Brooklyn rocker Devin has been getting a lot of attention following his South by Southwest performances earlier this year, receiving praise from international magazines like NME, Time Out New York and, locally, the Sydney Morning Herald. His classic rock’n’roll sound coupled with captivating energy have sprung him towards rapid success. With a growing fan base in Australia, he now finds himself playing Oxford Art Factory to debut his triple j feature album, Romancing. Devin spoke with Time Out about his artistic development and his (very quick) journey towards fame.
How does it feel having such a large fan base in Australia – so far away from home?
I think it’s really awesome. I’m excited at the possibility of going down to Australia to play these shows. And the possibility to be on the radio; it’s unbelievable the support.
You have a very classic rock sound. I was wondering how you developed your style and if you had any particular musical influences?
Seventies rock, I like that music. I try to make my music like that. I would say Elvis is the number one [influence], I listen to him the most, but in a real obsessive way. I love Suicide. I love the loops that they do.
I know technology was a big player in your development as an artist; using your computer to make videos and record music. Do you think it was more difficult for artists back when technology wasn’t around?
I think as the times change, artists have to change with them. Right now you can make a whole album in your apartment. You can make a video, a whole movie, by yourself for really low cost. It’s freeing; in private you have complete control. You can do what you specifically want to do.
How do you feel now playing with a band, rather than recording solo in your apartment?
It’s awesome to play the songs live, because I never even thought about playing them live when I was writing. I didn’t even know if I would be a good performer, and then I was. I’ve had a million bands within the last couple years because it’s hard for a guitar player, a base player, a drummer, to be in a band when they have no creative control. It took me a long time to find guys that were willing to be a part of it. But now I do. Steve’s great. Angus the drummer – who’s Tasmanian by the way – he’s awesome and he’s very excited to be going back.
So how did you form with your band?
Well Steve is the accountant, the bookkeeper, of French Kiss the label. So he was just around the office. And then the owner of French Kiss is like, “You know Steve plays the base.” I’m like, “Steve? What, he’s gonna be in the band?” He’s like, “Yeah, he wants to be in the band.” And then he was good, very good! And Angus, he was just living in Brooklyn and we were auditioning like twenty drummers. Finally he was the last one, and we’re like, “Ugh! Finally!” He was good. Drummers are the hardest.
Tell me about the New York music scene you came up in.
It’s awesome, that whole DIY scene. There’s always judgment, everyone in New York, we’re all so judgemental. But you just have to have that attitude when you’re up there like don’t give a fuck. And you can go up there and try whatever you want, and the people let you know if it’s cool or not. It’s a really good vibe.
How do you come up with these 70s’-style songs you produce?
It’s mostly from the music. When I think about a type of song I want to do – like ‘You’re Mine’ – I wanted to do a pop song. How close could I get to doing a pop song? What kind of angle can you take? How can I actually do this? I think about it all the time. Then finally the melody comes, the angle comes, the words come, the structure, the beat. It comes together through the recording, and by the end of the day, we have a song.