Blended Exclusive: Devin Hayes Talks About His Idols and Touring with Jake Miller
BY WILL HEFFERNAN
Devin Hayes is an up and coming artist that has competed on the ABC show Boy Band. Since then, Hayes has released a full length debut album called The Mind’s Diary. Right now, Hayes is opening for Jake Miller on his Hit and Run tour that ends on May 26th in Raleigh, NC. Blended had the chance to interview Devin Hayes before his show in Boston, MA.
How did you get into music?
I got into music starting out in school plays, fourth grade. I always had this vision of being in front of a crowd and being on stage and performing 'cause my dad grew up a rock star basically. He had a band and everything and I looked up to him and I was like "man I wanna do what my dad is doing." So I started out in fourth grade in school plays all the way up to freshman year. One time I was Troy Bolton in High School Musical and that was like my dream to be him because I love High School Musical and everything. My dad threw me into guitar lessons because he wanted to see if I could do it and I started liking it, I didn't even want to at first, but he was like just do it and I was like ok why not.
You were on the show Boy Band on ABC, what was that experience like?
OMG, it was a life-changing experience for sure. Before the show I kind of gave up on myself and I wasn't confident in myself or anything -- I was about to go to college. One of the scouts hit me up for the show and I did some auditions and the next thing I knew, I was flying out to L.A. to do the show. It was the best experience of my life because it kind of restored a lot more confidence and hope in myself. Getting so far into the show, episode eight out of ten, opened up so many more opportunities, so many more connections, just kind of built myself as a person. I learned so many things while I was out there for the eight weeks. Even though I didn't win, I like to take failure as something I can learn from.
With so many talent shows on television, what advice would you give to those that want to stand out on a competition show?
Basically, whenever you're in front of any camera in general, whether it's an interview right now or anything, a TV show or something, it's always important to just be yourself. Try not to be something you're not. People really like to connect with other genuine people because people enjoy who they connect with, who they relate to. If you're going to put on some perfect image, something that you're not, then people aren't really going to feel you out or connect with you. I really feel like it's a lot about the connection and, of course, about the talent but I feel like a lot of personality and a lot of charisma.
Who are some of your idols?
I grew up idolizing Justin Bieber. That's all I wanted to be. I got the Bieber hair and I got the skinny jeans, high tops, Supra shoes, whatever it was I looked up to this kid. I was like, "man, this guy is like something I wanna be." He's making dope music, he's getting a lot of fame. I thought "oh this is so cool." I was so caught up in the idea and watching videos of him selling out crowds at how young he was, it was very inspiring to me. He pushed more of my charisma and fashion side, but I feel like the person who pushed more of my music side was Ed Sheeran. I’m obsessed with his talent in writing and his true humbleness in this industry.
So, I feel like a little mix of JB and Ed Sheeran together. When it comes to music style I really like Bazzi, Jake Miller...I love Jake Miller's album and now I'm on tour with him, so I hear his songs every day. I'm influenced by a lot of people, but right now I'm trying to find myself and trying to find my own little niche.
You've done musicals, so what is the difference between performing in a musical and singing on stage as an artist?
When it comes to theater, you really have to put on more of an act because you have to act your character or what not, that's something I kind of got annoyed with because I wanted to be myself. Then you have to sing how the instructor wants to sing, what songs you have to sing. There's so much more freedom to be a solo artist and be on stage by yourself.
You just released your music video for "You," what was the process like and what's the overall message?
I flew out to L.A. just because I wanted to get out of the house too, but it was mostly for the music video. It was really perfect how it lined up. The three days that we shot it, well the two days we shot the "sad" scenes it was rainy and that was perfect. We were out there for probably six or seven hours doing scenes, sitting in a wet alley with water flowing everywhere. We were soaking wet, we were shivering, but we did it for the shot anyways.
What really helped me was Jillian. She is a very talented actress and she taught me how to bring out more emotion in myself, how to connect with the past and what I went through and kind of show that and bring that out in the video, which was very helpful. My goal was to almost recreate what I went through so maybe people could connect with it and feel the same way. I thought the cliff shots were super dope. We went to Malibu, that was super cool and I feel like it looked really dreamy and inspirational and bright compared to the sad shots.
Do you have a favorite song to perform on this tour?
Oh yeah, for sure. My favorite song to perform is "I Don’t Need You," off my album The Mind's Diary, which just came out, go check it out. But yeah, "I Don’t Need You," it's the most hyped, it's the song that I end with and everybody jumps along to it. It's so fun to see everybody put their hands up in the air and jump along and everything. I love the song too because it's like building more confidence in myself. It was hard to get over my ex-girlfriend, really really hard but finally I got over it and I think to myself, I don't need you, like I'm cool, I'm fine on my own and I put that into a little song.
The tour is almost done, what are some favorite moments on tour for you?
Probably, I don't want to single out any cities because I don't want other cities to be like "oh we weren't good enough," but the last few days have been absolutely insane with the crowd reaction. My favorite part of the tour is when the crowd doesn't care, most of these people don't know who I am because I'm opening up for Jake and, of course I have my fans here too, but this is Jake's demographic and it's really cool to see them enjoy my stuff as well and to open themselves up to my music. It gives me butterflies every time I perform "I Don't Need You," because people going crazy, screaming "ahhh" and I'm dancing around are loving it. It's just all around a great connection and a great feel with the crowd.
Do you have any pre-show rituals you do before going on stage?
I do this annoying thing where I go like "brrrrr!" I do lip trills, I'm like spitting everywhere and he's (Luke) like always telling me to shut up and I start dancing a little bit. I always try to loosen up and stuff, drink a lot of water, but not try too much to think about. Just try to think about how it's another performance, you know what you're doing, and just go out there and do you.
What has it been like touring with Jake Miller?
He tweeted out "hey I’m going on tour, I’m still looking for openers" and I quoted the tweet and I said "hey bro" with a peace sign. Next thing you know he likes the tweet and I was like "oh s**t he saw that." So I messaged him and told him my information, told him about the show I just came off of and what I could do for the tour and what not and all he texted back was "let's make it happen." Next thing you know I'm on the call with his tour manager and we're discussing everything and we got a great agreement.
First time I met him was when I actually went out to L.A. for the music video and I went over to his house and he's just a genuine person and a super cool person. I kind of expected that, but I didn't really think of how chill he'd actually be. I told him how good I was at ping pong when I saw his ping pong table and he said, "nah bro, you haven't played me." So I played a match and he killed me 21 – 6. It was so hard, this man is a ping pong legend. So that's how my first time meeting Jake went. Dude's super dope. He's one of my inspirations, he's teaching me so much already about the music industry and what to watch out for. I'm actually moving to L.A. in June, about ten minutes down the road from Jake so I'm sure we'll be doing a lot of collaborating.
Lead Image Credit: Lia Crumpton / Instagram