Young Devyn began her singing Career at the age of 5, and if you've been following Soca Music you may have heard her music either within the clubs or on the road during Carnival, I discovered Devyn's music by accident assembling a Playlist adding her tune and after listening to it several times became addicted to the Beat, the lyrics and Young Devyns unique voice and style. Since then I have seen her Soca Music grow and evolve with her age and experience in the Soca Industry, but I will freely admit that whilst preparing for this interview, her music versatility, charity activities and vibrant personality made the prospect of conducting an interview, that was already interesting, a richer experience. As we rarely encounter our Soca Artists that begin their career from a young age, normally we discover them later and hear them tell their stories of how they began and their evolution through the filter of their memory. This Interview would be different, I would have the rare opportunity to hear the thoughts opinions and perspectives of one of our Soca Artists that is going through this process at the time of the Interview. As I complete my final checks to ensure that our conversation will be clear and uninterrupted I Greet Young Devyn, and begin the Interview.
Garvey: To begin with for the people who don't know who you are what can you just that tell us you know who you are what you do and we'll start from there.
Young Devyn: OK Well I go by the name of Young Devyn. I'm a singer, dancer and actor. I do hip hop soca R&B, Rap and so yeah I'm just all around.
Garvey: OK So could you start by telling us how did you get into performing. Soca Music.
Young Devyn: Well my school had a talent show and it was basically we had to show our background of where we come from and our culture and since my family is from Trinidad I know a lot about the culture because of my mom and grandmother. I just decided to do a Soca Song and it ended up being something that I fell in love with. And soon after my mom's friend, who was a radio personality heard about my performance and put me on the radio and from there it was history.
Garvey: OK So With regards to your other types of music that your Interested in would you say soca is the music you primarily enjoy or is it one of many.
Young Devyn: It's definitely one of many that I love. I also love Rapping I love soca, I love singing R&B. Since I'm from America I'm a bit diverse because I have that American influence from my exposure to pop culture and then I have the Caribbean side too. So I do my best to try to stay as versatile as possible in order to express both aspects of my background.
Garvey: Are there people who find out about the different genres of music that you love and perform who think that these are conflicting genres of Music of different types of music have to be conflict. And perhaps are unaware that many Soca artists listen to and enjoy a wide range of Music Genre's, they don't just listen to Soca all the time.
Young Devyn: A lot of the times <Pauses> or I would say ninety percent of the time Soca artists don't listen to Soca Music they listen to other music so that they can take the ten percent of Soca that they do listen to and take the pieces they like and use it to create a brand new Music. Ninety percent of the time I never listen to Soca music and it's not because I don't love Soca, I love the culture, I love soca, but you have to miss something in order to perfect your craft and live your life so after listening to pop and R&B for a period of time. When it's time to write a new Soca song I'm able to be like. “All right let me come back to my roots, let me come home, and quite often what I create is better than the last time.
Garvey: So if you had to name me some of the things that you take from other types of music that contribute to your Soca Music, make it more interesting and unique to you what would they be? I ask this because new listeners of Soca Music are often unaware that a lot of the old Calypso and Soca would often borrow from other genres of Music like Brazil and other places.
Young Devyn: When I say take. I don't necessarily mean like taking actual bits and pieces of a song I mean in terms of how that song inspires me to come up with my own melody So let's say I'm listening to a hip-hop song and it's really melodic, and then five seconds later I'm listening to a Soca Beat. Well a soca-beat is always going to be very melodic and that inspires me to write a Melodic song because that's the Mood it puts me in. A lot of the Time me writing music just depends on my mood so whatever I'm listening to at the given moment will give me a feeling. And that feeling is what I use to write my music.
Garvey: It's fantastic that you not only perform but you write your own music. Can you tell us a little bit more about your creative process, not all Soca Artists write their own music, so the fact that you both write and perform your own music brings a layer of authenticity to your Music that really comes through. So with regard to your creative process is it like a flash that enters your mind or is it something you sit down and apply yourself to in order to create?
