With the release of his second studio album ‘A Moving Picture’ out this week, top ten hits under his belt, appearances from Ed Sheeran, Wretch 32 & Labrinth on the album and his return to Inverness on March 2nd.
We caught up with Devlin this week to talk about his new release, his hobbies and what we can expect from his return north to Inverness.
Congratulations on the release of your second studio album ‘A Moving Picture’, I know it’s early days, as the album has only been released for 36 and a half hours, but how’s the figures looking so far?
Thank you bruv, I appreciate it. Yeah we’re looking good man, when I went to bed last night we were sitting at number 9 in the album charts, so yeah we ain’t doing bad, better than I expected. Hopefully we stay up there.
Hopefully! I bought the album last night and had a good listen to it. The sound you have throughout this album is exceptional, what an incredible piece of work.
Thank you very much, I appreciate it bruv.
So how do you feel now that the album is finally out, are you excited?
Yeah mate, I’m excited, you know what I mean. I got my second top 10 with ‘Rewind’ the other day so I am over the moon about that. The album’s looking good so far as I’ve said, so we are in a better position than I thought we’d be in man, so yeah I’m really excited!
That’s good man, that’s a great position to be in. Especially after the album was pushed back from it’s October release and now it’s here! How did it feel getting the album pushed back or was it a decision you we’re comfortable with?
It was a bit frustrating, you know what I mean but then again I’m a perfectionist. I’m never happy with my songs but with the push back I could go back in on some songs I wasn’t too happy with because I’m a perfectionist. We had to wait for the features to be right, obviously they got there own time-scale which they’re working from. In the end I think it all worked out for the best. We dropped the 3 singles instead of the 1, so yeah I was quite happy how it worked out in the end.
You say you’re a perfectionist and given that you had that extra time for going back in on songs and making changes, is there anything now that you feel you wish you had more time for ?
Nah I think that in the end you just have to walk away, otherwise you can be there for 10 years doing changes and then you’d go crazy and lose all perspective. I think every body of work you do you progress from, you learn from them and move on. From a writing point of view you put it behind you and hope that when you step up again you progress, which I feel I have done and ready to get on with my next body of work, then I’ll look back at that and say I want to better that and better this, it’s all about moving forward.
I heard you quote in an interview saying that you had progressed as an artist for your first studio album ‘Bud, Sweat & Beers’ so how do you think you have progressed as an artist on this album ‘A Moving Picture’?
I just think I’ve grown man, I’ve matured a bit more. I think I’ve got a bit more freedom (from the label), my careers progressed. The things I can talk about on tracks I have released, I have pushed them boundaries, know what I mean? I think the whole scene has progressed, we got Wretch 32 on another level at the moment, Ed Sheerans come through now and took the absolute piss and it’s nice that we are all still here and we have got an actual urban scene now.
Yeah man, it’s a great place to be right now for you all! Ed Sheeran, Wretch 32, Katy B & Diane Birch all appear on the album, with production from powerhouse Labrinth and many other top producers, who would you feel you loved collaborating with the most on your new album?
Long pause…I think the tune with Wretch on it is madness, from a performance angle it is absolute madness because of the energy in the track. Song wise, I think Katy B smashed it on ‘Sun Goes Down’.
The track with Ed Sheeran ‘The Watchtower’ is an amazing track and the video has some very respected actors in it Devlin so with that all under your belt and playing the Ironworks on March 2nd (tickets via www.IronworksVenue.com ), what drew you back to Inverness having played here previously?
Scotland mate. For some crazy reason I remember the first gig I played and I was nervous on the way up there, I was thinking ‘oh my god this is the furthest away I have ever played from home’ but nah man, I got mad love up there in Inverness, it was crazy. It was one of the best gigs on the tour up there, it was just mad love and I am going to enjoy coming back, I enjoy every time I come back to Scotland. I can’t wait to perform back at the Ironworks hopefully to a packed out show again
Inverness is definitely becoming the place for huge acts such as yourself to come and gig, we welcome talent when we see it and we thank you for gracing us with your presence again Devlin.
Thank you , you’re very welcome. I love it and look forward to it up there every time
On your track ‘Letter to my Boyz’ off the new album, you mention ‘ when I was 15 I resurrected my whole crew from hard times’ what was you’r toughest time growing up and is there anything you wish you could go back and do differently?
That specific lyric was meant for my boys, the O.T Crew. Back when we was spitting with Wiley an that then they split up. My friend back then was going through a very bad time but yeah, I think I say enough in my lyrics without having to talk about it, no disrespect but yeah, the lyrics is where it’s at man.
I agree with you, as an artist you have your life which is yours and you have the music, which thankfully is all of ours to share. With the new album you have done that, but is there any difference on your views of the music industry now than what there was back then?
