ARTIST NAME: Devona
SONG TITLE: Maverick Love (Riptide)
RELEASE DATE: 7/10/2020
Primary: Soul Pop, Electro-Soul, Bedroom pop, Pop, R&B,
Fringe: Dance Pop, Neo-Soul
Soul pop singer-songwriter and sound engineer DEVONA has always followed her innate pull toward music. Her multifaceted audience of “radiant creatures” drives her to tell the story of the soul’s journey, through musical expression. Though her sound is mostly electronic, her foundation as a classically trained clarinetist cleared the way for a creatively open soundscape.
Hailing from N.E Spain, and growing up in the mid-west, a broad spectrum of musical influence from world, to folk, ambient, rock and R&B, fuelled her early evolution and helped her find her voice.
Her first single “Cherish” was independently released in 2005 and is her top downloaded iTunes single to date.
In 2010 she performed her second single “The Girl Can’t Stand You” to kick off LA fashion week which also launched her career as an international runway model, later opening commercial channels into original music production for the very first app to debut at NY Fashion Week: Stylish Girl, virtual closet.
She is not only an engaging performer but has schooled her way through the technical aspects of music production, with a rooted career recording Grammy-nominated studio projects, feature film, and episodic TV production.
Devona transforms art and music fusion, by melding her passions and worldly culture together to create a powerful sensory experience on stage. She is a humble and authentically talented creative mind, and someone to watch out for as an upcoming artist.
Discuss your recording experience with your producer.
For this project, I wanted to be able to demonstrate my ability to self-produce an entire body of work completed on my own. It was very challenging working by myself for years on this project because there was so much I had to learn, and so many technical and physical hurdles to overcome. It was NOT easy.
Midway through the album, I began to struggle to do the thing I love most, sing, and was in so much pain. In the end, they removed 3 large tumors from my thyroid and I began my painful journey of healing and relearning my new instrument. At some point, I never thought I’d sing again, and it was a struggle not recognizing my own voice, but I nursed my pain to power and became more determined than ever to embrace my new nuances! I kept singing, recording, and rebuilding my vocal tone for years throughout this release.
I totally had to hold myself accountable for every step of the process from conception to composition, mixing to release, all while trying to stay centered. Truly finding Harmony in Chaos! I learned so much along the way.
Discuss the creation of a song.
For me, inspiration could come from nature, a dream, an experience, or a cool chord progression I’ve found while tinkering around on the keyboard.
Most of the time I’m thinking about what it’s like for a gentle soul to experience the world, I try to imagine what all of those things would sound like as I sing and orchestrate. I kind of open myself up for whatever flows in and go with it. I don’t use auto-tune in my own workflow, so I do comping and lots of takes. I mix along the way, but the final (and most difficult) step for me is mixing and mastering. I still learn new things every time I sit down and begin a mix session.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to a new artist.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t have any expectations. You don’t have to sound like anyone in the “now” because the now is already gone, just focus on your own authenticity and make your music for your own healing. In the end, it’s possible that the music that healed you may spark that same healing in someone else.
Discuss your worst experience in the music business.
There’s good and bad in every business, you just have to make sure you’re equipped with the skills you need to navigate, negotiate, and stay true to artistry.
Tell us how you deal with rejection.
Rejection is what you make it, I guess. Everyone’s opinion is their own, but you have to make sure you are always willing to learn and grow, and that you never compromise your own belief in what you can achieve…pretty much.
Tell us what you are doing to impact the people around you.
I’m just a very loving type of soul. I love to connect with new soul families and hear about their journey and what drives people. Just with this release alone, so many people have told me that it “relaxes” them or “inspires” them to “follow their heart” and their dreams and to me, that is more than I could ever ask for. This is why I call people “radiant creatures,” we are so resilient and we never know where our sources of inspiration will come from.
Tell us the music that makes you happy.
Oh wow, so much music makes me happy! But I love music that totally takes me on a sensory excursion! I love finding new sounds that push boundaries; like music that has sad lyrics with a happy upbeat rhythm or music that doesn’t need words to move your whole heart and soul. That’s what makes me happy honestly.
Tell us how you make instrumentation to your song.
Sometimes I start with a melody that pops into my head, and sometimes I start by finding unique sounds in my midi instrument library.
If I already have the lyrics written down from a writing session, I just dive into the instrumentation starting usually with a synth or melodic tone, then it’s to the drums right away! I love the drums because they drive the whole heartbeat of the song. I add texture with little hidden polyrhythmic things and of course tons of vocal harmonies (that’s my favorite part).
Tell us how you feel when you sing and your fans sing along to your song.
My heart explodes. You never know which songs someone will resonate with. Could be the one on the album you like least that blows up and it’s incredible to me anytime I hear someone sing or hum one of my songs or ask Alexa to play one LOL. It’s trippy but it makes me smile.
Tell us the goals you aim to achieve when creating a song.
My goal when I make a song is simply to make a song I feel. I want it to sound as ME as possible. Sometimes my goal is to make it something to dance to or cruise down the beach, but mostly just something that will make you feel how it made me feel when I was deep into creating it.
Tell us about your approach to writing.
I sometimes am somewhere random and lyrics pop into my head, so I have to get out my phone and record them before they’re gone.
Other times, (and this is the more difficult way for me) it is to think of a topic or a mood to write about. I just try to be inspired naturally as it’s easier for me to flow through the writing process that way. It’s so random, sometimes the chorus comes first, and sometimes it’s a bridge or verse and I have to backfill the rest. There are tons of unreleased songs I began and not finished and tons of notebooks and phone recordings I’ve yet to turn into projects.
