There’s a grainy, sci-fi character to the technics of DEVAULT‘s sophomore EP, Sapphire. Sonically conceptual from start to finish, Sapphire harkens back to the retro, new wave sound of the ’80s and the emergent electronic styles of the ’90s. Sapphire comprises four cuts: its eponymous title track, “Saunter,” “Accept Yourself,” and “Scar.” Each of the inclusions would easily sound track an episode of The X Files.
I wanted to create something that pays homage to the music that got me so excited about electronic music in the first place, the new wave sounds of the 80’s, the French Touch, and the rave music of the 90’s all influenced this record.
Crepuscular chord progressions tangle with tingling rhythms across the EP. Fixated beats pump away in the background, augmenting Sapphire’s spectral titillation. It’s time travel, without an H.G. Wellsian time machine to transport listeners a few decades in the reverse. Sapphire is the sequel to DEVAULT’s earlier EP, JADE, released in April.
DEVAULT expands on his vision for Sapphire in an exclusive interview with Dancing Astronaut.
DA: With Sapphire you said you wanted to pay homage to the music that first got you excited about electronic music, “new wave ‘80s sound, the French touch, the rave music of the 90s.” Once you had this idea, all that was left to do was to actually start crafting the EP. Where and how did you start?
Normally when I approach music it tends to be very spontaneous ideas flowing in the weirdest of times throughout the day. For these tapes, however, and for Sapphire specifically, I wanted to take a very premeditated approach. The visual concept, soundscape, etc. was all thought out before I even started to write the songs. I think this method helped me create a true world for each tape.
DA: You’ve got 4 tracks on this EP in total. Was there one that you enjoyed making the most or alternatively, was there one that you might have found a bit more demanding in terms of the production process? Which one was it and why?
I really enjoyed making “Accept Yourself.” Making fierce, energetic records has been so fun for me lately, as its a new place for me creatively. I normally tend to be on the melodic end, so testing myself in new waters has really revitalized my love for making music. The most demanding record was the title track, “Sapphire.” So many tiny details were involved to really make this record feel like it was out of a 80’s synth wave movie.
DA: Can you say a little bit about how the production process of Sapphire differed from that of JADE?
Sapphire is definitely a bit [more] mature compared with JADE, and I took a more simplified approach. Synth wise, I incorporated the same sounds from JADE but made everything sound a bit concise rather than [involving] a ton of textures. Sapphire was also a much more pre-thought [out] idea after learning from JADE and its world. I wanted Sapphire to feel like a full on 80’s soundtrack compared to the industrial sound of JADE.
DA: It seems that with the making of each EP artists learn something about themselves during the creative process. Was this the case for you when making Sapphire, and if so what did you take away from the experience?
Totally, Sapphire was another step in me learning what music directly translates to a live show and what doesn’t. I think the music I initially put out with, say, my Stay EP was melodic and ethereal, but wasn’t quite hitting how I wanted it to [hit] live.
JADE and Sapphire in particular were a direct channel from me to the dance community. And now, after making music on two sides of the spectrum, I’m currently working on bringing the elements together, where a strong vocal and can stand hand in hand with a strong club record.
DA: In your own words, how would you describe the sound of Sapphire and how does it fit into the sound that’s defined your catalog to date?
Sapphire, at its core, is a night drive/80’s influenced record that highlights different styles that immediately got me hooked on electronic music. It’s dark and energetic but on a continuous journey, as if you’re placed right into the middle of [a] Blade Runner/Tron film. Sound wise, its truly my version of the club music that I want to put out: something that can immediately be placed in my sets and [that] focus[es] on energy before anything [else].