sport. Wolf (real name Devin Reed) is a Hazel Park native currently residing in Grand Rapids, MI. I originally heard his music in the form of a (currently) unreleased collaboration with Norty. The production was understated yet confident and I definitely wanted to hear more. After playing through a short batch of beats that Devin sent my way, the track Foray jumped out at me as a well crafted chill-hop tune that was perfect to showcase for this weeks edition of our Artist Spotlight series. Devin was also kind enough to give an insightful interview, detailing his influences, and how music aids him in is struggle with anxiety and chronic depression.
MB: Can you give an introduction on how you got started making music, and what is your current creative process?
SW: My name is Devin Reed and I am 22 years old. I grew up in and around Detroit, but spent most of my formative years in Hazel Park, Michigan. I was lucky that my parents have always had good taste in music and are quite young. I grew up around a lot of Detroit DJ’s and artist (including my father), going to stuff life C-POP, and just hanging around a great group of really creative folks. I spent a lot of time with my father’s record collection and his Technique 1200’s, so I got into spinning records early and would occasionally DJ school events; which I would never do again (laughs). Hazel Park has a great music community, so I was involved in a lot of different bands and projects growing up. I got an MPC 500 when that first came out, and started sampling records. My mother then moved to L.A., so I also spent a lot of time there and was further influenced by everything out west. I took a musical hiatus for about 4 years, lived abroad for a year, and then started creating again after a conversation with YHS’s very own Norty, who I met through mutual friends. So for the past two years I’ve dove head first back into this wild world.
My creation process is pretty sporadic; all over the place really. Which is good and bad, because when I need to get non-musical work done, say for school, I find the urge to create music the strongest. As far as the actual creation of sounds, a computer and a midi controller are my go to tools, although I use a lot of lo-fi recordings of analog instruments and voices for textures. I’m rebuilding a late 50’s reel-to-reel player which I’m going to start running tracks in and out of, which I’m super stoked about. I love that sort of cross creation, merging the analog with the digital and back again.
MB: What was the motivation and story behind your latest single "Foray"?
SW: This is going to get real for a second, so bear with me (laughs). This single came about, as most of my music does, from an emotionally charged place. I had re-kindled a relationship with someone recently, who at one point meant a lot to me, and in a way still does. But as these things go, it sort of dissipated and left me feeling like shit. This track was the end cap to all of that; to be cliche, a closure. I racked my brain, and went through a timeline of memories and emotions and just kind of let it out; translating what I felt into sound. I find my greatest influences as an artist to be my relationships with women, my peers, and my struggle with mental illness.
MB: Could you give a little more insight into your struggle with mental illness?
SW: Absolutely. I suffer from chronic depression, anxiety and OCD. I’ve always found music, both in listening and creation, to be a great source of relief. I believe certain aspects of the creative process to be especially important, as it allows me to channel and focus my energy in expressing those thoughts and feelings that would otherwise lead me into the mental fits that are a part of my everyday experience. I live knowing that the challenges I face certainly shape how I operate and conduct myself, and this is what ultimately shapes my music. What’s important is making that connection of self-realization, crossing that bridge and taking a dip into the wilder parts of yourself, that allows for the relief of self. This function of the creative process, is especially beautiful.
MB: Does your environment influence your music at all?
I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Heritage Hill neighborhood. I am influenced every single day by this area, for better or for worse. Whether it’s 2am trips to the lakeshore, driving through the hilly country side north east of town, checking out architecture, or meeting new people at the local underground venue.
MB: What made you want to submit your music to Young Heavy Souls?
Being friends with Norty and meeting other YHS folks at concerts gave me insight into the label and I just really liked everybody I was meeting and thought how I’d love to be involved.
MB: Could you name a couple artists that you’re really into right now?
Currently: Yung Hurn, DJ JD Sports, Drae Da Skimask, DJ Sacred, The Smiths, Mall Grab, SloSlyLove and Thievery Corporation.
MB: Is there anything coming up that you want to promote? Shows, releases, videos etc?
I just want to give shouts to YHS for putting me on, Yung Hurn and the Live From Earth family for killing it out in Vienna and Berlin, and of course to all the local GR artist holding it down as well as big ups to Norty for the constant encouragement over the years.
Be sure to follow sport. Wolf on Soundcloud and stay tuned for more music in our YHS Artist Spotlight series.
- Words by Matt Black