Tell us how you plan to develop a unique music style.
I want to remain a sound that doesn’t conform to the “NOW,” like something more timeless than current. I’ll continue to search for instruments, sounds, and hone my own self-discovery into something that is ever-evolving.
You know, the most difficult thing for me throughout this journey wasn’t even that my body failed me; it was that I didn’t know where I belonged. I was focused on a genre and how to define myself within those boxes. At some point, I gave up on the particulars of sounding like anything at all, and that’s where I found some freedom.
Tell us how to record a song.
I set up my session so they’re nice and organized and I usually have one headphone cup off so I can hear my own voice in the open space. I do a lot of takes as I experiment with the feel of a tune, do a few scratch tracks if I’m sorting out the melody, then I dive in with the takes. I like to record on Logic or Pro-tools. But since it’s only me, I run back and forth a lot to hit the record button LOL.
Tell us if you are collaborating with other songwriters or you write alone.
I just recently did a collaboration produced by actor and musician Jon Stamos and so many other brilliant musicians like Michael Gigante, Tay Coliee and so many more. The tune is called “Love Is All Around Us” and we had to do this whole collab remotely. It’s like a “we are the world” style tune, with social distancing in mind. You can find it on my IGTV Channel @SingDevona. There are more collaborations currently underway. Stay tuned!
Discuss your experience with fans.
My “Radiant Creatures” are just that. They’ve been so awesome, so supportive and so real with me throughout this long journey.
When I was sick, they sent me so much love, and I’m sure they helped me heal! When I was frustrated that my “new voice” not sounding like my previous one, they encouraged me to keep going and embrace the sound, to not rush my healing journey, and to just practice. They’d pop in to tell me they were still waiting on an album, but in a kind way, and that pushed me along as well. When the album release date was finally announced it was pushed back because of Corona, but the support was still overwhelming: “If we’ve waited this long, what’s another month?” In the end, the release response was amazing and I’m so grateful for each and every loyal one of them.
Tell us about your experience of booking gigs and shows.
The last show I performed was in Silicon Valley at SJSU. It was a really cool experience and I can’t wait until we are allowed to perform again. For now, I perform on my Instagram live and on TikTok.
Tell us if you consider a song placement in TV or Film.
It’s kind of ironic, having worked in the industry doing just that for others every day. Now on the other side as an artist, I would ultimately like for my music to be placed. Honestly, if I were walking around in the grocery store and heard my own song over the speakers I’d be stoked. But yes these things are something I’m actively working on. But I’d love a team going forward to help me with all of these things.
Elaborate on the song.
I was inspired by the Maverick waves of Northern California. They’re wild and unexpected, but when they arrive without warning, people come from all around the world to experience their unique power, ride the waves, and hopefully survive to tell the tale. Love is like this to me.
I was working sound on the set of a feature film, and there was a moment when I just stopped, sat back, looked around, and realized how incredibly in sync everything had to be while making a film, but also how totally unnoticed and taken for granted a person can feel behind the rush and the noise. In the quiet moments, I saw a lot of people “Day Dreamin” and the lyrics flowed in. I made a lot of good friends from that show!
I Am Not From Here:
It expresses how I’ve never really felt home here, and what a soul experiences transitioning from this planet, and reincarnating onto it. How we all have to remember that there was a reason we chose to be here right now. You’ll hear all the elements of death/awakening, heavenly fall, and rebirth within the composition.
The phrase “be careful what you wish for” was making its rounds in my mind. I started thinking about all of the times I’ve not been specific in wishing for or manifesting experiences in my life, then been totally upset about the outcome. You’ve really gotta clearly define your wishes and with good intention or you’ll get such a basic version of what you want, which is totally NOT what you need.
Angels Underneath Your Pillow:
I wanted to make a lullaby of a tune. Something you could sing to your lover or to your baby as they go off to sleep. Wishing angels protect them, and your love leads them back home. To me, it’s the sweetest and one of my favorites on the album.
Never Knew You:
It’s totally about heartache; sometimes you just want to wipe an experience from your memory as it no longer serves you to dwell on it any longer. For this song, I played clarinet in the intro orchestration. I had to modernize the drums and for that, I built my first midi drum kit.
Sharp Tooth Karma:
I was thinking about how some people go all their lives affecting people, building up such heavy Karma, but in the end, they cannot escape it no matter how far they run…
Let It Be You:
I literally woke from a dream where I was backstage awaiting an introduction to sing this song. I went onstage and this was the song I began to sing. I woke up, jumped out of bed, ran to my balcony, and sang the full song into my phone so I wouldn’t forget. I write down all my dreams because they help me navigate my waking world, but it’s dreams like these that are unique. It delivers a message of hope for our future, and of giving love to those who need it most. “Where is the good in the world? Let it be you.”
It’s New Years Eve in Kansas:
I almost didn’t put this on the album because it was a freestyle song, just had a beat I made, fell in love with, stepped up to the mic and this is what came out. It sounds pretty much like the title, has somewhat of a country R&B feel to it, and tells the story of what it was like growing up in Kansas to then moving to Hollywood.
Elaborate on your artist’s name and the title of the album.
My name is actually Devona, and the title of the album is a simplified story of the Macro and Micro view of the soul’s journey to get “here”, and of what it took for me to finish this body of work. Through it all, I breathed life into every song, every harmony. No matter what was happening within or around me. In many ways, we all have to become our own harmony in chaos.