Artist In Focus: DVRZ
Being a full-time student in college is hard enough, which makes the musical pursuits of Chapman senior Evan DeVries all the more impressive. Hailing from Edmonds, Washington, DeVries makes up the one-man band DVRZ and lends his vocals to the electronic act Blün. Starting his musical career early with a position in school bands, DeVries knew he wanted to perform his own songs as a musician when he saw his brother’s band, Polar Animation, play in high school; “they were the coolest guys at the time.” Sustaining his lifelong infatuation with music, Chapman proved to be an essential creative environment, as it’s proven to be “a unique place to collaborate with other artists,” where DeVries can get “a push in the direction [he] needs from friends and other musicians when [he’s] stuck.” Gradually building steam recording and performing, most notably with some recent intimate performances while abroad in Prague, a lifetime of hard work and interest have paid off with the official release of the first DVRZ EP, ADULTHOOD, a charming four-track affair featuring a deft blend of acoustic singer/songwriter sensibilities, hip hop vocal stylings, and electronic elements that add a sense of depth.
Photo Credit: Patrick McHugh
What immediately strikes the listener is the fierce independence of the project. From each song’s start as a “sketch on a computer” or a “phone note for later” to the final stages of mixing, DeVries maintains full creative control. Recorded and mixed while in Prague, ADULTHOOD is remarkably polished and professional, with guitars, vocal layers, and a variety of synth sounds that eschew the decidedly lo-fi nature of many independent bedroom projects. Having “always wanted to be perceived as authentic and meaningful through music,” DVRZ resolutely achieves this goal on ADULTHOOD, as relatable tales of unrequited love (although he assures us that he has “a great girlfriend”) and personal reflection abound. Things come to a head on the eponymous highlight “Adulthood,” which details DeVries’ struggle to find a voice and pursue his dreams.
“A compressed version of the last four years of [his] life,” as DeVries admits, “entering college was tough for me because it felt like I was abandoning my passion for music (I had a successful band in high school that played throughout Seattle) to become a professional.” Although DeVries still battles the debate between passion and profession, it’s allowed him to pull from “emotionally powerful experiences” to mold and inspire his artistic output.
Photo Credit: Cristian Jaramillo
As we here at Crossfader found particularly interesting, the DVRZ brand isn’t solely confined to recording and performing; DVRZ’s website also features a significant music journalism section. “I love writing and sharing a good story,” DeVries told us, “the DVRZ music journalism started as a way for me to connect with artists I found cool.” Tying in nicely with his own musical pursuits, interviewing other burgeoning artists taught DeVries the importance of consistency and sticking to your guns, with “seeing artists that have very different paths share common traits” being particularly powerful. DVRZ plans to continue producing music journalism alongside recordings.
Photo Credit: Patrick McHugh
DVRZ is set to release another EP by the end of 2016, and DeVries intends to work “on the business side of music until DVRZ is self-sustaining.” If all goes to plan, DVRZ will play an increasing amount of live shows, nailing down a venue that fits his brand of music (DVRZ tends to get billed on the “‘guy with an acoustic’ side of the performance spectrum” despite the more dance-oriented elements necessitating louder dynamics). In the long term, DVRZ would “explode with personal fulfillment” if the act could reach “10,000 people that felt connected to the music” and if there are “a couple critics celebrating the musicality.” As you keep your eyes and ears tuned for the next DVRZ release, DeVries recommends you check out Jack Garratt, SPZRKY, D’Angelo, or fellow Chapman artist Big Lou (Luis Chavez). You can stream ADULTHOOD on Spotify or Soundcloud and keep up with DVRZ on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.