“I’d been like, ‘Hey, could you just, like, improvise a bunch of stuff, record it, and send it to me so I can chop it up?’ He’s mostly involved in the live part of Marian Hill, but he’s also a seriously dope sample guy. People love Steve.” - Jeremy Lloyd, Rolling Stone interview
People do love Steve Davit. If you watch Marian Hill perform live, you’ll understand why. The man behind the band’s saxophone hooks is not just a riff machine — he’s an aggressive player with versatile tone, a funky soul, and a true instinct for hanging in the pocket. Just when Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol have intoxicated the audience with their sensual crooning and head-bobbing rhythms, Steve drops in with a growl on his tenor sax and sets the room off. It’s as inevitable as sparking a lighter in a kitchen with a gas leak. You just sit back and watch it go BOOM.
Steve has been the lone featured player in the platinum-record-producing duo Marian Hill since their first album, Sway, dropped in 2015. He’s toured live with the band, playing festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Firefly, Lightning in a Bottle, Sasquatch, and Mamby, and international gigs from London to Paris to Berlin. His solo projects have been written about in WXPN’s The Key, This Song is Sick, The Burning Ear and Stereofox, among others. Beginning in April 2018, he’ll be back on the road with Marian Hill for their Unusual tour.
Steve’s debut solo EP, Off/On, is an exploration of the space between his onstage roar and his obsessive, layered digital composing work. The blend of jazz, electronic and hip-hop explores the computer as instrument, pushing the limits of what it means to be a jazz musician. Imagine this: Kamasi Washington and Snarky Puppy get drunk at a party and record some funky jams together. Then some mad scientist comes along and chops those jams up into little pieces and reimagines them into something new — a blend of raw, live passion and digital precision, told across immense soundscapes and simple melodies. That’s Off/On. Its first track, “Forward,” feels at times like a pack of saxophones debating which is the funkiest. “Coniferous” is a study of water-droplet-like syncopation in percussion and bass. In “Philly Sophia,” Steve provides a study of sauntering with a jangling walking beat that drops into a cityscape of punchy melodic riffs. “Wanna Dance” is a simmering R&B invitation, topped by an inviting vocal track. And in “Night Song,” a chorus of saxes flows from one wall of sound to the next, cresting and falling in nocturnal rhythm. Taken all together, Off/On is both a journey and an invitation to bob your head and feel good about life.
Steve started playing saxophone at age eight, inspired by the likes of John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Charles Mingus — and later, Medeski Martin and Wood, Jaga Jazzist, and Snarky Puppy. He nearly escaped the performance industry by attending Drexel University’s Music Industry Program and getting his MBA — to no avail. He lives in Havertown, PA with his wife, Sarah, and his two dogs.