Young Devyn: It depends. I never really try too hard to come up with songs because I feel like when you try too hard. It's not going to be that organic So If I have a beat and I'm not really getting an idea that comes to me I'll leave it alone. I don't try to force myself because I know that eventually something is going to come. As an example for my tune “Find me”. The chant for “Find Me” <Sings> Can Somebody…..Find Meh!” That came to me in my bedroom I was laying down listening to the beat and that's the only thing that I wrote down and then the next day in school I had a whole verse in my head and so it just depends and varies on the places that I'm in, the environment that I'm in and just what comes to my head at the time.
Garvey: I'm glad you brought up your recent tune “Find Meh” as we noticed you recently went to Trinidad. While we were doing our research on what you've been up to we saw some fantastic interviews and loads of appearances in loads of different places in Trinidad. What was your trip to Trinidad like, how were you received?
Young Devyn: It was great! Every time I go to Trinidad it feels like I'm coming home, because Trinidad IS my second home. That's the first place that I performed internationally. So I've got a lot of love for Trinidad. So I'm just getting my face more known out there and more people know who I am out there too now, they're playing my music and everybody who I got interviewed by were so impressed by not only me but my songs and that's the big message of what this is all about my music.
Garvey: Yes so true. And the first tune I heard from you was “Right time” performed with Lyrikal, I loved that tune and in fact it's still on my playlist.
Young Devyn: Thank you.
Garvey: Your welcome And then a few years later after we started running CarnevaleNetwork I was digging around and found all of these other tunes that you've done on Youtube that I hadn't come across before. All of them fantastic tunes by the way, We noticed another tune with you and Lyrikal called “The Islands” My question is was Lyrikal a big influence on you and if so how did he contribute to you getting into the Soca Music Industry.
Young Devyn: Lyrikal was very instrumental in my career he wrote my first three songs and he helped me improve my performance when he put me on my first stage show in Trinidad at “Army Fete” and that that was like one of the biggest events for Carnival that year and he put me on that stage and made me perform and that was such a great moment because not only was I the youngest person there ever to perform, but it was so much great exposure and the fact that he was able to see my talent and be confident to put me on as a little eight year old was During his performance like that really made me respect him on a totally different level, and on a personal level too because my mom and I, we go by Lyrikals house all the time and just bother him, <Laughs> So it's not even just about the music it's just about life!
Garvey: So we have Soca artists over here in the U.K.. There are soca artists in Germany. How would you describe being a soca-artist based in the in the USA.
Young Devyn: At the moment. Well Soca is getting more known in America in the USA in general, We have Labor Day and Miami carnival, Hollywood Carnival now. So it's getting bigger and it's growing in a lot of the bigger states too. What Lyrikal has done has done is so important to not only New York but every artist that's in the USA China and everywhere else. He's let everyone know if you work hard at your music you can succeed and be big in the Caribbean and in General. He's opened that door that let people know that you could be from anywhere in the world and even though Trinidad and the Caribbean is the mecca of soca you can open new doors and show the people that listen about our Culture. It shows them that Soca Music crosses International borders too, it's given us the confidence for others to say “Let me show you my Talent”. And so he's inspired me in so many ways. Given the fact that he used to live two blocks from my house and now he's travelling all over the Caribbean. So that's a great thing!
Garvey: OK So are you going to be going back to Trinidad for the 2017 Carnival?
Young Devyn: Oh yes of course I always try and get back to Trinidad for the Carnival. I didn't go last year so I'm looking at this year.
Garvey: And will you be playing Mas in a Carnival Band out there.
Young Devyn: You know I'm really scared of playing Mas in Trinidad. I've done it in New York but I'm scared of playing Mas in General. It's Crazy I know.
Garvey: What's scary about it?
Young Devyn: I don't know, like the Rush, the length of the Carnival Route, the amount of people. I Mean <Pauses> I know a lot of people and I have to be around a lot of people at my job but you know large groups of people can be overwhelming.
Garvey: Very true…..so with the previous times that you've been to Trinidad around carnival time you've obviously gone to a lot of the events the fetes the parties, and you've not taken part in Carnival so far, is it something you plan to do.
