Blood Orange Promises Miami: "Naked Girls in the Style of Piña and Lots of Guitar Solos"

If you were donning baggy fluorescent pants and twirling glowsticks during the so-called "nu-rave" boom of the mid-noughties, then you may know Devonté Hynes as one-third of the group Test Icicles.

And if you're a hipster indie rock nerd, you might know him as Lightspeed Champion, the "49th coolest person in rock," according to NME's 2007 Cool List.

But if you live in Miami, chances are you know Hynes as Blood Orange.

With its dubby sound palette, Hynes's 2011 long-player Coastal Grooves brought him over into the underground EDM scene via major support from tastemaking DJ fans like Visionquest, who even booked him for the Need I Saw More party at Miami's Awarehouse during WMC week.

In all fairness, though, Hynes also wrote and produced music years ago with the likes of Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx. So you could say he's less of a crossover phenomenon and more of a genre defier. The only constant in his music is raw emotion.

Find out when the chameleonic performer headlines the Electric Pickle on Friday.

Crossfade: How did growing up in the UK shape you musically? What sort of sounds and scenes were you into growing up?

Blood Orange: I don't really know how it shaped me. I guess that's for other people to work out. I'm not as aware as others can be. I skated, I knocked about, I played in orchestras. Different environments will always make you independent of opinion, I guess.

What was the first musical project you were ever involved in?

Chadwell Heath High School orchestra, and a rap group in my primary school.

So how did you first hook up with Test Icicles? And what did your time with the band impart to your later solo work?

We were friends that formed a group each week. Nothing ever communicated to anything specifically -- all that exists tends to live on its own planet. I do not see things as something else, everything happens at the same time. Man, it's tough. Lots of the songs in the past have been written in the same time period. It's a daily shift in mood.

You've spent your fair share of time in the studio collaborating or writing material for other artists, like Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, and Florence and the Machine. Which are some of the collaborative projects you're most proud of being involved with and why? 

The forthcoming Solange album is the most I've ever worked on anything musically. It's incredible. She's incredible. I'm excited for it to come out.

If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead who would it be?

Chopin. But maybe he's racist? Probably, right? In that case, I'm not sure.

What prompted you to move to NYC?

I've lived there for over half a decade now. I moved because I felt it would improve my quality of living. Same reasons as everyone else really.

There's a feeling of melancholy running through a lot of your Blood Orange material, especially compared to the more gleeful uptempo Lightspeed Champion sound. Does Blood Orange feed from the bluer end of the mood spectrum? What inspires the songwriting?

All my old songs were sad. These new ones [just] have a fitting aesthetic to it all. I cloaked it all before within brighter colors. Lately, I'm obsessed with writing hopeful and spiritual songs.

You're a bit of a renaissance man, having written and published comics and stories along with your music. Are you currently working on any new projects outside of music? And do you see yourself transitioning into writing or visual arts full-time in the future? Or are you planning to stick with music for the long ride?

Thank you. I'm not sure. I feel my time is coming to somewhat of a passing. I feel this way deeply at least once a year, and it affects everything I do, from interacting with loved ones to answering interviews. I come across as a dick. Probably because I am one. I get obsessed with selfish behavior and pleasing myself until I wake up in a dark pit with horrible music, still alive.

What can Miami expect during your upcoming performance? 

We're all going to have lots of fun! Some naked girls in the style of Piña, pixelated beyond explosions of Antonioni. And lots of guitar solos.

Blood Orange. Friday, May 4. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit

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Sean Levisman