DEVolution: Garage-Infused House, Take Two
For many recent converts to the sound of garage-infused house, it seems that DEVolution has only been on the scene for a short while. The U.K. duo’s success with the 2013 “Arrival” EP (Black Butter Records) put them on the map and into the hands of established Black Butter DJs like Kidnap Kid, Woz, Gorgon City and Rudimental. And “Too Much Heaven,” their collab with R&B vocalist MNEK from their recent “Transitions” EP, has further established the pair as major genre players.
But Peter Devereux and Tom Devos have been making music together since 2011 and both have plenty of industry experience. Devos was an artist signed to Spinnin Records, while Devereax was one-half of Artful Dodger, a hitmaking 2-step garage act from the late ’90s. This second act has been well-considered.
With a follow-up album already in the works and a tour on the way, Devereaux and Devos connected with DJ Times.
DJ Times: How did the two of you connect?
Tom Devos: We started firstly on a project called BL&G [BootLeggers and Gangsters] with a white label, two–sided, and it got to No. 1 on the drum-n-bass charts.
Peter Devereux: I was a bootlegger and Tom was a gangster [laughs]—no, I think we were both probably ready for a change. Tom had given up and sold all of his equipment… you need to be a certain type to work on your own with studios being lonely places. You need someone to bounce ideas off and enjoy gigs, etc. We had both been aware of each other as Southampton is a small town and, yeah, we got together four years ago.
DJ Times: How do you balance the creative energies in the studio?
Devos: I usually have an idea of something I want to do rhythmically—I’m always thinking about that consciously. We found, straight away, that we both do things that the other one doesn’t. We kind of fit together like a puzzle.
DJ Times: Speaking of the studio, what are you using these days?
Devos: We use Ableton for sequencing and various vintage synths for making our sounds, mostly classic Roland and Korg stuff. We love using UAD for plug-ins, like the Massive Passive and Ampex Tape simulator. It’s all pretty simple, though.
DJ Times: From [2011’s] “Good Love,” there’s been a subtle, but definite, shift in style. What sorts of things influenced you to push your sound?
Devereux: I’m never too far from the ’90s, that ’90s garage/2-step sound.
Devos: I’m obviously getting my influence from Pete actually revealing his records. When Pete was DJing garage in the ’90s I was listening to loads of heavy metal, Stevie Wonder and quite a lot of drum-n-bass. I think with “Good Love” it was our first entry into the commercial side of dubstep. We quickly realized there wasn’t much more to do with that sound— it was suddenly becoming something quite limited. The move back to house and garage started with the Stooshe remix [for 2012’s “Black Heart”] and that just felt very comfortable.
DJ Times: Pete, what led to you leaving Artful Dodger and why the long break between then and the creation of DEVolution?
Devereux: In a nutshell, it was due to the garage scene imploding. It had run its course and, for whatever reason, it wasn’t the scene it was. We had put the album out, we rinsed a lot of singles and it was just a natural time point of proceedings to call it a day. It was also a very, very stressful time. I think we both just wanted a break from the pressures that come with it all.
DJ Times: In your mind, how has garage evolved from 2000 to 2014?
Devos: Well, garage was predominately 2-step earlier on. I think people have pushed for 2-step to sort of come back, but I don’t think it will take off now in the way it did originally.
Devereux: It was quite crew-based, the old 2-step scene, like So Solid Crew— very MC-based. Now there are MCs coming through on records, such as Scrufizzer, so that’s interesting.
DJ Times: If you had a crystal ball, what would the electronic scene look like in 2024?
Devereux: [Laughs] I think it would be a stadium gig headlined by DEVolution, everyone watching it on their mobile phones, and there will be no one there— we will be playing to a place full of avatars.