YUSSEF DAYES is a tour-de-force behind the drums. Widely recognised as one of the most electrifying live performers of his generation, watching the South London-raised producer, composer and drummer perform is an exhilarating combo of technical prowess, intensity and emotion – leaving audiences in no doubt as to the role of rhythm in channelling spiritual energy.
Yussef grew up with three brothers in a home where musical experimentation was fully embraced. He was drumming by the age of four, tutored by Miles Davis’ drummer, Billy Cobham, aged ten, and quickly developed an ear for a wide range of musical styles: from the influence of East/West African rhythms and its journey through the Caribbean and South America, to the soundsystem-heavy impact of grime and jungle. That music, with its intertwining sonic language, are the building blocks of his philosophy around jazz as a form of black classical music. While still only in his pre-teens, he joined his two brothers - Ahmad and Kareem - and saxophonist, Wayne Francis (aka Ahnanse) in Afrocentric quartet, United Vibrations.
Dayes’ meteoric rise came via the short lived duo Yussef Kamaal, with keyboardist Kamaal Williams. Black Focus (2016, Brownswood Recordings) — the pair’s sole and critically acclaimed album — instantly became the blueprint for a generation of music lovers and makers embroiled in the multicultural inner city junglism of Brexit-era Britain.
In 2018, Yussef launched his own imprint Cashmere Thoughts Recordings and released a string of solo releases including the classic Love is The Message live at Abbey Road Studios, a collaboration with Alfa Mist, Mansur Brown and Rocco Palladino. In 2020, Yussef announced What Kinda Music, a collaboration with Tom Misch via Blue Note Records. The latter turned heads at an all-new mainstream level, reaching Top 5 in the UK Album Charts, garnering a coveted Ivor Novello nomination, and a BPI Silver Sales award.
Since then, his list of collaborators has blossomed to include the finest talents across both music and fashion. Championed by the late polymath visionary and creative director Virgil Abloh, Yussef fronted multiple shows and multi-disciplinary collaborations between 2019 and 2022 including leading the curation of the soundtrack to the Men’s Spring-Summer 2021 show in Tokyo, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, the Freeze art fair in London, events with Off-White and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
As well as self-producing his own work, Yussef had remixed Pa Salieu’s “Frontline”, and worked on Wizkid’s “Made In Lagos” album. He has also produced for R&B royalty in Kali Uchis (“Blue”) and Kehlani (“Hate The Club”). In 2022 he created a joint release with Soulection entitled Live At Joshua Tree.
Now ready to share his debut solo studio LP, and in a new partnership between Warner Music / Brownswood Recordings and Cashmere Thoughts Recordings, it looks as though 2023 will see Dayes ready to take his uncompromising talent and vision to new audiences globally, unrestrained by previous conceptions about where instrumentalist artists, or indeed “jazz” can go.