Interview: Devan Boomen

After releasing his first record, the lo-fi love letter to Ottawa, Capital Girls, in July 2012, Devan Boomen decided to create an EP that makes you want to dance your face off.  I had the pleasure of experiencing this impulse when he debuted tracks from Find Love EP by Devan Boomen live at The Ossington for Dragnet Magazine’s 2 year anniversary party. Since then he’s been sought after by Toronto’s top promoters who are eager to indulge in his unique synth pop style. Spindle sat down with Boomen to discuss his desire to Find Love.

The last project you did was the lo-fi nostalgic Capital Girls— now we have Find Love, an upbeat dance EP. What influenced you to make this record that seems to be so unique from your last project?

The idea for the EP really started after I saw Nina Kraviz play here in Toronto last May. I remember coming home that night thinking “I want to make a house record.” I’m a big fan of electronic music, and there is nothing better than an electronic music crowd. It’s so communal; nobody really pushes you around when you’re trying to dance or tries to top you with their knowledge on who’s playing.  Everyone is just there to do their own thing and not show off. I like that humble attitude. It makes seeing a show much more enjoyable because you don’t feel the need to push your way up to the front of the stage to gawk at whoever happens to be playing records.

The EP isn’t necessarily an attempt to emulate that feeling, but more of a response to it. I thought about putting it out under a different name or pseudonym because it’s quite separate from Capital Girls, but that just didn’t feel right to me – it was still me, as Devan Boomen, going into my studio to work on music influenced by the things I love, and I wanted to share that with people who like my music.

The samples on this EP are very specific to R&B. What makes you turn toward older samples versus more modern songs?

They just worked really well with what I was trying to make. I had been listening to a lot of music coming out on [Axel Boman’s label] Studio Barnhus, and a lot of Todd Terje edits, and that dusty groove sound just clicked with the melodies that I was playing around with. That, and R&B singers do a much better job of belting it out than I can [laughs].

You also DJ as Devan Boomen. Did that happen first or have you always been making music? Do you find being a DJ has influenced the type of music you decided to make?

Writing and making music came first – I started recording music with my sister back in about 2002, and from there I started to work on my own stuff.  Little bedroom projects, and that. I’d burn CDs and pass them out to my pals.

Capital Girls was the first “proper” release, I guess you could say, where I shared my music with a wider audience over the net and tried to be a bit more serious about it.

I think that probably the DJ side of me has an influence over the stuff that I make, because I tend to DJ to crowds who share a lot in common with me and I want to make music that they can dance to. I’ve never played my own stuff in a DJ set, though. That would make me feel awkward just standing there while my shit was playing really loud over a sound system.

The EP is called Find Love.  Is that a message that resonates with you? Have you found love and is that something you want for others?

Kind of like how Capital Girls was a love letter to the city of Ottawa, I think that Find Love came from me finally learning how to enjoy being in Toronto. I had a tough time when I first moved here because it was such a departure from what I was used to, and over the last year I’ve learned to embrace and understand it. The music on the EP reflects that joyous attitude, I think. Almost like a 20-minute long sigh of relief.

I think “find love” is certainly a message that can’t be expressed enough. And I don’t even mean it in the romantic sense, because I’m not all that great at writing love songs. It’s more about finding a love for your surroundings and your contemporary moment, I guess. When you find it – like a deep appreciation for the place you’re in and the people you’re with – that’s when your mind is the most clear and you have the best understanding of who you are. It’s a wonderful feeling.

How long have you been working on this record. How did you find the process?

The sessions for the EP were done over the summer of 2012 in between cigarettes and feeling really hot in my non-airconditioned apartment. And then in February I wrote “Sremska” after a trip I took to Belgrade. The process was certainly a lot different than the last record in that I was using different synths, plugins, and software. A big learning curve for sure, but I also learned techniques that will carry forward on future stuff that I try. It was refreshing.

What’s your favourite track and why?

I’ve always been super self-conscious about my music, so it’s not really about what my favourite track is. It’s moreso about favourite keyboard sounds or production methods for me – just whatever I think sounds nice.

Find Love EP by Devan Boomen can be downloaded for free off of his SoundCloud page:

Words & Image: Stephanie Coffey