DEVORA on the role of Nine Inch Nails in her “dark Wild West world”
DEVORA may have packed up her belongings and uprooted herself from the Southwestern desert to pursue a music career in Los Angeles, but a love of its eerie, winding roads, pitch-black skies and mysterious lore came along with her for the journey. Not only can you hear DEVORA's connection to the region in the sparse and twangy moments in her songs, but it also threads through the visual aspects of her sonic offerings.
The video for the single “Body Bag,” for instance, is a surreal, desert-staged trip to the center of her mind that’s laden with skulls and shady characters decked out in Western wear while DEVORA—clad in the same garb—wields a shovel and a pickax. What she’s got to say in the song’s chorus is no less intense: “I wanna put you in a body bag/Ride off into the sunset/How’s that for a comeback?” Her message is clear—DEVORA has pushed through some angst and isn’t looking to waste any more time.
In the “Fist Fight” video, she trades the desert for the streets of Los Angeles, where she cruises in a slick vintage muscle car delivering another fierce, take-no-prisoners message: “I’m ready for a fistfight/Hit you with a left, right/Swingin’ with my eyes wide open.”
Throughout her Outlaw EP, swaggering beats push the songs forward while precise guitar and bass riffs add a ferocious layer of rock. Using music as a go-to for comfort during her younger years when she felt like she didn’t fit in has paid off. Now, DEVORA’s using it to develop her own distinct sound.
Congratulations on your recently released EP. Did you have any specific goals while you were writing and recording Outlaw?
I had been sitting on this collection of stories, poems and songs for years. The first part of the process was getting them all out into musical form. Once that part was realized, they took their final shape.
That had to feel great.
I was just so ecstatic about it. After that, we started working on the visual side of everything, which is very important for this project, being that it takes place in the psychedelic Wild West. We started working on all that stuff, and just seeing the two come together and seeing it all come to fruition has been amazing.
What’s the songwriting process like for you?
I work with a couple of really talented producers in New York. Their names are Cass Dillon and Alex Aldi. The process varies. For some songs, I brought in the concepts and the lyrics. With other songs, the creative energy sparked while we were in the studio. Those came about with us being together, so it all varies. For the most part, though, it’s stuff that had been written for a while.
You left the Southwest for Los Angeles specifically to pursue a career in music. When did you realize that you were meant to be a musician?
I’ve been singing and writing songs since I was literally a baby, since I could talk. I grew up in a little Arizona town, and there wasn’t much to do, especially in the summers when I didn’t have school. I would just write songs and immerse myself in that. It would be me walking around the desert—there were literally no houses around us—and writing and making up songs.
I always knew, since I was a kid, that music was in my blood and [that] this is what I wanted to do. My father is a really amazing songwriter and a singer as well. So, he inspired me from a young age to make music.
Did you have a plan solidified when you hit L.A., or did you wing it?
No, I didn’t. I really just wanted to dive in. Luckily, my parents were very supportive and told me to go for it. I was super young, and L.A. is a big, scary place coming from a small town. There was definitely some culture shock.
Did you jump into playing live shows and build an audience there?
Actually, the way I started was by writing for other people. I was working with some other writers at the time, just writing songs to generate income and make money while still working on my stuff and building that up and trying to find producers and stuff like that.
You didn’t go the YouTube route, right off the bat, like many performers these days?
I put out a little bit that way here and there but not much until recently since I signed with [Tiger Tone Records].
“Outlaw pop” is the term you coined to describe your music. Obviously, that conjures up the raucousness of the outlaw country genre. What does outlaw pop mean to you, and where did that come from?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of industrial music. That was my scene. I also loved to listen to pop punk and emo—all that stuff. I was also very heavily into country music. I liked darker music a lot, from bands like Fields Of The Nephilim to Johnny Cash. A lot of country artists resonated with me, and their stories just seemed to make them the original outlaws. I always wanted to fuse the two—my love of darker electronic music like Nine Inch Nails with the darker country stuff.
“Body Bag,” like the other tracks on the release, embodies the spirit of someone who’s fought through some personal shit and toughened up because of it. Was creating this song and video empowering for you?
Yes, it really helped me close a dark chapter I was going through when I was writing the song, singing it and making the video for it. Doing all of that was part of the process of moving through it, and it was a very cathartic experience to get it all out into song form. I definitely express certain emotions through music, like anger [and] frustration. I really get those out in musical form, and it’s saved me from being arrested.
Do you like sharing those personal battles, and outcomes, to show other people that they aren’t alone in dark times?
That is a huge part of it. In my teen years, whenever I was going through something, I would turn to music. That’s what got me through. If I’m able to do that for somebody that’s experiencing these emotions or similar, that’s great.
Are there any country artists you’d like to collaborate with?
Yes, the dream would be to fuse my style with theirs, to bring my dark edge to whatever they’re doing, even if it’s the polar opposite. I think it’d be awesome to do something with Chris Stapleton or Miranda Lambert. One of the up-and-comers would be nice too, like Tyler Childers. It would be amazing to work with him. He has a darker singer-songwriter edge.
Are you planning to tour now that the EP is out?
We are starting to look at some dates, maybe starting with the L.A. area, possibly this fall. I’m so excited that after so much uncertainty, shows are coming back.
What do you want listeners to take away from Outlaw?
I hope that people are able to immerse themselves in the music in the way that I intended, which is really like a movie. I’m inspired by directors like Alejandro Jodorowsky. I hope that they take it as an experience, like a visceral experience. I want them to get into this dark Wild West world with me and come along for the ride and escape whatever they’re going through. I want this EP to feel like a visual, cinematic experience.