Devin K: A Musician Who Isn’t Afraid to Take Risks and Makes You Want to Move
Devin Kirtz (better known as Devin K) is on a euphoric high. And how could he not be? With a recently successful residency on the Vegas strip, coupled with the release of his electrifying single “Move” and fashion retailers Nordstrom and Hollister grooving to his tracks, this ukulele playing risk-taker (whose fashion style and looks might remind you of David Beckham) proves that you should never give up on your dreams.
Before heading full-time to the studio — where he is currently putting the finalizing touches on his upcoming EP — the Long Beach, CA native played professional soccer for the Red Bulls. But as much as he loved the athletic lifestyle, music kept calling his name, and so he traded the team and his cleats for a spotlight and microphone. “It’s been nothing but fun and a blessing,” he says of his career-changing choice.
Working his way into the hearts and playlists of many through a flawless combination of soul, depth, confidence and killer sun-kissed hair, Devin K shares with us his take on his newfound fame amidst bringing freshness to the mainstream sound waves.
GALO: Before you pursued your dream of music and performing, you played for the national soccer club Red Bulls. How would you say the rigorous lifestyle of playing soccer professionally prepared you for the music industry? In other words, can you tell us a little bit about how the transition from putting on cleats for practice to spending the night in the studio was like for you?
Devin K: Once I switched from amateur to professional soccer, I noticed the difference. I was like, “Okay, I’m not just playing soccer anymore. Now I gotta keep my image. Everything matters.” It’s crazy how the confidence that I got from soccer translates to music and performing on the stage — how I have to keep my confidence, and that training from soccer definitely translates to music. It’s been a crazy transition, but it is crazy how intertwined they are.
GALO: Clearly, you made a name for yourself in the world of sports, garnering attention from international mega-brands, which must have led to some fantastic networking and travel opportunities. Now you’re walking a slightly different path and have been branded as an “artist to watch” by Young Hollywood. I’m curious though, in the midst of this newfound glory, are you still involved in the world of sports in any way, and do you ever miss playing pro soccer?
DK: Yes, I’m actually still playing. I play for a team called “Cheetos.” Cheetos [the snack brand] has its own soccer team. I’m doing the occasional game with them. Soccer’s not my focus, but it’s definitely still a passion of mine and I enjoy being able to play occasionally. With that being said, I couldn’t be happier with the transition into music. No matter how much I miss soccer, it doesn’t compare to my love for music. Soccer is something I can live with, but music is something I can’t live without.
GALO: In a recent interview with Buzznet, you said that you have a soft spot for “the oldies,” which your parents exposed you to as a child. Needless to say, you were pointed to a variety of music from Stevie Wonder to The Beatles. How much of that is an influence on your creativity currently? And how do you plan to pay homage to these greats in your own music?
DK: For me, when I wanted to make the full switch to an artist and I tried to hone in on my style, I realized how much more organic I could make it. Sam Cooke (and obviously Stevie [Wonder], he has like a thousand hits) was definitely a huge influence. I’m such a big fan of less is more. Oldies helped me develop soul and who I am as a soul/pop R&B artist.
GALO: Your single “Move” has the integrity of the top songs of the last year. It’s catchy and fun, yet edgy and sexy. What inspired you to write this song?
DK: I went from a much more poppy style to where I am now, which I feel is more of who I am as an artist. “Move” is just one of those things where I wanted to know if who I am [as an artist] would make you want to move. I’m saying, “Alright, everybody, I’m here. Now my question is: do I make you want to move?”
GALO: Your sound in “Move” is definitely more R&B like Sam Smith, giving it a different vibe than “Back to LA,” which had more of an alternative pop feel to it. You told HNGN that your songs from Rendezvous are less your style and very “beachy and poppy.” Care to explain that a bit further?
DK: I’ll never ever lose that part of me. I grew up in Long Beach, CA, and I’m definitely still a beach boy. Long Beach has a different vibe, and I’m in love with the ukulele. I feel like as I was getting into a poppy sound back then, it felt very natural to be able to use a ukulele on a song.
GALO: I loved the video for “Move.” The moment when you rode on the front of the Mustang, I could only think of the rush that comes with being in love — the passion and excitement, and yes, even the sweat. How would you describe the video’s theme?
