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Pop Singer Dev: "I'd Like to Think the Gay Community Has My Back"

For the last two years, Dev knows people have seen her primarily as “the featured girl.” To some degree, perhaps that’s even been true. After all, it was her vocals that brought life to the infectiously poppy hook on The Far East Movement’s global smash “Like a G6." So when she finally released “In the Dark” six months ago, Dev knew her time had arrived.

With no other names, no producers, no featured acts attached, only hers – so any success it experienced was all hers. Ultimately, “In the Dark” landed Dev in the Top 10 on Billboard’s pop radio chart, hit #11 on the “Hot 100” and spent a week atop the Hot Dance/Club Play Chart. It’s only the beginning for Dev, whose full-length debut The Night the Sun Came Up drops in early 2012. 

Here the singer checks back in with Celebrity Correspondent Pollo Del Mar to discuss the sexual nature of “In the Dark,” her collaborators on the new CD and her LGBT fans.

It’s got to feel different when it’s just your name on the credits, not…
A whole list! (Laughs.) It’s amazing. I couldn’t really ask for more. [“In the Dark”] was one of the first songs we recorded for the album, back in January, so it’s funny that it’s evolved the way it has. It feels good for it to only have my name. Being a featured artist allowed me to be part of some big songs and work with amazing artists, which I wouldn’t trade for anything. But it feels good for it to really be “my time.” I couldn’t ask for it to happen with a better song. It’s very sexy, but very musical at the same time.

Is “In the Dark” as dirty as people say?!
(Giggles.) Uhm, it depends on what people are saying, but…It pretty much is. It was my time to make a tasteful, yet sexual song, which we did.

We met. You’re sweet, bubbly, fun…

We all have a sexual side, but I didn’t expect a song about masturbation!
That’s exactly why I wanted to make a song like that! It was time. The songs I had before, even though they were explicit to an extent, they were just fun. It was time when we just wanted to make that sort of record, and we did. It’s probably one of the sexier songs on the record, but I think it needed that! 

Is all of The Night the Sun Came Up so sexual?
There’s different stuff. A couple songs are really upbeat. There are a couple personal ballads, some are R&B-based. There are a couple that are more sexual than they appear at first, that’s for sure, without being too overboard. As you said, I’m generally not like that as a person, but that’s the fun of being able to be an artist and do whatever I want and express whatever I want. “In the Dark” definitely holds that sexual side down more than any other song on the album, though.

How has your LGBT audience changed and grown since we first met?
I’d like to think that it has grown, and that’s the only way it’s changed, which is cool. From blogs I see and kids who reply to me on Twitter and Facebook, I’d like to think the gay community really has my back and supports me, which is awesome. I really support them a lot as far as the shows I do and things. Yeah, I’d like to think we really have each others’ backs, which will only get bigger, because I think it’s a really positive thing.

In our very first interview, I asked why a primarily hip-hop artist was interested in doing The Dinah, the world’s largest lesbian party. You asked, “Why can’t a hip-hop artist appreciate lesbians or gay people?”
(Laughs.) I remember. It’s true, but it was a very real question you asked me. I’ve always been so open. My parents raised me to be like that, so it caught me off-guard. I’ve never thought of it to be any other way, and hopefully my fans can tell that. I think once they get to know me better, they’ll be able to tell even more.

Who do you collaborate with on the album?
Actually, I have no outside features or collaborations. It’s all just me, produced by The Cataracs, which was important to me. Like I said, I’ve spent the last year, working with other artists and kind of being “the featured girl” on hooks. This is my time to make my album and introduce myself to the public. So yeah, it’s just me on all the tracks.

Congrats! I asked because I was listening to “I Just Wanna F,” your song with Timbaland from David Guetta’s album. I thought one or both might be on your CD.

I got fortunate enough to work with Timbaland for quite a few days in the studio, and he’s absolutely amazing. Initially, going into this album, I just wanted it to be me. That it worked out like that was exactly what I wanted.

Does it blow your mind to think three years ago you were unknown, then featured on a #1 single and now spend weeks in the studio with Timbaland?!
(Long, drawn out pause. Dev does something akin to snorting.) It’s so cool hearing you say that! Yeah, it’s been a crazy ride, but it’s been really good. I’ve worked so hard. The fact that I’ve been able to work with these artists and people are able to hear these songs and notice is cool. It’s definitely been a complete 180 over where I was about three years ago. You need to go through those times where you’re not making any money. You can’t even buy a hamburger. Nobody’s listening to you, and you’ve got to beg to play shows for free. You need to go through those times, because it makes it so much easier to appreciate times like these, and so much easier to celebrate!

How are you planning to really ‘break out’ as an artist?
Generally, my biggest goal was to just put out a really good, fun, personal but youthful album which reflected these last three years of my life, which have just been insane compared to the first 19. That was my big thing! I really wanted to put out an album which speaks for itself. Then, of course, world domination would never hurt! I just want to keep putting out good music. I always want that to be #1. Things like great shows and great videos are all fun things I love, and I love it’s part of my job, but it’s really important to me to learn to make really great records which can give me longevity. “Breakout”-wise, I think it’s just important for me to get out this album.

There are always people around telling new artists, “This is what to do” – while others say “This is what not to do.”
(Giggles.) MmmHmmm. Yeah.

Does that ever get confusing?
It can, but I’m fortunate to be a complete brat – and have the team I do, who likes me for who I am. When it came to making the songs I wanted to make for the album I wanted to make, that’s exactly what I got to do. Universal [Records] has never been like, “You have to grow your hair out, lose 10 lbs. and take dancing lessons!” They’re like, “We see Dev for who she is.” They kind of let me do my own thing, and I’m pretty fortunate for that. A lot of artists don’t have that. They’re like, “Here are your words. This is what you’re going to sing. You’re going to be massive.” 

The unfortunate part is, those artists often are massive.
Of course!

Five songs into their career, they’re like, “Who the hell am I – and how did I get here?”
Totally! There’s a good side. Then there’s the artists who do their own thing, but it takes five times as long. There’s a plus-and-minus to everything. I try not to think too much about that and just enjoy it day-by-day. I set my own little goals and reach them. If I didn’t do that, I’d go completely insane. The music industry’s nuts. It’s a jungle! I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by good people who let me do what I want.

Give me some insight. What kind of “little goals” do you set for yourself?
This past year, I will say the number of artists who sign record deals versus those who actually put out debuts is insane. That was my biggest thing. I really wanted to write these songs. I wanted to go on a really solid tour, and I did with Usher and Akon. I really wanted to get into the studio with artists I could really learn from, going into making my own debut album. I got to do that. I got to work with Timbaland. I got to work with David Guetta. I have these weird little things, which will probably sound weird to people, but they’re things which will allow me to grow as an artist. I’ve been fortunate, even if it’s writing with someone. I know it will help. Maybe it’s a really massive show I really think I should do, so it will help me get more comfortable. I set these little things and make sure it happens. These last three years, I’ve been really fortunate to get these opportunities, to take them, and not be scared. It’s made me feel really comfortable as an artist and as a woman in general.

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