First Listen #24: “PaperChase,” “Steelo,” and “Tell Me You Will” by DEViANO

“Funny how they come around when they see the shine.”

DEViANO, “PaperChase”

I’ve probably mentioned a dozen times on thursday email how much respect I have for people with RANGE. All of my favorite artists (Denzel Curry, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator, The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, etc.) have talents that push way past just solely rapping, singing, or producing. And that ability to move through multiple creative spaces is something that I strive for in my own life. I think it’s easy to find a lane and stick to it, but in many ways, it’s a stagnating decision. The push towards allowing room for experimentation in the creative process is what makes a successful artist – at least, for me. It shows a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, make mistakes, and a genuine drive to do whatever makes you happy. And I found the same freedom to experiment in DEViANO’s “Steelo,” “Tell Me You Will,” and “PaperChase.” While there are similar themes within the songs, the three tracks are distinctive, taking on conversations and production styles that are uniquely their own. And I enjoyed hearing him on such different songs and experiencing another opportunity to hear an artist move fluidly through various musical spaces.

(courtesy of DEViANO)

“PaperChase”

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

“This record is about the PaperChase. Featuring my bro KELVIN5STAR. We were chilling at my house one day, flicking through beats. When we found this beat, I was bumping it before Kel pulled up, and he was like “what’s this you working on?” and hit play; we knew the vibe straight away. It was a point in our life where we recently started the collective PALETTE. We were working on a couple projects; we were hungry; we knew what we were after. The energy could be felt in the studio. We made the hook in minutes, and 5STAR had his verse done in no time. The song was truly inspired by the name of the song ‘PaperChase.'”

-DEViANO

I think “PaperChase” has my favorite hook of the 3 songs. The “funny how they come around when they see the shine” line is a good reminder of one of the great cons of making it – it’s hard to know who around you is real when they see you doing well. But also I love the energy that comes with the desire to make it, and there’s a lot of that on this song as well. And I don’t know if it’s a combination of the Grand Theft Auto-inspired single cover and me watching wild amounts of GTA V live streams on Twitch, or what, but I could definitely see this one as one of the tracks that play on the radio when you’re in a car in the game. Definitely a solid track.

“Tell Me You Will”

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

“This song was inspired by a certain individual in my life. This beat brought out those emotions in me; it was more of a convo between me and her. What I’d like to say to her, let her know my thoughts, and how I’m feeling. Most of my songs are conversations, directed at someone or myself. I hope someone out there who listens to this song can relate and will be able to express their feelings to someone special in their life, if they can’t put it into words they can just forward this song and just let the song do the talking, you know?” 

-DEViANO

I love a love song when it’s done right. And this one is definitely done right. The “girl I love the memories arising off your fragrance” and “wrapping up the globe, give the world to you” lines hit me right in the heart. I feel like versions of both of those things have been said plenty of times on plenty of songs, but I’ve never heard them put into words like that before. So hearing that was a nice little moment for me and my emotions.

“Steelo”

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Music

 “This song was part of my EP I dropped called ‘Live Because People Die.’ I remember listening to the beat and was vibing to it the longest. I wanted to address a few things on that song, I was feeling all types of emotions. I had recently come out of a relationship, just graduated, and I was confused about where I was going and what I’m wanted to do after. Plus, I wanted it to be a message to myself, when I’m feeling down or going through something, I play this record to help me refocus, “you’ve come this far; don’t stop now. You can’t give up”. 

-DEViANO

“Steelo” has my favorite production of the three. I LOVE the piano loop. The whole thing is so smooth. And I really love the idea of DEViANO making this a bit of a message to himself – and the listener?? – about not giving up. I think that’s definitely a mood I’ve been feeling lately, so it’s always a good reminder.

It’s a cold world out here, you know? Some people really don’t wanna see you win. The things you want ain’t really given to you. You just gotta go and go get it…depends on how bad you really want it, that is.

DEViANO

Tamar: Who are you? Where are you from?

DEViANO: I’m an Indian born rapper, songwriter, singer & producer. Moved to the UK when I was 11. 

T: Where – or who –  do you draw inspiration from? 

D: I draw inspiration from the present, my day to day interactions with people, friends, and family. 

T: When did you begin to recognize that making music was something that you’re passionate about? 

D: When I was a 13/14 year old kid, in my room rapping along to Ice Cube, Tupac, Eminem etc. I enjoyed writing my own rhymes and putting together lyrics. Even though they were trash. I knew deep inside this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 

T: Was there a specific person in your life that helped motivate you?

D: The haters. Cliche as it is to say, when I started out I didn’t have anyone that actually liked the stuff I was making. I had way more “haters” or people who just used to laugh. I’m a very competitive individual, and all those comments only drove me to become better, to write better, and to flow better.

T: What does the creative process look like for you while working on a project/song?

D: For me, I like to be in my zone. I lock myself in my home studio, along with my vices. We all have them, don’t ever let a rapper tell you they don’t. Anyway, I flick through beats. While I reminisce on what I’m going through in my life, I dig deep for emotions that I’m feeling while listening to certain beats. Then BOOM! I’ll get a melody, subject matter, and punchline! I’ll start writing that down, then I hit record and freestyle some, eventually wrapping it into a song. If over time there are 4/5 songs coming together consecutively, and I think they can fit into a project or tape, I’ll do that. 

T: How do you choose who you make music with?

D: This is a tricky one for me, as I said, I like to be in my zone. On my own, because it really helps me be more vulnerable, open to letting my listeners know exactly how I feel. When it comes to me working with someone they need to be an energy I get along with, that I’m comfortable with, and they need to exist in my “zone” without it feeling forced. Other than that, I’m down to work with anyone that I think is a great artist, whose work inspires me, and makes me want to take my own work to a different level. 

T: What’s your favorite part of making music – writing, producing, or both? Why? 

D: As an artists that does both, it’s difficult because some days you want to write a song, but your mind isn’t working. You get a writer’s block; you can’t focus. Then I work on producing. Or other days when I’m trying to produce, I can’t think of a melody, can’t find the right sounds, etc. I have to maintain a balance. But I was a writer before I started producing; I’m a better writer than producer. So to answer your questions, I have to be biased and say writing. 

T: What’s your favorite song/album right now and why?

D: Right now in this very moment, I’m loving the Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes (2020). It is the prime example of what a project should sound like. When I make an album, this is what I’m inspired to make – a perfect blend of rap/hype and mellow/R&B. My favourite song right now, is Tobe Nwigwe’s “Make It Home.” This guy’s music is so powerful; it’s so calming to my spirit, and it resonated with me on a different level. I want to make music that connects with people. 

T: What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

D: Momma’s cooking, aha. She’s a very good cook, and it’s a blessing to wake up to that every morning. Jokes aside, I’m a morning person, I find myself being more productive in the morning. So I like to get my creative process out the way early. 

^ as a morning person and a lover of my mom’s cooking, I stand by this 1000 percent lol

Follow DEViANO:

Instagram: @iamdeviano

Featured image art by me 🙂


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