Toronto multi-instrumentalist brings hypnotic sounds to Chicago

By Emily Ornberg

Attempting to describe the unique sound of local artist Deanna Devore requires throwing around multiple genres—pop, folk, Brazilian jazz, electronica, soft-rock, dance and orchestral. But if you ask her, her style is simply what comes out when she writes.

After making a name for herself in the Chicago music scene, Devore’s second rhythmic pop EP “X Number of Days,” is set to drop Jan. 10 at the release party at Schuba’s Tavern, 3159 N. Southport Ave.

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, 25-year-old Devore moved to Chicago in 2006 to record and co-produce her first self-titled EP with Bjorn Thorsrud, a producer who has worked with artists such as the Smashing Pumpkins and The Dandy Warhols. With an extensive musical vocabulary she gained from playing multiple instruments throughout her childhood, Devore played almost all of the instruments on the EP, with the exception of backup drums, which were played by Ed Breckenfeld and Morrissey drummer Matt Walker.

The Chronicle sat down with the Canadian songstress to discuss her experience playing festivals, moving to Chicago and how her parents have influenced her career.

The Chronicle: Why did you come to Chicago?

Deanna Devore: I came to Chicago to record with [Bjorn Thorsrud], and I just kind of stayed here. That’s not to say I’m not going to go anywhere else—I do want to try out other places.

What’s it like operating your music career here?

I’ve played at the majority of the venues in Chicago [and] I definitely like it. Everyone’s been really welcoming. It doesn’t seem like there is a lot of people making the same kind of music that I’m doing, especially in Chicago, which is a good and bad thing. I would maybe like to be around more people doing similar things, but at the same time it’s good to be unique.

How do you personally like to classify your music? Where do you get your inspiration for such a unique sound?

The genres I tend to stick to now are just electro-alternative pop. I kind of have a little bit of a Brazilian jazz thing going, but I would say more of the genre that’s present is electronica. With that said, I listen to a lot of music that’s like that as well. And when I was making my own music, I wasn’t like, ‘Ok, I want to have this sound, I’m going to write like this.’ It just kind of happened.

You grew up with your dad as a drummer and a mother who is passionate about music. How has having a musical parents affected your talent or career?

I think it was good in terms of support. They weren’t like, ‘No you can’t do this with your life,’ and that’s important. I still don’t think they would’ve said that even if I were really terrible [laughs]. A lot of my dad’s family [members] are musicians, so I grew up with that. I played a lot of different instruments in school growing up, which I think shaped the way I make music and my ear for recording.

Do you prefer playing festivals or indoor shows?

I’ve played Summerfest here in Chicago, North by Northeast, which is like South by Southwest for Canada and CMJ in New York, which was really fun. The things you can run into are, sometimes the sound is bad, [and] people are passing by, [so] they’re not super attentive. But I like doing outdoor fests a lot.

What was it like playing most of the instruments on your first EP?

I got someone to master it, so there were other ears on my project, not just me all the way through. But I enjoy playing a lot of instruments [and] I feel like it’s part of [the recording experience] for me. Sometimes when I’m recording, I’m writing at the same time, so it almost helps the process.

Deanna Devore will be playing a release show at Schuba’s Tavern, 3159 N, Southport Ave. on Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. for $8. Visit Facebook.com/DeannaDevoreMusic and DeannaDevore.com for more information.

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