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Olivia Stock
23 January 2024, 04:30

Premiere: DJ STEPDAD ‘dads can’t step’

Under his revived DJ STEPDAD alias, New York-based writer, editor and DJ Ted Davis serves up four cuts of warm and ruminating ambient house

Photo of DJ STEPDAD wearing a denim shirt while standing on a bridge
Credit: Schuyler Mitchell

DJ STEPDAD will release a new EP, ‘time to figure things out’, later this week. Have an exclusive first listen to ‘dads can’t step’ below.

New-York based music writer and editor turned DJ Ted Davis revives his DJ STEPDAD alias with a new ambient house four-tracker, ‘time to figure things out’. His first music since 2022’s airy and isolation-induced EP, ‘beige paradise’, rides on a similar celestial subcurrent, pairing ruminative synthwork with warm, shuffling downbeats for a listening experience that’s quintessentially hug-like.

Davis tees off his reintroduction with a deep house revamp of The Radio Dept.’s seminal single, ‘heaven’s on fire’. Featuring his own vocal chops on a track for the first time, albeit coloured by a hefty dose of autotune, the cut bounces along smoothly to a glazed, pop-tinged topline.

Though permeated with the same lighthearted sense of humour as Davis’ debut EP, ‘for my stepchildren vol. 1’ (2019), A2 ‘dads can’t step’ and B1 ‘she took the kids’ stipulate an artist with a renewed sense of creative conviction. Enlisting Doom Trip Records label head Zac Emerson (Panda Bear, Maral) for mastering duties, the project reaches its introspective peak with reverb-drenched arps and melt-in-your-mouth melodies.

Signing off with the expeditious, pop-sampling closer ‘bad vibes’, the Lot Radio affiliate cements himself as a bastion of lo-fi and downtempo sounds both on and off the (web) page.

Elaborating on the project, Davis said: “After stepping back from DJing to write for a few years, I was offered the chance to guest on my friend’s Lot Radio show in October 2022. It reinvigorated my interest in the [DJ STEPDAD] project, and the next day I recorded ‘dads can’t step’ in one nine-hour sitting.”

“I was trying to make something that sounded like Basic Channel, but I definitely missed the mark and ended up with something a lot vibier,” he continued. “However, I still love where this one landed. Shoutout to the ambient don Brian Foote for inadvertently titling this track!”

‘time to figure things out’ is out this Friday 26th January, as a self-release. Pre-order the EP here, and have an exclusive first listen to ‘dads can’t step’ below.