Young Devyn: Of course when I get older or even maybe in two years but it's just that fear I have of being around a lot of people. I just need to get used to it, Because Trinidad Carnival is a big step up <Laughs>.
Garvey: Yes it is, there's so much going on and not just In Port of Spain but obviously Arima and everywhere else on the Island has smaller parades going on. So Yes I definitely agree that it can be really really overwhelming, In fact it can be a little bit like a marathon to someone who hasn't done it before <Laughs>
Young Devyn: It can <Laughs>
Garvey: So something else that we saw you talking about while you were in Trinidad was the “No violent music challenge”. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
Young Devyn: Yeah sure, basically what happened was someone DM'd me (Direct Message via Social Media) and asked me to repost it but before I did that I, of course did my Research on it and, I immediately liked the movement and the anti-violence message that it was trying to put across. A lot of things were going on in Trinidad when I was last there. For example one girl was kidnapped and then they found her in a warehouse somewhere where she died and it was really sad and affected the entire island, the mood of the people was different. The general mood of the Island was a little bit more gloomier. And so what people wanted to do was start this movement because music is one of the biggest influences in the world and it's the only thing that can bring hundreds of thousands of people together without violence for long periods of time. So what artists and people who supported the message Wanted to do was just spread the word, and since artists are like one of the biggest influences in today's environment. They wanted to spread a message of Joy and Peace by doing a no violent music challenge. And so the guys who started it asked all of the local artists in Trinidad to post the Tweets and Facebook posts on their page to show their support and soon other people caught onto it too even though they didn't make music, just to spread the word and get the word out there that you don't have to be violent all the time and make violent music to attract people.
Garvey: Yes I totally agree So for your own “No violence” music challenge was it something you posted on Youtube or Facebook?
Young Devyn: I posted it on Instagram it was just a picture showing my support, and to me social media is definitely the biggest platform ever to get anything out there. If I'd have posted it on Youtube i'd have made a Video talking about it, which actually is a good idea for me to do. So I'll definitely try to do that but you know I really just posted it on my Instagram and my Facebook Page. To get it out there as quickly as possible.
Garvey: OK so I read I was reading something with regards to you being involved in charity at some point is that correct.
Young Devyn: Yeah I do this thing where it's called Dinner with Devyn it's for an Orphanage in Trinidad and every year for the carnival season on Carnival Wednesday we just go there. We bring a lot of artists and we eat food and put on a little show and it gives me a chance to bond with the kids because I see them every year and every year they get a little older and they tell me their stories and we grow closer so it's just a great thing that I do every year.
Garvey: Wow that's brilliant.
Young Devyn: Yes we also send down clothing when we can, we just try to contribute what we can to help make their lives a bit more comfortable and make them as happy as possible and let them know they are loved and just as important as everyone else.
Garvey: Very impressive, that your spending your own time helping out others in that way, We didn't know you were doing so much but we'll keep our eye out for your Charity activities. So your latest tune has done and is still doing really well, I mean I personally love the tune.
Young Devyn: Thank you.
Garvey: I've got to ask about the video because I loved it. Who came up with the concept for the video and I'm asking because I find that the combination of Carnival imagery combined with a Brooklyn background really powerful Imagery. Was it something that you came up with or did someone else come up with the concept.
Young Devyn: Well my Manager and I came up with the concept, it was very simple as we both agreed that because it was around Labor Day we should use that as inspiration ,so we just said we're just going to shoot the video on the parkway <Eastern Parkway is a main street in Brooklyn where the Labor Day Carnival Parade takes place> and to begin with we didn't have much of a concept but we realized capturing the ambience and the essence of Carnival itself in a place that's not the Caribbean will send such a powerful message that Carnival Culture is spreading, And the Videographer did a great job capturing it for someone who had never been to Carnival and began not the project not knowing what Carnival was and how it was supposed to look. it was fun <Laughs>.
Garvey: <Laughs> It looked like it was a Party on the road.
Young Devyn: We didn't even plan for it to be that big, we planned to get just a few masqueraders and have them just dance We were on church Avenue shooting but then loads of people came out and soon the entire street was just shut-down and everybody was just crowding around it was crazy.
