Victor DaviesView in iTunes
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Born and raised in East London, Victor Davies, the son of a West African father and a British mother, grew up listening to artists like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield, but it was watching his older brother's friend (and member of '80s soul group Central Line) play guitar that truly inspired him. He got his first guitar at age 14 and began taking classical lessons, though his impatience with reading music caused him to quit after about a year. He began to explore the burgeoning soul/funk scene in London, and also played in a variety of bands around town. In the early '90s Davies received a publishing deal from Virgin, as well as Chrysalis (both of which were later bought by EMI), but things fell through when the label wanted him to write in specific, poppier styles and not the soul- and funk-infused ones he preferred. Faced with this dilemma, he quit writing songs for others and taught Thai kickboxing (a sport he had studied since childhood) to help make ends meet in order that he could start his own company, Afro Gigolo, and began recording simple acoustic demos of his own work and sending them to local independent labels. One of these, People Records, liked what they heard so much they included one of these demos, "Runaway Train" on a 1998 sampler. More singles followed, and in 2001 Davies released his self-titled full-length debut on Germany's Compost Records. Three years later Hoxton Popstars came out on SPV Audiopharm. Davies' combination of acoustic instruments, string and brass arrangements, and Latin, soul, jazz, and house influences won him fans in Europe and Japan (where the single "Fire" was the on the top of the charts for two weeks), though he had yet to have the same amount of success in his own country. Signed to V2 Records, however, his next album, Hear the Sound, received a better response in England when it was released there in 2006. ~ Marisa Brown