Two artists. Two points on the career ladder. But honesty, talent, and the innate storytelling ability to reach through the music and digital barrier and touch those who listen draw a line of commonality between Route 94 and L Devine. The two combined on “Sad Songs”, bringing forward a record filled with sharp, penetrative sounds and a raw poignancy. The song is a truly special record and one that proves dance records can have divine emotive qualities.
With the release of “Sad Songs”, we interviewed the veteran hitmaker and the burgeoning Pop sensation and Queer Teen Icon about the record, their careers, and other interesting tidbits. Here is CULTR’s exclusive interview with Route 94 and L Devine.
How did you two connect and begin working on songs together?
L Devine (LD) – I received a rough version of Sad Songs at the beginning of lockdown and even before I’d listened to it, I was super excited about the idea of working with Rowan as I’ve been a big fan of his since ‘My Love’. That tune came out when I’d just started to go clubbing, so Route 94 was the soundtrack to my nights out as a teen.
Route 94 (94) – Through Warner! I’m really glad they introduced us though she’s super cool and she has been a pleasure to work with. I’m looking forward to working with her more in the future as well.
Walk us through the process of how you created “Sad Songs”
LD – I got sent a rough of the song during peak lockdown earlier in the year, and as I wasn’t able to work in a studio, I just did a vocal on it with my set up in my bedroom. It felt perfect. I was going through a break-up at the time and the song genuinely liberated me from the heartbreak a bit. It was the first time in a while I felt I had channelled hurt into something good.
94 – I did the production send it over to L and she sent it back with the super dope vocals.
If you could choose a specific place for someone to listen to your records where would it be and why?
LD – One of the reasons I love this song so much is because it’s a dance record and a heartbreak record at the same time. You can cry AND dance to it. There isn’t really a specific place because it would be perfect in the club or for getting amped up in the gym but also when you’re just on your own, getting deep in your feelings.
94 – I would say it depends on the record but if we’re talking sad songs specifically then wherever – anywhere + anytime you feel sad and need a pick me up.
What else is on the horizon for you two?
LD – I’m working on releases for my own artist project in the new year. I’ve just rescheduled and added new dates for my tour for October 2021 too. I can’t wait to do gigs again!!
94 – I’m just in the studio 24/7 writing new music so expect a stream of release from me over the next year.
The Route 94 moniker comes from the highway that runs from Detroit to Chicago, paying homage to Techno and House. How have these genres influenced your overall sound? In particular, how do the originators like Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, the Belleville three etc. played a role in your development as an artist? Any particular records that our readers should check out?
94 – When I first started this moniker I was making a lot more Chicago/Detroit focused music, but after the success of ‘My Love’ the focus changed to more current styles of dance music. If you wanna check out some really good old house records though you should have a look through the catalogs of these labels:
- Westbrook Records
- Chicago Underground
- Mix 5 Records
- DJ International Records
You started out in Dubstep and moved to a more House/underground type of sound. What influenced you to make the switch? Do you think you may do something in the dubstep realm again?
94 – Never say never! Who knows what the future holds… I always like to make a range of music just to keep myself on my toes.
You scored a UK #1 with “My Love”. What was it like watching your record take off and become such a massive hit?
94 – It was a total shock to the system. At that time it all happened so quickly and I was so in the moment I didn’t take a second to really think about it. I had just started out with the Route 94 moniker and was like 19/20 years old, so I didn’t even really realise the level of achievement I had reached. Looking back it’s such an amazing thing to happen to any 20-year-old kid.
L DEVINE, your writing, and music come from a very honest and personal place. What is it like to provide an intimate look into your life and do you think this makes for better music?
LD – It’s definitely a vulnerable place to be at times. Putting your feelings about someone into a song you release to the world before you’d actually tell them those feelings yourself is a pretty wild concept!! But I think it’s so important to be honest. People crave authenticity and relatability now more than ever.
Walk us through your writing process. What are some of your writing inspirations?
LD – I listen to as much music as I can, I love discovering new music, and I watch a lot of films too, which also inspire me. But honestly, without sounding too lame, just a lot of thinking and reflecting. Picking out random situations in my life and encounters I’ve had with people and completely dramatising and romanticising them.
In a previous interview you said “When your life revolves around other people’s opinions, you lose sight of how much your own opinion matters.”, how do you stay true to yourself and opinions and block out the outside forces?
LD – I think this is the hardest part about being an artist. I don’t think other people’s opinions are a bad thing at all, I massively respect all the people I work with, and want and value their opinions. But in my experience, your gut feelings are always right. What got you in the rooms with these people was the music or art you created, when the only opinion you had was your gut. So, I just try to remember that.
You’ve been open about your sexuality from the beginnings of your career. How has it impacted your career? How are you inspiring LGBQTI+ youths?
LD – It’s important that we have artists who are open about their sexuality. I didn’t really grow up with a lot of that and even queer artists who were open, I didn’t necessarily feel represented by them. I think it’s amazing that the LGBQTI+ community now have such a broad spectrum of queer artists to be inspired by and find comfort in. It’s something I know I would have greatly appreciated when I was a young teen coming to terms with who I was.
What was it like doing an online URL tour? Is it something you will do post-pandemic life?
LD – I loved it. Like many artists, I was supposed to be touring during the pandemic, and I was obviously so gutted to miss out on all the shows and meeting fans. Doing the URL Tour just felt like the next best thing, really. There was a lot about it that I wish I could bring into touring more – it’s so great to be able to invite fans onto lives and talk one on one or pause between songs to answer questions. It felt really personal.