A seemingly unifying theme for artists in Oak Cliff is the inability to focus their energies on just one venture. Multi-talented and multi-facetted artists are all around us. There must be something in the water, or perhaps it’s the inspiration that comes from heading south across the Trinity on a regular basis.
CJ Davis is a CliffDweller that fits that mold. CJ is well known at Good Records (located in Lower Greenville, and one of the best independent music stores in Dallas) as the man to help novices and music snobs alike broaden their CD collections. He also owns an indie record label, and has been contributing to some of the albums the label is releasing. We’ve also heard he does a mean karaoke at the Pav on occasion.
CJ is a musical marvel. One part musical archivist, one part artist, and an amazingly friendly guy to boot, this is one CliffDweller you should spend some time getting to know. Your music collection will thank you.
CD: How long have you lived in Oak Cliff?
CJD: Four years. I moved to Dallas six years ago. The first two years were at South Side on Lamar’s artist residency program. I was working for a gallery and meeting people in the music community at shows/concerts/Good Records. Four fellow artist/buddies of mine were among the first few admitted in the program. The rent was painless. When I finished the residency I moved to the Cliff. It’s the only place in town that had resemblance to home.
CD: What attracted you to Oak Cliff?
CJD: Being a minority for the first time in my life was a big pull. Mulcahy Modern, amazing tacos, affordable shelter, playing in the sprinklers on the golf course at night, you know…feeling like I’m not in a big city.
CD: How are you involved in music in Dallas?
CJD: I work for Good Records. I don’t own it…as some people think. Pancakes for Mattie Records (my label) was started two years ago. I had all these youngsters bringing me the music that they were making. A few stunned me. Nobody else cared, so I decided to let people know that it was happening.
My second release is a CD by a band (two college students from Denton) called Mom. We’ve really struck a chord and I’m now playing and singing with them a bit. They’re doing something that isn’t like anyone else around this area. Good things are coming quickly for these two. The work is just f—ing lovely. I was taken aback when I heard it. Again, nobody cared. So… I had to put it out. Tree Wave is awesome too and I’m going to be releasing his next release if he ever finishes it. Paul Slocum is a humble genius.
My first release is a limited edition 7” by these 16-year-olds from Plano called Voot Cha Index. Nobody writes pop songs like that around here. It was like the second coming of The Three O’clock. I had to do something.
CD: Do you think Oak Cliff acts as a good incubator for artists in Dallas? Do you think the redevelopment efforts for Oak Cliff threaten that at all?
CJD: It’s the only and best place left (inside the loop) that isn’t riddled with hipsters/posers/
yuppies and the like that’s still relatively affordable for working artists that don’t make decorative work.
Of course, if you tear down affordable historic housing and replace it with brownstones that look just like the ones on Knox, you are going to displace talented people. There’s still plenty of room over here though. We’ll be just fine for many years to come. It does hurt to have Mulcahy Modern leave the area. She had one of the best galleries anywhere in my opinion.
CD: What are you listening to these days?
CJD: Mom, Beach House, Noah Georgeson, Panda Bear, the soundtrack for “The Hired Hand” by Bruce Langhorne, Ariel Pink, No Age, Eluvium, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Growing, the soundtrack for “Farval Falkenberg” by Erik Enocksson, Cloudland Canyon, Skeletons & the Kings of All Cities, Bexar Bexar, Le Volume Courbe, Shuta Hasunuma, Record Hop, Leafcutter John, Deerhoof, Tunng, Shuttle 358, Adam Pacione, and Sleeping States.
CD: Do you think Oak Cliff could support a live music venue, especially with the decline of Deep Ellum?
CJD: I’d love to see one where the Mercantile was in the Bishop Arts District. It’s a perfect space for gigs. Could be amazing. Somebody want to partner up on this one?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.