Hailing from the Big Apple, singer songwriter Elizabeth Devlin has been leaving people spellbound around the world with her extravagant autoharp. Often compared to Joanna Newsom and Coco Rosie, the artist has become one of the most talked about acts in the region.
Today, we have the exclusive premiere for her new music video for "Cold Sweat," which was co-directed by the musician and photographer Charles Lavoie. The track stems from her latest studio album Orchid Mantis, which is available over on her bandcamp page. AXS spoke with Devlin about the visual and her growth as a musician over the years. Starting on July 19, she'll kick off her U.S. tour in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The full tour routing can be seen here.
AXS: What was it like working on the video for "Cold Sweat"?
Elizabeth Devlin: For something that ended up seeming so casual, it required a lot of structure. I am certainly a product of the iPhone video generation. There was quite a bit I didn't know about filming with a professional camera. For example, how to be followed by a camera and the need to walk a line and to stay in focus while filming. I take that for granted when using an iPhone camera; it's just point-and-shoot and move it around however one likes.
I certainly have a newfound respect for people who make movies. The rig is the thing! It was fun being in that environment, though; I love the ocean more than any other typography on earth. It's where I feel most at home and at peace.
AXS: You've worked with Charles Lavoie for a long time. How did you guys meet?
ED: Yes, it's been a while. Most of the people I work with, if things go well, I continue to work with them. Why mess with a good thing, right? So Charles and I met at a Halloween bash at an infamous party house my group of friends referred to as "The Humboldt House," off the Graham stop of the L train in 2012. Charles was taking photos for his ever growing "Exuberance" series and documenting an evening with friends. We hit it off immediately. I admire his ability to capture people at their most candid moments. He has the gift of gab, too, which seems to make his subjects comfortable despite a giant lens pointing at them. Needless to say, we hit it off fast.
AXS: Orchid Mantis is your first release in five years. How much have you changed as a musician/songwriter since your sophomore album For Whom The Angels Named?
ED: Orchid Mantis feels all-encompassing and expansive music from an entire life instead of a single phase of life. I hope the listener can co-exist with it for a long period of growth. It feels more mature and the lyrics speak to a more wholistic approach to living.
For Whom the Angels Named was very person-specific; each song title was an individual's name, and the lyrics to the songs were addressing, or in some way pertained to, that individual. For me now, that album feels adolescent. Very necessary, but also a tangling of interpersonal relationships, messy early 20-something feelings and intense, internal dialogues. I hope the music and lyrics in Orchid Mantis feel more universal and philosophical, hopeful and balanced. Dare I say it....older and wiser?
AXS: How did you wind up making the autoharp your instrument of choice?
ED: My first autoharp, an Oscar Schmidt chromatic Silvertone, fell into my lap. It was something my mother had saved from being tossed in a dumpster after a church flea market. She put it into her storage unit, and a year later, when I was helping her clean out said unit, I found it. Not knowing what the alien thing was or even how to play it, I immediately asked to have it. This was around the time I was just started to play out my own music and had been performing strictly a cappella.
I knew how to play a little piano and a little guitar, but none of those spoke to me. When I saw the autoharp, I just knew! It was like my heart became complete the second she vibrated her sounds on my chest. I don't know if there is such a thing as love at first sight for people, but it certainly existed for me with my autoharp.