Sometimes the apple ends up pretty close to the tree and sometimes the children of artists rebel and become accountants. This, however, is definitely an apple/tree situation.
The tree we refer to is David Pattillo, a bluesy/funky/rootsy rocker who lives with his wife, painter Dina Jordan and their son Owen Pattillo in a one-bedroom walkup in the East Village. A short hike away is his recording studio, Rivington 66, where he’s recorded four albums and two EP’s under the name ‘Strange Majik’.
David’s first band was a combo in a Florida High School with the unpromising moniker ‘On The Fritz’. “Florida was all classic rock – I heard a lot of Foreigner,” he recalls. “But my parents were into 70’s singer/ songwriters and Latin Jazz, Sinatra, Jobim and the ‘Hair’ soundtrack, among other things. ” An older sister turned him on to the Beatles, Bowie, the Sex Pistols and Talking Heads, but his musical epiphany came when he fell asleep at a screening of Led Zeppelin’s movie ‘The Song Remains The Same’. “I woke up in the middle of a Jimmy Page solo and I realized that I was meant to play the blues,” he says.
“Florida was great for the beach, but not for me,” states David. After heading north for college, where he played in a band that he describes as “four guys obsessed with the Beatles and Fellini,” he returned to his home base, bought a four-track recorder and “wrote about a hundred songs.”
He came to NYC in 1988 and had two job opportunities – recording studio assistant for $5 an hour or studio manager for $8. He went for the manager slot at Sanctuary Studio and moved on to Greene Street Recording, where he was offered the 2-10 shift. “I showed up my first day at 2 pm, and they said, oh no – you’re on at 2 am, ” he laughs. But it worked out well – despite his “transformation into a vampire”, he worked on Sonic Youth’s ‘Goo’, inherited John Popper’s old harps and had long philosophical discussions with Chuck D. of Public Enemy at 4 am.
A gig in the mailroom at Sterling Sound led a few steps up to Director of Operations and then as a producer in the DVD division, working on projects with Moby and the Beastie Boys, among others. Patillo began to work on his own projects as well – production deals with other artists, songwriting for hire, solo projects, bands, tours and eventually his most notable production in 2004 – his son, Owen.
“He had a tiny toy guitar that he used to bang on when he was three,” says David. “Although he was coming to my band rehearsals when he was 5, he wasn’t really interested in playing music when he was young. We spent a lot of time riding bikes and playing in Tompkins Square Park, but he became a big video gamer. Until the moment he picked up a guitar in 6th grade.”
“My first music class was at the Earth School,” Owen recalls. ” I wanted to play drums but the teacher put me in the guitar section. I remember the moment I picked up that guitar.” He continues, ” In the 7th grade I was in the school band and in 9th I put together my first group, ‘The Employees’ .”
They jammed every day during lunch in the music room, playing “Stones covers, Wild Thing, LA Woman,” a playlist that must have made his dad smile. In 10th grade, he began writing songs and ‘The Employees’ morphed into ‘Dirty Circuit’. “It felt good playing originals,” Owen admits. “It came from within.”
Owen, having learned bass, drums and a bit of the keyboard (“the keys are still a mystery to me,” he admits), began playing with his dad, giving them simultaneously a bonding experience and a creative outlet during the pandemic.
“The lockdown has been tough on him,” says David, “but he’s got massive potential.” They made the most of their free time – jamming in the studio, the duo produced the seeds of a few Strange Majik tunes and Owen “played all over the new record.” Not only are there drum and bass credits for Owen everywhere on the upcoming Majik disc, but he also engaged his dad to produce his own six tune EP, playing all the instruments himself, under the new name nonequator.
17-year-old Owen describes the project as “90’s inspired art grunge,” which makes perfect sense for these days. “A lot of the 90’s music was about anger,” explains David. “The kids felt that they had no future, it was very nihilistic.” It’s not hard to see why teens in the middle of a pandemic would relate. Owen further notes that, ” I like the innovation and the passion of 90’s music. Passion is lacking in music now. There is no uniqueness.”
David refers to his own music as “soul inspired rock and roll .” After spending many years spent playing a regular gig at Belle Reve (where he entertained audiences that included Jakob Dylan, Elon Musk and Kim/Kanye), touring Europe, producing the sound for the popular PBS series ‘Live at the Artists Den’ ( Robert Plant, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, etc) and writing whenever he could, he’s hoping to pick up where he left off at the lockdown. “There was a lot of buzz pre-covid,” he laments. “We have to build that momentum again.”
They will both be headed in the right direction as Owen prepares to release his ‘nonequator’ EP after graduating Beacon High with honors and before entering Brooklyn College. David will drop ‘Strange Majik and the Righteous Wrongs’ while doing regular gigs at the new Canary Club on Broome St., Pony Boy in Brooklyn and Marshall Stack on Rivington.
Wife and mom Dina Jordan, who has had a front-row seat to this family talent show, sums up her feelings about the pair. “I’m so happy Owen has inherited David’s musical talent. The hours they’ve spent together rehearsing have created a special father and son bond shared by few. David has given Owen a gift that will last all his life. I’m so proud of Owen’s focus and hard work to hone and broaden his talent. And best of all, I love dancing to the music they create together!”
instagram: @strangemajik and @nonequator
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.