I’ve got the same feelings as an artist yeah. I’m still spitting for the same reasons that I started for but do you know what, that was a million years ago and yes, my views have changed because now I think anything is possible. If me and Wretch 32 can break through from back in the day when we was all jumping trains to get to radio sets when we all had nothing. Now we are doing our own tours, got Gold plaques from records and making the top tens of the chart. We just have to crack on now and see where else we can take it while we still can
In respect to this new album, how did you approach it compared to your last studio album. Did you come into it with the same mentality as the last record or did you approach the whole process differently?
I don’t know man sometimes I just get the energy and get in the booth on that particular day and spit whatever you’re feeling that day, if you are happy that day or have a particular subject you want to rap about that has caught your attention that day. I like to get in the booth and jam and just see what we come up with. Sometimes I come up with a load of crap, if I do I won’t use it. Know what I mean?
I’ll make loads of songs that are good but they are not quite brilliant and then you just pick from the best ones. I must of made at least a hundred tracks in that last while but you only get to hear a small percentage. You have to make as much music as possible to give yourself more options.
Once you got your beat all ready and you’re in the studio do you go into the booth and freestyle and take from that or do you write it all out before you actually go in the booth. What is the recording process like for you?
Sometimes I do, I go in the booth with no pen or paper and I’ll get one line in my head and I’m like ‘ Louie, let me spit a vocal onto this line quickly’. So yeah, I just buzz in the booth and get a few lines going then get a couple more and be like ‘Yeah, let’s get this down’. Other times if I want to get deep I will sit down if it’s a really deep subject matter and I write and construct it.
Is there one particular memory you have from making this album that you will forever remember or is there a few?
Jesus mate, it’s such a whirlwind making it all that it is hard to remember anything to be fair. But yeah, being drunk out my head which you can see on the documentary (DVD comes with deluxe edition of album) you can see me at Labrinth’s house as he was doing production on ‘(All along) The Watchtower’ feat Ed Sheeran’ and that was a good night if you know what I mean, it was a proper good night!
I bet it was!
Yeah man it was a proper good night. He’s got a bar downstairs so I had too many beers with about 20 of us in the studio in his house and in one bit you can see on the bonus DVD, Labrinth is trying to talk to me on the documentary and I’m just out my sleeve you know, so yeah. That was an enjoyable session!
Nice one man, nice one! What does Devlin do in his spare time, I mean is there anything you particularly enjoy when you have spare time, how do you kick it?
When I was really young I was into all the games consoles and that, but then I was like a street urchin, couldn’t sit indoors. But now in my spare time I like a game of snooker, having a beer with the boys, catching up with the family. Generally just chill whenever I can, like any normal young man really.
As Devlin, what is the best advice you have ever been given?
Best advice is, don’t watch anything and just do you man. Keep cracking on. You know what I mean you just got to be full at it man. People are going to turn you down, you meet a hundred people but then you meet that one person who is some who will help you. Just crack on and you can’t waste your time on watching peoples success and be bothered that you ain’t getting it. Obviously I did at times, you see someone getting mad love and you’re pushing lyrics but getting none of the love so just keep doing you. If you really do have a strong enough vision then that will make it happen.
Just work hard and keep at it eh? Now that all that hard work has paid off for you, do you have your eye on any celebrities at the moment, is there a particular lady out there you have a crush on?
There is a load of good looking birds about at the moment know what I mean bruv! Who do you thinks a good looking bird at the moment?
Well I’m a huge Cheryl Cole fan, not her music but yeah, is she on your ‘Fit List’?
Yeah man Cheryl is a nice girl but I still love the Vorderman [Carol Vorderman] she is a powerhouse, just gets better looking with age doesn’t she? Of course there is the Holly ‘Willowbooby’, I watch ‘This Morning’ only for Holly. She is amazing, know what I mean?
Yeah man [Both share a laugh knowing exactly what us men are referring too!]
It has been excellent to speak with you, the people of Inverness welcomed you the last time with open arms, we will no doubt be doing the same again on March 2nd (booked your tickets yet people??) But do you have one final message to say to the fans up here in the north of Scotland who are reading this on Inverness Gigs?
Yeah man, you know what. I have no doubt that the crowd again are going to be up for it as you always are. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who was there last time and made me feel more than welcome, we look forward to having another good time and give 110% when I arrive on Saturday the 2nd of March.
The brand new album ‘ A Moving Picture’ by Devlin is out now and believe me, if you ain’t even a rap fan just give this normal young lad from Dagenham a listen. He is skilful on the mic and backed by some big production on this album, it will not leave you disappointed.