South Bend’s Adidas Queen: dev09
Erin McAuliffe | Tuesday, January 19, 2016
“I’ll take the attention … and I’ll take it alone” South Bend native Devin Murphy, dev09, croons as she struts by herself onto the streets and the music scene in a beautifully produced music video for her debut single “You Made Me.”
Although she moved to Los Angeles last week, Murphy’s South Bend roots are overarching in the video. She’s featured all alone — perhaps to reflect the suffocation of the creative isolated in suburbia — in places like FunTan, USA Skate Center and the South Bend mural overpass.
She spits curse words on top of polka-dot sheets in her bedroom, her Los Angeles move foreshadowed by lyrics “2000 miles away because I’m relevant” and the obvious disconnect between her surroundings and a personality too big to be contained by pink walls. Sparks literally fly throughout the video as the 18 year-old singer emerges as a confident force to be reckoned with.
Her musical influences show an eclectic taste that contributes to her smoothly hard-hitting sound: Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, A$AP Yams, Kurt Kobain, Frank Sinatra and The Gypsy Kings.
“I never was even comfortable singing in front of people until freshman year in high school when someone put up a video of me singing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ on Facebook,” Murphy said in a phone interview back in December. “The video got 50 likes and it all started from there. I would post awful videos on YouTube where I would turn on the video on my phone and didn’t want to be seen. The videos were black and you couldn’t even hear what I was saying. … But people were super supportive, so I learned more about producing and got a better mic.”
She started listening to rap her sophomore year at Stanley Clark high school. Perhaps you heard Murphy in her early days covering rap songs at South Bend music venue The Pool (RIP). Although she had always sung and written, exposure to the genre added a new layer to her work.
“I got really got into hip-hop and learned a lot melodically from it,” Murphy said. “I would take rap covers and add my own melody — a challenge with lyrics. I got more confident putting my own music out there thanks to positive responses and a legit producer who could do better than my own laptop.”
That producer was Stelios Phili, who also produces for A$AP Ferg. “Legit” is no over-statement. And that well-produced video was no thrown-together product.
“Brett Haley (director of 2015 film ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’) saw ‘You Made Me’ on Stereogum. Then he literally slid into my Instagram DMs and offered to shoot a music video for it.”
Murphy’s current successes have arisen from opportunities founded in social media — her stage name dev09 even stems from the Internet.
“I have this really vivid memory from when I was nine. I was standing in my backyard and I decided that being nine was going to be the best time of my life. After that I put ‘09’ on all my usernames, from Club Penguin to Twitter. People called me my @ name in person, so I decided dev09 would be super true to myself in many ways. Or short answer: it’s millennial [af].”
However, the reactive, narcissistic nature of some platforms have her struggling to find a balance in how she uses and promotes it.
“I think about this all the time. It’s very conflicting for me because everything that I’ve been able to accomplish musically has been through the Internet and social media. I grew up with Club Penguin — a part of me has always been used to being on the Internet. I’m comfortable sharing stuff.”
Yet, “You Made Me” features lyrics like “Post it how you want / You love to front” to address the fake nature of some internet validation. People literally filter their lives, only posting pictures of good times in perpetuity. The idea of filtering out the bad and inciting jealousy has Murphy sympathetic for today’s high schoolers.
“They’re being shallow but you have to feel bad. To get all validation online must suck. Part of me feels like I need to pull back, but so much of my career was founded upon social media — I’m searching for a balance.”
It is a balance many artists struggle with today: Beyoncé doesn’t speak to the media enough, Kanye talks about himself too much and Taylor Swift is forging a girl squad through posed Instagrams. Younger artists like Vic Mensa and Grimes are called out for having no filter when they are the ones truly connecting with fans by using social media in accessible ways.
“Angel Haze is an artist who is perfectly real on twitter, while Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks are good examples of how not to use social media.”
Murphy is one of those artists using social platforms for promotion while staying true to herself. (See here.) She is equally open with her emotions in her lyrics, addressing topics other artists shy away from.
“I talk about actual stuff. I have depression and not a lot of musicians openly talk about that,” Murphy said. In retrospect, she references her single as “a fight song — to bump it felt like the s–t.”
As there is a consistent hype/shame dialogue on the state of streaming, I continued on the millennial path from social media to music consumption in our conversation: Where is it heading? Where does Murphy want it to go?
“I personally will keep using Spotify and Soundcloud to promote myself — that really works for me,” she responded. “You have to use those things, but at the end of the day they make it harder for artists. Adele and Taylor Swift’s moves did help out by furthering the dialogue.”
Some fans get hyped about vinyl releases in a revival that has grown alongside music streaming. Nowadays, there is a balance to strike between how to support artists and how you like to consume music.
Dev09’s sound is Little Simz’s vigorous cadence (and cursing) plus Lorde’s dark, stand-out vocals and persona plus Marian Hill’s smooth, electronic sound driven by a confident female. She aims to write lyrics as honestly as her idol Amy Winehouse.
As to what we can expect from Murphy in the future, she is currently working on a five song EP.
“Timing wise, we’re going to wait for the reaction with the music video before planning how to roll things out,” Murphy said. “I think I will drop two more songs individually and spaced out, and then the second two songs will drop with the EP.”