interview: kevin michael on being a futurist, his artistic journey & his projects as devaeux

September 1, 2015

Have you ever met a person whom once you started asking them questions or talking to them, it feels like you aren’t talking to a celebrity at all? Well, that’s how I felt when I was talking to Kevin Michael, recently released his compilation album Dirty Little F**k. You see, before an interview, it helps to do as much of the research as you can about that artist, and even then, some artists make you feel like any question you ask would be stupid as hell! That wasn’t the case with Kevin Michael. For those who don’t remember him, he once released a single (“We All Want the Same Thing”) and one self-titled album in the states. Since then, he was one of many who suffered a major blow left by the major industry. Taking a bit chunk of his time over twitter (thank you extended the character amount, by the way!), R&B’s futurist/ best friend of yours covers all the bases from his past bout with depression, his new album, his optimistic views on the industry, and what will happen with Devaeux, his new moniker. Refreshingly, the dude does not hold back!

By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor

Tell people what you have been up to between b r a i n w a $ h and Dirty Little F**K.

Ha!  Well since Brainwa$h, I guess I’ve kinda been laying low. I’ve gotten into a lot more behind-the-scenes work. Not by choice really, it all sort of just fell in my lap. I manage a celebrity makeup artist & handle all of her business & online stuff now. Had to find a gig to pay bills and it just sorta makes sense in a weird way. Lol

On your LISA mixtape, you once said you aren’t really built like a model. Next thing you know, you are taking pictures to load upon your Instagram. What made you interested in taking pictures this time around?

Well I knew I had to have something for press when the HudMo shit came out, but then it turned into this hyper-creative, artistic thing, so I just ended up sharing the images on my personal pages. Plus, I love taking pictures man, it just costs money to keep pumping out high-quality shit. That still doesn’t make me a model. Far from it!

Who normally chooses most of the concepts?

I’ve been responsible for every concept visually shot since my label split. The good or the bad, it was all me!  Lol

Also, do you notice you have plenty admirers of your work?

Not as many people as I’d like, tbh.

Upon being on your Twitter, we also found that you took on a vegetarian, pacifist lifestyle. Was this something you were born into or was it something you picked up?

I’ve been a vegetarian since the end of 2009. And no, I wasn’t raised that way. I saw Food Inc. and it changed my life. I starting weening myself of meat the very next day & haven’t looked back since. I’m not vegan tho, a nigga has to have cheese every now & again. Lol

Aside from one commentator, has anyone implied you were nuts for taking it on?

Yeah, people think I’m crazy for it, but people think I’m crazy period so what’s the difference? (laughs)

I hope you don’t mind if we tackle your moment where you fell into depression. You briefly had a brush with that around the recording of b r a i n w a $ h, if I’m not mistaken. Was the lifestyle change beneficial in terms of treating that? OR was there other outside factors?

Oh nah! My deepest, darkest depression was in 2010, 2 years before I had even thought of b r a i n w a $ h. I was just young & not mentally strong. That was after I got dropped by my label & living alone in Atlanta w/ no friends or family. My house had gotten foreclosed on, I was homeless for 2 months living in my car, then a friend of mine allowed me to crash at his dope ass condo by myself…so here I am looking great on the outside, but in actuality only had peanut butter & jelly in my fridge. I was stuck in a bad pub deal that I couldn’t get out of, I had a business manager that stole money from me…I mean I was just going through it & getting it from every angle it seemed. I probably was suicidal for a good 3 months or so, but again, I was just young & didn’t have enough experience under my belt to know that that’s how the game works. You have highs & lows, but you always make it through to the other side…it just takes time.

Speaking of b r a i n w a $ h, I noticed that your video for “Sometimes” was taken down. Any explanation there?

I didn’t like the end result & I was basically bullied into releasing it. Out of respect for people’s time I kept it up for a year, after that I took it down. When things get political & creative relationships start to sour, I rather walk away from a situation then to come out of character & say/do things I’d regret. I’m a pretty calm dude, until provoked.

You had just released your new album, Dirty Little F**k, and mentioned that the album is just a collection of all the songs you had written before. Exactly how old were the songs?

The oldest is 10 years old (can’t even believe that) & the newest was recorded in 2013.

