This week’s unsigned artist may be one of the most patient I’ve ever come across, as I’ve kept him waiting for several months since he first contacted me, but nonetheless he was good enough to take part. His name is Devin Tait, and here he is:
Obviously he didn’t grow up with the story about the old lady who swallowed a fly. Even so, he’s currently recording his second solo release Art Damage in Los Angeles, with his band The Traitors, who are Liana Hernandez (vocals), Brandon Strecker (bass and guitar), and Myles Matisse (drums). The next single You Leave Me will be on its way soon, as will a couple of tributes to someone called The Dream Academy (no, I’ve never heard of them either!)
On his debut album, Devin says he was learning as he went along, largely on his own. This time around, he’s been paying more attention to songwriting, working his way through all the elements. He has, he says, “more colours in [his] crayon box this time.”
Devin was kind enough to pick three tracks for us to hear today, firstly the wonderfully titled Tape:
Tape has a really great bouncy feel to it, and it’s probably my favourite of the three tracks – it particularly sounds like something that would go down well live.
Next up is Digital Representation:
As with the first track, this is taken from the debut album It’s Never the Way You Imagine It, available from Bandcamp via the links in the player. This one is a little more knowingly retro than Tape, with some fun nods to their influences (we’ll learn more about them in just a second).
The third and final track for now is To Be Young & On Downers:
What you’re seeing here is a live performance of a track which will appear on the forthcoming album. Devin tells me that he and his band perform regularly in the Los Angeles area, and this really gives you a feel for how they sound and just how much energy there is on stage when they perform.
Of course, I’m not exactly professional, so as usual I asked Devin a selection of daft and random questions, and here are some highlights from the answers he sent me:
What’s your source of inspiration?
Life inspires me in many different ways, but I also draw inspiration from the Holy Trinity (Phil, Susan and Joanne) and many other friends, family, and musicians (especially people who fit into all three categories). I still daydream like I’ve always done, although these days it’s a lot less about the Thompson Twins coming to save me.
How did you pick the name you record under?
When I started I just went by my first and last name. I went by that in the first few bands I was in. Then, when my brother ended up joining my band in Los Angeles (Shitting Glitter), for some reason I thought it would be better if we switched to using our middle names for our last names, a trick I stole from Melissa and Tracey from Voice of the Beehive. That way people wouldn’t necessarily know that we were brothers, and a lot of them didn’t. They also didn’t know he was dating our lesbian lead singer, and we liked people not really knowing everything.
When I left that band and decided to start doing my own music, I knew I’d want a band for live shows, but I also knew I would want some flexibility. I’ve already basically had two different incarnations of my band, The Traitors (I picked that name not only because it sounded good with “Tait” but because of the opening song on the Sugarcubes‘ debut album) and I envision their could be more. The Traitors might be a dance troupe at some point, or at least include one. This way I can keep it a solo project but with some great help from some of my friends.
If you could go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?
It would undoubtedly be to go back in time and make myself practice for my piano lessons. I was so lazy about it and so unfocused and I just would never rehearse, or if anything do the bare minimum. I thought it was horribly uncool to learn about the key signatures and the scales and the chords and notation. I thought music should come from the heart, man! It was pretty late in the game when I really realized how much easier music would be able to flow from the heart had I the technical proficiency to back up my imagination!
I’m a pretty awkward pianist. I’ve had church-induced trauma of playing hymns and never knowing what the next chord I played was going to sound like because I knew I wasn’t playing what was on the paper. I do enjoy trying to learn everything now, but now I also get to learn the technology and keep up. Along those lines, if I could change one more thing, I would have learned a foreign language.
A massive thanks to Devin Tait for everything! In case you missed the reference, Phil, Susan and Joanne are The Human League!
Devin Tait‘s official website, including videos and information about forthcoming gigs, is here.