock music. I used to be a big listener of Aerosmith and people like that. We were also in the midst of disco at the time, break dancing and all that. I was a big fan of Michael Jackson, and I was still a fan of people like Bob Marley same way. I used to listen to country music at the same time, so that's why today if you listen to a Da'Ville track you can always hear the influences. I  was brought up in that kind of environment so music is in my persona and I'm open to all those different varieties.

Posh : How did you first get involved with singing and performing?

I grew up in a house of music, my father was a producer and an a reggae artists himself. As a youth in the house my father used to bring home tapes of his work from the studio. The music of the different artists that he use to work with, some of the great reggae artists. I was in the midst of that and I used to listen to the tapes, the songs. I was influenced to the point that after a while my father started taking me to the studio with him. I used to carry the tapes, sit in and watch. Eventually he saw that I had talent for singing, so he gave me my first opportunity to record a song on one of his labels. That was my first introduction as far as getting to put my voice on a record. I was also a part of the choir at school and at church, and doing performances here and there. Eventually when I got out of school I became a member and the lead singer of a group in Jamaica. That kind of propelled  me for the next level with music.

Posh : What were your aspirations regarding your desire to be a performer?

D : At that time my vision was always to be on the world stage in front of thousands of people. I always envisioned myself  the way I used to see Michael Jackson on t.v. performing to thousands of people in stadiums. I never really had any limitations in terms of the things I wanted to acquire or to the stages I wanted to take my music. I just felt like I had a talent and I need the world to hear me.

Posh : What path did you take to enter the music business?

D : The route that I took wasn't something that I personally wanted to take which was the independent route. Before that I sought out labels and used my voice on a whole heap of different tacks and labels in Jamaica.  At the same time I never felt like I was getting the recognition. I felt that I wasn't being given the respect that I was looking for in terms of my music. I had the knowledge from going to the studio with my father, I basically observed what he was doing as a producer. At that time I felt that  nothing was happening with my career, my music wasn't moving. I felt like I was being used by these producers. They were just taking my talent, licensing my songs and making all the money.  I just go frustrated to the point that I felt I was going to give up. At that time I was broke, a struggling artist trying to find his way out.

Posh : What kept you from giving up?

D : It was my girlfriend, she was the one who looked at me and said "you need to start doing your own thing, you have the knowledge why don't you?" At first it sounded scary,I thought, what other options do I have. I'm either going to continue to give away my talent or try with it myself. If I win I win and if I lose I lose. At least it would be on me, and she gave me the first monies for me to start my label. I started my label Fashozy Records, and I produced my first track.

Posh : What happened with that first track?

D : The first track I produced was a remix of a Bryan Adams song called "In Heaven." That's the first track as an artist that gave me recognition, it became one of the biggest songs that I've ever done. It was released in Jamaica and all over, then it went to Japan and became an anthem song to the Japanese reggae audience.  Even today it's still one of the biggest reggae songs in Japan. That's how I started my own label and I've never looked back since. I've produced all of my hits songs, all of my albums, they've been produced by myself and my partner; Jay Brown of Fashozy Records. We have done some great work together over the years, and I have to give credit to her. She has been my greatest supporter, she is there to advise me if she see's that I'm making bad choices or bad decisions. I tend to get so hungry for the music that sometimes I make rash decisions, so she's there to hold me together.

Posh :  How does the current state of the music industry affect an independent artists these days?

D : Honestly, it affects everybody but coming from where I'm coming from and getting to this point, this is good still even though there's better. I am from the ghetto yeah, I was born poor, I wasn't born into bed of roses. I struggled for most of my life. Now I've gone through a transition and now I can say I own a house.  I own and operate my own business, earn my own money and I'm independent. Yes it would be nice to have a big label backing me, I still look forward with a hopefulness that one day it will be that way. Until then life goes on, do I just give up and say; " okay the music business is in a very bad state so I should let it go? " no I cant do that. It's my love, it's my passion,I'm one of the lucky ones to be doing something I love. I've been passionate about it from day one, since I was going to school.  That was always my dream and my focus. I never saw myself as a lawyer or doctor. I always saw myself doing music and here I am so I consider myself to be blessed.

Posh : You were signed to a label at one time weren't you? 

D : I was with VP Records at one point. We did one album together in 2007 and after that I decided not to continue with the contract. It was really in 2008 that I chose to opt out of the contract.  I produced a song called "On My Mind" which was the master song at that time. Sean Paul heard it and he wanted to do a remix with me, so we did the remix. Because I wanted to use the remix on my album VP gave me an option. That basically involved signing me and doing something great with the record, that's how we kinda got entangled.

Posh : So you came to NY to do some work on your new album correct?

D : Yes I came to New York to finish up the album, mostly to put some finishing touches on it. I took a break for a little bit from releasing albums. This album I'm working on it's like how in life everything evolves. I always try to do better than my last I always try to out do myself.  This album not only shows the improvement as an artist but also the improvement as an individual. The album is  for everyone out there who needs something to connect with musically. I made sure that there is something for everyone to relate to. It celebrates women, it talks about life issues. It's just like me, my life is like a soap opera (laughs). People go through the things I go through everyday so all I need to do is tell my story. I'm not just telling the story of myself , I'm telling the story of millions of people out there.

