Detroit's New Gen Talent
New Gen Talent #002 - Deon Jamar
For Deon Jamar, music is a spiritual affair. As a DJ and producer born and raised on the Eastside of Detroit, his musical upbringing was influenced by the city’s history as well as the guidance of musicians within his family. As an artist and organizer, Deon is responsible for creating Healin’ Session, one of the most intentional and welcoming spaces in Detroit dance music, and has also worked with Theo Parrish on his series Music Gallery as well as co-creating a series with artist Brian Oscar called Black Music. His latest series Friday Night Funk occurs monthly at Willis Show Bar, and to celebrate Movement weekend he will be joined by fellow local favorite Donavan Glover as well as the legendary Amp Fiddler on Friday, 05/27. With an ability to blend effortlessly between funk, soul, jazz, house, and beyond, Deon Jamar has proven himself to be one of the city’s most promising young artists, exhibiting a level of cultural integrity and deference for his predecessors that is refreshing in an age dominated by social media followers and the recycled trends of yesteryear.
Read our conversation with Deon below, and be sure to check him out on the Detroit Stage at Movement Festival on Memorial Day at 7pm, as well as at Willis Show Bar on 05/27, Spot Lite Detroit on 05/28 at 3pm, and UFO Factory on 05/30 at midnight.
Why music, and at what point did you realize you’d be able to really do this?
Growing up my dad was a DJ, and I always kinda peeped how my family would use music for different reasons: therapeutic reasons, ambiance, etc. I remember going to one of the Fundamentals parties with Kyle Hall and Jay Daniel before I even knew who they were, and they were playing old hits and reggae and all this other stuff, and I didn’t even know people my age got down to stuff like that. For me to see that I could do it, I had to see myself, so seeing a crowd of young black people in a room dancing really made me feel like I could do it too.
How would you describe your relationship to sound?
Man, it’s fucked up (laughs). My relationship to sound is about immersion, and you can blame that shit on Theo. Doing those shows with him at the Music Gallery, he kinda showed me how to immerse myself in sound, how to let it surround you totally and fully and how to give it your undivided attention. Sound is a tool that we use to come together, it’s like food.
How has your sound evolved since you first started playing out?
Honestly, I’ve just become more brave. My technique has gotten much stronger, so I can now reach into the things that I listen to personally and bring them into my sets. I’ve also learned how to better tell a story, how to walk you from J Dilla to Larry Heard, or vice versa.
How do you approach building a set?
It depends on the situation: what party, where is it at, who are the promoters, how I’m feeling, so many different factors. I’m personal, like if I’m playing at Paramita I know I’m gonna play some Dilla, just cause I know that me and Drey love Dilla, and no matter what else happens we’re gonna have a moment.
How has where you were raised and/or where you are now based influenced your sound?
Where I come from, music is a tool dawg, like we really need that shit. So everywhere I go, I want someone to feel like damn, I needed that. I’ll tell you right now, it’s a song that would literally play every single holiday, period, my entire life, especially christmas. It was James Brown’s “Doin it to Death.” My whole everything is in that song. My musical upbringing was thanks to my family, thanks to Detroit.
Who are some up-and-coming/underground artists we should check out?
AK, Lorenzo Dewberry, Kesswa, and my guy Meftah.
What record makes you want to kiss/cry/smile?
D’angelo - “Really Love,” YAW - “Where Would You Be?,” Baby Keem - “family ties.”
What record would you gift to everyone you know if you could?
Donald Byrd - Places and Spaces.
What’s your ideal Saturday night out and what’s your ideal Sunday afternoon?
Saturday night: Pregame with the homies, hit a concert or a party, and then hanging with your significant other. Sunday afternoon: family time, barbeque in my Dad’s backyard.
Where is the best late-night food in the city?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s Duly’s.
When you want to go dance, who do you go see?
What is the geekiest thing you are secretly into?
I mean, I love sports, I religiously watch Skip & Shannon, and then I do really love African history.
What is coming up soon for you that we all should get ready for?
I play on the Detroit Stage at Movement Festival on Memorial Day at 7pm, as well as at Willis Show Bar on 05/27, Spot Lite Detroit on 05/28 at 3pm, and UFO Factory on 05/30 at midnight.
What party outside of the festival are you 100% at?
The Get Down with Theo Parrish at Spot Lite Detroit on 05/29.
What should someone expect when they come hear you play?
They should expect passion, energy, and to hear a bunch of black music.
Photo's by James Adams