Catch up with Nelly Levon of funk-pop group, The Devyl Nellys and listen to their new single, "Funk Is Free" off the band's forthcoming album, Delicious Business, set to release this July.
What brought you all together?
Nelly: Well, essentially, I was in the studios, whether it be jamming or tracking or recording or rehearsing up here in New York and New Jersey and, a lot of times, I'd be around musicians and they'd come up with some really great licks and riffs but they had no lyrics and I would hear melody lines and lyrics and concepts over those, so that's kind of how we got together. I grew up singing and dancing and I was doing rhythm - rhythm guitar, rhythm keys, and singing - and they were doing more of whatever their specialty was - bass guitar, drums, percussion - and we just all did something very different and in New York and New Jersey, a lot of the studios are in a building and there'll be 20 different studio rooms, so it's a consolidated set up which lends itself to natural collaboration and that's how it started. A couple of us were writing for other labels when there were labels around - Relentless, Mercury, Universal - so we had some background that we brought to the table and that's really how we, essentially, organically, started.
Which musicians would you say you've been influenced by?
Maxwell, my guitarist, is so into his guitar and his pedals, so he brings some very traditional and nontraditional flavors to the table. Ben Scott is a good A&R. He's good on the A&R, he doesn't always come up with the volume that Max comes up with, but Ben will spot a hit lick or a hit riff, so he's a good A&R person and, really, our drummer and the keyboardist have - we all have - very, very expansive taste and discography, so it's a little bit of magic right now. You always hope the magic stays together as long as possible, but it's a pretty good group. They're brothers, they love and care for each other and our project.
What words would you use to describe your sound?
[Laughs] Very close to what our album is called! Rockalicious, funkalicious, delicious. Very delicious jams and grooves. Your ass will shake. A fusion of deliciousness.
Can you tell us more about your inspirations behind your single, "Funk Is Free"?
Sure. Some people that were around - those in our inner circle - can be going through something and then can deal with it externally and internally and just know where to put it, know that there's a time and a place to put it and then just try to separate from it when they need to but, sometimes, we're around those that can't separate it out, so the song, "Funk Is Free", is all about reaching out and helping out those people that are going through things that they just can't separate out and let things go and enjoy themselves. Don't fight a particular night or weekend or moment. Don't fight it, just let everything go and, at least, don't worry about whatever's burdening you down for that time that you're with us or with a person that you maybe shouldn't be dragging that drama around to.
Could you tell us more about what we can expect to hear on your forthcoming album, Delicious Business?
You're going to hear variety, but there's not as much variety as our first album. Our first album was very, very various, this one was more around what we experienced from audiences while we were out touring the last two years: what we saw from audiences, what they really gravitated to when we were playing and talking and hanging out with them, what was on their minds. Part of it was shaped around, okay, what's this crowd that comes out to our shows, what do they want to do when they see us, what's the whole night and experience like? So, we build it around them and our take and perspective on that. Vocally and instrumentally it's different, but not as different. We blend traditional and nontraditional. There are some beautiful classic elements to it, but then there are definitely some quirky, different elements to it, but we blend them. There's going to be a lot of emotion in what we're talking about and singing about and telling stories to. When we're out with audiences, the world that we're all living in is very relevant to what they're experiencing and I think what people are experiencing right - keep in mind, it's been a weird time for people in America - their lives and lifestyles have either moderately changed or very much changed since 2009/2010, so some of the key concepts were, hey, we're all in this together; we're all going through this together, this too shall pass. You're not alone in what you're dealing with and we're all dealing with something, so even if it looks like we're not, we really are. Our job as artists and entertainers are being people that can basically help people transcend out of what they're not ready to deal with and our job is to keep transcending them, helping them cope. Music really is - I read it somewhere and you see it when you're out there performing for people - apparently, music is the number one widest addiction. Which, it's good that it, in and of itself, is helpful and doesn't directly kill anybody, but it certainly brings out all sides of people, and then other things come in that maybe do take the lives of people, but I guess it's more complex than it seems.
How would you sum up Delicious Business in one sentence?
An infusion of delicious, ass-shaken, heart-pumping, emotions and rhythm.
Do you have a favorite track from this new album?
Oh absolutely! Excited for the whole album, but "Funk Is Free" is going over exceptionally well, like 100% well with girls, the ladies [laughs], and tracks like "Bloody Mary" which is really kind of a hard rockin', funkin', fun and sass with a lot of Curtis Mayfield-like percussion - basically Curtis Mayfield but add rock - that one's going to be a lot of fun. Then, I think "Rodeo Queen" is just going to be a fun, fun one; that one's going to be fun for everybody because it's very [laughs] it's got disco elements, it's got funk elements, as all of us really, really leaned into the cheekiness of the '70s. I'd have to say "Funk Is Free", "Rodeo Queen", and "Bloody Mary" should be just out of the park live.
What do you hope your listeners can take away from your music?
Just fun. I hope they're glad of the time they've spent with us and it stays with them from show to show and it does what it's supposed to do; it brings happiness and fun and warm, warm vibes to them.