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Q+A: Lightspeed Champion

September 05, 2007

Video for Lightspeed Champion's "Galaxy of the Lost"

Lightspeed Champion is UK-based Domino Records latest offering to the States. After bringing us the quintessentially British Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, Lightspeed Champion is, well, a little bit American. Born in Houston but bred in the English county of Essex, a place famous for its teenage pregnancies, Blur, and a film called Essex Boys starring ex-Bond villain Sean Bean, Dev Hynes' new project is a clear hark back to his roots. He
spent time honing the sound of Lightspeed Champion with the help of Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis and has recently supported Final Fantasy and of course Bright Eyes himself in efforts to have his folky new pop songs taken more seriously, a task Dev openly admits has been hard fought in London, especially with people constantly putting a little bracket after his name with the words "formerly of Test Icicles."

We popped into a café in central London to talk to him about what's going on as he worked on his next comic whilst passing notes to pretty girls, taking polaroids of our coffee and receiving texts from Maroon 5.

(Interview by Kevin Soar)

You were recently recording in the States. How was that?

Amazing. I stayed in Omaha, Nebraska between a guesthouse and a studio owned and built by Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis. I finished it early and went to NYC for a bit, then went back to Nebraska. I spent a lot of time there when I was younger and have been back a lot.

I bet you didn’t want to leave.

Didn’t want to come back. Felt more at home there than London, but lately that has been changing. I have been embracing British culture a lot more of late.
I am really trying to warm to it more. I never really got it the first time round.

How do you intend to re-immerse yourself?

First off I’m going start by watching the British version of
“The Office” and try and find it funny. I really don’t think its funny. Everyone says its funny, I need to find out what’s going on there.
I find the American one funny. I love Steve Carrell. 40 Year Old Virgin is one of my favourite films.

Has your re-immersion into British culture come through to your music yet?

It kind of has. Definitely in some of the songs I have been writing lately.
Some of those recent British guitar based bands have been coming through.

What like indie pop? c83 bands, perhaps the Television Personalites and such?

Nah more recent than that even. More like post-Strokes.

Surely not that famous genre post-Strokes British indie?

Seriously that’s what I’ve been writing lately but no one’s ever going to hear that. Probably.
Things I usually try and get into I usually get out of them just as quick. But they usually pop up in my music in some shape or form.

It’s been said you record something pretty much everyday, and I just listened to that internet only EP you did last week I wrote and recorded this album in five hours. From what I noticed in your illustrations, your blog and your music there is a common sense of escapism.

Yeah I have an emotion and the only way I can ever find to deal with it is literally record it. No matter what that is, a positive or a negative one. It has to come out in something I do. Which at the moment is mostly through the music.

How do your other artistic outlets fit into your plans?

Fuck I wish I had gone to the Drawn & Quartely Fair in New York, from the 1st day to the last there was something awesome going on. It was literally my dream to go. It was the first time in my life that an event was so me, something I love.

You’ve said you didn’t want to play to adults anymore. What do kids bring to your shows that adults don’t?

They all really enjoy themselves. I like playing to younger audiences, you get an instant reaction. I don’t tend to like playing live anyway. When there’s a bunch of people looking back with their arms crossed it makes the show much worse, it gets much much worse. I’ll walk out.

The interview ended on that note as Dev’s pal jumped across the table to inform us that the Maroon 5 bassist Micky Madden had just texted him saying how much of a Lightspeed Champion fan he is. Needless to say Dev was too excited to finish the interview and went on about how great they were.
Dev will be appearing solo as Lightspeed Champion in the US in October and his first US release will be here shortly after.

Posted: September 05, 2007
Q+A: Lightspeed Champion