DH — Yeah, I don’t know how.
II — Its fab. [ laughs ] I’m impressed because I’m not used to it. I’m a church boy, I’m from the church. I know music like the back of my hand, but in that sense. Before Dev I wasn’t even interested in coming into this side of the music world. But now I’m in it and I see Dev, we’ll be hanging out but he’ll have a laptop out working. We’ll be waiting for a flight and he’ll be recording a track and I’m like, “How is this possible? Like, what are these programs?” I didn’t know that whole lifestyle could be so mobile.
O — But that’s new, right? Like, grand scheme you think back on all these albums and it’s like “No, the band was holed up in some studio in the forest for a month to record this.”
DH — But I do romanticize that, though. I’ve always loved that as a concept. When I see people do that I’m always like, “Ah, that’s so cool.”
O — Maybe the next one. [ laughs ] You can find one spot.
DH — Yeah, I mean I’m into it.
O — For this album, you’ve talked about how you’d find these different locations and just work with the instruments and equipment that was already there. Was that something intentional, in terms of self-imposed limitations and parameters?
DH — Yeah it was super intentional, and I love it. Like the last song on the album, this song called “Smoke” which is just guitar and voices because there was just a guitar there. [ laughs ] I would never have written it otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened.
II — Well, once again, it proves my point that Dev is behind the scenes of his own project. I also don’t understand the staff behind it because he is kind of the staff. But, it’s also new for me to see in this music world because this is normal in fashion. Just like, directionally based and just being able to be a director within like this whole, whatever your project is, and it’s cute to see how Dev does it in music because music direction is a thing obviously in band life, and as a whole, like playing live. Music direction is a thing in general in music, but music direction in production is a huge, huge thing and its cool that Dev is the one who does that and he’s not looking for the help that’s in that studio to make it happen. This is not normal for artists, or these new artists or people that aren’t as musically inclined.
O — They need the team.
II — They need that full huge budget and team to make this one person. With Dev, you really just need PA’s. You probably just need PA’s to facilitate, which is great.
O — And yet, you’re so collaborative in terms of other people’s projects. You’ve got a long list of other artists that you’ve worked with. Is that something that enabled you, because you’ve done it for other people and you’ve done it for yourself, you’re like, “I can cover all these bases.”?
DH — Yeah, I guess with me it’s like, I don’t know what the point of me doing a project would be if I had someone else helping. It’s like there would be no point in the project existing, because it’s more of just seeing what I could do.
O — Okay, yeah. Is it like if you wrote a script and handed it off to a director and it becomes their thing?
DH — Yeah, but I would be into it if that was the goal. If the goal was to see what would happen to a director with the script.
O — Right, if it was like a two-part authorship, or whatever it is.
DH — Yeah, but essentially with Blood Orange, it’s actually more. It’s a little bit of the reverse. It’s kind of more to see what would happen if I was just the director, you know? Like I’ll write a script, but I’m interested in seeing what people coming in can do, and what I can then make that into. I think people get hung up and don’t do that, because they feel like they would lose ownership. I think they don’t think about making the best thing. They get tripped out thinking. Like I play bass on my records because I’m in the room. But if there was a bassist in the room, they could play it. You know, I’m not like, “I need to play bass on this.” It’s more like, “This needs bass, there’s no one in this room,” you know?
O — I mean in a way it’s interesting that you don’t go by Dev Hynes, because that would be a little more “It’s all me, every instrument on here is me, the producer is me, the writer, everything.” But Blood Orange ends up being more of an open group, or a collective, in that way.
DH — Yeah, I love that. That’s how I want it to be. Even though it is me, it’s not actually just me. This also could be some UK shit, cause if you go back to ‘90s, it’s really UK to have a group who is one person or two people that has tons of guests all the way throughout. Its engrained in English music, Massive Attack, Prodigy, Gorillaz. It’s like a thing where you have producers where you know its these people making it, but they might sing on the song, they might not.
O — So, you mention that you make music for yourself, and you’ve spoken about how performing live isn’t necessarily something that you’ve embraced or been able to love in the way that some performers have. Would you prefer it to be a more intimate experience when you perform?
DH — Yeah, I guess I would. I kind of worked out what it was recently, because it’s kind of been hard to explain it, but I think I’ve got it now. I like performing music live, but it’s more of a twisted irony that the one music I write with no intention to perform live is actually my only real vehicle to perform live. That’s kind of what it is. It’s like I work on Blood Orange music and I’m never thinking about anything live. It’s the furthest thing from my mind. I’m trying to think of this, I don’t know world or whatever, for people to listen. But then if that is what is popular, then that’s what you perform live.