Dev Opens Up About Recording Her Debut Album and Keeping a ‘Youthful’ Sound
PopCrush recently caught up with ‘In the Dark’ songstress Dev, who is getting to release her debut solo album, ‘The Night the Sun Came Up,’ on Nov. 1. Dev, who is expecting her first child on Christmas Eve, assured us that she won’t be out the music game for long, and that fans probably won’t even notice she is taking a post-baby hiatus thanks to a bunch of music-related material that has already been prepped.
The California native also spoke to us about why she pushed back her album release date and her close relationship with collaborators/producers/recording artists the Cataracs. Dev even dishes on why she likes to keep her music “youthful,” what it was like working with Demi Lovato and David Guetta in the studio, and why she really hopes the Cataracs never sell their song ‘Undercover’ to Justin Bieber.
Are you planning on taking a break from music for a while after you give birth?
Well as of right now, because of doctor’s orders, I’ve had to stop shows. Um, which is actually probably a good thing because I’m getting kind of big so that might be awkward. But I actually shot six music videos this past month so I’ll have an album worth of material and then six new videos to put out, so technically it won’t look I’m leaving but I will be taking some time off.
Hopefully, once the baby’s here and I’m comfortable with her and I get back in shape and into my routine, I’m kind of wanting to jump right back in. I already want to start working on the second album and I’d love to do a tour, hopefully something I can bring her along on. But definitely, I’m looking forward to doing both. I love what I do and I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do, and it’s very important for me to keep that all going.
Did you push back the release date for ‘The Night the Sun Came Up’ due to your pregnancy or were there other reasons for that?
No, I was actually in the studio these past couple of weeks and the Cataracs and I recorded four more songs. So we’re actually adding more to the album which was kind of important to me, ya know, now more than ever — I want kids to have as much music as possible. So, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to fill my album up with a lot of songs. So yeah, it kind of sucks because of the month push back, but hopefully it will be worth it for everybody because there will be more records on it.
When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I always really enjoyed it. I studied it a lot in school growing up. But it probably wasn’t until I met the Cataracs that I really sort of took it as something I could do as a career. You know, I saw the [Cataracs] working hard at it and they were getting songs on the radio and I just really admired their hustle and I sort of realized it could be something I could do seriously.
I met [the Cataracs] in the spring of 2008. Yeah, I met them and we started working together and literally that summer one of the songs we made started getting airplay in San Francisco and Berkley and I was like ‘OK maybe we have something here.’ So we kind of just stuck with it, and I guess the rest is history. We moved to L.A. together and made ‘G6′ and my whole album and stuff. It’s definitely been a really good journey with those boys. I really couldn’t ask for a better relationship.
You guys have a very distinct musical style. What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
We all grew up listening to a bunch of different stuff, which is cool and I think it definitely reflects a lot in the music that we make — anything from sort of pop to rock and rap. I know that the boys and myself definitely grew up listening to a bunch of different genres — which is cool and really important to us.
What attracts you to the energetic club music you and the Cataracs are known for?
When the Cataracs and I first started making music, we were all really young and I think that youthful sound was really important for us to capture. It wasn’t like we were faking it; it’s not like we were older musicians trying to figure out what’s going on in the world — like we were living that lifestyle. We just wanted it to be very much true to what we were doing and it ended up coming off very natural. It wasn’t too forced or anything. Even though we were making club records it seemed like we were being honest and sort of … I feel like you could see a lot of our quirkiness and personalities through that, which is really cool. It’s funny though because I think once people hear my album, I think they’ll hear a lot of different sort of styles that we do as well. And you know, outside just of making club records which is cool. I’m excited for everybody to hear that. We definitely put a lot of different aspects together for the album.
Are there any particular tracks on the album that you’re really excited for people to hear?
Um yeah I have a couple favorites. I have one favorite — actually I love them all for different reasons, I’m so corny but I do. There’s one track on there, the opening track, that really explains a lot about my personal journey from my hometown to Los Angeles — that whole interesting rollercoaster. Then there’s one about my life now as an entertainer because three years ago I was like opening boxes at Old Navy, and now my life has like completely changed, so it’s kind of cool. And uptempo tracks too!
I just can’t wait for everybody to sort of see us — I feel like we’ve matured a lot with our sound. The album is very personal, even like the dancer songs, if you listen to what I’m saying, it’s very personal, but it’s still youthful because I wanted to capture that. Even though now I’m embarking on motherhood and marriage and stuff like that it was important for me in this album to reflect the past three years and the journey of everything, and I think the next album will reflect everything I’m going through now, obviously. So yeah, there’s a lot of fun stuff.
