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All About "Alive"

On Feb. 4, I released my second song, “Alive.” In this post, I’m going to unpack what the lyrics are about and how this release came to fruition.


I wrote “Alive” in late September, shortly after settling into my new apartment in Toronto. I would love to say this song’s story is true in a literal sense, but it’s not. I did not get swept off my feet by some lovely stranger who put the colour back into my world.


I think the lyrics came from a place of me being really happy and excited about everything happening at that time. “July” was doing really well in terms of streams (far better than I ever expected it to), I was feeling good about my decision to move, and I was experiencing a real sense of freedom for the first time. I felt like I was really coming into my own as an artist and as a young woman. I suppose Toronto was the subject of my affection in this song and “Alive” is my love letter to her. I really did feel an energy shift when I moved here, which sounds corny, but it’s honest. This city symbolizes my move to becoming a self-assured artist.


The line “I planted my flowers in gasoline” was actually written by my good friend Alexis Shouli. She shared this concept with me a few years ago, and I’ve always loved it. I asked Alexis if I could use it for this song and she was kind enough to give me the okay. Another behind-the-scenes piece of info: “been travelling through an eternity” was the last line that was written for this song. I called my friend Chris Yamez to help me out with the second verse because it was giving me hell, and he came up with it. After that, I felt like the lyrics for “Alive” on the whole painted a good picture of the newfound confidence I’d been feeling.


I wanted to channel this confidence in the cover art for “Alive,” so I reached out to a talented local photographer (Frank) and we made some magic happen. We actually did TWO shoots, because I forgot to smile the first time around. The photos from the first shoot were beautiful, because Frank is incapable of producing anything else, but I thought I looked like I had a stick up my ass. So, I scheduled another shoot with Frank and brought my mom this time around. My mom bought three stunning bouquets for us to play with during the shoot. She also went ahead and bought me some mini tequila shots to ease my nerves. Frank was very patient with our antics and, needless to say, we got the pics we needed.


I had Zoom sessions with my producer, Michael Goldchain, to work on the production of “Alive.” I provided him with a scratch demo that I had “produced” in Logic. I’m using the word “produced” lightly here because this demo was very basic, but it was still exciting for me to be trying new things and breaking new barriers as an artist. I absolutely love watching Michael work on Ableton and I think I’m slowly gaining wherewithal about production via osmosis. Once we banged out a vibe for “Alive,” I reached out to my go-to guitar guy, Nolan Hubbard, to ask him if he would record some guitar over the demo we had. I gave Nolan very little instruction about what to play, and it’s like he instinctively knew exactly what to do to take the demo further. He sent me back multiple guitar tracks – some plucky, some more chord-driven – and they totally brought “Alive” to life.


We were pretty much set for release in November, but at that point it didn’t make sense to release “Alive” since we were nearing the holidays. While we were sitting on it, I decided to rerecord the vocals. I knew I could do better. I spoke to my vocal coach (Valerie) to get some tips for recording, and the biggest piece of advice she gave me was to “have fun.” So, in this second round of recording, I tried to be less focused on my pitch and more focused on vibing with the song and conjuring the feelings that sparked the lyrics in the first place. It seems like such a simple thing, but I actually had a hard time getting out of my head and into the music. I think it will get easier with time and practice.


In the new year, I got “Alive” mastered by James Auwarter, reached out to my talented friend Kiersay to make some cool graphics, and set the release date for February 4th. And people SHOWED UP for “Alive” in a huge way. I’m continuously blown out of the water by the kindness of strangers and the amount of support people are willing to give.


My biggest goal for "Alive" was for it to get on a Spotify editorial playlist (a playlist which is curated by Spotify itself), and I’m so happy to say that it got added to five. MADNESS I TELL YOU!!! This release has been so fun and SO EXCITING, and it just makes me all the more titillated for what’s to come.


Thank you for reading this and for supporting me in my dreams!!!!


Talk soon,


Devon

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