Devonté Hynes is a man of mystery. If it was up to him, he would be “invisible” and people would only be able to hear him, not see him.
For instance, he wrote the track “Bad Girls” for Solange Knowles and was badgered into performing it himself (it’s actually not on his album, so this is a great place to hear it!). If you have any question about his talent, the above video of “Champagne Coast” should convince you as he sings, plays guitar and piano, and triggers a laptop all at the same time. He is truly a unique musical force and his work as Blood Orange is my favorite yet.
Sitting down at the piano after his performance, we talked about why Dev’s had so many different musical aliases. It’s because his sound changes as he progresses as an artist and he doesn’t want to disappoint fans of his earlier work (as Lightspeed Champion and part of Test Icicles).
He actually got his start on cello but names guitar as his go-to instrument. In fact, as a teen, the music that changed his life was metal (specifically “Symphony of Destruction” by Megadeth and the first, self-titled Slipknot album.) He grew up in a small town outside of London called Essex and says it “blew my mind”.
You can hear it in some of his guitar solos, but mostly his music conjures up a different feeling – it’s erotic…and kinda exotic too. I told him it’s a perfect combination of the soundtrack to late nights in New York City (where he’s lived for five years) with Southern California vibes (the album was recorded mostly here in LA), and he smiled hugely saying that was exactly what he was going for.
He feels his move to NYC was destined, as other bands he really loved as a teenager — like Patti Smith, the Ramones, Laurie Anderson — relayed the sound of the city to someone living across the world.
Check out an excellent live session in the archives here.
Blood Orange Live on KCRW Set List