In Tune With Devon Baldwin

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A dream state is where you might go when you listen to Bay Area-bred artist, Devon Baldwin's ethereal pop music. Now living in LA, we caught up with her to talk life, style, and her career. From her biggest projects to surviving a collapsed lung, the singer-songwriter let us in on all the details.
 "My relationship with music is incredibly healing and has gotten me through breakups and even just daily anxieties."
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What was life like growing up in the Bay Area?
Growing up in the Bay felt like a dream in so many ways. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the world (in my very biased opinion), but it also breeds some truly genuine, creative, and intelligent people that I’m so lucky to call my friends. I’ve known the majority of my friends since I was 5, and I attribute a lot of our closeness and sense of companionship to the place and way in which we grew up. In elementary and middle school, growing up in the Bay Area meant spending lots of time outdoorscatching tadpoles in a creek, hiking in the redwoods, or bundling up at Stinson Beach on a foggy day. In high school, it meant driving anywhere and everywhere to hang out with friends at various beautiful outlooks either in Marin County, San Francisco, or the East Bay, smoking lots of weed and eating as much Sol Food as possible (if you don’t know, it’s an amazing Puerto Rican food restaurant in San Rafael). The Bay Area shaped me in so many ways and it’s always so hard for me to leave after I come home for the holidays!
As you currently reside in LA, how has living in the city inspired you?
I think LA has a really unique energy, which can at times be inspiring and other times be slightly overwhelming for me. I’m definitely most inspired by my friends and all of the creative, driven people I've met in LA, who are from all over the country. I think LA’s greatest legacy is the fact that it’s a hub for a really diverse group of creative individuals, and that’s inspiring in and of itself.
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What are your top three local go-to spots?
The food scene in LA is insane, but I think Bar Franca is my go-to bar, Baffo has the best sandwiches, and Bestia is my favorite for a nice dinner.
When did you first form a connection with music and who do you consider as your top influence and why?
Both of my parents are musicians so I’ve been surrounded by music and singing since before I can remember. When I played with my dolls or Beanie Babies as a kid I had them sing instead of talk to each other (so embarrassing in retrospect). And as far as my top influence goes, I always have a hard time answering that question because I think it’s changed so many times throughout the course of my life. At one point it was Disney songs, then it was Alanis Morisette, then it was Christina Aguilera, then Adele, then Lorde, and now it’s probably Billie Eilish and Bon Iver. In general I’m mostly inspired and influenced by anything that really pulls at my heartstrings.
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Walk us through your songwriting process.
My songwriting process seems to change every time, but I usually start with a melody (either acapella or with some basic piano chords) and then I write lyrics. I think a lot of people like to start writing to a fully produced track but for whatever reason, I tend to do things backwards and write the whole song before it gets sent to a producer. I also don’t usually try to write about any specific topic, I like to let a few lyrics come out naturally from the melody and then the rest of the song becomes a sort of puzzle.
How would you describe your style of music and what themes play a major role?
I like to call my style of music ‘Dream Pop’ because I think the songs are rooted in the pop genre but they also incorporate some ethereal and sensuous elements that make my music more fantastical or dreamlike. In terms of themes, I tend to write about water a lotmaybe it’s because I’m a true Pisces at heart, but I think water serves as a good metaphor for so many things and I’ve always been so inspired by the ocean. I also write about breathing or lungs a lot because when I was 23, my lung collapsed three times and left me temporarily unable to sing. That was obviously a very monumental event in my life and career and I come back to it a lot in my songwriting.
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You recently dropped the video for your single, “Underwater.” How did you approach the creative concept for the video?
For the most part, I wanted the video for "Underwater" to be an aesthetic counterpart to the ethereal vibe of the song, and I also REALLY wanted to transform into my mermaid alter-ego. When I first sat down with the director, Bia Jurema, I showed her three images for inspiration: the first was a floral installation by my friend Sophia Moreno-Bunge, the second was a photo of Jodie Comer wearing her pink wig look in the TV series Killing Eve, and the third was a photo of the indoor pool inside the Malibu home formerly owned by both Beyoncé and Cher. By some miracle, all three of these inspirations became reality and I was able to create the music video of my dreams.
My childhood friend, Madison Livingston (who also ended up styling the video) had a connection to the Malibu location and was able to grant us access for the shoot. My friend Sophia created an amazing floral installation that I now refer to as the ‘mermaid throne’, and my hairdresser Erik Hagen along with Darnell Davis created the perfect pink wig. I was also inspired by the makeup in Euphoria, and asked makeup artist, Miranda Richards, to create looks that combined the glitter and rhinestones of the HBO series with the classic 60’s eyeliner often worn by Sharon Tate and Edie Sedgwick. The video was a collaborative effort of immensely talented creatives and I couldn’t be happier with the final product.
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What do you feel is the most rewarding and challenging part about being an artist in the music industry?
The most rewarding thing is when I read messages or comments from people who felt a connection to my one of my songs and say that it helped them in some way. My relationship with music is incredibly healing and has gotten me through breakups and even just daily anxieties. I’m so happy when I hear that my music is able to help other people heal as well. I think the most challenging part is trying not to compare my writing or success to other artists and to instead feel comfortable and confident in myself.
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Tell us about your personal style and how denim plays a role. What are your favorite jean types?
Denim is definitely my go-to for everyday activities like going to the grocery or getting drinks with friends. A pair of skinny or straight jeans that fit my body are a nice balance to the costumes and wig looks that I wear onstage or for music videos and they still make me feel authentic.
Any exciting projects you’re currently working on that you can share with us?
I just released my newest single called "Fire" which I’m really excited about and I hope to shoot a music video for it soon.
What’s next for you in 2020?
Lots more new music and shows too!
Keep up with Devon on Instagram: @devonbaldwin
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