Flavour cover stars 23-year-old DaVinChe – who produced Kano’s smash hit Brown Eyes – and songstress Cleo Sol, 19, met through MySpace when DaVinChe heard her sing an unmastered song. Their new single Addicted is a funky tune guaranteed to be on your summer playlists. We caught up with the duo to talk music, school days, and why Cleo can’t stand people scratching their skin
What was your initial reaction when DaVinChe contacted you on MySpace?
Cleo: I didn’t know who DaVinChe was, so I thought it was just a producer trying to get in contact. Primarily I said for him to send a beat over and I’ll see if I like it, but he invited me to the studio. I found out who he was when I started telling people. They knew him from the Sadie Ama song Let Me Take You Away.
What did you like about Cleo?
DaVinChe: Her voice; she has a heavy tone. She had a really simple song up, it wasn’t a massive studio production or anything, and she got a beat and sung over it. The way she held her voice was just a one-off, so I thought let’s go in and make some music. The first song we did, the chemistry was there straight away.
How did Addicted come about?
Cleo: We were in the studio, heard the beat and just got a certain vibe from it and it flowed nicely.
DaVinChe: Me, her and Perempay were in the studio, just catching a vibe. That’s how the house music was making us feel at the time. Funky was just coming up. We just done In the Air, it was just starting to take off in the clubs. We didn’t know if it was going to be big then. And it was so fresh. We were addicted to the touch. The music was just touching us.
The dubstep remix produced by NYTZ. Is that the current sound of the underground for you?
DaVinChe: Our scene’s underground music is always going to move, but I think the thing that is different this time is we’ve – the Chipmunks, Wretch’s, Wileys etc – found a way of keeping the style we developed from grime. The music’s never gonna stop evolving, but I don’t think the artists are going to change every time.
Tell me about an addiction you’ve overcome?
Cleo: I haven’t overcome it yet, I’m currently trying. Chocolate. I want it every day! There’s no smoking or drinking or anything.
DaVinChe: Girls – and I still haven’t overcome it. I’m addicted to shopping for clothes and Studio Village for musical equipment, plug-ins, sounds…
What songs are you’re currently addicted to?
DaVinChe: Drake Thank Me Now, Chipmunk, Wretch 32, Sincere & Loick Essien Last One Standing, and Skepta Rescue Me.
Cleo: Jamiroquai We’re Too Young to Die, Kelis Acapella and Addicted. [Laughs].
Any weird or strange OCDs?
DaVinChe: My studio is always neat and tidy. I get annoyed when people are eating and drop food. I’m like ‘Would you do that in your house?!’ I like making music with the lights off, it puts me in the zone. I don’t do it when everyone’s in there ‘cos that would be a bit weird. Five men in the room with no lights. [Laughs]
Cleo: Nah, but I have pet hates though. When boys leave the toilet seat up, and when people scratch their skin.
Many people say you are underrated. What’s your take on that?
DaVinChe: I think it will happen in time. It’s funny; J2K said ‘Everyone says I’m underrated, why don’t you just rate me then?’ and it’s true. I don’t know about underrated. I feel I’m appreciated. I’m thankful for the support I get. If I said I was underrated then it would mean people don’t support me as much as they should. People always tell me how much they love my music. I don’t think people are aware of the different genres I make and how capable I am as a musician further than [just] making grime music; making pop songs, writing songs and bringing a pop element to street music. I don’t think people are aware of my ability to do it like the Fraser T. Smiths and others that are doing it. I haven’t put anything out like that. The closest is the track that leaked with Gracious K Casio. That wasn’t supposed to be me [singing] on it.
Is producer/singer something you’re considering?
DaVinChe: Maybe in the future. I’ll never be Loick [Essien], a born, talented singer. I’m a good producer. My ability to sing comes from working with loads of singers, kind of understanding it, practising a little bit, but more my ability to write good songs and conveying the message well. Sometimes Cleo’s like ‘Try this’ [singing] and I try.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt since being in the industry?
DaVinChe: I’ve made money so the studio got better, and I learnt how to manipulate the studio equipment to make everything sound a lot more polished. Plus, my influences have changed. I think I prefer the music that I’m making now as opposed to when I first started, but maybe that’s because I am where I am now.
Cleo: I’ve realised there’s more than singing on the mic. There’s writing and what you do behind the scenes. I want to be a performer, so I want to do dancing as well. There’s a lot of training behind it. I’m trying to stay on top of my game because there are more people coming through all the time.
Why do you feel many UK urban acts are currently seeing success?
DaVinChe: The artists have changed. Look at the music they are making. If you took Tinchy off Never Leave, that would have been a hit anyway. That isn’t to take away from what he‘s doing because he was the man that did it first. He saw that vision. Same with Chipmunk Oopsie Daisy, Wiley Wearing My Rolex. Artists and producers are experimenting more and not limiting ourselves to what the masses don‘t get.
What was your favourite subject at school?
DaVinChe: English, Maths, and IT.
Cleo: PE. I liked badminton.
What was your least favourite subject and why?
DaVinChe: Geography, because it just wasn’t interesting, or DT because my teacher used to attack me all the time.
Cleo: History. We just learnt about British history whereas I wanted to learn a bit of everything, because I’m quite mixed. My parents come from different places so I was a bit rebellious in that subject. But now I’d love to know more about it. I’m interested in it.
Describe your character in school?
DaVinChe: I was mad neeky. Mentally neeky and how I used to speak. I’ve never been ‘Yeah blud, nah blud’, however outwardly I wasn’t. My uniform used to be pristine; I used to shine my shoes. Mentally I was a bit neeky.
Cleo: Very talkative. Not now, but rude to the teachers. You know you think you know best.
What was your favourite fashion back in school?
DaVinChe: Wallabees! I used to be the Wallabee man.
Worst fashion back in school days?
Cleo: I used to wear nothing but Nike and Adidas tracksuits and trainers. You would never see me in shoes. When I got to the last year of school, I started playing with jeans and Converses. I did the hair gelled down, it was long and slick.
What would you like to have been if you weren’t in the music industry?
DaVinChe: A psychologist, because I find people’s behaviour fascinating.
Cleo: A nutritionist, because I’m really interested in cooking and food. I’m also interested in what goes into your body and how you can cure certain things with certain food.
Which subject would you use to describe yourself?
DaVinChe: English, music and IT. I write the songs and make the music on a computer
Cleo: Art, because I feel that my image is a big expression of who I am and that‘s taking away the music completely. I feel like my image is art as well as my music.
DaVinChe feat Wretch 32 & Cleo Sol’s single Dancefloor will be released September 27
Perempay and Dee feat Cleo Sol’s single Addicted will be released October 4
For more information visit www.myspace.com/DaVinChe1 and www.myspace.com/cleosol
Interview by Marvin Sparks; Photography by Azza; styling by Sam Campbell; hair by Veowna Charles and make-up by Nas Jamma