Long before French keyboardist Domi Louna and American drummer JD Beck even had an album out, nerdy music school kids were sharing clips that showcased JD’s lightning-fast, highly technical drumming and DOMi’s rare ability to knock out a crazily on-point piano solo while working the pedalboard with her feet.
Over the last couple of years, the child prodigies turned into music savants that might reference everything from electric Miles and operatic prog to underground hip-hop and 1990s electronica. Their sound has been deemed “hyper-jazz”, analog to the hyper-pop movement, due to its wild mosaic of influences and references. On their debut album “NOT TiGHT”, they’re graced by guest spots from some of their fans, among them Thundercat, Anderson Paak, Snoop Dogg and Herbie Hancock.
Here’s a few of DOMi & JD BECK’s best YouTube moments.
NPR Tiny Desk Concert
Maybe their finest live moment captured on camera so far, recorded and mixed exceptionally well. Moving effortlessly through four songs from their debut album, they’re so enviably playful at what they do. They just seem to have loads of fun making music, and they’re so good at it as well. Also, the concert setting in the famous book lined corner of the NPR office studio fits their special, technical-but-slightly-goofy vibe of musicianship.
Covering Aphex Twin
This is a fan video recorded at a 2023 live show in Rome. While it’s not as surprising when they play cover versions of 1970s jazz fusion tracks (i.e. Weather Report), it’s crazy to see DOMi & JD BECK covering an electronically produced song. Of course, JD Beck nails Aphex Twin’s jungle-influenced drum programming, and DOMi lends their version of “Flim” so much character it really becomes their own song, including a largely improvised piano solo.
Shortly after the untimely death of legendary rapper MF DOOM in October 2020, DOMi & JD BECK shared this tribute to one of their favorite albums, a definitive indie hip-hop classic: “Madvillainy” by MF DOOM and producer Madlib under their group alias Madvillain. They’re skipping through six songs from the album, always putting their very own spin on these dusty, jazzy Madlib beats. I love that they put an extra window in the lower left corner showing DOMi’s pedalboard work.
DOMi plays Kendrick Lamar
This is the oldest video here – you’re seeing a 16-year old DOMi practicing the “For Free?” interlude off Kendrick Lamar’s seminal hip-hop album “To Pimp A Butterfly” with some fellow jazz cats at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Even though everyone is trying to act unimpressed, it’s clear how she absolutely nails it with her phrasing reminiscent of classic Herbie and a hint of McCoy Tyner.
This one is more of a show-off for JD Beck, as it was released on the cymbal and percussion manufacturer Zildjan’s Youtube channel. I love how there’s the nerdiest music audience in that studio that absolutely seems to get everything that JD’s doing. His solo part starting at 5.40 is just out of this world – he essentially sounds like a mix of Elvin Jones and Squarepusher.
Stephan Kunze is a Berlin-based culture journalist who has been writing about music for magazines and newspapers since 2001. He’s a former Senior Music Editor and Global Editorial Lead at Spotify.