Character growth can take place over a 400-page novel, a two-hour movie, or even a two-minute song.
New York-based songwriter and producer Devon has a new pop-bop coming out this Friday, April 23rd titled “Walk Away,” telling the tale of a man leaving her with little explanation, only for her to emerge as the stronger person.
Short and sweet, the single barely breaks the two-minute mark, but that’s all she needs to tell her story and get it stuck in your head, so that two minutes turns into dozens after you find yourself looping it on repeat. Each section of the song blends well, and the listener is guided forward with a purposeful hand. Including unnecessary filler would have greatly diminished that effect, one which makes the song so strong.
With insightful lyrics such as “He didn’t say I’m not worth it, but I heard it” that hit home, the single beautifully balances a catchy melody and empathetic storyline, two key ingredients that make pop so infectious, and that she has secured a steadfast grip on. Her songwriting is airtight from beginning to end, and it is a clear advantage that she produces her own work, considering how well the instrumental complements her voice.
Throughout those couple of minutes, the song grows from a simply strumming electric guitar intermittently interrupted by a glittering piano to be joined by percussive elements furthering the rhythm of the song before erupting into a triumphant bridge, drawing pride and relief from the listener.
Devon is seemingly always seen with a radiant smile and a motivational outlook, making it no surprise that she was able to twist an otherwise downtrodden breakup playback into an empowered response leaving her with the last word. By the end of the song, she has quickly recovered from any despair in lieu of gaining the higher ground, singing to him (with the most ear-pleasing harmony in the song), “I don’t know where you’re going, but I know you can’t stay. Just walk away.”
We gave her another platform to tell more about her side of the story, along with a deep-dive into her past, when we spoke with her recently in anticipation of the release.
So who or what first got you into writing, producing, and performing music?
When I was a little kid, my parents took me to see Billy Joel at what is now the Wells Fargo Center in Philly, and I immediately knew that I wanted to do THAT.
I started with songwriting and with poetry, trying to find words to describe my thoughts and feelings. My brother taught me guitar; my dad taught me piano; and over time I figured out how to put it all together. It is now my pleasure to write and produce fun, empowering, alt-pop music!
What does your writing and producing process usually look like?
I typically start with a lyric or with an interesting phrase. From there I start to create a track to express that sentiment in a melodic/sonic way, and then I work outwards to figure out how the rest of the song will support the idea.
It’s exciting to be able to build elaborate musical worlds in which my ideas can exist, but I often end up coming back to the acoustic versions of my songs time and time again. I released the piano version of “Careful” last year because I wanted to share the original expression of the song and let listeners into my creative process a little more.
When did you relocate from Philadelphia to New York City, and what prompted the move?
I moved to NYC about five years ago because of an industry opportunity, and I’ve been very lucky to have stumbled into enough collaborative projects since then to have been able to stay!
Tell us about your brief stint at Juilliard, and what you took away from that experience.
I studied music production via the Evening Division of Juilliard, and it was such a pleasure to experiment with new techniques and philosophies and apply them all to my own music. I actually ended up composing the basis of “Never Mind” through one of the homework exercises that semester, so that song is probably my main takeaway from the class! You can listen to “Never Mind” here.
You and your brother Christian seem to have a lot of fun playing music together. What is it like for the two of you to work together?
I’m incredibly lucky to be related to one of the best guitar players in the world. 🙂 Christian’s guitar parts always elevate my songs and give them an edge, which is what ultimately makes them so much fun to perform live. I love making poppy bops, but it’s my brother who makes them rock.
What’s the story or inspiration behind your upcoming single, “Walk Away”?
“Walk Away” is a sad song, but I’m so happy to be sharing it with you all. It’s about clarity after a breakup, and it’s about reconciling expectations with reality.
In the song, you ask your subject to check in with you to let you know they’re alright. Did they follow through? Are you still in touch with this person?
We actually did bump into each other at a music festival about a year after he “walked away”, and I’m happy to report that he’s alright – we both are.
Besides yoga, what other hobbies or interests do you enjoy in addition to music?
I enjoy reading because it inspires me to write. I’m a big fan of Mary Oliver, and I most recently read her collection of New and Selected Poems – Volume One because of the last line in the poem “The Summer Day”: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
What else can fans look forward to from Devon this year?
More poppy bops! “Walk Away” is just one of the many new tunes coming on my uplifting and bubbly EP Helium this summer. Stoked to share it with you all, and thank you for listening!