Spindle Log

May 2010, Spindle Magazine Issue 1

An oversized pair of glasses and a trucker cap hurry into to The Breakfast Club in Hoxton; Devonté Hynes is somewhere underneath.

Since disbanding from Test Icicles, forming his alter ego Lightspeed Champion and releasing his debut album Falling Off The Lavender Bridge two years ago, Dev Hynes (an elusive presence on the new releases scene) has been playing hard to get with his fans. But, with the release of his new album Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You, Dev’s back.

Sitting down with him today, the obvious question is burning in my mind: so Dev, how do you respond to internet rumours that your hair’s a wig? “I wasn’t aware there were internet rumours.” Ah…

For two years, Dev’s only nod to his fans has been his extensive blog and the release of bootlegs online. “I have a real problem with selling myself and I don’t want to do it. It really weirds me out” he explains to me. As I chat to the polite and unassuming 24-year-old, the contradictions in his nature and the buzz that surrounds him become increasingly obvious: a musician who avoids publicising his gigs (“I’m just a bit weird when it comes to playing. I like playing when there’ll be no expectations: expectations I find troublesome”) he has been twice featured on the NME ‘cool list’ actively opposes, his own hype: “I’m not fun live. There’s nothing cool about the music and the fact that I have to put it forward for people bothers me”. Suddenly I’m beginning to wonder if I’m hearing Dev’s parting words to showbiz and Domino Records. Is this his kiss off of a record before he announces his decision to follow his lifelong dream of becoming a comic book artist, possibly under an assumed name or clever acronym? Apparently not.

While for most, this dislike of being publicly judged would be enough to set them scurrying into obscurity, not so for Dev. 2010 has seen him announce himself back into the public eye in a fairly big way, with the release of EP Marlene swiftly followed by the album. “I’ve been trying the last year to not think about stuff .”

Crippling fear and a taster of life as a hermit aren’t the reasons behind his silence either; what may not have been obvious to those who are not loyal followers of his blog, his time away was not actually spent away, and 2010 looks set to be the pay off. “I just recorded an album under the name Blood Orange. I’ve been working on the next Lightspeed album actually. I think it’s going to try encompass a lot of stuff that I’ve done in it. I realise people see a very small part of what I do and it only really bothers me when I get insults. ’Cause I write for other artists as well [Solange Knowles and The Chemical Brothers to name but a couple] but people don’t realise that. I think it’s funny that people don’t realise that. But yeah, there’s a lot of music coming up.”

So, was he worth the wait? I think so. From indie rock songs of heartache, the new album tips its hat at Dev’s classical influences and composers of yore with an étude or two. The Big Guns Of Highsmith alone switches from gnarly finger work on the piano to the interjection of a male choir actively impassioning Dev to “just stop complaining” for heaven’s sake, as he becomes slightly too self-indulgent (with a repetition of “hurts to be the one whose always feeling sad” someone had to say it…). If this is a taster of things to come, the silence is forgivable.

So, with that said, there was really only one thing left to cover: Lightspeed round!

Dev: Oh no.

Spindle: CD or vinyl?

Dev: I tend to go for vinyl but only because if I get a CD all I’m gonna do is burn it so I might as get the vinyl.

Spindle: Favourite shot?

Dev: A thing called a pickle back, which exists in this bar called The Woods, in Brooklyn and it’s a shot of whiskey and then a shot of pickle juice. (Laughs) yep.

Spindle: If you were a love heart sweet what would you be?

Dev: Tweet me.

Spindle: Kurt Cobain: murder or suicide?

Dev: Suicide.

Spindle: Babyshambles or Dirty Pretty Things?

Dev: Babyshambles. Only because of Delivery. That song was nearly enough for me to forgive him for everything else. Nearly.

Spindle: Would you rather be a fish that could fly or a bird that could swim?

Dev: I guess I’d… a bird that could swim.

Spindle: Any parting words?

Dev: I don’t know. I guess, not really. I guess, people should not pay attention to things I say. I guess that’s a bad thing to say after an interview. No parting words!