Enter the Champion

first_imgThomas Barrett interviews Dev Hynes aka Lightspeed Champion ‘Who?’ seemed to be the general reaction from my friends when I told them that I’d be interviewing Lightspeed Champion. Even less people know his actual name, Dev Hynes. Yet here is someone who’s had a massive effect on modern British music. At the age of 17 he was the guitarist of the Test Icicles, generally thought to be the band that started nu-rave. After developing a strong following, the band decided that they didn’t actually like their own music and split up. I suppose you can’t really have a better reason, can you? Perhaps, without Dev there’s be no Klaxons, no “rah-ve”, and none of those god awful pink “Save The Rave” T-shirts in Primark. In spite of all that, you’ve got to love him. How many people do you know who can carry off big furry hats with such abandon? Now, to general surprise, he has reappeared under the guise of Lightspeed Champion, this time with a folksy, Americana-style tilt to his music.When I meet him, Dev seems uncomfortable with his return to fame. He fidgets slightly as he tells me, ‘I really didn’t think this album would get any attention. It’s got me questioning myself’. What surprised me most is how modest and self-deprecating he is. Given that he’s spent years as a performing musician, I thought he would ooze self-confidence. But he says, ‘I’ve always found playing live a weird concept … something I’ve had battles with over the last few years’. For him it seems that music is a personal thing. While he find playing live awkward, his attitude to music itself is vastly different, ‘I love music, it’s natural, like breathing. I just do it’. He adds, ‘I feel like I can write a song whenever I want to’.Inevitably, the Test Icicles come up. I ask if he sees the whole experience as a good thing. He thinks and then says ‘I don’t regret anything I ever do … I see everything as a learning experience’. But Dev is surprisingly unwilling to take any credit for his band’s influence. He says: ‘I never want to admit that I had an influence on something’. We move on to Lightspeed Champion. It is, he says, ‘just me by myself. I wouldn’t want to call it my name, because then people would assume it’s the real me.’ But then he comments that ‘it’ll always exist, unless I die.’ He surprises me by adding ‘but then it would probably be better’. Lordy.Dev’s apparent lack of faith in his abilities disappears on stage. After performing bass duties for support act Semifinalists, he confidently takes to the stage. He plays brilliantly, engaging well with the crowd and delivering a great set. Dev always seems to be several years ahead of himself – the next album is already written. He plays several of these new songs, showing that we have much to look forward to in the future.last_img read more