LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION

What about the man behind the Lightspeed Champion moniker? Who is he? Where did he come from? How much free time does he have? Working backwards: very little. Dev Hynes is a man who doesn’t like to sit around waiting for results; by the time the results are in, he’s on to bigger and better, or at the very least worse but different. A selected history of Dev rather breathlessly testifies to as much:

 

He began piano at age 7 (and yet he doesn’t hate it today). Next came cello, then the double bass, drums in high school, all the while teaching himself guitar. Early Dev Hynes band history involves several shitty punk bands whose names, according to him, “involved a celebrity’s name of some sort, either exactly copied, or made into some sort of irrelevant pun.” (No examples were provided, but one assumes that ‘Meg Ryan’ and ‘Crispin, Her Fingers Are Blue, Glover’ can’t be far from the mark.) Dev’s shitty punk band run culminated in Test Icicles, a shitty punk band that was actually pretty good, taking a skewed approach to shitty punk that telegraphed an intelligence not always present in the genre (‘Test Icicles’ is an anagram for ‘Eel Tics Tics’ (probably).

 

Extensive touring had ravaged his throat, and in December he underwent surgery that left him unable to speak for weeks, incapable of anything but whispers and scowls for a good while after that. So he scorned the world, holed up in his apartment, and began writing Life Is Sweet! Nice to Meet You. It was finished by March. During the last year alone, Dev:

 

- performed Cat Stevens’s soundtrack for Harold & Maude at a special screening by the British Film Institute.
- sang songs from Moondog’s Sax Pax for a Sax with the London Saxophonic at London’s Barbican Centre on the 10th anniversary of the composer’s death.
- arranged for and sang with The Britten Sinfonia orchestra, conducted by André De Ridder and Andi Toma.
- co-wrote with legendary composer and arranger Van Dyke Parks, the fruits of which will see release in the near future.
- wrote and recorded with Basement Jaxx (see "My Turn," the new single from their recent record).
- wrote and recorded with Solange (sister of Beyoncé, a well known R&B performer).

 

He also covered, this year, something like thirty records in their entirety – recorded them and everything – while sitting around his apartment (his latest, as of this writing, is Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard A True Star). These covers are rarely heard by another soul, although in 2007 Dev put his Nimrod take on Myspace (Green Day continue to nurse their cover of Falling off the Lavender Bridge). He also started a new solo project called Blood Orange (a “slightly disco Chris Isaak Oriental thing”).  He also scored an album for two cellos, which he aims to release in 2010.