Recently, Canadian producer and artist Devv released his new album Hypercolour, a body of work that seamlessly flows between house and techno. The ten-track album showcases the rising producer's raw talent and a knack for high-quality productions, using warm and emphatic bass lines in combination with deep and euphoric pads and synths, with a sprinkle of Drum & Bass on one of the tracks. Below, Devv takes us behind the scenes of the new album for another installment of The Director's Cut.
How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.
Words by Devv
Unknowingly, this was the track that started it all. I began working on this track at the beginning of summer 2019 - the weather was starting to finally get warm again after another long winter, and I was daydreaming about the summer nights to come. I was imagining hearing this track it for the first time at an outdoor/open-air party; somewhere far away in the countryside, with the sun setting, and you can just see the last bits of glowing light through the trees. I quickly realized this track was special because I was able to capture a deeper, more emotional feeling on this one compared to the other songs on the album. It’s definitely more about the feels on this one – not every track has to be a banger.
This one was originally from an older project dating back to 2017 that I had started and never ended up finishing. I think I had about 6 or 7 songs done for the album at this point, and I thought I would look through some old projects to see if there was anything worth revisiting. I had always liked the Alan Watts sample in this track, and a lot of the other parts were already in place, it just needed a couple of extra pieces and a little refresher on the arrangement. Moral of the story: never throw out your old unfinished projects because they might just end up on your debut album.
Hypercolour was a weird one because, by the time I had started working on it, I had already committed in my mind to making this album, but I wasn’t completely sure if this track would even make it on there. Initially, I wasn’t really excited about this track, and I was afraid of spending too much time on a track that wouldn’t make the cut. I decided to stick it out and just tried to build off the main chord stab you hear right from the beginning of the song, by adding other synth layers and delays. Eventually, this bright, colourful atmosphere started to develop, and the track started to really grow on me. I guess in the end it’s ironic that this is what the album name ended up being, but it kind of just stuck.
This track was made with a little bit of intention. At the time, I was obsessed with a song called Butterfly Drop by Cosmjn. I absolutely love the contrast of that tune; the bass line is super clubby and driving, but then these lush pads and synth melodies just float in over the top of the track and take you to a completely different world. With Use Me, I wanted to try and create something with a similar feeling and dream-like atmosphere. At 9:20, it’s definitely one of my longer songs, but that was done on purpose to allow the listener to get lost in its endless melodies.
This track came together really quickly and basically wrote itself, something that rarely happens for me. I had just finished up the tracks that would become Simulation Theory and Horizon, which are both more upbeat. With Limelight, I wanted to continue with that same energy, but be a little more creative with the bass line and kick sequence. Once I added some synth parts in, the track started to give me an early 90s feel. I started to imagine myself living inside an old retro video game, like the ones you would play at the arcade as a kid… like Cruisin’ USA. Never question the artistic process. Never.
I drew influence from a few different areas with this one. I’m very inspired by the Romanian minimal/tech-house sound and enjoy listening to artists such as Barut, NTFO, and Silat Beksi. There’s a certain darkness to that sound that I love; it’s moodier and has a bit of an attitude. I wanted to try and recreate that with this track, and try to avoid using the more euphoric sounds that I always tend to gravitate towards. After I had the pads and chord stabs in, it still felt like it was missing something, so I added in this epic little lead melody – paying homage to my earlier progressive days. Anyway, if there’s a track on the album that’s meant for the club, this is it.
I probably made about a dozen versions of this song, and how it started sounded completely different than how it finished. Originally, this track started out much darker, with more robotic glitch-like sounds, and very little pads or ambiance. Eventually, I hit a wall and nothing seemed to be working, so instead of fighting with it, I stripped the track down to just the drums and one or two remaining parts. Sometimes the best thing for a track you’re stuck on is a fresh start.
Around the time I was working on this track, I was reading a book called Making Music by Dennis DeSantis. It’s a production guide published by Ableton that discusses problems you may encounter while producing – like writer's block for instance – and methods you can use to solve them. In one of the chapters, it talked about the concept of splitting studio sessions into phases to boost productivity and giving recording, editing, and mixing all their own individual session. The idea is to get all your ideas down as quickly as possible, and then save the editing and mixing for later. This is something I often struggle with doing because I find I can get easily distracted by fixing minor details within a song. Any producers out there that have found themselves ‘wasting time’ working on the same 16-bar loop for over an hour, you know what I’m talking about. So, with this in mind, I just hit play and recorded everything, switching between instruments and various parts. I realized after that this method kind of backfired on me, though, because I ended up taking way too many takes, and now I had to sift through over 100 different audio files. *Sigh*
This was my first ever DnB style track I’ve ever made, so I was completely out of my comfort zone here. I’ve always thought it’s important for every producer to experiment with other genres because it keeps your mind fresh and open to other forms of music, which will only help you grow and improve. My idea was to include some of the elements I love using in my house tracks (my pads <3) and see what they would sound like in a Dnb track. I also had a new piece of gear in the studio at my disposal, the Korg Electribe MX, which was lent to me by my buddy and fellow DJ/Producer, Nitin. I ended up using it for both the drums and bass, playing the parts out like a live jam and managed to get it the whole track down in a couple of takes.
One of my favourite things about electronic music is the variety. There’s just so many styles and sub-genres out there these days, you can literally create a soundtrack for any type of moment or feeling. I’ve become a really big fan of styles like ambient, chill-out/chill-hop, lo-fi, and other similar genres, so I wanted to try and incorporate all these influences into a track. The result of this experiment was ‘Flow’. This track was mainly written using my JP-8000 but also features another first for me, which was using my bass guitar in a track. The way I came to own this bass is a kind of hilarious story actually. I was out getting groceries one day, and I somehow came home with a bass guitar. Shit happens, all right? At least now I can say it was worth the purchase.
Grab your copy of Devv's Hypercolour here.