By David A. Mitchell
Devo Springsteen From Beatmaker to Starmaker
If you’re a fan of Kanye West and John Legend, then you may unknowingly be an admirer of producer Devon Harris aka Devo Springsteen. An A&R executive at Kanye’s GOOD Music record label camp from its humble beginnings (circa 2000), Devo was instrumental in introducing John Legend to the fold. In fact, Devo and Legend were one-time roommates while attending the University of Pennsylvania.
Devo is a DJ, an in-demand beat-maker and first and foremost one of the more prolific producers on the scene today. He produced several songs on Legend’s Grammy-winning Get Lifted debut album, such as “Live It Up,” “So High” and “Refuge,” as well as subsequent Legend favorites like “Stereo,” and “If You’re Out There”; the latter penned as a theme song for the Obama campaign. Devo’s won several Grammys, including Best Rap Song for Kanye’s hit single, “Diamonds are Forever,” in addition to
producing songs for an array of hip-hop acts like the Last Poets, Nas, Rhymefest, Common and Cassidy.
According to Devo, producing beats for Kanye and other rap artists pretty much came natural to him. Yet, it was producing ballads such as “If You’re Out There,” and Pop/Urban material for artists like Deborah Cox, Aretha Franklin and Britney Spears, that allowed Devo to expand his repertoire and his base.
“I was constantly providing beats for pretty much all of the Kanye projects,” he says. “He would tell me who the artist was, and I would provide him numerous tracks for the project, and we would modify the songs from there. But I’ve been given the opportunity to transition from hip-hop and to move over into the world of Pop and alternative artists. Now, I can see myself working with artists like Pink or Avril Lavinge—to people who I grew up appreciating like Aretha Franklin. In fact, she may be the only artist I was ever star-struck over who I’ve worked with.”
The list of accomplishments continue to grow for Devo, he has done music for companies such as MTV, Dr Pepper and MTV 2 and has worked with Ali Vega, Estelle, Karina Pasian, Claudette Ortiz plus overseen the production and development of his own group, Riot in Paris!
When asked how he would classify his music or his production vibe, Devo is quick to say he is influenced by everything.
“When I make these records, I generally want to appeal to a broad scope of people; which is why I feel at home working with artists like John, like Aretha, Britney and Kanye. They all have global appeal. Whatever I do, I want it to be universal.”