She’s got you dancing in the club and in your car, singing the hook on “Bass Down Low” and “Like A G6” with The Cataracs and The Far East Movement. She’s since recorded a music video for her latest single, “Booty Bounce.” There’s no denying that this little girl is leaving a big impression.
You’ve been described as a small town girl with a big city attitude; what’s the road been like from the small town to the big city?
It’s been fun. It’s been crazy, but it’s been fun. I’m doing what I love! I came from a really small town and now I am in LA recording music. It’s so crazy, you can imagine.
Describe your “Aha!” moment. When did you know that music was what you wanted to pursue?
I’ve always loved music but I think my first one of those was the first time I performed. I opened up for The Pack at The Knitting Factory in LA. It was my first time doing my set, I was absolutely terrified. Then I thought to myself, “I’m about to shit on everybody!” I went out and did it, and I’ve tried to keep that mentality since. After coming to LA, I was just like, “I need to do more of this. I need to step it up.” Performing is my favorite thing in the world.
Outside of music, where do you draw inspiration?
A lot of different things! I’m inspired by the sounds of the city, fashion, different people, situations in my life. The city inspires me. Right now, my music is fun, but as I grow, my music will too. I’ve been through a lot of different situations and stages in my life, which has made me indecisive and sporadic. I’ll wake up tomorrow wanting to do one thing and I’ll want a different sound on another day. I like mixing it up! I just want to be heard throughout the entire world; that would be cool.
You’ve said visuals are important to you. How do you incorporate this into your craft?
The fashion aspect has been really important to me. I can’t really bring it out in the studio or when I’m writing, but I love to play around with it when I can. My videos for “Fireball” and “Booty Bounce” have given me that opportunity. Hellz Bellz hooks it up too, they’re my homies.
You have a fierce image. Have you always been this fierce or did you create your image over time?
I’ve been through so many different stages growing up and I feel like now it’s all kind of come together. I don’t think about it as much, but I know I am a lot more comfortable with who I am now. I also have more opportunity to play around with my image now, and have fun with it, whereas before I was in LA my friends would be like, “There’s Dev again in her crazy shit!”
Growing up who were your favorite artists? Who are you listening to now?
I know I keep saying this but I went through a lot of different stages. I went from grunge to indie-rock to hip-hop to rap. I loved Nirvana, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Eminem. Right now I listen to The Cataracs a lot, because we all live together! I also have Crystal Castles in my car right now; they are really good.
You’re the girl that gets the party started. What’s a night out like with Dev?
Oh Gosh! Shit! A night out with me—brace yourself! Bring water because you’ll need to stay hydrated. I live with The Cataracs and we are always getting into random shit. Alcohol is always involved! Poppin bottles—we have fun.
Who would you really like to get in the studio with?
Nicki Minaj. There’s a lot of female artists out right now who are kind of on the whole, pop-rap thing you know? But she’s stunning on all of them. I’d love to work with her; I think we could do something really cool together.
What has you experience been like as a female in this business?
Being a female is tough in this industry. There’s a lot of men. The first thing people want to do is be like, “Oh, she didn’t think of that herself.” But I did. Also, there’s a lot of pressure, like “Show ass!” “Show boobs!”, but I’m not trying to sell sex. That’s not me. I’m trying to hold it down for the girls—I can roll with the boys and keep it sexy without all that.
Three things you can absolutely not live without. Ready, go.
Aw fuck! One, my cell phone. Two, chocolate. Three, my family—my sisters hold me down. They keep me in the place. I’ll talk to them and they’ll be like, “Dev, you ain’t shit!”
What advice would you give to other aspiring female songwriters/musicians?
It’s hard to not be influenced by the male in this industry. Stay true to yourself. You can’t let one thing knock you down. You can’t give up. You’ve got to keep hustin’, keep grindin’. Eventually, the grindin’ will pay off. That goes for all females, whatever you do, just be the baddest bitch you can be at it. Remember that keeping you first is important.
What can we expect next from you?
Well, I’m in the process of recording and doing as many shows as possible. I’m constantly writing and in the studio. Tours and new music, watch out!
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and Concert, the Late Show with David Letterman, the Travis Smiley Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the CBS Saturday Early Show, National Public Radio, Austin City Limits and The White House: The impressive list of venues Esperanza Spalding has visited in just a short amount of time. Upon listening to the Jazz performer, it becomes evident why she has been given such honorable invites. Esperanza's distinctive sound combines an undeniable Latin feel with smooth jazz. Her angelic voice graces your ears as her finger tips stroke her bass. The 26 year old Oregon native first picked up the bass at the prestigious Northwest Academy of performing arts school at the young age of 14. Choosing to learn the bass was, in Esperanza's mind, "not a good choice, but the bass had its own arch and resonated with me." Luckily for the Jazz community she did, because she has been taking it by storm ever since. Inspired by bassists greats like Dave Holland and Ron Carter, Esperanza strives to create music relative to the "wonderful arc that started 40 years ago where people kept incorporating modern sounds into their music." Her latest album Chamber Music Society dropped this year and stayed an impressive 70 weeks at the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart and is a great addition to her two previous albums; Junjo and Esperanza. Her ability to create music that will undoubtedly become timeless classics and captivating live performances will ensure Esperanza Spalding a long successful career in the world of modern Jazz.