Did you have a hand in the songwriting process or production at all?
Yeah the Cataracs and I, we do everything together. Like I said, I’ve been working with them for a while now, so I’m 100% comfortable with everything now. You know, even though they’re boys [I can] talk about my love life or being able to talk about what had happened a couple days ago or my view or take on a specific topic. We do everything together, which is cool. I’ve always felt really comfortable with them.
So it’s just you and the Cataracs who worked on the album?
Yeah it’s just us. We went to Costa Rica for three weeks and sort of made it all there and finished them up here in Los Angeles. Yeah it was just us three. It’s really cool.
We love the original ‘In the Dark,’ but we also really liked the remix that was released with Kanye West. Did you work with him at all personally on that?
That was just kind of something that floated onto the Internet and the airwaves, which I don’t mind AT ALL because it sounds absolutely amazing and it’s one of my favorite remixes too. But no I haven’t worked with him or met him yet, but believe me when I do everybody will know. I will be way too psyched for that situation.
Listen to Kanye West’s Remix of ‘In the Dark’
Do you have any ideas as to what your next single is going to be?
No, we don’t yet, which is actually kind of whack [Laughs]. There’s a lot of great tracks to pick from and I would be happy to release any of them as singles.
We wanted to get your take on the whole Auto-Tune thing. Since you and the Cataracs have had a lot of success using Auto-Tune, what would you say to the haters?
It’s such a funny thing thing, I hate on it too. It’s so whack. I think that people who hate on it are stuck in the past. It’s just as difficult to make these records that are very sort of electronic and beat-influenced and Auto-Tune influenced — it’s just as difficult to make those as it is any other song or play any other instrument. You know, I watch the Cataracs make their beats and it takes days. A lot of people who listen probably think ‘Oh this song took them two seconds to make,’ but no it doesn’t work like that. So I think those people just don’t really understand. But you know, they’re all entitled to their own opinion. If there weren’t people hating on it, it wouldn’t be as fun I guess.
Demi Lovato is releasing ‘Who’s That Boy‘ as her next single, which you’re featured on. Are you excited about that? What was it like working with her?
Yeah I’m so excited about that! I recently just found that out. Demi is absolutely amazing. I give her so much props for everything that she’s sort of been going through and overcame this past year. Her voice is absolutely beautiful so I’m really excited about that actually. Yeah she’s awesome.
You also recorded the song ‘I Just Wanna F—’ for David Guetta’s new album. What was it like working with him and Timbaland on the track?
David Guetta is such a sweetheart. I was so nervous going when I went to the studio because I didn’t know what to expect since he’s like a huge superstar — but he was such a sweetheart, and he absolutely adores me and the Cataracs which is really f—–g cool. He’s absolutely talented and so is Timbaland. I was in the studio with [Timbaland] for four days and he’s a complete beast. So it was great getting to work with those artists and getting to learn from them. They’re legends.
Approximately how many tattoos do you have?
I think 13 or something like that. A lot of them are unfinished and now I have to wait a few more months before I can finish them again, but yeah I’d say like 13.
Is there a specific one that is really special to you?
I have Portuguese writing on my arm. It means “beautiful girl” in Portuguese — my grandma always used to call me that. And I also have Cataracs lyrics — from their song ‘Undercover’ — completely tattooed on my arm. So hopefully they don’t sell that to like Justin Bieber or something cause then I’ll have Justin Bieber lyrics on my arm. Which I guess would be just as funny so… I’d be like ‘I swear it was a Cataracs song!’ [Laughs]
You have a unique fashion sense. Are there any celebrities who you look up to in terms of style?
Thank you! My mom always had a big part on that in my life growing up. As far as other artists, I think Gwen Stefani holds it down in that area pretty well for females. I really look up to the lady at Hells that I work with — I work with this brand called Hells Bells for pretty much everything, live performances and stuff like that. Her name is Loni and it’s her line. Yeah, I think I’d say that I look up to her the most when it comes to that stuff. She’s a bad b—-. She knows everything when it comes to that, it’s absolutely unreal. She’s like a 4′ 2″ cute Asian girl, she’s such a boss when it comes to anything fashion related.
If you could work with any artist, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
Gosh, there’s so many good ones. Kurt Cobain would be cool — I mean he’s a legend. Eminem would be cool, he’s a legend as well. I also think Karen O. [of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs] would be awesome. I’ve never worked with a female of that sort of genre and stuff and I think that she’s just absolutely amazing, lyrically and everything. She’s a complete boss.
Watch the Dev ‘In the Dark’ Video