J Devil: Jonathan Davis of Korn Tells EDM Audiences to ‘Go F— Themselves’
Hot on the steel-reinforced heels of his dubstep-influenced Path of Totality album, Jonathan Davis of Korn has ditched his black clad hordes for neon-slathered partiers with his current alter-ego, the cartoonish black-lensed, black-toothed, J Devil.
EDM purists might see it as a case of another rock star not wanting to be left in the dust of a current fad, but it actually all makes sense.
“When I was 16, before I started Korn, I used to DJ New York freestyle, Miami bass, old school hip-hop, goth and industrial, along with playing high school dances for a production company,” Davis told Spinner. “A few years ago, my buddy DJ C-Minus came to me and was like, ‘You used to do DJ shows. You were great in high school!’ So I took out my turntables and started playing again. I did my first gig about three years ago and haven’t stopped since.”
If you were to catch him at a festival today, you might notice him telling off the crowd, intentionally dropping tracks at awkward moments, and filling the room with a general sense of chaos.
“I make people drop their jaws because I’m just up there telling them to go fuck themselves. No one’s ever done that at an EDM show and crowds are loving it. It’s not like I’m offending anyone, people are like ‘Yeah, fuck you too!'”
Having a dark, gnarly electro sound helps, too. J Devil’s current production work has benefited from the help of friends, particularly Steve Aoki whom he crossed paths with during a gig in Milwaukee at the Eagles Barn in 2010. Over the months that followed, Aoki coached him through the production of his thrashy electro-metal fusion sound on remixes as well as completely original tracks. In fact, about half the songs he plays during his sets are his, or have seen his dark handiwork.
“North American dubstep is the new electronic heavy metal,” he says. “It’s the-filthier-the-better in that world, and with heavy metal, it’s the heavier the better, so it’s kind of the same thing.”
He’s not trying to say that he invented the style, but he is taking it in new directions, especially with his new metal guitar-influenced, or “metalstep” band the Killbots, made up of Sluggo and Tyler Blue. J Devil will also be opening for his buddies Mr. Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie on their Twins of Evil Tour later in September.
At this point, it also shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear the new J Devil EP will be coming out via Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak dance label, rather than a traditional rock label. The stalwart rock demon has gotten wise to the indie revolution, and also plans on self-releasing the next Korn album as well.
“We don’t need labels anymore,” he says. “When the machine worked in the early days of Korn with Epic, that shit was amazing. We had MTVs, we had video stations and labels that cared and put the work in, but now it’s so diluted and fucked up. We’re going underground again. Commercialized music is just commercialized bullshit. Do we really need labels anymore with the way things went with the Internet? I don’t think so.”