Tamra Davis has directed an incredible variety of films from Billy Madison and Half Baked to a recent documentary on artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. But it’s Tamra’s relationship with her husband, Mike D from the Beastie Boys, that is the focus of her Guest DJ set, which also includes tributes to female empowerment and to her time as a school-ditching surfer. Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child is screening in various cities across the country and the DVD is available for pre-order.
For More: http://www.jean-michelbasquiattheradiantchild.com/
Liza Richardson: Hi, I'm Liza Richardson with KCRW and I'm here with director, Tamra Davis. She directed Adam Sandler in Billy Madison, Dave Chappelle in Half Baked and got her start making music videos for everyone from Depeche Mode to Sonic Youth. Her most recent project is a documentary on artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and today we will be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Tamra -- welcome!
Tamra Davis: Thank you. Hi.
LR: Thanks for coming and what did you bring -- what did you decide on?
TD: So I guess the first one is Beastie Boys' "So What'cha Want." I love that song. It, to me, really defines a time and this attitude. It's also a personal song to me because my husband is Mike D, and while he was making that record, I was just like the wife at home like, 'Oh God, you're just like taking so long on this record,' and the record company had asked them to make one more single and I was just like, 'Oh god, not another week in the studio every night.' So then he comes back and he plays me this song, "So What'cha Want" and I remember sitting in the front of our house in the car listening to it and I just was like, 'This? This is the song that you spent all this time on?!? This isn't that good.'
TD: What's weird is that in my memory of it is, it's that whole feeling of when you have a relationship with somebody that's also creative when you play them something that's rough, can they really hear when something's rough? Like, if I show my husband a rough cut of something, like, can he see my vision in it?
And then also that thing of how much do you say to your creative partner, like do you inspire it like, 'Go with it -- it's great,' and encourage them or are you critical - does that help? So, I know that what I heard in the car is not the song we hear today, but it just really reminds me of all those things.
LR: And so, when you hear it now, how do you…?
TD: Now, I think it's the best song that I've ever heard (laughs).
LR: And at what point did you decide that?
TD: I think like when it finally was mixed and done and I could hear the vision behind it and also I think that the video for it was just so fun and I just love that in-your-face attitude of that song. Also, going to concerts, being on tour with them -- when they play that song and just jumping up and down and watching the audience just go BANANAS each time they play that song -- it makes me so excited.
Song: Beastie Boys - "So What'cha Want"
LR: That is the Beastie Boys, "So What'cha Want" and next, what do you have?
TD: It was so hard for me to choose this one because I kind of wanted a classic rock song -- I was thinking Bob Dylan, Neil Young; then I remembered, when I first met my husband he made a mix tape for me and he this put song on it - George Harrison "Wah Wah." I just remember sitting on the beach listening to this song and sitting next to my new love and this song is just so fantastic, it just keeps building. When you think that he gave it all, another layer happens. And I just love that and I love that feeling of sitting on the beach with somebody and looking over at them as they have made you this mix tape with this song - that possibility and potential and also that ability to - it just keeps expanding - your love just keeps expanding and the song keeps growing and it keeps getting better-and-better.
Song: George Harrison - "Wah Wah"
LR: So, that is "Wah Wah." It's by George Harrison and it’s the choice of our guest DJ, Tamra Davis. So, Tamra, tell me what's next in your little line up here of 5 songs.
TD: The next song I chose was Bikini Kill "Rebel Girl." That song, it's another super empowering, positive song. When I first heard it -- I think Kim Gordon played it for me -- and I don't know, you should listen to it. I guess Joan Jett and Kathleen Hanna made the song - I think Joan produced the song or co-wrote it with Kathleen, and it's all about the female Riot Grrrl movement so I was really into checking that out and seeing what the whole Riot Grrrl thing was about and the fanzines. If you watch Kathleen Hanna perform, she's unbelievable. She's like one of my most incredible, favorite female performers. She just really knows how to move and take control of the stage performance-wise; and what she did and what she spoke about to girls and how much a song can really change a girl's life.
Song: Bikini Kill - "Rebel Girl"
LR: That's Bikini Kill and song "Rebel Girl." What did you pick next?
TD: Well, not necessarily in order, but in this order, I have Led Zeppelin. I grew up in the Valley in the ‘70s and Led Zeppelin is just embedded in my bones. Recently, I saw that movie The Runaways and that was my youth. I was friends with Marie and Cherie - I knew them at that time- and going to those clubs and the Valley. I had long blond hair and I would borrow my mom's platforms and we'd go out to the Sugar Shack. Also, I was really into surfing at that time, even then, because I thought surfer boys were really cute, so we would hitchhike on the Ventura freeway wearing a towel around our waist, cutting school and going to Malibu first point and just hanging out at the beach all day. Zeppelin and skateboarding - that completely goes together. And the swimming pools and Dogtown with Stacy (Peralta) and all those guys.
Song: Led Zepplin - "Whole Lotta Love"
TD: I just like it. It's a positive Led Zeppelin song and It makes you feel good. I don't know, I think that the other ones are a little bit cheesy and so somehow when you hear "Whole Lotta Love, you know that chicka-chicka-chicka -- that sound gets me really excited. That's a good one.
Song: Led Zeppelin - "Whole Lotta Love"
LR: So that's "Whole Lotta Love", by Led Zeppelin of course, and, Tamra, I can't believe this is your last choice today…we could go on and on, right?!
TD: I could keep going, yeah.
LR: So what's the last one?
TD: The last one is Al Green "Love and Happiness." I was looking at my list going, oh my god I'm so influenced by soul music and, you know, not just white people, so I was like I have to put something on here that also shows the incredible influence soul music and other different kind of music has had on my life. So. I picked Al Green.
This Al Green song, it just makes me so happy. It was a song that I used to play all the time and when I made my first short film, I put that song in it. It’s a song that just makes you feel good and, you know, its soul music -- it inspires me, it just gets me happy and Al Green's voice is like maple syrup lovely delicious down my throat…I just love it, it’s so wonderful.
Song: Al Green - "Love and Happiness"
LR: Tamra, that was amazing, thank you SO much for joining us on KCRW.com, we really appreciate it.
TD: Thank YOU so much.
For a complete track listing and to find a track list online, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject.