n Mother’s Day, SiR posted an Instagram Reel of him, his brothers Davion Farris and D Smoke, and their mother Jackie Gouché, singing Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need of Love Today.” The minute-long clip began with SiR singing the first few lines, then everyone else joined for a hair-raising, harmonious performance.
For Davion Farris, it was a nostalgic moment that transported him back to his childhood. Growing up in Inglewood, California, Farris and his brothers come from a musically inclined family. Their grandmother Betty Gouché is a singer and songwriter with musical roots planted in the church.
Their mother is a singer, songwriter and musician. She has sung background for artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Anita Baker. Their uncle Andrew Gouché is a bassist who has played for Prince, Chaka Khan and Mary Mary, to name a few.
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Growing up, Farris’ mother introduced him and his brothers to all sorts of music. However, Wonder’s album, Songs in the Key of Life, influenced him the most. “That album moved me,” Farris tells Rated R&B over a video call. “I didn’t have a full understanding of what love was or know real heartbreak, but [Stevie] was able to illustrate it in a way that I felt like I understood. That album made me feel connected to what he was going through.”
Farris was not only drawn to Wonder’s dynamic voice but also his prolific songwriting. “It made me want to write and tell stories to help people feel understood because that’s what the album did to me,” he explains. Farris knew early on that he wanted to express himself through songwriting.
“I want people to know it’s okay to be vulnerable, honest and understand the importance of self.” – Davion Farris
When Farris and his brothers were pre-teens, they signed a deal with DreamWorks Records as the R&B trio N3D. They were signed by music exec Jheryl Busby, who had previously signed acts like Boyz II Men to Motown Records.
As Farris and his brothers got acquainted with being in a professional studio setting, they discovered there were other possibilities within the music industry. “We saw the behind-the-scenes part of the process. Our eyes were open to the fact that there are songwriters and producers who have entire careers working with artists,” Farris recalls.
Unfortunately, they were released from their contract after Busby left the label due to illness. After graduating high school, Farris and his brothers refocused on pursuing a professional music career. They converted their parent’s garage into a recording studio and formed a writing/production team called The WoodWorks.
“We did it with our bare hands,” Farris says of building the studio. He notes that they did everything except the electrical work. “We weren’t going to play with that,” he laughs. They furnished the studio with equipment and instruments their uncle had gifted them when they were in school.
Doors eventually began to open for The WoodWorks. When they met Jason “JC” Ricks, who helped them secure a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music, he was impressed to see how they built their recording studio. It indicated how invested and dedicated they were to their craft. “That made him go out and fight hard to get us our publishing deals to start writing for other people,” Farris notes.
Farris went on to write for pop and R&B acts, including The Pussycat Dolls, Jaheim, Ginuwine, Jill Scott, and Tyrese, to name a few. His work with Tyrese, which included engineering and co-writing seven songs on his Black Rose album, paved the way for him to work on Mary J. Blige’s Strength of a Woman album. (He co-wrote three songs, including the title track.)
While Farris was grateful for all his writing and engineering opportunities, he discovered that he wasn’t fulfilled. He took a break from music and studied acting for four years. Then, he went on to teach for a year. After his hiatus, he made the commitment to focus on being an artist, which had always been his goal.
In 2017, he released two independent projects, Trenier and With Pleasure. “They both made a little splash but I didn’t have the team with the structure,” he reflects. In early 2021, he inked a deal with Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Records in partnership with Def Jam.
In October 2021, Farris made his official introduction with his major-label debut single, “Sometimes.”
Now the multi-talented artist has released his new EP, Moved. In under 30 minutes, Farris takes listeners through an honest journey of love’s ups and downs. The project, which Farris describes as “pure R&B,” is a culmination of experiences from different relationships over the years.
“I want people to know it’s okay to be vulnerable, honest and understand the importance of self. That’s how we grow. Self-awareness, honesty and vulnerability are not only what I feel are key components in pure R&B, but also key components moving through life in a way that doesn’t force you to keep repeating mistakes,” he shares.
In Rated R&B’s interview with Davion Farris, he opens up about every song on his Moved EP.
Farris is fully invested in and focused on his partner on the opening track. “I was in a very good space in my relationship,” Farris recalls. “Being someone who has access to people, it can be easy to get distracted. When you find someone that really loves you, it makes it a lot easier to focus on what’s important, [which is] why I described it as tunnel vision. I was with someone who I understood, loved, valued and appreciated me. In turn, I wanted to give them that same experience.”
If “Make Love” sounds familiar, it was featured in an episode of The Chi (season four), and originally appeared on Farris’ 2017 project, With Pleasure. In early 2021 Farris was pitching different songs for film/television projects to get his name out there. The romantic tune caught Waithe’s attention, who is the creator of The Chi. “She said it was well written and liked the production,” says Farris. “She understood that it’s not just talking about sex but the things required to try to be in a fulfilling, intimate, romantic relationship.”
“Make Love” marked the beginning of Farris’ and Waithe’s professional relationship, resulting in him signing to her Hillman Grad Records imprint. Even though “Make Love” lives on another project, Farris still believed in the song. “I felt like it fit well in this story. It pairs with ‘Tunnel Vision’ in a way. It’s talking about creating a loving environment where we understand that we love each other and that love is not in question.”
On “Bad Guy,” a relationship gets rocky when Farris notices that his partner hasn’t been faithful. “I thought I found somebody who was emotionally intelligent, loving and caring,” he states. “We had the conversation like, ‘Okay. We’re both people who have access to people and with that let’s try exclusivity. Let’s see what that can turn into for us.’ Long story short, I found out that she wasn’t keeping up her end of the bargain. It was a tough situation to have to deal with, but I had to walk away.”
After moving on from a breakup, an ex tries to rekindle the fire with Farris after seeing him make strides in his career. “Too Late” confronts the former partner who didn’t value him in the first place. “That’s the energy I don’t like to tap in too much, but it’s a part of the healing process,” Farris says about the kiss-off anthem. “Every once in a while, you’re going to have a conversation where you know where your ego is gonna flare out like, ‘How the f*ck they going to try to pull that on me?'”
“‘Too Late’ kind of furthers that energy. My ex and I had a conversation in which she expressed that she’s used to being in relationships with people who are a bit more affluent. She did it in a very crass, uncultured and insensitive way,” he describes. “[‘Too Late’] was me calling her out on it because when everything was going well [with getting a record deal] with Lena, she tried to call again. So, that [song] was me letting out a little bit of frustration but in the most honest and vulnerable way that I could.”
Moved isn’t only about relationships but also life. “Sometimes” is a piano-driven ballad that addresses some of life’s hardships with the understanding that it’s okay not to be okay. Farris credits music supervisor Derryck “Big Tank” Thornton for inspiring him to write the reflective track.
“He’s heard a ton of my music over the years. He challenged me to write a song that had nothing to do with love or relationships,” says Farris. On “Sometimes,” which Farris describes as a “real moment of honesty,” he wanted to dispel the misconception that artists (and public figures) have life figured out.
“No matter [their] level of success, there’s tons of life shit that we have to deal with,” he states. “We’re not always strong. I wanted people to feel understood and to know that there is no one that’s an exception to the vicissitudes of life.”
“Wake Up Alone”
Of all the songs on the project, “Wake Up Alone” is the most vulnerable. Farris appears to be emotional as he shares the story behind the gut-wrenching song. “I was engaged a few years ago and I called it off,” he reveals. “It started a two and a half year series of depression for me. I had never experienced anything like that in my life.” After calling off the engagement, Farris tried filling that void by dating. He admits, “I probably had no business getting in relationships in that time but I did. I know I’ve hurt some people that didn’t deserve it and it’s because I couldn’t see how badly it affected me.”
Farris explains, “‘Wake Up Alone’ is about that journey of when I was going in and out of relationships. I [thought] I was over it or a least [tried] to say I was over it, but I wasn’t. In my mind, there was a reason that I left. I didn’t just decide one day that I didn’t love her. I was madly in love.”
In retrospect, Farris realizes, “You don’t rush into the situation and you shouldn’t rush your way out of them. Doing that caused a tremendous amount of pain, not just me but whoever else I dealt with in the process. I feel bad for that. Hurt people hurt people and that was me. Nobody could really have my heart the way I wanted them to or how they wanted me to because I wasn’t fully healed.”
While it was therapeutic for Farris to make “Wake Up Alone,” he offers nuance. “The thing about the word therapeutic is people always seem to use it as if it brings immediate peace and that’s not how it works. This was a necessary step in me understanding where I was in my journey. It helped me own my actions so that I can grow from them.”
Farris concludes the EP with “Best Advice,” an illuminating track that is an open letter to his son. He shares some life lessons he’s learned from his experiences in the song. He drops gems about relationships (“Don’t love a woman if you cannot love her fully”), finances (“Don’t be no trick / Save up some money”) and integrity (“Stand on your word”). Farris says the song’s concept came from a direct challenge from Waithe to pen a song for his son. “It was challenging, but I had to think on all the things that I struggled with that I’ve gotten better at that I can speak on from a place of experience.”