For 25-year-old Boston musician Devin Ferriera, it’s all about following your dreams.
And if your dream is something like integrating your saxophone skills with your rap skills to form a new genre of music, then so be it.
Actually, for Mr. Ferriera, it’s not all that weird. “I’m surprised I’m one of the first to combine saxophone and rapping in this way,” he said. “Both are based on improvised rhythms.”
But the combination did not always feel so natural. Mr. Ferriera, who said he was “always obsessed with instruments,” was eight years old when he first picked up a friend’s saxophone and just never stopped playing. He studied the instrument straight through college, inspired by the improvisation of jazz aficionados like John Coltraine. As for the rap, he says his family has recordings of him freestyling as early as age six, “before I even knew what rap was.”
And though Mr. Ferriera stuck with both passions throughout his young life, it took him several years before he thought to combine the two. “I guess I always thought my words and my music were two separate voices,” Mr. Ferriera said. “But eventually I realized the voice was the same. The saxophone expressed a part of me, and my words expressed a different part of me, but when I put them together that voice was strengthened. It allowed me to better express myself.”
The result is a style entirely of Mr. Ferriera’s own, a genre he calls “soul rap.” He’s not only a musician, but a producer. Mr. Ferriera personally creates all of his beats — sometimes digitally, but mostly organically with instruments. “I sometimes work on the music for 100 or more hours before I even think of writing lyrics,” he said. “It’s creating the music that sets the platform for the message.”
The message is lyrically driven. Mr. Ferriera’s biggest influences are old-school rap pioneers like KRS-One and Tupac Shakur, “. . . artists who stayed true to their lyrical content and weren’t worried about what the media or society thought the message should be.”
It’s this attitude that drove Mr. Ferriera to create his own record label, Devin Ferriera (or DF) Music. “As I was coming up I had my own way I wanted to do things, and I found that having my own record label was the best way to keep my music pure and my creative process personal,” Mr. Ferriera said. “I didn’t want to give away my identity for a song that’s going to make a million dollars. For me, being able to make the song the way I want it is worth a million dollars.”
Mr. Ferriera says to do it all on his own takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice. “I don’t get to go out like most 25-year-olds do,” he said. “I spend a lot of time at work, a lot of staying up late and getting up early and playing 20 shows a month. But to see it manifest when I perform, and to see people out there feeling my music rejuvenates me. Performing is the culmination of the creative process. It completes the cycle.”
Mr. Ferriera performs live at the Dive Bar in Oak Bluffs on Saturday, July 13. He will also be there Friday evening for a pre-party meet and greet and merchandise signing. Doors open at 8 pm both evenings for persons 21 and over. Cover charge TBD.