Garvey: So you take part in the Labor Day Carnival.
Young Devyn: Yes of course.
Garvey: So can you tell us which band we can find you in during the carnival?
Young Devyn: It depends I'm cool with all of the bands who take part in Labor day, So for the video I was with “Sesame Flyers” but I also move with “Ramajay” and I move with all of these different other bands because they've all known me since I was 8 years old since I started in New York so they are all like family to me.
Garvey: So what the next thing we can expect from you in terms of like music? Do you have anything coming up that you can share with us?
Young Devyn: Of course! I have 2 more Soca Songs coming out, one is a collaboration I have a Hip-hop music Video coming out as well, and I'm working on a Mix-tape So I'm just really trying to balance out the work I do in both Genre's at once.
Garvey: Right so picking up on the Hip-Hop, while we were checking out your Youtube channel we saw some amazing hip hop freestyles on there performed by you.
Young Devyn: Thank you.
Garvey: <Laughs> at the time I was blown away because, obviously, I wasn't expecting it. I've recently found out that not only are you a valid Soca Artist but a Hip Hop Artist too, The Lyrics were smooth there was one of your Videos shot in the studio, there are others you've done by yourself on your phone. So aside from hip hop and soca, are there any other Genres that maybe we should be looking out for from you in terms of music.
Young Devyn: Yes reggae! I love reggae Music as well and I'm already working with a young artist who Performs Reggae and dancehall So I have a song coming out with him as well we're working on it as we speak. So yeah you never know what Music you'll grow into, one day I might wake up and say I want to be an R&B artist or a pop artist, maybe even a rock artist, who knows? I just keep throwing Curve balls and people catch it.
Garvey: So finally If you if you could share a personal message from yourself to other soca artists, the people who will read this interview and to the Soca community as well. What would that message be?
Young Devyn: I would say be true to yourself and if you love what you do then pursue it all. There are going to be a lot of people that are going to tell you that you're not on the right path and that It's not something you should do, but if you have a true love for it. It'll always come back to you no matter if you stop and just stay focused stay humble because that's going to get you farther than the next person. The next person could probably have a bigger song than you, but if you're humble and continue to work and do the groundwork you're going to be ten times better. It's just about timing. So don't ever feel like you're not good enough, and remember it's all about timing patience effort consistency and just staying strong.
Garvey: OK and for the people like me who follow you and listen to Soca artists like you all the time do you have anything you'd like to share with them.
Young Devyn: Yes, There's more music coming out so just stay tuned for more music, your definitely gonna see my face a lot as I'm planning to start dropping music in abundance. Soca, hip-hop and everything else! so your definitely going to see the full Young Devyn brand for 2017.
Garvey: Ok and last but not least where can we find you. Where can we keep an eye out for your latest music and keep up to date on what's going on and what you're doing.
Young Devyn: You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube every social media platform “At” young Devyn.
Garvey you for your time Young Devyn and we wish you the best in 2017!
Young Devyn: Thanks and thank you for the Interview!
I found this Interview extremely interesting, Young Devyn strikes me as a Motivated, very self aware individual and with a strong moral compass and a desire to succeed whilst helping others enjoy themselves and live a better life than the one that fate has dealt them. It's clear that Lyrikals help and her own mothers support has been a positive influence in Young Devyns development, giving her many of the tools necessary to balance her increasing Fame, and the ongoing development of her Talent against her day-to-day life and retain a balanced perspective. However, it is clear that Young Devyn's own Drive to express herself through Music utilises all of these tools. And her own personal Decision on how she uses what she learns and when she uses it is all of her own doing. Her interest in Multiple-Genre's makes her a thoroughly interesting Character and she is definitely an artist whose growth should be Charted as her Growth as a performer is by no means a single road with a preset destination. In closing this Interview Devyn successfully seems to be Balancing many aspects of her career that some might feel may conflict in some way. But Devyn's approach seems to be to find a way to make it work, and then simply express herself in Music. It was a great interview.