DOMi & JD Beck are freakishly talented jazz wizards loved by Virgil Abloh
Here are 10 fun facts about the young duo collaborating with Thundercat, Skrillex and Anderson .Paak.
Photography by @xoxohadas
Want to have your mind blown? Check out DOMi & JD Beck on Instagram and prepare to lose yourself down a rabbit hole of fast-paced, experimental hip-hop inflected jazz laced with video game references and organised chaos. Wildly talented, the young duo have already been adopted by the Los Angeles jazz scene and tracked down by cultural visionary Virgil Abloh, who has been sharing their work with his followers.
17-year-old JD Beck is a floppy-haired drummer from Dallas, Texas. He studied the greats on YouTube before he’d even reached his teens and, after developing a real thing for J Dilla beats, started attending jam sessions and putting on shows with friends. He found himself surrounded by a whole bunch of talented musicians making hip-hop and neo-soul, and was quickly mentored by local legends who play with the likes of Erykah Badu. “I think I had a really strange perspective on what playing ‘live’ was, because most gigs weren’t just with musicians,” he reflects. “We had a lot of diversity and it shaped the decisions I make when it comes to playing and writing.”
20-year-old keyboardist DOMi, meanwhile, joined a music conservatoire in her native France as a young child. “Most musicians I was around played jazz,” she says. “I was playing mainly standards and improvising a lot, which I think freed my brain and made me more versatile. I’ve always been excited to discover other styles, so when I moved to the USA, I would purposely avoid the jazz scene and try everything else!” The reason she moved to the States? She received a scholarship for the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Very well deserved, too.
Their paths crossed at music industry trade show NAMM a few years back, where, after jamming together, they realised they had something special going on. “I was just ready for us to musically beat each other up,” JD remembers fondly. And so they did, over and over. First by themselves -- documented with amusingly edited videos and shared online -- but also in collaboration with new friends including LA jazz king Thundercat, Anderson .Paak, Skrillex and Prince collaborator MonoNeon.
For what seems like years now, DOMi and JD have been teasing the release of their debut album, a project that will almost definitely be worth the wait. Until that fateful day arrives, here are 10 things you really ought to know about your new favourite musicians…
1. Domi actually started out playing drums, while JD started on keys
Domi: “I started playing when I was around three but was forced to give up on drums because of the noise for the neighbours, so all my energy and passion was dedicated to piano.”
JD: “I think when I switched from piano to drums around eight was when I really knew that no matter what happens, music was what I was going to do.”
2. They’re honestly not sure how to define their sound
DOMi: “I have no idea what kind of music me and JD make. I don’t think about categories when we create or play because I think it’s restrictive, so I usually go for ‘smooth lo-fi Japanese samba’.”
JD: “I just want to make something new. I don’t want people to associate us with any genre, because we want to just be us.”
3. That said, DOMi first experienced jazz when she was two
“My parents, even though they don’t play at all, love to listen to jazz and they would play Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert or Oscar Peterson records.”
4. It came a little later for JD
“I think I was around nine when I first heard Tony Williams on YouTube. That brought me down a rabbit hole of insane live shows from the 60s.”
5. JD blames/credits the YouTube algorithm for his playing style
“I would just click on any video that looked cool and I learn how to play that way.”
6. Their much-anticipated debut album is coming soon… probably…
DOMi: “It’s been pushed up so many times because of business difficulties. The music HAS BEEN DONE! But it’s always complicated to negotiate a contract, manage to clear features and have everybody work at regular speed with a pandemic hitting the galaxy :) Expect it soon though, and we’re gonna be the most excited when it’s out, trust me!”
JD: “Yeah, it’s coming don’t be mad.”
7. If JD’s naming skills haven’t improved recently then the album title will be wild
“I started making beats and programming midi when I was around 11. They were all called something dumb like ‘fart noise3’.”
8. Studying at Berklee taught DOMi not to care what other people think
“Berklee is like a mini ecosystem of what’s going on in the real world, so I learned how to not care about people’s opinions and negativity! Avoid drama and all that dumb useless stuff people love to talk about, and spend more time practicing and trying to become a nicer person :)”
9. If not making music, you’ll find them hanging out with dogs or playing video games
DOMi: “We play a lot of Overwatch, Valorant, Among Us, WoW and other stuff. Come play with us on our Discord NOW.”
JD: “We pretty much do everything together. When it comes to writing songs we practically write every note in each chord together lol. We both produced and wrote every song on the album too.”
10. They’ve got big plans for when this whole pandemic thing blows over
“We are becoming mormons, moving to The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca and we will live on a boat forever.”