Interview With Top Rated Vocalist Devyn Rush
We had the pleasure to sit down with top rated vocalist Devyn Rush to learn more about her career, approach to singing and songwriting and much more.
Featured on season 10 of American Idol, Devyn got her start singing as a kid. She did her first show when she was just 4 years old and moved to New York City directly after high school, having originated a role in the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening at Lincoln Center. Devyn has co-written K-Pop songs for NCT Dream, AOA, and the debut single for Hyoyeon of Girls’ Generation. Devyn’s voice has been featured on a multitude of commercials and TV shows. In 2022, her EP “Who I Am” was released through Sony Music Publishing UK, KPM, APM & Nightingale Productions. Devyn Rush currently resides in Los Angeles and works as a full-time vocalist & songwriter, recording from her home studio. She loves working with people all over the world!
At what age did your love for music and singing begin?
I don’t know a life without it! I started singing as soon as I could talk. My parents are both musicians, so singing and dancing in the house started when I was in diapers, and we’ve got the home videos to prove it!
Who were some of your early musical influences, and when did you know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
I never wanted to do anything else for a job, but living in New York on my own after high school really helped me solidify what aspects of the music business rang the most true to me. My mom was always my voice coach, and my dad was in bands so they were my first musical influences. When I was a little kid, I would listen to the music my parents grew up on. When I was 9, the first CD I bought with my own money was Christina Aguilera’s first album. That certainly changed me. Christina soon became my biggest influence, so I started singing more Pop & R&B, as I continued to learn vocal technique & musical theatre from my mom. When I was 14, my parents sat me down to watch the Billie Holiday movie, Lady Sings The Blues. Up until that point, I had thought Jazz was boring… but wow, was I wrong! That movie opened up a world for me of jazz & blues… Billie, Bessie Smith, Ray Charles… then Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong… I was hooked.
What were some of your first professional singing / music gigs?
I did my first musical theatre show when I was 4. When I was 8, I started going to auditions in NYC, for film/tv & musical theatre. When I was 15, I started songwriting and originated a role in Spring Awakening, which went on to win the 2007 Tony Award for Best Musical. When I was 18 (2008), I moved to NYC in lieu of going to college. It was there that I started doing studio work, songwriting & co-writing heavily, and auditioned for American Idol. My early 20s were filled with finding my voice, as a singer & as a songwriter.
Did you attend school for music / voice, or are you self taught?
My mom was my first vocal coach, starting when I was too tiny to even remember having started learning! I took some piano lessons as a kid, but nothing too serious. When I was in middle & high school, I taught myself more about chords and music theory, by sitting at the piano and playing through my parents’ sheet music. I would sit there, plunking through chords and singing Carole King’s whole Tapestry Album, Linda Eder, and Wicked. I started playing bass when I was 12, because I wanted to be like my dad. When I was 15, I joined my high school’s Jazz Band. Our band teacher had invited me to sing & play bass. Jazz Band brought out my love for Big Band and helped me realize how much I loved singing live. It was my mom’s suggestion to move to NYC right after high school and “keep the ball rolling,” so I didn’t go to college but New York gave me an amazing education in things I didn’t even know would be so valuable to me.
Aside from singing do you play any instruments?
I play some piano – I know my way around and can plunk out ideas. I play a little bit of guitar, and if I pick up a bass, I always go back to the 12-bar blues that I learned when I was 12 🙂
You worked as a singing waitress in Times Square…what was that experience like?
Whoa boy… that’s a loaded question! I’ll say… it was the perfect experience for me to have, living in NYC, out on my own for the first time. I met some amazing people in my customers from all over the world – some of whom I’m still in touch with! – and my coworkers, who were like family to me.
How did you find it auditioning for American Idol in front of the likes of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez? And what was your experience like being on Season 10 of the show?
THAT was a crazy experience. SO surreal. When I was 12, the first season of American Idol came out. After watching, I would go into my room and sing, pretending to audition for the judges. In this fantasy of mine, I would get 3 “YES!” votes from the judges and get my golden ticket to go to Hollywood. Standing in my empty bedroom, I would start crying tears of joy, as I enjoyed what I had no idea at the time, was visualization and manifestation in its purest form. 8 years later… my fantasy came true. Being on the show was an amazing experience, and I’m so happy that I did it.
How do you prepare for a high stakes audition or session? For instance, are there certain things you’ve learned definitely “not to do”, or things you “must do”?
Oo such an interesting question… I think the biggest and best thing I can do is communicate openly with my clients. When I walk into a project knowing the expectations and what is being asked of me, I can go in more confidently and support my clients’ visions.
When did you start writing your own music?
I started writing when I was a teenager – around 15 – and have used it as a positive outlet for expression ever since!
Do you have a specific way you approach songwriting, or is it different every time?
It depends on the starting point. For example, when producers send me tracks, I’ll write top line (lyrics & melody). So, in that case, I’m starting with the music and building the song around that. For my own artist project, oftentimes I’ll bring a concept – whether it be a title or a lyric or a story – to my writing partner, Daniel McMains, and he will help build the track around my idea. Sometimes he’ll show me a melody line or guitar lick, which will spark an idea. So I’m pretty all over the place! Every project is so different.
Your EP “Who I Am” was just released through Sony Music Publishing UK, KPM, APM & Nightingale Productions. That is very exciting, can you tell us a bit about that?
Yes!!! This was a collaboration between my writing partner/producer – Daniel McMains, my husband – Jeremy Lapitt, and our writing partner Carnie Hall. We signed a deal with Nightingale Productions, which was founded by Caron Nightingale, along with APM, KPM & Sony. They asked us to write an EP of “Happy Pop” songs. All of the songs have empowering & inclusive messages. It was a simple and wonderful process to write the songs, and I’m so excited to share them!
Tell us a bit about your studio and how you work remotely with clients?
I’ve been doing session work for over a decade and started recording remotely before the pandemic, around 2014. Since then, the world has of course changed so much, and along with the hard changes, we have also been open to a world of technology that has really helped me to be able to connect with people from all over the world. For that, I am so, so grateful. Oftentimes, my clients will hop on Zoom with me, and I’ll share my screen so that they can hear AND SEE the session in real time. No matter where you are in the world, we can work together & connect, and it’s a true blessing.
Are there certain clients / projects that you think you are best suited for, or do you like working on really diverse projects?
I work with Songwriters, Producers, Film/TV/Commercial Composers, and Music Publishers from all over the world! Every project is different – I work as a Vocalist, Vocal Arranger & Vocal Producer. I also work as a Vocal Contractor, organizing projects that require multiple singers. Oftentimes, clients will hire me to sing a BUNCH of different parts with different voices – That’s always so fun for me! I co-write & write top line for music producers. There are so many different ways that I have learned I can bring my voice and writing to projects, so I love keeping options open and communication flowing!