DK: You almost got it, actually. A lot of people don’t think it’s [the Mustang scene] real, but I was on that hood at like 45 miles an hour. It damn near shut production down. They said, “Don’t do it, our insurance doesn’t cover it.” The director was awesome, though. I said I wanted to do it — I jumped on the hood and we just drove away. The director knew it had to be in there. The video is really up to your interpretation. It is steady movement, but I feel like it’s saying so much.
GALO: I’m glad the Mustang scene worked out and you were unharmed. Now, the black and white motif added to the sexiness and clandestine feel of the video. Is there a meaning behind it?
DK: It goes back to my “less is more” mentality. I didn’t want any distractions. The same with the music — it moves our production along.
Video courtesy of DevinKVEVO.
GALO: Your body of work is impressive. You’ve written for Jordin Sparks and Jason Mraz (who you channel a tiny bit in your music style). Will you continue to write for other artists, or will you save the goods for yourself?
DK: Honestly, I feel like “Move” is going to be the gas in my gas tank. It’s pushing me forward. I have so many songs ready for other artists, and I feel like once my name becomes more established, then I’ll have the opportunity to start writing for other people again. I’m definitely excited to do that.
GALO: I am sure you’ve been pretty busy in the studio working on your own tracks, and I know you work with music producer Jason Mater. What kind of music can we expect on your upcoming EP? Will it be chock-full of songs fans can dance to (like “Move”), or will you lend your piano skills to some sultry ballads?
DK: I really looking forward to creating a steady line that explains who I am stylistically; however, it all starts with the track. You’re gonna get fast, you’re gonna get slow. You’re gonna get your R&B, and you’re gonna get your pop. You’re gonna get a mix of everything.
GALO: As you mentioned yourself, you also play the ukulele — not a common instrument in the industry. Have you given it a name? And will it make an appearance on your EP?
DK: You know what? It’s funny because I name everything, [for instance, I name my] cars, but I can’t believe I haven’t [named my ukulele]. The ukulele will be on there. I did a video with Shwayze — it’s on YouTube; I’m taking it down though to keep the focus on “Move” — and the ukulele is in that. So it will definitely make an appearance.
GALO: Don’t be so worried about taking the video with Shwayze down. “Move” is insane, and it definitely stands on its own. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
So, it would be an understatement to say that you’ve been busy the last few years. You’ve been selling out shows in major cities, and Nordstrom and H&M have your tracks in rotation — not to mention you had a six-month residency in Las Vegas. You seem to be unstoppable! What has been your favorite part of this three year journey so far?
DK: My favorite part has been seeing how other people believed in me. I definitely have to take a second to talk about my manager, Aaron Johnson, who is one of my best friends. He had a great job and was financially straight, but he said, “I don’t care, this is what I want to do. I’m going to manage you; I just want to help in any way I can.” He’s a one-stop shop, he does it all.
There are these fans supporting and caring and showing up. There are shows that are sold out and it’s amazing. I just love feeling supported.
GALO: Speaking of which, can you expand on your residency in Vegas? Many popular artists have graced the stage there, such as Celine Dion and Britney Spears — and more recently Mariah Carey. I’m sure it has to be exciting to perform in such a busy city, not only having the opportunity to be exposed to new audiences but being a part of a fast-growing cultural center that has been compared to the likes of NYC with the opening of the Smith Center.
DK: I had a residency at the club Hyde at the Bellagio, and the place is right in front to the fountains, so it’s like a dream come true. It’s really a surreal situation where you’re like, “What am I doing right now?” It’s nothing but fun and a blessing, and I’d definitely love to have more residencies in Vegas.
GALO: You have compared yourself to Miguel, who oozes his sensual vocals all over dance tracks and undeniably soulful love songs. Aside from him, whose music are you currently jamming to? What type of songs move and inspire you?
DK: One of my biggest inspirations is Lauryn Hill. I can really vibe off of her soul. There’s just something about her. She could sing the alphabet to me. Lauryn Hill and I have the same manager, Sandy Lyle. I never got to meet her, but every day I’m like, “Sandy, I don’t care what you do, but you don’t have to do anything more than set me up with meeting Lauryn Hill.” I’d love to get to sing with her.
GALO: If you did that, it would be a crazy duet!
DK: Yes, it would — definitely futuristic.
What do you guys think of Devin K’s single “Move?” Sound off in the comments below!