Tone Talk with Devon

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girl performing onstage with guitar
Live shot from Mercury Lounge in NYC - Photo by Kiley Schlappich
       

Hi! My name is Devon. I’m an alt-pop artist based in NYC, and I aim to spread a message of self-love through inspired self-discovery with my music. I write and produce my poppy bops in my East Village apartment, and it is a pleasure to share them with you. Thanks so much for listening!

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 14 – New York Inspired

From the beginning, I’ve always been a singer-songwriter, starting my writing process on either guitar or piano and finding the words that I need to say. A few lyricists who particularly inspire me are Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), Sara Bareilles, Sam Melo (Rainbow Kitten Surprise), and Joni Mitchell. From a production standpoint, I typically take my acoustic tunes, start creating a track to express the sentiment of the lyrics, and work outwards to figure out how the rest of the song will support the idea. I’ve been listening to a lot of The 1975 and HAIM lately, so I’ve been experimenting with more synth sounds on my newest release Sitting Up Straight (listen here).

I am fortunate to have had my music licensed for TV shows on NBC, ESPN, FOX, and FS1, and it has been a pleasure sharing my new music with the digital world through some exciting live streams during quarantine. Check out the recap of my recent live stream in partnership with Sam Ash Music Stores here, and follow me on Instagram to stay updated on all new music and happenings! @devonsounds

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I think of tone as the aesthetic of the sound. People often refer to it as color. If we stick with that analogy, then I would say that my tone started out as a somewhat pastel, organic, real instrument driven sound and has now developed into a more vibrant, floral, synthetic vibe.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
My electric guitar is pretty special to me because it used to belong to Jeff Lee Johnson. Jeff was a legendary guitarist and a legendary man, and I had the honor of including his guitar parts on my first album. I now play one of his custom guitars, which I think started as a G&L hollow body electric, but Jeff swapped out pretty much everything on it. It now has two vertical humbuckers, and it rocks.

When it comes to acoustic tunes, I play a Taylor GS Mini—the mini still has such a full sound, but it feels better for my size and allows me to dance while performing. 🙂

When I have my full pedalboard, I use my Fender Bassbreaker 15 amp because it has a great clean channel, which allows me to get all the gain and effects from my pedalboard. When I’m not using all my pedals, I use my Mesa Boogie Mark V amp because it’s just a fantastic all-around amp.

But what does my pedalboard look like? Thanks for asking! For heavier songs, I use the Friedman Dirty Shirly because it’s an awesome high gain foundation overdrive. For lighter distortion, I pretty much always leave on my Mojo Hand Fx Rook Royale to give my guitar more of a full tone overdrive. And then I use an Aqua-Puss Mk II for delay, but I do a very short timed delay so that it acts more like a reverb.

What about strings?
I typically use 10-gauge Ernie Ball classic rock n roll regular Slinkys on my electric and 12-gauge Martin Authentic Acoustics on my acoustic guitar. The heavier gauges sound fuller to me, and they’re also less likely to break on stage.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I like to record live cabinets whenever possible, but when I’m recording in my apartment, I have to stick to direct in for the sanity of my neighbors.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Every room is different, so I just try to find what feels right for the space. Sometimes for bigger stages, I bring the Mesa Boogie vs. the Fender amp because it can get super loud.

What does your practice consist of?
I do a little bit of drills and jamming with my brother, but it’s always best to play with the full band because there’s no better practice than locking in with real people. COVID has made that dynamic pretty challenging, but I can’t wait to get the band back together!

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?
I’ve always loved “Barracuda” by Heart, and I greatly admire women in rock like Nancy Wilson for paving the way for all these badass female artists breaking through today!

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
The music industry is an incredible community of creative and motivated people, and I find the network of women within the industry to be especially inspiring. I think my favorite piece of advice that I’ve received is to celebrate the successes of your peers—women championing other women can be so powerful, especially when women tend to forget to champion themselves. So the second part of that advice is to do what you love and to promote it—I want to hear about what you’re up to, and so does everyone else. Let us know if there’s anything we can do it help! We gotchu girl!