Devon James releases his debut album ‘Love Reach’
After a lifetime spent in and around the music industry, soaking up the influences of legends across genres and flexing his musical muscles in all corners of the dance world, Devon James released his debut album this April.
Love Reach is a nine-track narrative of self-discovery told through catchy disco hooks, self-assured indie dance grooves, and swinging house rhythms. Sonically, it synthesizes a decade’s worth of dance floor elation, global travel, love, heartbreak, and lessons learned into one psychedelic story—his story.
James earned his musical education from his family. His grandfather was a celebrated tuba player in nationally recognized Dixie Jazz bands, and his father is the keyboardist and manager of Jamaican ska legends The Skatalites. He learned from them how to control a crowd, tour the world, and maintain a creative spirit.
As a teenager, he learned to DJ and started throwing parties in college. Those parties evolved into RVDIOVCTIVE; the touring event brand James and his collaborators have brought from New York City to Miami, Boston, San Francisco, and beyond.
RVDIOVCTIVE keeps the community at its core, working closely with local musicians and visual artists to create a liberating, energizing, empowering space wherever it blooms. In celebration of its recent 10-year anniversary, James launched Rvdiovctive as an independent label with a compilation that put many of those friends and collaborators together on one release.
This, of course, is where Love Reach finds its home.
“My intention [with the album] is to just say something different—nothing any better, nothing any worse. I just want to bring the conversation somewhere else,” James says. “It’s the same philosophy we’ve had with RVDIOVCTIVE and wanting to put on different artists. It’s something very important to me in general: not doing the same thing that other people are doing, but pushing things forward or outward in a different direction.”
From the hypnotic funk of the opener “Still In Love” (featuring Avianna Acid) to the upbeat optimism of house closer “Move, Again” (with Pretty Heavy), Love Reach unfurls in an energetic push toward the highest self.
“I started to see a theme of transformation,” he says, “figuring out your place in the world, or your place in your own life.”
Rooted in true scenarios, the album takes a turn into the surreal on “Cross The Line.” French singer-songwriter, Tin lures the listener to an underground rave of fairy tale proportions, and if she’s the white rabbit to James’ adventuring Alice, “Turn Your Scars Into Stars” is the looking glass through which all things change.
It’s fitting because this message of triumph through trial and finding strength in oneself is the ultimate moral of the album.
“Making this album definitely taught me to be much more confident with myself and what my visions are; that I do have something of value to add,” he says. “You don’t need any one person’s love, and you don’t need a major label to have self-worth and value. Because I am a person, I’m living, and I have ideas, those ideas are worthy. We as people are worthy of love, and just because one person says no to our art or our love, that doesn’t mean no one cares and no one understands us.”
The 10-year process of writing and recording Love Reach was a true family affair. His father plays on a number of the album’s tracks, including the piano riff on “Brighter Day,” and all the vocalists are the friends and collaborators he’s connected with most on his journey.
The vocal by legendary Lee Scratch Perry, who features on the album’s titular track, was recorded after a session with his mentor Felix Da Housecat, when James helped create his LP Narrative of Thee Blast Illusion.
It was that experience of creating a large body of work that first taught James he was capable of such a feat, and the real-life experiences while traveling and playing around the world that gave him the tales worth turning into song.
“This is my coming of age story,” James says, “my statement to the world.” Now there’s nothing left to do but share it.
Listen to the album in full here and grab it on Beatport.