DJDS, formerly DJ Dodger Stadium, is a moniker that refers not to an individual DJ, but to the production team of Jerome LOL (real name Jerome Potter) and Samo Sound Boy (real name Sam Griesemer). The duo received a notable degree of critical acclaim with their 2014 album “Friend Of Mine,” eventually landing them a position in Kanye West’s production studio, where they worked fairly extensively on “The Life of Pablo,” even sharing a Grammy nomination for “Ultralight Beam.”
“Empress Of” is the chosen nom de plume of American singer/songwriter Lorely Rodriguez, who has been accruing critical praise and cult success since 2012 when she released a series of experimental minute-long demos anonymously on YouTube that went briefly viral. Her first “album” in the more conventional sense of the term, “Me,” has likewise received acclaim.
Consisting of a techno/house production duo and an eccentric art-pop creator, the respective worlds of DJDS and Empress Of don’t often intersect in the musical landscape. Nonetheless, when earlier this year, DJDS and Empress Of teamed up with R&B sensation Khalid for their collaborative single “Why Don’t You Come On,” the synthesis of sounds from these disparate worlds felt perfectly natural, and the song ended up perfectly capturing the hopeful melancholy found at the end of every summer, perfect for its late-August release.
Further collaboration between DJDS and Empress Of seemed likely (and certainly desirable), but in a rather unexpected (but not necessarily unwelcome) turn of events, the reunion between these artists has taken the form of a Lana Del Rey cover.
“Love” is the first track of Lana Del Rey’s album “Lust For Life,” which was released earlier this year. Her original performance of the track finds her delivering a thoughtful croon floating across reverberating bass and light synthesizers; the track is understated, and very much like a dream. DJDS and Empress Of’s cover of Love capture much of the dreamy mood of the original (with Empress Of’s vocal performance, in particular, taking certain cues from Lana Del Rey’s source material) but ultimately this track is radically different. From the very first synthesizer notes loudly ringing atop impactful tech-house drum beats, it becomes clear that DJDS and Empress Of have taken “Love” straight to the dancefloor; however, the haunting “dreaminess” present in the original does not suffer because of it.
Empress Of’s vocal work on “Love” is deliberately a little more energetic and pronounced than Del Rey’s (thus matching the more dance-oriented tone of their cover), but she still holds her notes in a whispery sort of tone that, while being a sonic departure form Lana Del Rey’s approach, does an excellent job of staying true to the tone of the original while making something unique out of the cover. On the production end, DJDS provide a pretty straightforward moody tech-house track, and while there’s not all that much going on here in the way of complexity, the song hardly needs such; the minimalist “midnight club” aesthetic of DJDS’s approach to “Love” feels right at home next to Del Rey’s original thoughtful dreamy melancholy. “Love” by DJDS and Empress Of sounds entirely different from “Love” by Lana Del Rey, but “Love” by DJDS and Empress Of never fails to capture the essence of “Love” by Lana Del Rey.
Ultimately, “Love” is a melodically infectious groove and an original cover of radically different source material, but it is also a very “light” outing in that it feels more akin to a bonus track or side-effort (and indeed it very may well be just that) than a proper reuniting of DJDS and Empress Of. If this cover is indicative of further collaboration between these two acts, future projects between them are certainly worth looking out for, as their musical chemistry thus far has proven to be apparent.