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Mo’ passion mo’ stardom

by Immanuel Matthews February 12, 2019
Mo’ passion mo’ stardom

Dev sold his watch and PS4 to record his first mixtape three years ago

“Where else should I be?” Dev asked as we sank into the oversized chairs in Montreal’s renowned MakeWay Studios—the place he chooses to spend most of his nights. “I feel like an animal in his natural habitat.”

From sleepless nights recording songs for artists, to producing beats and creating his own music, Dev can be labelled a jack-of-all-trades. For the past few years, he’s honed his craft and built connections in the music industry. And it saved his life.

It’s rare to speak to a 22-year-old who knows what they want to do with their life, but Dev’s sense of certainty and clarity about his future sets him apart. As I sat in on one of Dev’s studio sessions this past week, I realized that he isn’t your average 22-year-old, and it might just be time he let the world know.

Dev sold his nicest watch and Playstation 4 to record his first project in February 2016, but a lot has changed since the release of the unrefined Nocturnal Nights mixtape.

“I had a scholarship to play football at Champlain; I had a job at Target. But every day, the only thing that made me happy was writing bars on the two-hour bus and metro ride to school,” Dev said. “I would download different beats off of YouTube everyday and just write.”

The artist played football for a combined 10 years, sacrificing many summer nights to training and practices. But getting a chance to play the sport at the next level didn’t give him the fulfillment he expected.

Something was missing.

Then, while on lunch break one day at work, it clicked. Dev heard a Lil Uzi Vert song and right then and there, he knew what he had to do. “I got up and quit my job,” he said, chuckling, with a touch of pride in his voice. “I just knew that I was wasting my time. I had to do music.”

Dev in his natural habitat. Photo by Immanuel Matthews

Not long after, Dev dropped out of CÉGEP to pursue his dreams, right before the highly-anticipated start of the football season. Without any formal training or experience, he turned towards music and hasn’t looked back.

Though the decision was a no-brainer for the LaSalle native, his mom was not on-board with the idea. She kicked him out of the house after he refused to get a job and return to school, and his gears shifted into survival mode.

Luckily enough, good connections and even better friends landed Dev on the couch in one of his friend’s condos, in the heart of the city. Carl Uribe, who runs multiple recording studios in the spacious location, brought Dev in on one condition. He’d have to put up with the long nights of chest-thumping bass and booming vocal recordings that played out a few feet from his head, because, well, his room was a studio.

The uncomfortable situation turned out to be a blessing in disguise, one that kept Dev going through the doubts and off-days.

“I learned so much from the people that passed through Carl’s,” said Dev. “I would go to bed listening to people recording their music, and I would wake up to it too. I remember there were some beats that were so amazing they would just put me to sleep. Then I started to record and engineer for people, and I built my own clientele through the connections that I built there.”

Dev’s reputation of consistency and quality work began to spread through the city. Soon, he was recording artists every week at some of Montreal’s major studios: MakeWay, Planet, and Apollo Studios. His quality of his work improved, and so did his price—his business was booming.

Months went by, and Dev got a call from Anu Budz, the owner of MakeWay Studios in Verdun. Budz had heard about Dev and wanted him to come work at his studio. His foot was in the door.

When Dev’s mom saw the work he had put into his music, she allowed him to move back in. His clientele grew, and he continued to work on his craft, producing new beats every week, and rapping and singing new vocals every day.

Inspired by some of our generation’s hip hop pillars like Kanye, Kid Cudi and Travis Scott, it’s Dev’s creative use of effects and sounds, and his work ethic that set him apart.

Dev cites much of his growth to fellow Montreal artist and all-around talent, Marc Anthony Balian, also known as Gxlden Child, who’s been making music for years and has worked with some of Montreal’s biggest talents. Dev has high hopes for the near future, for both himself and his best friend.

“I try to use my voice as an instrument, making it sound all these different ways on different beats,” said Dev. “I really don’t think there’s anyone in the city making music even similar to mine, other than my boy Gxlden Child. It’s just us.”

Dev said they’re collaborating while each working on their solo material. “We can’t wait to drop the things we’ve been working on for so long.”

“I didn’t know I was born for this, but I know I was born for something like this,” Dev said. “It’s like a kid who plays football all his life and finally gets his dream of playing in the NFL. Nothing makes me happier than working on music everyday.”

While Dev continues to grind as an engineer and producer, behind the scenes, he prepares for his full-blown launch as an artist, planning album release dates and brainstorming music video ideas with his management. While no dates have been made public yet, just know…

Dev’s coming.

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