10. What song was the oldest, to be specific?

Kitty Katt was written & recorded when I was 19. Baby Kev! But you know that’s so interesting to me…I’ve been a futurist my entire life and didn’t know it! I once had somebody tell me, it’s sad but the industry is gonna have to catch up to you.  And therein lies my biggest challenge.

Naturally, the album feels like a music lover’s iPod, if all the genres were tackled by you. “Haunted”, as I covered in a review, sounds like a mix of soul and psychobilly. “Dance All Night” sounds like simple bubblegum pop music. In fact, you had done this in LISA, where you took on New Wave, rockabilly, EDM, 80’s mixture of quiet storm and electronica. You have more styles than most artists can truly pull off at once. What is your philosophy when it comes to creating music?

Make the music you’d want to listen to while driving in your car. Make the shit that YOU want to hear!  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, that’s counterproductive. Instead say things people have said a million times before in a way no one has said yet. And go w/ your gut instinct. Overthinking kills the vibe.

In one of your songs, “Cry”, you poured out the kind of emotion that hasn’t been explored since a long ass time ago by men. I know you are a Libra and Libras are told to be very honest, artistic and very emotional people (I’ll strike this from the record), but have you ever experienced fright at how people would take such honesty?

“Cry” was actually written as a female record & I referenced the song in my best “female” voice at the time. Lol. I included the song on #DLF b/c it’s a great record in my book, even if it’s old. And I’m not afraid to show any side of me on a record. Music is where I allow myself to be most vulnerable b/c I’ve been proven time & time again that I am not the only one who feels that particular way. It’s been very cathartic for me to express my thoughts through song & have listeners identify w/ me. In fact that’s what I think people come to expect from me now. I may not be so visible, but my track record speaks for itself. Everybody who knows Kevin Michael knows that I’m gonna give you vocals & my projects as a whole body of work will be dope as fuck. I can’t help but to do it!  I love music more than anything in life.

I also even commented that “Freak” sounds like you have been listening to a heavy share of electroclash lately. Do you still feel that pressure to buckle down to a specific defining sound?

Nope, I never want to limit myself that way. Anything I ever do will always have a touch of soul to it b/c that’s where I sing from…my soul. But I feel no need to specify anything.

As a music addict, I must ask: what is in your record collection?

Omg, any & everything!!  But my most prized possession is Prince’s iVault!  You’ve got to be more specific tho if you want particulars…

I read in one of your Instagram posts that you were once ostracized because your voice was too high. Nowadays, it seems like people could give no care about that from the recent rise of The Weeknd. Do you think that the music industry is slowly but surely coming around expectation-wise?

Again, anyone can do anything nowadays!  It’s a gift & a curse.  Our musical standards have been lowered so much that anything can make it through.  That also means that really good stuff finally has a platform to shine.  That’s what excites me!  I choose to believe there’s more good music out there than crap!

Would you say that the industry looks down on musicians who often hop genres these days?

No, I’d say quite the opposite actually.  There are no rules anymore.  Anyone can do anything at any time, that’s why you can’t count anyone out.

You briefly went underneath the name DEVAEUX and joined a track with Hudson Mohawke. How did you hook up with him?

Oh nah, DEVAEUX is still very much my next phase, I just didn’t want to release DLF under that umbrella when all of the music was recorded in the past.  DEVAEUX is my fresh start, you’ll see.  Futurists for the win, remember?!

And the HudMo track is getting love on BBC.  We’ll see where it goes.  It takes a LONG time to work a record at radio.  I’m practicing patience & allowing the universe to do it’s thing.  No matter what, I’m blessed by the experience of it all.

From L I S A, b r a i n w a $ h and “Warriors”, I’m getting vibes that you are going for a more electronic sound in the future. Is that anywhere close?

All I can say is to expect the unexpected…

I’m sure new and old fans are wondering this, but do you have any plans coming up? Tours included?

I have plans yes, but sharing them before they’re fully realized makes you look like an ass, so lets just say this…you may or may not be seeing me on TV pretty soon.  And that’s all I have to say about that!  BOOM!

Dirty Little F**K is out now on iTunes.

Kevin Michael online: 

Snapchat: kevymikes 

Photos by @stevenduarte

* Lightning Pill is a blogger, poet, singer-songwriter, composer, Aspie, etc. from Dorchester, MA. You can reach him at or visit his Afropunk website. His Soundcloud can be found here and his main Bandcamp found here. Also here for the new agers.