BWW Interview: Singer and Songwriter Dev11n
A few months ago it was my pleasure to see Dev11n perform at a local open reading event.
Her stage presence, words and style were very well received by a full house.
She has a unique gift to connect with her audience with her first word.
MCL: When did Poetry and music come into your life?
DEV: Music has been my passion since I was a child. I've always enjoyed singing and writing my own lyrics. It wasn't until I was about 14 that I took it seriously though. Around that age I decided to start recording the music that I had been writing and I began taking voice lessons. I became interested in poetry after college. But it wasn't something that I focused on, it just came naturally the more I fell in love with Hip Hop.
MCL: Describe your music style?
DEV: My style is a mixture of a few different elements. I describe it as a jazz influenced style, coupled with thought provoking lyrics, that creates a sound reminiscent of the 90's with an all new feel.
MCL: Describe your poetry style?
DEV; Although I don't call myself a poet, or label my work as poetry I would say that my spoken word pieces are just another reflection of the artist I am. I speak from a personal and often vulnerable perspective to express the issues I see in society and the experiences I've had on my journey.
MCL: What is Hip Hop to you?
DEV: To me, Hip Hop is an expression of self. It can be a profound story about life or it can be a simple expression of a person's current state of mind. I think what makes Hip Hop authentic is when the story reflects reality. That's what makes it relatable to people from all walks of life.
MCL: How has jazz influenced you?
DEV: Jazz has influenced me as a performer more than anything else. My freshman year of college I attended Howard University as a Jazz Vocal Performance Major. Before then, I had very little exposure to classical jazz or even jazz culture. During my time at Howard I really fell in love with the genre. I was fascinated by the art of improvisation also known as "scatting." One of the classes I took was all about improv and we had to scat pieces by Ella Fitzgerald, and Billy Holiday among others. It was a great learning experience and it helped me to face my fear of performing publicly. That was also my first official introduction to Nina Simone who has become a big inspiration for how I carry myself as an artist. She was always true to her purpose and unapologetic in her approach to express what was in her heart. I strive to have that same strength and conviction with my message and mission as an artist.
MCL: Where does the name Dev11n come from?
DEV: My name stems from my connection to the number eleven. The number eleven in short represents connecting to our higher-selves and being one with our soul mission and life purpose. By incorporating the number eleven into my name it reminds me to always stay true to my purpose and to reach my fullest potential in everything that I do.
MCL: Do you write your own lyrics? Where do the ideas come from?
DEV: I always write my own lyrics. Inspiration can come from a number of things. Usually I'm inspired by whatever is on my mind at the present moment. Sometimes I record freestyles, and then go back and polish what I've said. Sometimes I'm able to say exactly what I want the first time without having to write it down at all. For the most part, my inspiration comes from my every day life and the desire to be honest and vulnerable in my music.
MCL: When was your first EP released? What's the title of it?
DEV: My first EP was #The11thHour. It was released November 11th 2015.
MCL: What is the EP's concept and how is it related to you?
DEV: The creation of my first EP was a very organic process. When I was writing the songs I had no plans to release a project. I was just going through a lot and wanted to get all of the emotions off of my chest. I spoke with my father quite often during that time and he would always tell me, "In the 11th hour whatever is meant to be, will be." That phrase "The11thHour" stuck with me and as I went through that difficult time, I read a lot of books and became interested in numerology. That's when I became particularly connected to the number eleven. Over time I realized that the songs I had written were songs that could inspire others and I decided to title the project #The11thHour to put a name on the time period when the songs were inspired and written.
MCL: Your second EP was released in November 2016. Please tell us about it.
DEV: My second EP #One was released on November 11th 2016. It is essentially a follow up to the first EP but it goes a bit more into detail. I talk about what I was feeling and experiencing on a personal level but I also discussed some of the issues that I saw going on in society as well. I titled this project #One because through making this project I learned a lot about myself and my focus shifted from just the surface level of being an artist who makes music to being a complete being who is one with the creator, one with myself, and also one with my purpose as someone who's message can really help and inspire others.
MCL: Do you have a third EP idea?
DEV:I have a few different ideas for my next EP but nothing is set in stone. Usually the idea will just come to me. I'm sure like with the first two, the songs will come together and have a certain overall message or vibe and the title of the project will reveal itself naturally as I'm finishing it.
MCL: What's coming up for Dev11n in 2017?
DEV: In 2017, I plan to continue doing what I've been doing but I plan to take it to the next level. I will be releasing videos for some of the songs off of #One. I will also be going on the road in the spring to spread the music, connect with other musicians and promote the latest EP. Also, I will more than likely release another EP by the end of the year, just as long as it feels right. In any event, I'm really excited for what's to come.
FOR MOR INFORMATION ON Dev11n:
Link to EP #One : https://soundcloud.com/dev11n/sets/one
Official Website: dev11n.com