INTERVIEW: Devon Gilfillian
By: Hailey Hale
In today’s music, blues is a hard genre to find and an even harder genre to get just right. Though that is not deterring rapidly rising star Devon Gilfillian, who is currently taking the world of soul and blues by storm. Over the past couple of months, Gilfillian has been putting his name out into the world by releasing amazing new music and embarking on huge cross country tours, where he has caught the attention of industry giants such as Keith Urban and Mavis Staples. Gilfillian has consistently proven himself to be a musical genius, both lyrically and sonically, and throughout the overwhelming success of releasing his new single ‘Get Out and Get It’ and touring the country with Brothers Osborne, I got the chance to chat with him about his recent success, guitars and much more.
HEM: First off I want to start off by saying hello and we are so glad to have you featured on Heart Eyes!
Devon Gilfillian: Thank you for having me!
HEM: So you’re on tour right now, and I’ve seen you’ve played some pretty iconic venues on this round, but I was wondering if there has been a venue that made you step back and think “wow, I’m really playing here”?
Devon G: Well, I got to play Red Rocks a year ago - last summer - opening for The Frey, and that was insanely magical, and majestic. We actually got to play right as the sun was setting and it was sold out, there was like 10,000 people there. That was insane. That was definitely one of the most surreal moments.
HEM: Yeah I bet! Red Rocks is huge!
Devon G: Absolutely. It’s ginormous! Looking out into the crowd, I almost lost myself as I was performing out there. I just couldn’t stop thinking “wow, this is insane”.
HEM: Well that’s super exciting! So, obviously that was huge but, do you have a favorite crowd you’ve played for? Was Red Rocks your favorite or was it another one?
Devon G: Man, you know as far as my favorite crowd that I’ve played in front of, I’d say I love small, intimate crowds. We were just in Scandinavia and we played in Norway and it was just a small college town - almost like a bar - and it was just electric. People were going crazy, and dancing, and having a great time. There’s just something about being right there, like the stage was 5 by 5 feet and we somehow all got on the stage, and we were just right there in front of people. They were grabbing us and there’s something about that that was just amazing!
HEM: Well that does sound very exciting! So, your song ‘Get Out And Get It’ was recently named one of The Rolling Stones best songs of the week, and it got premiered on huge publications such as NPR and World Cafe. What was it like to see your work get that kind of recognition?
Devon G: It was insane to see that! It was one of those publications where I got to hear people I had never heard before and fell in love with, like Ben Harper would be played there, and to see NPR shouting out and featuring a song of mine was unbelievable.
HEM: Well, it deserves all the recognition it’s getting , it’s a great song! So, your music is very unique, as in you can’t really put it under one genre, so what are the top 3 genres that inspire the way you write?
Devon G: I would say, the top 3 genres that inspire me the most right now and have for a long time are soul music for sure, like old soul - Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Mavis Staples - all that old soul is absolutely in my DNA. Hip hop too - Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West - all those artists also have an appreciation for soul music as well and jazz, and they incorporate it and sample it and put it into their music. That is for sure the sound of the record that I just made this summer, that’s the inspiration for me. Creating these old sounds and pushing it forward and sampling it and using hip-hop techniques in recordings and bringing it to modern day sounds.
HEM: Nice! Something really cool that just happened is you got to share a stage with Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, and The Brothers Osbourne. That was huge, so I want to know what were some feelings you had in that moment?
Devon G: Well, I had no idea that was going to happen, so the first feeling was “Oh my God, what is happening?”, I was just dumbfounded, and baffled, and all around very surprised. I was standing backstage and I looked over and Ryan and Maren were just standing there and I’m like “Oh wait what? What’s about to happen here?” It was honestly an honor to get on stage with them, and really it was more surprising than anything. I was excited to say the least that’s for sure.
HEM: Well, it looked like it was an amazing performance. So speaking of The Brothers Osbourne, you’re currently doing an amazing tour with them, but I want to know who your dream band or artist to tour with is?
Devon G: My dream artist to get on the road with? I would have to say Kanye would be amazing. Watching him right now, he’s doing all those Sunday services, have you seen any of those videos?
HEM: I have!
Devon G: Oh my God! I know he’s crazy but that would be incredible!
HEM: Well I would love to go to that tour! So, obviously you just put out a new single, but is there anything else we should look out for this year?
Devon G: Definitely! We’re going to release the record this summer, if not early fall, but we’re definitely releasing something, probably in May or June, but we haven’t nailed any dates on that yet. May or June would be awesome though!
HEM: So a new record? That’s great! Now for a kind of fun one, if you could take all of your music and turn it into a guitar, what would it look like? Like what make, model, and color?
Devon G: I would say, it would be a Fender Jaguar. Like an 80’s Japanese Jaguar and it would be colored black with little sparks, like little stars shining on it. Yeah, that’s what it would look like!
HEM: Well that would be dope! So lastly, do you have anything you would like to share with your fans and the readers of Heart Eyes Magazine? Whether it be about future projects, something you’re excited about, or just anything that’s been on your mind.
Devon G: You know, mostly I’m just really excited about the record. I cannot wait to finally get this record out. Like I said earlier, it’s a combination of all the old soul and rock n’ roll of the past. That’s the thing I’m most excited about this year, and we have some potential touring going on, but yeah that’s pretty much it!
HEM: Awesome! Well I can’t wait to hear the new record, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing.
Devon G: Well, thank you, and thanks for having me!
With a hot new record on its way and talk of a new tour, I think it’s safe to say this year is going to be a busy one for Devon Gilfillian. While waiting for new music though, make sure to stream ‘Get Out And Get It’ as it is definitely one of the best singles this year.