Posh : How many tracks can we expect on the new album?

D : If I had a choice I would have put about 17 tracks on it but my partner pushed for 13. So it will be somewhere around 13-15 track. All of them are written by me and Jay. Not all of them are produced by us, all of them are co produced by us for different labels. When I do work for different producers I love to have a little bit of hands on.  Nobody is going to look out for my best interests as good as me, so I try to have a working relationship with each individual. Just to the to the point where we can give our input to the project as well.

 Posh : Tell me about the tour you have planned.

D : I just wrapped up a North American tour, the last show I did was in New Orleans. I finally found some time to go back home to Jamaica. I did a couple of videos and then I came to New York to finalize some stuff for the album. My tour kicks off in the next two weeks in Europe, I was supposed to do a European tour last year. I wasn't really in a position to take on such a thing at the time. I took a break to handle some other business. So I put it off, but the European promoters were still interested in doing the tour so we're doing it now.

Posh : You're also going to Japan, you have a special connection with Japanese reggae fans right?

D : I love Japan, Japan a mi place. God is a wonderful God and music is a powerful thing, I was in Jamaica broke, I had no money. I'm not afraid to say that my girlfriend was basically supporting me. She lives here in NY and she was supporting me in Jamaica. When we started the label and I produced the song "In Heaven" and released it, I didn't know that the song got that huge in Japan. I was in Jamaica and after producing a couple more tracks a friend of mine approached me. He told me that a Japanese promoter was looking for me to book me for about three shows.  I got an offer for little or nothing.  My management at the time didn't, think I should go, Japan is too far to be going for that kind of money. I spoke to my girlfriend and she said "how do you feel about the situation?" I told her that I felt it's an opportunity for me to go somewhere that I might not get the chance to go again.  The money is not really where I want it to be but sometimes you can't watch money. So I decided I was going to do it, I was just gonna go and have the experience and see what it was like.

Posh : What was it like when you got there?

D : When I went and saw the posters I was shocked because my face was the biggest face on the poster. When  you see your face that big on a poster it usually means you're the biggest part of the show. I called the promoter and asked him why is my face so big on the poster? He said "Mr. DaVille, you is main act." I said "Main act? what do you mean main act?"  he said, "you gonna close show." I said " close show, what am I gonna close show with?" He said, "you have monster song in Japan, "In Heaven" and "Girl You Are The One" monster song, anthem song. "I said "all well and good but that's just two songs, if I'm closing the show how long do they expect me to perform for?" He said "well, we want you to perform for 45 minutes to an hour."  The longest I had performed for was 15 minute, I had never been beyond that. I was still a struggling artist in Jamaica doing appearances at small shows. I didn't back down from the challenge, I was already there and I managed to put together a program of some songs that they were familiar with along with the two big songs. When it came to show time the place was on fire people were screaming and shouting and I was a bit nervous but I went out there and started performing. When I reached to about the third song in the program I started gasping for air. I'd never performed that long and you have to bring all this energy. I was performing and gasping for breath but at the same time I thought, I'm not gonna back down I'm gonna give it my best.

Posh : Well I guess you got through the performances ok?

D :  I did all three shows and everything was alright. I must tell you this though, I never made any money off those shows. They have a thing called dub plates. I went to the studio to do dub plates, I went there at 7pm and left after midnight, Japanese people came from all over. One dude even quit his job just so he could come and get a DaVille dub plate. That night I made so much money, I had a camera bag, I took the camera out of the bag and started stuffing money in it. That night when I went back to the hotel I slept with my camera bag under my head (laughs). When I came back, I came through the airport smiling. I made about $30.000 from dub plates in one night, I had never had that much money in my life. All this was because I had made two songs in Jamaica, and released it. I had no idea that people in another part of the world were gravitating to me like that. That is how the whole Japanese connection came about. That trip saved me because it opened my eyes and showed me that there was a fan base. There was an audience out there for me and my music. That's when I really got serious, I was no longer making music to win over my friends and family in Jamaica or the Caribbean, I was doing music for the world.

Posh : What would you like to see happen this year with regards to your music?

D : What Id like to see happen this year is for the name DaVille and my music to enter into a different household different audiences and add them to the ones I have already. I'd like to build the DaVille brand, there are no limitations to me and my music. I love music so much , I just feel like if I never have music it doesn't make sense breathing. When I was growing up music was like my best friend, I grew up as a loner. I never had many friends my father was a very strict man. There were times when I would just walk and sing, People used to call me the walking radio. Music was the only thing that lifted me out of my sadness as a child growing up. It has done so much for me that after God I think I owe music for what I have accomplished in my life. So it's not really so much a mission as it is a passion.  When you hear my music it's coming from someone who is being real. It's coming from someone that you can relate to. When I do my songs I hope it helps somebody, I don;t have to know the person.

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