Herb Sundays 29: Dave 1
Dave “Dave 1” Macklovitch is a performer/producer/dj and 1/2 of the electrofunk group Chromeo. He lays down an autobiographical playlist documenting his jazz-funk, hip-hop, and electronic roots.
David “Dave 1” Macklovitch is a performer/producer/dj/art director and 1/2 of the NYC-by-way-of Montreal electrofunk group Chromeo with Patrick “P-Thugg” Gemayel. Macklovitch and Gemayel also run their own label Juliet Records (Dave was also a co-founder of the Fool’s Gold label) which has an excellent new site. Dave is the brother of dj/producer/Fool’s Gold co-founder Alain “A-Trak” Macklovitch. Together, they perform as The Brothers Macklovitch.
I’ve followed the careers of both brothers with admiration as they each have a crazy work ethic and an earnest worldview, and are both consummate performers. Besides being at a mutual friend’s wedding some years back, I had never properly met Dave before last year. I started following him on Instagram and loved his whimsical posts including his love of modernist furniture, art books, fonts, classic CDs, etc. so I felt like we were excited about some of the same things.
When the weather was ok, we agreed to meet up for an outdoor lunch in midtown. I was sort of nervous. Could this guy be who he claimed to be or was he doing a bit? It was sort of incongruous, a former French professor who wears Mac Tonight shades, black leather, and a Cheshire Cat grin. No one I knew was this consistent over decades with their look or style. Moreover, is anyone this nice or smiley? To be clear, I love a persona. As someone who grew up with pro-wrestling and “gangsta” rap, I am a believer that the showperson is doing us, the fans, a service when they work “kayfabe” or the staged, fantastic commitment to the beautiful untruths of (wrestling) entertainment. Björk, George Clinton, and Bob Dylan all employ kayfabe and many of my visual artists do, it’s what holds it all together. But anyway, back to it…
When I asked Dave if Chromeo etc. was a concept act, he told me (paraphrased) “no that’s just how me and P(-Thugg) are, we’re sort of goofy.” OK. What unfolded was a conversation about the parameters of “cool” and what is and isn’t cool (through this lens). It also opened up some stories I didn’t know about including Dave’s musical history, that he was deep in underground Hip-Hop (producing for groups like Non Phixion), etc. We talked about holding your shit together in music over decades and I realized we had been on very different but some overlapping paths.
My introduction to Dave’s music was the 1-2 punch of the early Chromeo singles which permeated DJ sets and burned CDs in the early 00’s right when Ghostly was starting and our stuff would be lumped together due to our 2002 Disco Nouveau compilation. The zeitgeist moment of electro/dance-rock was exciting and added color to a more sterile minimalist electronic scene, which we were mainly associated with.
Dave’s playlist is of course, beautifully sequenced and contains very accessible but deep cuts. His Herb is a 3-part autobiographical arc that if you add up, sort of approximates his whole sound. It starts from his love of jazz-funk or the music that connected the dots of sampling for him, then moves to the 90’s rap sound of when he was a regular at Fat Beats, and ends with some of the electronic(a) that helped him find his way into his sound. The twin influences of Trevor Jackson (Herb Sundays 17), who inspired and remixed early Chromeo, and the late Philippe Zdar, who mixed many of Chromeo’s most loved works, looms large.
Side note, Dave was adamant that he did not resonate with my usage of “herb” in this context. To him as a hip-hop kid and adopted NY’er, the word was still verboten but he was a good sport. Enjoy this incredible mix.