Singer-Songwriter Devon Cole Gets Vulnerable on “Call U After Rehab”

Devon Cole feels as if her career’s just getting started. 2022 and into 2023 have represented a new level of success for the 24-year-old alt-pop singer-songwriter. 

Singles “W.I.T.C.H.” and “Hey Cowboy” received both critical praise and commercial validation through listens: “W.I.T.C.H.” – standing for Woman in Total Control of Herself – received over 70 million streams, and the number continues to grow.

In addition to getting signed to Arista Records, Cole received a 2023 Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and a Kids’ Choice Award nomination for Favorite Breakout Artist.

Yet, while “W.I.T.C.H.” embodied an attitude of independence and “Hey Cowboy” presented a sex-positive offering, “Call U After Rehab” – Cole’s latest – goes down a more vulnerable route.

Thematically, the song touches on putting a relationship on pause to take care of one’s self and heal emotionally. Building off this momentum, the Toronto-based artist has a tour of Canada and parts of the U.S. planned through the end of May.

As she looks ahead, Cole discussed some of her accomplishments with us:

How did it feel to receive your recent Juno nomination?

Oh my gosh, it was incredible. I screamed, my mom cried. It’s crazy to think that three years ago, I was finishing up my psychology degree, without any plans of pursuing music, and now I’m here.

It’s extremely validating, and I think it shows that it’s never too late to carve a path for yourself in a creative industry, if that’s what your heart is telling you to do.

Your song “W.I.T.C.H.” saw a high number of streams. How did it feel to have your track receive this level of attention?

It feels wonderful and surreal. I can’t even wrap my head around it sometimes. “W.I.T.C.H.” is my precious baby, and it’s my origin story.

The best part is that now I have an audience where I can continue sharing my songs and growing my career.

Now that you’ve been nominated for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, what’s next for your career?

I’m looking forward to the day I release my debut album – that will be a really special moment for me.

I’m just gonna continue grinding and putting myself out there and following my gut. I know this is just the beginning.

My phone screen says “Everything I seek is seeking me” as a reminder to believe in the power of the universe. It’s gotten me this far.

What was your approach or vision for “Call U After Rehab”?

“Call U After Rehab” is a song that I was needing to write for a long time. I was putting off going to therapy despite my mom’s encouragement, but I reached a point where I had to deal with my issues.

It’s easy to talk about how important self-care is, but it’s harder to actually do it. This song was written around the time when I was finally starting to value my mental health.

Now I’m in therapy, where I’ve done a lot of inner child work, so the video for “Call U After Rehab” has a childlike element to it.

This song reflects your softer side. How many sides or sounds do you have as an artist?

Sonically, I will always lean towards pop, country, and funk. And, in terms of how many sides I have … I don’t know!

I think I’m slowly figuring it out and peeling back the layers of my artistry as I continue to write. I will always be raunchy and tongue-in-cheek, but I’m excited to continue tapping into this new vulnerability.

How did you get started with singing and songwriting?

I’ve been singing since I was a wee thing, and I was in choir and performance groups and all that jazz throughout my youth.

When I was 12-ish, I started writing little ditties. Our family friend connected me to a mentor, Bruce Innes, who was in a Canadian folk band in the ‘70s. My mom used to drive me an hour out of Calgary to meet with him twice a week.

He taught me about songwriting and the value of learning to play an instrument.

We put together a CD of 10 original songs that are cringey to look back on, but cute. He was the first person (besides my mom) to really believe in me, and I owe a lot to him.

These days, what’s your process or your inspiration for crafting a song?

These days, I’m trying to keep my eyes and ears open for inspiration everywhere. I think the best lyrics come from real-life things that people say and do, so I’m always on the lookout for that.

I’m very much a concept-first writer – I don’t like walking into a session or writing alone without knowing what I want to write about. I’m very analytical about it.

Every song should have a thesis of sorts. My process is usually: concept, then beat, then melody, then lyrics. But it’s different for everyone – that’s just what works for me.

You’re heading on tour with Valley soon. What should concertgoers expect from your live show?

Oooo, they can definitely expect some storytelling and some banter. I’m definitely very cheeky on stage, and it’s important to me to make the audience laugh.

My band and I have also been working on our hairography, so there will be some synchronized hair whipping for sure!

Writer

Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.

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