He may appear to have all the Yeehaw sensibilities you would associate with someone hailing from Louisiana’s deep south (he’s not preachy but he’s definitely fond of a cowboy hat or two), yet Devan Dubois’ Southern cool reveals a shadowy dark decadence and cultish aesthetic, seductively drawing you into his world.
His soundscape explores influences of country and western music through a modern lens, seamlessly blending stomping rock elements with evocative lyrics and swirling moody instrumental beats. It’s a sound which defies genre and is constantly evolving, as can be heard in the track People Are People – premiered here exclusively for y’all on Twin – a new teaser for what’s musically to come from DuBois, his first release since the 2014 debut album Le Fou.
We caught up with the singer to talk hats, love and riding mechanical bulls.
Describe your Instagram #currentmood?
Pineapples, street crawling, and lighting bolts.
Interesting mix! So talking of moods, you’re part Philipino and part Indian which are vibrantly colourful cultures – so with that dual heritage, why is your signature aesthetic so dark?
Hmm. It is all seasonal I think. Some variety in colour and mood is coming with my new music and art. We shall see.
And obviously we have to talk about your hats. You’re quite the connoisseur – do you have them all bespoke made and how many do you own?
I have approximately 20 hats and most are custom made yes. Some people like nice watches – I like nice hats! Lately bracelets and head-wraps have also been a hobby.
I interviewed another singer who told me his hats were not about self-expression or identity, but because he had too many bad hair days! What do yours say about you?
I went about 2 years where I wore a hat almost every day. But in the last 4 months I wear a hat just 2 or 3 times per week. Not sure why. It’s just that time I guess. I have good hair I’ve been told so it’s not that – although a hat can give you some extra days to not wash your hair when you are busy, haha!
And hats are very common place in your native Louisiana – there is definitely a Southern gothic spirit about you, do you think there’s something brooding in the atmosphere down in the deep South?
Oh yes it is there. Louisiana is a world of its own. So much history has happened there.
Former major trade port city, slavery, birth place of blues and jazz, natural disasters, oh and the food is unparalleled.
But you’re now based in LA – was it quite a culture shock moving to the anything-goes culture and open attitudes of California, from growing up somewhere not quite so forward-thinking and traditionally associated with the bible-belt?
No not really. I had the internet and other media growing up and I really utilised that. As a teenager I was really fascinated by various cultures and time periods. I had a real hunger for it.
And talking of everything associated with Southern Americana – obviously I’m going to ask if you’ve ever ridden a mechanical bull or gone to a rodeo?
Haha! Yes to both. The mechanical bull experience is really dependant upon the operator – I got banged up real nice by a mechanical bull down in New Orleans one Mardi Gras years ago. And I’ve been to plenty of rodeos, race tracks and circuses – they all feel similar to me.
So let’s talk about the music – when did you start writing / recording and can you define your sound?
Playing guitar at 15. Started recording for fun around 16. And my soundscape is all about function, perspective, and the use of juxtaposition.
When I listen to your last album I hear elements of Lou Reed, Beck and Jack White – who are the artists or creative visionaries who have inspired you personally?
Yeah they are great. A few other artists include – Dylan, Petty, the Stones, Picasso, Beatles, Warhol, Kanye, Brando, Joni, MJ, KOL, the list goes on…
Romance and heartbreak seem to be running themes in your music, is everyone just crying over their achey breaky hearts (and Bourbon’s) in the Deep South?
Haha! I’m not sure. At first glance it is heartbreak but there is more there. I’m sure of that. But even romance in general is a multi-layered thing.
So what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone?
Hmm I would say.. last year I brought my ex-girlfriend to London, Paris, and Nice. It was a pretty romantic trip. Plus those cities lend themselves to that.
And all three cities are also associated with iconic literary luminaries (Virginia Woolf, Voltaire, Jean Cocteau). You’re very lyrically poetic – who are your favourite poets and authors?
TS Eliot, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac. I also really enjoy autobiographies. I just re-read Keith Richards ‘Life’ – so good!
And in your life, is there an inspirational quote or motto you live by?
Lately it has been ‘Keep afloat, keep moving, focus on the next 2-3 steps’.
So what’s coming up next for you project-wise?
I am working on a new set of songs. I have created a new sound with my current producer and collaborator Kennedy (Jack Kennedy).
I am also incorporating many forms of art into my music, because for me it is more than just the music. It is experiential, experimental, graphic, subtle, motivational, frustrated, architectural, visual and about commentary, questions, and proclamations – it is me becoming one with my breath, with my art. My life and those around me.
We’re premiering an unreleased new teaser track from you, ‘People Are People’ – it sounds very different to your previous stuff, tell us more?
This song is about you and this song is about me. ‘People Are People’ is a clue to the new music that I have been creating. It is reflective duration feel good subliminal protest.
My producer Kennedy and I have created a really special body of songs and I can’t wait to share them all in due time. Get ready for the great pineapple!
All Images © Sequoia Ziff
Stylist/Creative Director: Georgia Mitropoulos
‘People Are People’ cover artwork by Blanda