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Dev Hynes

Devonté (Dev) Hynes is a producer, songwriter, and artist based in New York. He has written and produced songs for Solange Knowles, Florence and the Machine, and Tinashe, as well as the score for Gia Coppola’s 2013 film Palo Alto. Hynes also writes music under the moniker Blood Orange and has released two albums, Coastal Grooves (2011) and Cupid Deluxe (2013), on Domino Records.

  1. J DILLA

    Dilla was more than a musician—he was a landscape artist. Everyone knows he was a genius. But the praise shouldn’t become background noise. His vast array of productions are incredible to listen to, but the real magic happens when you deconstruct a track and understand all of its parts, hear the samples he somehow found and pulled and flipped into his own sound. It’s a time-consuming labor of passion to dig deep into his archive, which is funny, given that he’s rumored to have created some of his beats in just twenty minutes.

  2. LILI BOULANGER

    Though she died at twenty-four, French composer Lili Boulanger produced some of music’s greatest arrangements for voice. We can only imagine what she might have done if she’d lived longer. I mean, she was the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger, who went on to become one of the most sought-after music teachers of the last century: Aaron Copland and Philip Glass turned to her to be whipped into shape. The younger Boulanger’s music is breathtaking. Chronically ill, she was consumed with the certainty of death, but she found beauty in even the darkest subjects. “Pie Jesu” (1918)—the piece she wrote just before she died—has completely floored everyone I’ve ever played it to.

    *Lili Boulanger, December 21, 1918.* Photo: Bain News Service/Library of Congress. Lili Boulanger, December 21, 1918. Photo: Bain News Service/Library of Congress.
  3. JULIUS EASTMAN, “EVIL NIGGER” (1979)

    Eastman (1940–1990) might be the most underappreciated composer of his generation. He was black and gay; he sometimes dressed in drag; and he gave the wildest operatic performances. (He’s the one singing, “In the coooorn belt,” on that Dinosaur L track.) Eastman lived in upstate New York until the mid-1970s, but he was a frequent performer in the downtown New York scene. “Evil Nigger,” a composition for four pianos (first released by New World Records in 2005), is full of so much kinetic energy you can hear all of his troubles and aggression being channeled right through his fingers and onto the keys.

    *Julius Eastman and Bill Paradise, New York, ca. 1980*. Photo: R. Nemo Hill. Julius Eastman and Bill Paradise, New York, ca. 1980. Photo: R. Nemo Hill.
  4. MARLON BRANDO

    My Brando love is mainly based on his interviews. He refused to live inside the bubble of a public persona. When he spoke, he spoke as himself—not as Brando the actor. What was on his mind was what you would hear. Brando’s worldview and his activism have been overlooked when it comes to his legacy. When I see archival footage of James Baldwin discussing the civil rights movement, and the camera pans to show Brando by his side, it warms my heart. It gives me hope in a world where I grew up spending nights aimlessly googling the names of people I respected with the word racist, just to see if anything would come up.

  5. THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

    Most of my friends are bored to death of me talking about Lady Liberty. But the truth is, she is a shining beacon of independence. What really gets me is that the statue was a genuine gift from the French, and the undertaking required massive fund-raising efforts on both sides of the ocean (after much protest, Americans assumed responsibility for building her pedestal). I won’t ruin the entire story, because it’s incredible. Look it up for yourself.

    *The Statue of Liberty during restoration, Liberty Island, New York, May 1984*. Photo: Jet Lowe/Library of Congress. The Statue of Liberty during restoration, Liberty Island, New York, May 1984. Photo: Jet Lowe/Library of Congress.
  6. ESCUELITA

    This Garment District venue was like a home to me when I moved to New York in 2007. I would go to Vogue Knights alone and watch people dance. Occasionally I’d join, but for the most part I just took it all in. I used to go home afterward and work in my bedroom on music that I would imagine dancing to.

  7. JONATHAN COTT, DINNER WITH LENNY: THE LAST LONG INTERVIEW WITH LEONARD BERNSTEIN (OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013)

    I could read this book every year for the rest of my life. Cott recounts a trip he took to Leonard Bernstein’s house the year before the composer died. They listen to records, eat food, and drink lots of wine—Cott makes you feel like you’re there in the room with two drunk classical-music buffs.

    *Leonard Bernstein rehearsing with the New York Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall, New York, 1967.* Photo: Don Hunstein. Leonard Bernstein rehearsing with the New York Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall, New York, 1967. Photo: Don Hunstein.
  8. LEONTYNE PRICE SINGING GIUSEPPE VERDI’S “O PATRIA MIA” FROM AIDA, LIVE AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE,

    NEW YORK, JANUARY 3, 1985
    Price, my favorite soprano, was one of the first black female opera singers at the Met. This particular performance—her farewell appearance—is so moving; it is somehow fragile and commanding at the same time.

  9. FLURINA ROTHENBERGER, I LOVE TO DRESS LIKE I AM COMING FROM SOMEWHERE AND I HAVE A PLACE TO GO (EDITION PATRICK

    FREY, 2015) Taken over the course of ten years, the pictures in this book by the Swiss photographer capture African life in such a wonderful way. I loved this book so much that I contacted the artist to tell her, saying that one photo in particular had struck a chord with me, and she told me the picture was taken in Sierra Leone—the country my father is from.

    *Spread from Flurina Rothenberger’s _I Love to Dress Like I Am Coming from Somewhere and I Have a Place to Go_* (Edition Patrick Frey, 2015). Spread from Flurina Rothenberger’s I Love to Dress Like I Am Coming from Somewhere and I Have a Place to Go (Edition Patrick Frey, 2015).
  10. MARIA KOCHETKOVA

    Maria is a friend and collaborator of mine. I think she’s one of the greatest dancers alive. Her grace and strength are beyond human. Currently a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater in New York, she’s one of those people who seem to have been created as the essence of an art form.