By Pollo Del Mar
“Poppin’ bottles in the ice like a blizzard…" When The Far*East Movement took flight last winter with debut single “Like a G6," the hip-hop act took Dev and The Cataracts along for the ride. A sample of Dev’s modest hit “Booty Bounce” gave the song it's instantly-recognizable hook, propelling it to the top of charts around the globe!
With a colossal international smash under their collective belts, Dev (backed by The Cataracts, the production team which discovered her singing on MySpace) is looking to establish herself as a solo artist. First single “Bass Down Low” is already a worldwide success -- and she's currently featured on the New Boyz's U.S. Top 40 hit “Backseat" as well!
Now as Dev eyes a summer release of her full-length debut, she's touring the world! Throughout summer, she makes appearances across the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Spain and Sweden. Many of these dates include performances for LGBT fans!
In fact, from a performance at The Dinah, the world's largest lesbian party in California, USA, to club dates elsewhere, Dev's working to win gay fans. Here she explains to GuideToGay celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar why being a hip-hop star can’t keep her from “embracing” LGBT fans and – thank goodness – what “slizzard” means!
As an artist with such close ties to the hip-hop community, why did you want to perform at The Dinah Shore Weekend – an event that’s all lesbian?
Oh, because I love lesbians – and I love gays. I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m going to embrace them. Hopefully they’ll embrace me. We can celebrate love and life and music together.
That’s a beautiful response. It always surprises me…
But wait. (She sounds agitated.) What does hip-hop music have to do with liking lesbians? I can make hip-hop music and still like lesbians, can’t I?
Of course! But can I give my perspective as a gay man?
The hip-hop community has not typically embraced us. It’s refreshing that you do.
Thank you – and I do, very much. And I respect you guys, a lot. I respect you very much. It’s us embracing each other, honestly. It goes both ways. I’m embracing them, and, hopefully, they will embrace me, and we can just have a good time. I never really thought that, because I made a certain kind of music, I wouldn’t embrace anybody. It’ll be good. Thank you for bringing up that point. It’s kind of cool.
As a performer who was featured on an immensely popular hit, it feels like your success came quite suddenly – almost out of nowhere. Is that true from your perspective?
No, not really. When “G6” started getting attention, it definitely wasn’t zero-to-100. It was maybe zero-to-60?! I still have a lot of work to do, but me and The Cataracts have been grinding for maybe three years. I got with them in ’08, and we’ve been making music ever since. We went to [Los Angeles] in ’09. We started doing maybe three club shows a week, doing videos, showing my face forever, kind of grinding wherever possible in L.A. We went through the festivals, like SXSW, grinding it out for a while. It’s nice to see our hard work paying off now. Even though it looks like it was zero-to-100, it really wasn’t like that.
What’s it like to go from being a featured artist on a #1 single to releasing your own debut single?
Well, the idea was always that I would do my own thing. When I started this, I never thought I would have my name tied to any group beside The Cataracts, but I can’t complain. “G6” did a lot of great things for me. It kind of put me on this pedestal, a lot of opportunities to tour and do my own thing, to put out my own album. It also gave people kind of an idea of who I am without putting me in some unrealistic place. I can’t really complain about that, you know? Some people do know that’s me. Some don’t. I like it like that.
You’ve said your upcoming album might surprise people?
Yeah, there are a lot of different textures, tempos and subjects that are touched upon in this album. Some, I’m just singing over a couple of piano chords. Other stuff, I’m rapping over older, hip-hop-influenced beats. Some is really dancey and girly, you know? You can definitely tell me and The Cataracts grew up being influenced by a lot of different artists. You get this in this album. I think people will be surprised. Hopefully they will! I think it’s a little bit refreshing. I think people have this idea of me, because I did the “G6” hook or “Bass Down Low” or “Booty Bounce” that it’s going to all have the same flavor. I’m excited for them to see, though, that I do have a soul.
How involved are you in writing your own music?
