by Devin Tait
Devin Tait grew up on a farm in rural northwestern Kansas to a family who had been involved in agriculture for generations. So how did he end up as a synthpop musician based in West Hollywood, California?
Listen to the album while reading the text.
Hi, my name is Devin Tait. And I’m a synthaholic.
Spell check is telling me that’s not a word, but c’mon. We can all figure out what it means.
A Piano, Keyboards & Synthesizers
I’m addicted to synthesizers, and synthesizer based music. My husband will tell you I have too many keyboards. I’d say there’s no such thing as too many keyboards! My wares range from a tiny, battery powered analog keyboard (made by Little Bits) that is completely modular and can be reconfigured in hundreds of ways, to a full size Casio Privia electric piano with 88 weighted keys. My favorite keyboards to play with are my little Alesis Micron, which is an analog modeling synth; and my Roland Lucina keytar.
My first experience with keyboards was when my parents brought home an old, upright piano that they had purchased from a neighbor. My mom and I took lessons from another neighbor, Peggy Anschutz, whose farm was just next to ours. Shortly after this, we got MTV, which exposed me to lot of 80s bands that featured keyboards prominently and for the first time, I saw a career path that had less to do with cows and wheat harvesting, and more with hair, makeup, and spotlights. Soon, I had successfully begged my parents for an electronic keyboard and I began making my own songs with it. Some of my influences back then, and still to this day, included The Human League, Thompson Twins, and Tiffany – who’s first album is arguable a synth-pop/new-wave classic rather than the bubble gum pop many have assumed it to be.
Fail my Way to Success
My favorite part about synthesizers was always mixing and matching sounds, layering them together, and applying effects like echo and reverb to create sounds that I found interesting and unique. I didn’t have a mentor or a teacher in this regard; although I was able to learn many of the basics of music and performing in school and church, the electronic and technological aspects were left completely up to my own devices. I had to experiment and “fail my way to success” (quote courtesy of Robin Hall, aka Kiwi Thunder).
Looking back, I wish I had more resources to learn about the technological side of electronic music making. I often got frustrated because I was not able to replicate the sound of songs on the radio with the equipment and talent I possessed. As a result, I never spent enough time practicing or exploring this, but I did continue to be involved in music as much as I could be.
Finally, right after high school, my younger brother decided to form a band, and initially I agreed to be the drummer – but I wanted to play an electronic drum kit, not a standard acoustic kit. Money was an issue, so I intended to build my own kit using parts I had ordered from Radio Shack.
However, the parts never showed up, and in the meantime I had learned how to simply play the drums with my left hand on a keyboard hooked up to a drum sound module. This ended up working pretty well, looked unique on stage, and ultimately left me with the ability to play synth lines with my right hand. So, I was the drummer AND the keyboard player, which I thought seemed pretty cool!
Eventually, I followed my dreams and moved to Los Angeles with hopes of launching a career in music, whether it was through dancing and singing in a boy band or directing music videos, I really didn’t care. I just wanted to be part of a band. I went out singing Karaoke almost every night, and through that, met some other aspiring musicians and we formed a band called Shitting Glitter.
I was involved with that band as keyboard player, singer and PR agent for nearly a decade, and we accomplished some really amazing stuff. We released three albums, toured the west coast, were flown to big shows in places like Iceland and Canada, and received some great media attention from places like Out Magazine and MTV’s Logo network.
It’s Never the Way You Imagine It
Like all good things, my time in that band came to an end, and I had a decision to make. I could try to find a new band to be part of, or I could push myself to create my own music. I decided to pursue the latter, and in 2011 I released my first solo album, “It’s Never the Way You Imagine It.”
That was a really great time for me, coming into my own as a singer/songwriter, and working with some great musicians who helped launch my solo career. A few of them decided to become part of my own band, which we christened Devin Tait & The Traitors. We recorded an album together called “Mixed Signals” which was released in 2016.
I decided to record another solo album a few years ago and that became my new release, “Art Damage.” I wanted to explore some darker themes, and I did that on songs like “Dear Christine,” “Infrared,” “Meathooks” and “Hotel Terminus.” But I also wanted some more upbeat songs, since that’s sort of what I’m more known for, so I did a love song dedicated to my husband called “By My Side,” and a dance track featuring vocals by Wendy Ho and remixed by Scott Anderson at Solar City Music called “Anyone Can Break Somebody’s Heart.” To launch the album, I worked with some awesome video directors to make music videos for both of those songs – hearkening back to my early influences watching MTV as a kid.
I think as an artist, it’s always most important to me to create my art as a means of self-expression and to satisfy my innate desire to create. With that, in order to obtain some degree of success, I try to keep in mind what a listener might appreciate in my music. I would love to share my music with as many listeners as possible, but at the end of the day, I’m my own biggest fan – and worst critic. If anything, I just want to inspire people to follow their own dreams – whatever they may be, and wherever they may be coming from.
Devin Tait, Category: Artist, Albums: Art Damage, It’s Never The Way You Imagine It, Singles: Anyone Can Break Somebody’s Heart, Top Tracks: By My Side, Anyone Can Break Somebody’s Heart (Mr. Anderson Remix) [feat. Wendy Ho], End of an Era (feat. Rayssa), Anyone Can Break Somebody’s Heart (feat.