PUBLISHED IN ISSUE 14
INTERVIEW BY WHITNEY MALLETT
PHOTOS BY MORGAN MAHER
PsychoEgyptian, born Devin Cuthbertson, spits racially-charged raps carpeted by noisy lo-fi production. Often popping up shirtless, always with “dope” emblazoned in ink across his chest, and not infrequently getting kicked out of whatever party or club in New York, Devin has a grade-school troublemaker charm about him. The first time I saw him play was at a club in Bushwick, and where the DIY arts scene sees most of its punky coven coming from everywhere else in the country, Devin grew up in the now rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood. After seeing him play in LA at the summer solstice party, which was really an excuse to shoot a scene of PsychoEgyptian performing for a music video, we met up in Brooklyn on a hot summer day where he was recording at a friend Eliot Glass’s place. We took refuge on the roof to talk.
How did you first meet Mykki Blanco?
According to him, we first met because people used to mistake him for me. He would try to get into parties and clubs and shit and they wouldn’t let him in thinking he was me. So finally I guess we like seen each other on the street and he was like, “are you Devin?” And after that he stayed with me. My mom left the apartment that we grew up in and he needed a spot. That’s where he was practicing with his industrial band before he started doing the Mykki Blanco thing.
I forgot Mykki was in an industrial band. I was talking to Palmtrees about being really into industrial and death metal growing up. What do you see as the common thread between all of you and your music?
I think we all were outsiders growing up in our communities. I guess I gravitated to shit that was raw and that spoke to my feeling of isolation and feeling alienated. I started off liking new metal, but I was always a hip hop head too. I started high school where my dad was living in Pennsylvania and there was only a certain level of freakness you can be in that area. It was like people who were into Korn. I started listening to Korn and I was trying to pursue being a turntablist—that fit into all that nineties new metal shit. Limp Bizkit was around and all that. But then I moved back to New York to stay with my mom again. I had all these romantic dreams that I’d go back and be surrounded by all this culture and there’d be breakdancing on cafeteria tables and shit like that. And there was a lot of breakdancing but I mean high school in New York is more bullshit than culture.
When did you start making music in New York?
I started making music after going to art college at Cooper Union. I was painting and making drawings and I was having art shows here and there and it was cool. New York was burgeoning for art at the time but I got frustrated with the fact that being an artist meant having to pander to galleries and having to play the whole game of socializing in the art world. I decided I wanted to make an album. I used to go to Best Buy and dick around on their keyboards and make weird sounds and record them on a tape recorder I had. And I’d go to the Apple store and record things. And I made this album in three months called Coon Carnival. Everything started from there.
How important is live performance to this whole project with Dogfood MG?
We all came from the underground, you know what I’m saying? We didn’t meet from Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. We met from being in it, and so our live shows are an extension of that. You have to be there and experience it to get the full depth of what we are trying to do. As much as you can download a song and be a fan through the internet, you’ll never get the full totality of the thing if you’re not seeing the artist perform and being part of an audience. I went to a Death Grips show yesterday and it was fucking fantastic because I felt the energy of being there, of everyone sweating all around me, people being exhausted, and being fucking energized. You can’t get that from passively being an online consumer. I feel like people are being constantly washed with music, it’s so omnipresent, but it takes a lot more effort to go and experience something IRL. There’s also a very political aspect to this thing in terms of visibility. As Black musicians we have to be as visible as possible. What’s visible right now is very determinant on stereotypes and normative notions of race and masculinity. But us just being who we are, we defy those, so why not create a spectacle of Black radically on stage? That’s why the live show is so vital.
© 2020 The Editorial Magazine