Lightspeed Champion is the new alias of Devonte 'Dev' Hynes, formerly of defunct dance-thrashers Test-Icicles. Dev just recorded an album with Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis which, he says, sounds like "losing your virginity for the fifth time." His record company touts him as a mad genius with an extraterrestrial look, but he's really a modest, down-to-earth dude who draws comics, geeks out about hip-hop, is allergic to everything, and might be the unlikeliest star of country music ever.
You're American but you're also a bit English. What's the story there?
I'm Houston born but Essex bred. I tend to spend a lot of time Stateside of late.
You've said that your new album is worthy of a Grammy. How would do you describe it to those who havent heard it?
It's like Gram Parsons dating Anne and Nancy Wilson whilst riding a solo over a nation's dreams.
You went all the way to Nebraska to record it. What are the main differences between east London and Omaha?
Well, I'd look out the window in Omaha and see blue skies and four feet of snow. I look out the window in Dalston and I see (depending on the time of day) prostitutes crying or Turkish men spitting.
I'm sure Omaha's nightlife doesn't compare to London's. What did you do in the evenings?
Wikipedia! I was looking at the hip-hop rivalries on Wikipedia and they had a lot of mistakes mainly to do with the 2Pac / Biggie rivalry and the Eminem / Benzino beef. So I spent an hour or so writing my own paragraphs on those subjects, and then I noticed a few other mistakes, so corrected those too ... I was bored and it was late. Actually, I don't think it was that late.
Let's talk about Mike Mogis. While you were working with him, could you figure out why he is so highly regarded?
Yeah, he's a genius but doesn't seem to know it. He'd be, like, shy or embarrassed to play me pedal steel parts and I'd be like, "Dawg, just lay that shit down and redo everything I've done." But he wouldn't, so you can still hear how bad at guitar I am on the record.
So I hear there's a comic coming out with the record. What's it about?
When I was younger I used to be able to concentrate before going to bed and enter the same dreamworld every night in my sleep. So the story and theme kind of stem from that. It's eventually (hopefully) going to be graphic novel. Artistically it's based on Tomine's work. He's my biggest drawing influence. It's also inspired by my friend Ferry from the Semifinalists. His art blows my mind constantly.
On your blog you talk about suffering from terrible stomach cramps. Are you feeling better?
Actually right now I'm not feeling too good. It's been constant ever since I was around 13. I had all the tests and everything. I pretty much missed my last year of school because of it. I've been on all the medications, but as of now in my life I have chosen not to be on anything. The last stuff I was on made me have horrible mood swings and I managed to convince myself I was growing man-boobs. I have a lot of allergies and many foods just don't really sit. I can't even have fizzy drinks let alone alcohol. There have been times I've indulged in alcohol, and it's not pretty, literally.
When did you feel proudest?
When Crossfire made skatedecks of my old band (Test-Icicles) that was so crazy. I used to dream of having like a custom board or a graphic on a deck!
What do you wish you didn't do, but do anyway?
Moan. I'm saying sorry right now to everyone I moan to.
What do you detest?
My iPod battery dying just before stepping on a night bus.
OK. Thanks Dev.
* Listen to tracks from the new Lightspeed Champion album here.