Everything I do is pretty collaborative with The Cataracts. They found me, and they taught me everything I pretty much know about making music. It’s all collaborative, but I do my own stuff. I like writing, if that’s what you’re wondering. (Laughs.)
Some artists are quite content with allowing others to shape their sound.
No, no, no. The Cataracts know me. I lived with them for a year-and-a-half. They know me better than anyone. Before I even considered doing music as a profession, and was just making music for fun with them, they knew who I was. It’s great that I get to make music with my best friends who know what foods I eat, can finish my sentences and know the people I date. It’s great that I have that. When we go into the studio, we just tell stories or joke around, and songs come out of that. It’s great! It’s definitely very authentic or really. They know I wouldn’t ever sing anything that didn’t really happen or didn’t have some connection to. Everything me and The Cataracts do is very true to who we are. When it’s studio time for just me, they know I also have the say in my direction. What’s cool is I’ll sometimes go to them with an idea for a song and say, “I think we should do a song about this” or “I have this much written.” Sometimes they will come to me and see if I am down. That’s just how it has always been, and that’s how it was on the album.
Something has been plaguing me for about five months. What the hell is “Slizzard”?!
(Laughs.) Have you ever drank Robitussin [cough medication] before, when you’re not prescribed it?
Oh. Well, if you ever did, you’d probably feel “slizzard.” Or mass amounts of champagne does the same thing.
I think I’ll pass on that one.
Yeah, you don’t want it anyway. Not drinking is way cooler. I’m [gave up] drinking for Lent, and my days are a lot longer. I can remember things. It’s an amazing thing.
Have you heard the “Like a G6” spoof “Likin’ Big Dicks” by Calpernia Adams and Jonny McGovern, The Gay Pimp?
Ha! No, but that’s amazing! (Giggles.) There are a lot of good ones, but that’s amazing. That’s so funny! I’d probably like it.
Your album was originally scheduled for April?
Late, late summer is when it’s probably going to come out. It was set to come out in April, but I want to make some little adjustments and finishing touches before we release it.
People are now starting to recognize you. What is that like?
It’s changing my Dev life, you know, because I’m working hard at my music. I’m finding out who I am as a woman and as an artist. It’s doing a lot of great things for me. I’m able to travel a lot more, play for more people and make people happy, which in turn, makes me happy. It’s a really cool experience. I didn’t start doing this until I was about 19. Up until 19, I lived life as a completely different human being. This change has been absolutely insane, but it has been really cool. I’m really enjoying it. Hopefully this journey will be a good one.
I can’t imagine. During the summer, you’re making music with your friends. By Christmas, you have the #1 song around the world?!
Yeah it’s gnarly! I like to keep busy, and I like to do this, so I do it as much as I can, all day, every day. When I sit back and think about it, though, it really has been a gnarly experience getting to work with Travis Barker and 50 Cent and Timbaland, all these amazing people I grew up listening too. It’s been absolutely insane, but I work really hard, so it’s gratifying if anything. I really love it though. I, literally, do shows every single day, and every single show is great! It’s been fun. So I know I’m in a good place right now.
Thank you for taking time to talk today, Dev.
Again, when I asked those first questions about why you would want to perform for gays and lesbians, I was really afraid it started us on the wrong foot.
No worries! Nobody ever really asks me cool questions like that. I’m really glad you touched base on that; it was really cool. I respect you a lot.
Often my requests for interviews with hip-hop performers are ignored, because that community isn’t interested in reaching out to LGBT fans, even though hip-hop music has a huge following
It’s funny, because that’s so true. It’s real! The way I was raised, the different genres, the different people… I was raised so I don’t even think about that. It kind of did catch me off-guard when you asked me that, but it’s how people are. It’s real life. It’s how people really are, but hopefully I’ll be able to change that for some people, because I do enjoy both and respect both. Hopefully I’ll be able to change some little hip-hop heads or some of the gay and lesbian community who don’t want to let things in. Hopefully we can just embrace each other!
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