Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Devan, who discusses her new track, “Night Drives,” as well as her origins in music and goals for 2021.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Devan: I’ve wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I got involved in music in any way I could all throughout school – school choir, music class, private lessons, musical theatre, talent shows, etc. I just wanted to learn as much as I could and meet people with the same interests who I could collaborate with and learn from. When I went to university I was looking for ways to get involved in the music scene at my school, so I was playing open mics and asking around about collaborators. I eventually got introduced to my bandmate in Wild Rivers and that’s when we started to take things more seriously and turned it from a hobby into a full time career.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Devan:My creative process is constantly evolving, and it’s often different day-to-day. When I first started writing I would sit down at a piano or guitar and find some chords I liked and start freestyling melodies over them until I had a basic song structure. Sometimes the lyrics will come during that process but otherwise I’ll open up my ‘notes’ app in my phone where I have a lot of lyrics and ideas written down. I try to write down anything interesting or inspiring that comes to mind throughout the day, even if I’m not writing a song, because you never know what could spark a song idea.
I’ve recently been developing my production skills and it’s opened me up to different writing styles. I’ll make a beat and build the track out and then write on top of that as I develop the sonic palette. I love writing this way because it can inspire completely different ideas than if I were playing the same chords sitting at a piano.
I also love collaborating with other writers and producers because I love learning from other people! It’s always refreshing and inspiring.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Devan:Life! Strong emotions and where they’re rooted – whether they’re mine or somebody else’s. I think the human experience is complicated and fascinating. To me, the best songs are the ones that can paint a picture of real life in a way that is simple yet so emotionally impactful because you can relate it to your own experience in some way.
I’m also really inspired by other artists, movies, books.
Review Fix: What does music mean to you?
Devan:I recently found a school essay I wrote when I was 13 titled “music is life” hahah. So cliché. I was very intense about it when I was younger, but honestly it still holds true. I spend 90% of my time either listening to, writing, or creating music. It soundtracks my days, serves as an outlet for my emotions, and helps me work out how I feel about things.
I’m actually trying to be better at finding a balance, because sometimes it gets a little overwhelming when it’s your career and also the only thing you think about. This year taught me the value of taking breaks and resetting. It’s so important.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Devan:This is always a tricky one. My current EP, which comes out Feb 26th, is my first solo project and the process of making it was very exploratory for me. My only rule for picking these songs was that they had to feel authentic. When the EP was done, I still wasn’t sure what the genre was; the sonic palette has a wide range and there’s elements of pop, rnb, indie-folk.
My favourite artists are people like Frank Ocean and Billie Eilish, whose music spans across genres but always feels authentic because their voice, delivery, and unique style is what ties it together. If the songwriting is strong and feels authentic, that’s what is most important, so I try to live within that rule without getting too caught up in the genre. But if you have a good way to define my music let me know, because I need a better elevator pitch!
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Devan:I’ve never played a show for this project before! I would love to, and can’t wait until this pandemic is over so live music can happen again.
Review Fix: What inspired your latest single?
Devan: Night Drives was inspired by, well… driving at night! There’s something very peaceful yet cathartic about driving around a city at night with people you love (or even by yourself), blasting music, talking, thinking. I do my best thinking and emotional processing in cars. It feels like a temporary escape from reality.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2021?
Devan: It’s hard to set career goals in this current climate, because the music industry is obviously at a bit of a stand still. I just want to use this time to make as much music as I can, improve as a writer and producer, and collaborate with other musicians. I’d love to write for other artists’ projects too! One of my big goals has been to feature on a Kaytranada song, so I’m manifesting that here.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Devan: I’ve written a lot of songs in quarantine, so I’m working towards releasing another project this year. My band Wild Rivers has been working on our next album, so we’re looking forward to that too. Still holding onto hope that shows can happen later in the year!