Interview with Devin James Fry


We chat with Denver-based artist Devin James Fry, featured recently with the tracks “Purple Glue” and “No Hope.”

Your two new singles, “Purple Glue” and “No Hope,” present inventively dark soundscapes, with shades of darkwave, post-punk, and electronica. The latter pursues a hip-hop mold, featuring OTEM RELLIK and Denver-based vocalist NAT TATE. How did this collaboration arise?

Versions of No Hope have been kicking around my mind for a decade. Having tried unsuccessfully to turn it into a Name Sayers song a few times, I finally realized the hook just wanted to be a hook. For a weird rap song. No sense forcing it to be anything else.

I approached Otem Rellik respectfully and without a whole lot of explanation. I just dropped it his way, told him how much I admire him and that I thought we might have a bit in common, and then waited. Four months passed. He finally responded with these thoughtful, immaculately recorded verses that absolutely deliver on what one might expect from having listened to his records. It’s like Otem was able to finish this thought I was only able to start forming. And he did it in his grand, tragic, inimitable Otem Rellik style.

He and Nat Tate have both been absolute Colorado treasures for years, both of them low key icons of the Denver scene, and it’s a super special moment to be able to bring them together on one track like this.

You built “an analog horror SFX generator” for the project, dubbed the “Jitter Getter.” Is this the first SFX generator or creative tool/instrument you’ve crafted for a music project?

Not the first, I’m afraid. I once made a musical tanging quoit – a beekeeper’s tool for subduing swarms – by warming a brass cymbal, lightly sticking honeycomb to it, then leaving it immersed in a bucket of my urine while I went on tour for ten days. I returned to a revolting scene, but when I hosed the thing off in the yard and scrubbed away what remained of the wax, I was pleased to see that a honeycomb pattern was etched on the brass. I play this instrument by holding it in one hand and striking it in various ways with the other. You can hear the tanging quoit on the Name Sayers song “Upbringing”.


Producer Grant Eppley contributed his talents throughout. How and when did you and Grant start working together?

I mixed No Hope, and Grant brilliantly mixed Purple Glue, including that gauzy autotuned intro I am totally in love with. I first met Grant Eppley in the studio with Name Sayers. Our bassist Grant Himmler approached him last year about working with the band and at this point, it’s gone so well that we pretty much consider him a fifth member of the band. At least for the studio work we do together. Maybe we can convince him to come on tour with us someday too. Ha! And even though he’s quite busy, he agreed to work with me on this solo project. He’s an amazing studio ally as well as just a lovely person to hang out with.

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?

It all starts with humming for me. Commit to following your ear and humming for a while and you’ll just hum words into being. Do it with a guitar or piano nearby and a song can start to form. Then you just have to start pursuing ideas and organizing all the pieces.

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

I’m collaborating with the strikingly beautiful Brooklyn rapper Chris Conde right now, so I’ve been immersed in their stuff lately. Really the whole Fake Four scene is super creative and makes for great exploring.

As we speak I have Mark Korven’s soundtrack to The Lighthouse on the turntable. Sacred Bones just put it out on gold vinyl and god, what an absolute ripper.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

I would love to create something for Karin Dreijer of The Knife/Fever Ray someday. I’m endlessly inspired by their work and their attitude in general. Karin Dreijer strikes me as a supreme being.

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

I don’t get a lot of enduring satisfaction from it, honestly. I’m more of the restless type. I do like blissing out or shaking my ass to something I’ve made, though. That’s fun. For a while. Then I move on to the next thing.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

I have no idea where to begin. We live in a late capitalist nightmare. Every realm of American life is distorted by money and ruled by ignorant, mostly religious, bigots. It’s a little hard to separate the music industry from the rest of life, and I’m an outsider to it anyway. What I try to do is make compelling work to sublimate my thoughts and retain my sanity. That’s my personal challenge.

What’s upcoming for the project?

My solo record Retrellion comes out later this year, and Name Sayers has a record coming along next year that we’re all quite proud of. It’ll be called Joyboys In The Grindhouse. I’m super excited for both.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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