People

Blood Orange talks Angel’s Pulse and nomadic creation

DIOR MEN jacket, jumper and pants; talent’s own bandana and earrings (worn throughout).

“In my eyes, essentially everything I do is the same. Obviously things happen in life and you change, you get different inspirations and usually that puts things in a different place. And in hindsight I can look and I can see the differences. But there’s no goals like that, it’s just getting out what’s in my head.”

Dev Hynes’s artistic practice is nomadic by nature. Primarily musical, his work spans form and format, genre and styles, shifting as fluidly as he moves around the globe travelling, touring and creating. Variously credited as singer-songwriter, dancer, director, producer, performer, composer and collaborator, he’s released records as part of Test Icicles and as Lightspeed Champion before settling into his current Blood Orange project. Working wherever he happens to touch down, Hynes’s refusal to sit still imparts an immediate, enthralling energy in all that he touches.

CHARLES JEFFREY LOVERBOY t-shirt; E.L.V. DENIM jeans; ALAN CROCETTI plaster, bracelet and handcuff.
LOUIS VUITTON shirt, t-shirt, pants, belt and shoes; talent’s own hat, necklace and rings (worn throughout).
DIOR MEN jacket, jumper, pants and shoes; talent’s own bandana.

2018’s Negro Swan levelled a high water mark for Blood Orange – the culmination of Hynes’s experiences to date filtered into an album of deft grooves and potent contemporary poetry, the melding of friends and family forging a crystalline view of Hynes’s universe. Never not working, after Negro Swan’s completion Hynes kept the tap on, and the result is Angel’s Pulse, an overflow of ideas from a seemingly bottomless well. Angel’s Pulse moves with the ease and levity of a mixtape, a vibrant reflection of an artist in tune with their inspiration and letting it run fast and wild.

“It’s hard to explain this, and it’s not that music is secondary, but it’s more like I’m doing whatever I’m doing, and I work on music wherever I am.”

LANVIN jacket and shoes; COS t-shirt; WOOYOUNGMI pants.
LOUIS VUITTON shirt and t-shirt.

“I’m never seeking anyone, I don’t really think that way. There’s been collaborations I’ve done in the past that maybe would have garnered more attention but if I know it’s not good music, and more importantly if it doesn’t fit in with what I think the wider picture is … then I won’t use it.”

“I’m always making something, and usually when I stop, or whenever I draw the line for something I’ve released, I usually continue making stuff and carry on whatever journey that is, but I tend to not show it. It’s generally my own personal thing,” he says. “So that kind of happened with Negro Swan where – I’m pretty good at knowing when something should end, it’s the only way I’m even able to release anything – so that ended and I released that album but I didn’t stop working. I kept going and made more stuff, and usually I compile it and I make it into a project, but I don’t ever actually publicly release it. But this time I just decided to do it.”

LANVIN jacket and shoes; COS t-shirt; WOOYOUNGMI pants.
DIOR MEN jacket, pants and shoes; talent’s own bracelet.
DIOR MEN jacket; talent’s own bracelet.

Rather than being rooted in one place, Angel’s Pulse was made on the move. “I work wherever I am and I travel around a lot, so it’s kind of just made wherever I tend to be,” he says. “I’m sure that the surroundings affect it somehow, but also it kind of doesn’t because I take files and I work on them in various places. It would be hard to even hear sometimes, except for maybe Baby Florence that was made in Florence, and Berlin that was made in Berlin. Take It Back, for example, was recorded in Helsinki, Dubai and London, and mixed in New York.”

For Hynes the multi-national music materialises more as a product of his lifestyle, rather than dictating it. Wherever he tends to be, and whomever he happens to come across, plays a part in the recording, without necessarily directing it. “It’s hard to explain this, and it’s not that music is secondary, but it’s more like I’m doing whatever I’m doing, and I work on music wherever I am. It’s not so much going places to do it, I’m just doing whatever I do and I’ll work on music while I’m in that place.”

A prolific collaborator, his cohorts drift into the mix in much the same way, organically and in the moment. “They always happen naturally. I’m never seeking anyone, I don’t really think that way. There’s been collaborations I’ve done in the past that maybe would have garnered more attention but if I know it’s not good music, and more importantly if it doesn’t fit in with what I think the wider picture is or what I’m trying to do with an album, then I won’t use it. Everything’s very natural, it’s conversations with people that are around and come by and hang out while I’m recording, or someone texting me to hook up. There’s only been two occasions that I’ve worked with someone on a Blood Orange thing where I didn’t know them before, and then even after that I get to know them.”

LANVIN jacket and shoes; COS t-shirt; WOOYOUNGMI pants.

“I went to New York, and I didn’t know anyone. I had things in my mind – books, films, music – things I’d been a fan of that acted as a fantasy and somewhat still do in my head.”

Having grown up in England, since 2007 Hynes has collected his mail in New York, a kind of fantasy come to life. “I moved there when I was 21, and I’m 33 now, so it’s more than what it just is for me. When I moved it was really just because it was the only place I knew, because I’d been there a couple of times before. The only other place I’d been to about as many times was Paris, but it didn’t feel far enough at the time. So I went to New York, and I didn’t know anyone. I had things in my mind – books, films, music – things I’d been a fan of that acted as a fantasy and somewhat still do in my head, but that was really it. I didn’t even really know New York.” Perhaps because of his transient lifestyle, fast-forward some dozen years and Hynes still looks at the city through the lens of a newcomer spellbound by the possibilities. “The place is pretty magical, and it still feels surreal. I still take a walk in Washington Square Park three times a day and get the same feeling.”

Where Hynes feels most at home though is not a specific geographical locale, or residence, but more of a state of mind, “on a football pitch or basketball court or tennis court, on a sports field, or sitting at a piano,” he says. “But I live in my head a lot, the surroundings aren’t particularly that important.”

DIOR MEN jacket; talent’s own bracelet.
DIOR MEN jacket; talent’s own hat, necklace and earrings.
MARTINE ROSE jacket; ISSEY MIYAKE pants; PRADA shoes; ALAN CROCETTI handcuff and bracelet.

“There’s only been two occasions that I’ve worked with someone on a Blood Orange thing where I didn’t know them before, and then even after that I get to know them.”

PHOTOGRAPHY Edouard Plongeon
FASHION Anna Foster
TALENT Dev Hynes
GROOMING Amélie Moutia
STYLIST’S ASSISTANT Clotilde Franceschi