DEV: The Idolator Interview
After skyrocketing onto the scene by contributing the hook to Far East Movement’s “Like A G6”, Dev is ready to take the dance world on her own — well, with a bit of help by her producing team The Cataracs. The bass-loving electro-pop singer was in New York promoting her debut album The Night The Sun Came Up when we got on the phone to discuss her recent tour with Usher, recording her album in paradise, and those comparisons to other singular-named rap-singing dancefloor maven Ke$ha. Bounce your booty below for our exclusive interview with the 22-year old artist who’s about to pop.
IDOLATOR: You recently toured around with Usher and Akon on the OMG tour. What was that like? DEV: It was absolutely amazing. Probably everything anyone could imagine. Usher was a sweetheart. He pulled The Cataracs and I aside and talked to us in his green room about his support for us and his tips and pointers, and it was great. Akon was just as nice. They showed a lot of support and love which was amazing, because we all grew up listening to them on the radio.
Are Usher and Akon big party guys on the road? Actually, they’re so mature and they’ve been musicians for so long, that the tour wasn’t too hectic. Anything that anybody did that was scandalous was done on their own time. [The tour] didn’t provide tons of alcohol, it was kind of chill. You went there, you did the job, we worked out asses off, then we went to sleep and drove to the next city. It was actually kind of refreshing. I actually got to sleep!
Your “In The Dark” video has got this creepy/sexy feel. What was the concept behind the video? The idea behind “In The Dark” the song was for me to make a sexy song. I’m a grown woman now. I’ve been working the with The Cataracs for the past three years and I met them when I was kind of young and from a small town. I was like, dammit, I’m gonna make a sexy song! So that’s what I did. And I wanted the video to be sexy as well. I wanted it to reflect all the dark aspects of the song, and initially we went in thinking that we’d have an Alice in Wonderland/Tim Burton type of feel.
Was it fun or kind of disturbing having all those disembodied hands around you? While some of the hands are green screened in, the majority of them that are all around my body are real. The extras were amazing, they let me paint their hands and bodies, and they stacked on top of each other and did that for hours. For takes and takes and takes.
How did you hook up with Flo Rida for the “In The Dark” remix? Remixes are always fun, they’re great for radio, they keep the songs refreshing. I wanted a remix with a rapper on it, because I thought it would suit it well. I know if I heard “In The Dark” on the radio with a rapper on it, I would probably enjoy it more. We went in thinking about who would be cool on the radio and who would fit the fact that it’s kind of a flavorful song and not really a hood rap song. Flo Rida fit, and he completely killed it.
You get compared to Ke$ha a lot due to you both being young females who rap-sing. Was that always your style when writing music? When I first started, that’s what I did on my Macbook. I sang some pretty little stuff, but I also rapped. My guy friends always rapped, and I hung out with them, so that’s always what we did. Ke$ha came out and while I don’t like being compared to anybody — and that’s nothing to do with Ke$ha, I think she’s an amazing artist and she’s completely successful. But if anything, it pushed me to want to take my music to the next level and sing. And that’s why it was very important for me to sing on the majority of the album.
Did you ever have ambitions of becoming a straight-up rapper? No. I love hip hop music and I went to a couple years of my life where I related to that more than anything, but I’m in a different place now and I think where I’m at, the album I just created, fits me perfectly. And I’d love for the next one to be more mature.
You’re featured on Timbaland’s upcoming album. What was it like working with him? I worked with him for about three or four days in Miami in January. He’s a brilliant artist. He just goes into the booth and just freestyles, beatboxes, and makes his songs around that. And it was refreshing, because I’m a beginner. I have to be so literal about stuff and write everything down, think everything out, and I learned a lot just watching him vibe out. We ended up making some really great music.
Was Missy Elliott around? I feel like wherever you see Timbaland, Missy Elliott isn’t far behind. [Laughs.] No, I didn’t get to see her, which would have been really fucking cool!
What makes The Cataracs the perfect producers for you? I was always a fan of theirs. I love that they made really fun songs for kids on the radio and at the same time they were normal boys, eating burritos, chilling in Berkeley. That’s how I grew up – really sort of simple and kick-it. I appreciated that from them. And really, at the end of the day, all they want to do is make music, and that’s what I want to do. All the extra stuff is just extra stuff.
What was it like recording your album in Costa Rica? Beautiful. We stayed in this nice big house on the beach, it was like movie. I’m from a small town, and I couldn’t believe that I’m here and this is for me. We spent a lot of time in the studio, we made the whole skeleton of the album — we recorded 13-14 songs. But at the same time, we took breaks and went right in the ocean. It was completely rad and gave the album the most amazing vibe.
We hear you used to be a pretty great swimmer. Did you get to swim down in Costa Rica? Yes, we had a pool. I swam a lot in the pool and in the water. I had to, it had been too long. I was on a city team from when I was 4 years old til about 11 that I did every summer and winter. So as a kid, I never had a summer off where you get bored – I had practice two times a day. And then once I was 11 til 18, I was on the US register team where we would travel for competitions, and you’d have to be a registered athlete for the state. And you compete against other cities and states. It’s funny now, I look back, and I wouldn’t change anything for the world. It was my favorite thing, I’m absolutely in love with it, and a lot of my friends have stayed with it.
You should swim in one of your music videos. Show off that skill! You’re right, I might have to show that off!
* * *
The Night The Sun Came Up drops September 20. Til then, follow Dev on Twitter, and hit up her official site. She’ll also be performing an acoustic set on Vevo in the next few weeks, so look out for that!