Otis Junior & The Jesse Lees
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Otis Junior & The Jesse Lees

Louisville, KY | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Louisville, KY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band R&B Neo Soul


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Otis Junior, 
‘the future holds 
nothing but possibility!’"

Otis Crawford Jr., known best as Otis Junior, grew up in a house filled with music, where his mother was a singer, and there were plenty of instruments. Coming up in North Carolina, he moved to Louisville at 9 with his mom, dad and two older sisters. By 13 he got a hold of his first guitar and keyboard and joined in the noise.

“When I think of the soundtrack to my childhood, it’s a lot of funk and soul,” he told LEO. “I was very naturally drawn to music. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love singing. Growing up, the piano always captivated me. I didn’t understand how people could get so much amazing sound just by using their two hands.”

Now 25, Otis Junior is finding success in the world of original compositions and performance. His recent collaboration with Dr. Dundiff, “1Moment2Another,” and his solo “Ships EP,” mark his first two forays into releasing music, although there is nothing about either to suggest that he isn’t already a pro.

Talking to Otis Junior there is a palpable cool that puts you at ease. That relaxed confidence is on display in his music, be that in his remarkable work with Dr. Dundiff, or on his solo album, the “Ships EP.” There is a sultry and smooth quality to his voice that just commands a track and drives home that this is the sort of music you put on over candlelight with your date.

As such, Otis Junior is a driving force in R&B and soul music, and one destined for bigger and better.

It never feels that way though. He has a sense of humility underscored by what feels like an especially honest and earnest approach to his lyricism. He keeps it simple, saying coolly, “I just write things that make sense to me. I believe that if you avoid any type of pretense, the rest will happen naturally.”

Music has always been an important part of his life. He taught himself to play a keyboard when he was 12 or 13, “just because I wanted to figure it out.”

But even though music was a constant in his house while growing up, he was not pushed into it as a career, he said. “I just really grew to love music. Only recently have I realized how much of my life I’m really willing to devote to it.”

Part of that devotion to song comes across in his craft, which he said he is continually learning.

“At first, I used to just write song pieces. Like, just something I made up on keys, or maybe one verse and what could be a chorus. But, a lot of times I wouldn’t finish songs because I thought they were terrible, which is something I’ve finally grown out of,” he said. “As far as strengths and weaknesses, I would say they’re all weaknesses! That’s kind of a joke, but kind of not. I have so much to learn as a songwriter and musician that I feel a bit like a novice sometimes, but I’m always learning.”

For musician-composers, the seminal question can be: Do you write the works first, or the music? And then there are those like Otis Junior: “I don’t have a set formula. It can work either way. Sometimes it starts instrumentally, [and] sometimes lyrically or melodically. They all kind of happen simultaneously, though. One element is never completely done before starting on another.”

It’s a process that never ends. “A song is never done. I believe that once a song is created, it is given a life of its own. Even recordings that represent a single moment can evolve in the way they are perceived and the effect they have.”

Of course there is a difference between composing alone and with others. “My solo work is naturally a lot more introspective. It comes from a different place than when I write for a collaboration, so the final products end up being their own entities.”

After meeting up with Dr. Dundiff while opening for the hip-hop artist Dave., the two hit it off and began fusing their styles in what he said is “more of a hip-hop approach.”

“He would send me completed instrumentals, and I would write lyrics and melodies to them, which led me to write in ways that I otherwise would never have written. The project is a perfect blend of our styles, but a lot of our work was done independently. It’s been nothing but a pleasure working with him, and there’s no telling what it could lead to.”

Before the collaboration was out, the German label Jakarta Records picked it up for release. You can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about it. “Being signed to Jakarta will be a big boost. There will be plenty to do, much to learn, and a lot more eyes. I believe that what Dundiff and I have as a team is perfect for what Jakarta produces. As far as my solo music, I’m keeping all avenues of possibility open, including staying fully independent.”

With the Jakarta album only just out, Otis Junior is already on to something new, and this one is particularly personal. His new album, “Ships,” is infused with his world view.

“The title ‘Ships’ refers to two main ideas. The first is a general metaphor for life: We are all provided with a vessel, or a ship, and put out to sea. Life is as unpredictable as the open sea, and all we can do is maintain our ships and try to stay afloat. The other idea refers to relation[ships], mainly my relationship with myself, and lack of relation to the rest of the world. The whole project has a general theme of being lost at sea that is meant to convey this feeling.”

So what’s next? Otis Junior has what seems to be a boundless sense of optimism. “The future holds nothing but possibility! I’m going to spend the next few months expanding on some ideas I’ve had stirring around, and hopefully we’ll have some new music towards the end of this year. I’m just trying to pace myself right now and make sure I’m able to accomplish everything I’m setting out to do.” - LEO Weekly

"Introducing Louisville’s Otis Junior & Dr. Dundiff"

Producer-rapper duos are perennial. Jump from Eric B. & Rakim to Mustard and YG (more music is coming) and connect the many dots between. Producer-singer pairs, however, are far rarer (greats include but are not limited to Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, Aaliyah and Timbaland, Winehouse and Ronson). Singer/songwriter Otis Junior and producer Dr. Dundiff rank among today’s most promising in the latter camp.

Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Junior and Dundiff released their first collaborative project, 1Moment2Another, via Germany’s Jakarta Records in April. (According to Dundiff, the label sold out of the album’s limited vinyl run (111 copies) within 12 hours.) In addition to being their first joint venture, the record is also Junior’s first official release (Dundiff has released several solo projects).

An auspicious debut, Junior’s vocals are as assured as they are smooth. His languid delivery imbues each song with an ineffable closeness. Songs like “The 1,” which has over 50 thousand plays on Soundcloud, possess a relatable simplicity, both in their narrative and the sentiments therein. The saccharine and platitudinous are evaded one candid line at a time. Throughout, Junior is backed by Dundiff’s mellow suites. The beats are often grounded in boom-bap, but the instrumentation touches funk, (neo) soul, and blues. This is the kind of music best played in the late afternoon or at the after-hours, music equally suited for lounging and the lounge.

Their latest offering is the video for “Reaching.” The song appears on Jakarta’s May compilation, Spring in Jakarta. Here, the sultry is undercut by poetic melancholy. Bolstered by bluesy, almost percussive guitar riffs, Junior articulates the lucid dreams of the lovelorn. Another welcome addition to their growing catalog, “Reaching” reaffirms the ‘two-heads’ adage as well as any duo, singing, rapping, or otherwise. - Passion Weiss

"Ships EP Review"

With the release of the Ships EP, the velvety voice of Otis Junior has more than proven that his music is, or very well ought to be, the soundtrack to your sweet moments. There are a lot of particularly low-key numbers here, making this the sort of record that you put on to candlelight, with the windows open and a nice breeze in the air. The star of the show, of course, is Otis’ remarkable vocals, which are reminiscent of The Isley Brothers’ or Sam Cooke’s, but that says nothing of his skill at the keyboard, handled here with amazing restraint. - LEO Weekly

"Otis Junior & Dr. Dundiff 'Reaching' Video Review"

I wake up a little groggy, head in the clouds from a good evening with friends (and milkshakes with the misses!), and what is this hotness in my inbox, but the new video from Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff. I didn't even realize that I needed this degree of smoothness until I sat down to watch this. Goddamn. Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff are a helluva pair, the Voltron of Louisville R&B and Soul if there ever were such a thing. I'm not sure which of them is the head part, but I bet they both have laser cannons in their wrist and access to a boss sword. Mainly just because they're bad dudes, and I have faith in their righteousness.

This track is sultry in that way that makes you feel cooler by proximity. Like, you because you know about this song, you're already doing a little better than your neighbor. It's the kind of track that instills in you that courage to put on your best threads and try to dazzle somebody sweet; putting this or any other track by the duo will undoubtedly end in a candlelit evening. There is a quiet cool here that evokes the spirit of Sam Cooke, Bill Withers, or Marvin Gaye, re-imagined here for a new generation. I submit that Reaching -the song or the video- has singlehandedly inspired in me the desire to own something velvet, because it is that fucking smooth.

The video is just as awesome. Did someone pass a folded twenty to a guard at The Palace, or do they just ball like that? Your guess is as good as mine, although frankly either/or is a perfectly acceptable answer. There are some pretty remarkable shots here, some of which involving drones, or at least someone with the ability to fly and/or levitate a camera. The end result is an omniscient third person view that imagines the pair at odds, likely over the lovely actor that joins Otis at the piano, for a sympathetic take on the burdens of relationships. Or so it seems.

You can watch the video below and get into it. - Never Nervous


Otis Junior - Ships EP


Otis Junior & Dr. Dundiff - 1Moment2Another


(Spring 2017) Otis Junior & The Jesse Lees - debut album TBA



When a previously unheard voice surfaces with such distinctive resonations, seasoned and effortless as that of Louisville’s Otis Junior, other musicians take note and pause - while fans join the cause. After quietly introducing his sultry smooth vocals through a series of stylistically unique covers on YouTube, he self-released an EP of original songs entitled Ships. During this same time, O was forging a creative friendship with Louisville to LA producer Dr. Dundiff - a relationship that would almost immediately result in a collaborative album the duo called 1Moment2Another, which was released by Jakarta Records in Spring 2016.

With his creative appetite whet and experience growing rapidly, Otis felt the urge to spread his wings with a number of like-minded professional musicians he was familiar with. After only a few shows, their connection as a group was instantaneously recognizable and the response from those first crowds was proof that they were onto something rare and extraordinary. Surrounding his upbeat keys with the most pocket bass guitarist, expertly timed drums, funky and distinct electric guitar, silky saxophone and a fiercely talented pair of female vocalists - Otis Junior & The Jesse Lees were born.

Currently writing and recording their debut album to be released in Spring 2017, OJTJL has quickly built a reputation for putting on an incredibly captivating live show - mesmerizing crowds on any stage they play - at festivals, club shows and an exclusive Kentucky Derby party. Led by O and his engaging, humble demeanor, Otis Junior & The Jesse Lees truly are an energy force to be heard and experienced, generating a path even more unique than the voice of their front man and namesake, a path that is all their own. 

Band Members