One of the worst aspects of the music business is the need to put every artist into a neat cubbyhole that is designed to describe their work and sell it to the masses. Now I can get down with selling music to the masses, but when it comes to someone like Deanna Devore and the unique music she delivers, there is no such thing as an easy description.
“I definitely had to sit there to try to think about how to describe it,” she laughs. “Especially when you’re doing something that’s not exactly like what everyone else is doing, it’s even harder.”
Eventually, the Toronto native and Chicago resident came up with something she can live with, though that doesn’t mean she’s not open to changing it somewhere down the road as she continues to push the envelope with her music and songwriting.
“A more accurate description is alternative-indie-electronic or alternative-electronic pop because I like to blend live, real-sounding instruments with electronics, so it’s not like EDM,” Devore said. “It’s a lot of very clean-sounding guitars with electronic beats and that sort of thing. That was the best I could come up with.”
It’s good enough for now, but even she admits that as she finishes up her third album, there might be a new description of her music on the way.
“I guess the idea I had for this one was that it was going to be half and half with the sounds,” she said. “Some songs are acoustic, some are more electronic, and then there are some that are a mix of the two, so picture a spectrum and I’m trying to fill the spectrum of more electronics and no electronics at all. And recently, I’ve been really into PBR&B, which is like alternative R&B – it’s down tempo with a little more soul. I enjoy that feel and I like those beats. So this one has a little bit of that, with more sultry grooves.”
Already enjoying the buzz from her second EP, X Number of Days, Devore saw the single “I Tried” get even more attention, yet she didn’t know why when she got hit after hit on her SoundCloud page.
Blame Chance the Rapper.
“I did some research and I saw that he had it on his page as one of his likes,” Devore said. “So people who were going to his page and were interested in what Chance was listening to listened to it. That’s how it happened.”
Chance (pardon the pun) occurrences like that can be career-changers for independent artist like Devore, and she admits that reaching new audiences in this way has “been a great boost.”
It almost sets the stage for a big 2016 once her new album comes out, but for now, it’s business as usual as she finishes up in the studio, plays local shows and continues teaching guitar and songwriting.
“It’s really good practice because I’m forced to play every day and sing on most days,” she said of the teaching gigs. “And I also teach songwriting, which is a strange thing to fall into because I never really thought about how I write, and it forced me to describe my process to people that are learning how to write a song, and it really made me think about it. You have to retrace your steps and explain it to people. It’s a strange thing to teach, but I try to make it more like a workshop. I’ll help them with their ideas, with criticism and suggestions and try to get them started.”
Her students may want to get their classes in now, because Devore definitely has the chops and the songs to take her show on the road this year. That’s just fine with her, no matter what you want to call her music. As far as she’s concerned, she’s content to play, leaving the labels to other folks.
“That’s definitely the easy part, just playing,” she said. “It’s the business stuff that doesn’t come so easily. But once the album drops, I want to have a big tour and establish a team on the business end of things. I’ve done some touring but I want to do more.”