“You can do a bunch of different things at once. There's no point to just being like one thing, and especially with social media, I think that having your eggs in as many different baskets as you possibly can is just more sustainable.” This motto is at the core of Dev Lemons’s ethos, who on any given day can wear the hat of artist, content creator, radio co-host, and more — and do it all while having more fun than anyone else in music.
It does not take more than a quick scroll through Dev’s TikTok or Instagram, or even a listen to the lyrics on her latest single, “CEO OF MY ASS,” to get a glimpse of this, perhaps epitomized by the chicken noodle popsicle. From putting out her first songs under the moniker Miss iPad to accumulating millions of streams as Dev Lemons, the self taught musician has come a long way, and destined for nothing but greatness. I had the chance to sit down with Dev and discuss the rise of her career, Boston weather, the importance of being so versatile in many fields, and of course, some new popsicle ideas.
I’m doing good! Just been at meetings all morning. How about you?
Technically the beginning was high school. I had this really short music phase where I discovered Cyber Bully Mom Club and contron on Tumblr and Bandcamp, and the heavy DIY-ness of their sounds just really inspired me, and I felt like I could do that too.
So I just picked up a guitar and was making stuff — it was really bad. This was before Miss iPad, I don't even wanna say what the name of this one was, but then people found it who I went to school with and made fun of me behind my back. It was great. Humbled me a bit.
I stopped making music completely for years, until I went to film school. And I realized, everyone's sort of doing their own creative thing. That wasn't really a thing at my school, I went to a Catholic school that was really focused on everyone having to go to college and study at an Ivy and stuff like that. But I wanted to go into more of a creative route and that just wasn't the environment that I was in. So once I was exposed to that and went to film school, I was like, "Well, fuck this. I'm gonna just do music again. Everyone's just so fearless, everyone just puts themselves out there." So that's when I started Miss iPad. I heard Joji's stuff on SoundCloud, before "Slow Dancing In The Dark," super early days, and I was really inspired to just go to Guitar Center, buy a $40 ukulele, and just start riffing on it as Miss iPad.
Yeah. That was my first artist project that I really took kind of seriously and marketed myself online, but it didn't really go anywhere because I mean, I was doing everything myself and I had absolutely no training. It was an uphill battle, but then Dev Lemons came to be, because during COVID-19 I really needed a hobby. I wanted to teach myself music theory to hopefully get better at music, and then I also started working with producers and making it more of a collaborative process. That's where the Lemons come in, because lemons are better when they work with other things. So that's why I chose Lemons. It also just rolls off the tongue, so, yeah, long story short, now I'm here.
Yeah, I still have the music out. I was just nervous, because I was like, "Ooh, iPad. Apple's gonna get angry," but it's out. Honestly, looking back at some of the songs, considering that I really did do everything myself and I didn't really have any training or didn't start studying music theory at that point, I'm kind of proud of what I did. Some of it's really garbage, but some of the songs I'm like, "Wow, this could have been worse." So yeah, you should check it out.
Don't go on too much of a binge, you'll be disappointed. Some of the songs are okay.
I hope! Imagine this is the worst thing you ever listen to. I tell you to go listen to my old artist project and it actually couldn't get any worse.
My boyfriend was born and raised in Hawaii, so I moved in with him during COVID. Because senior year of my college was all virtual — well, we had the option to do virtual, or we could do it in person on a hybrid sort of system — but I couldn't afford to live off campus because I took out loans for my entire college experience, which is really bad, but it's fine. My boyfriend was like, "I'm not going to Boston," and he asked if I wanted to come here and I said sure. So I just studied here virtually and now I'm still here.
You know, I do miss Boston sometimes. I don't even know how to describe it — just the things there, the cafes, the common, and the nice weather for a couple days. When Boston is nice, it's not perfect, but it's great. But every other part of the year when the weather's bad, it's so not worth it. When it's nice, oh, it's nice. I would fly there just for the days that it's nice, and then I'd leave.
Pretty isolating. Well, I'm gonna move to LA soon, but I do like being here because then I get to focus on content. I feel like when I'm in LA I don't have any brain space to focus on what I should do on TikTok, and follow the trends and stuff because I'm just so busy experiencing my real life. But in terms of music, I feel like when I go to LA I get things done, and then as soon as I leave LA, I'm immediately put on the back burner and no one wants to work on anything. Even if it's a small thing I ask for, it's like I never existed. That's how I feel, but it is really nice. I do really like it, I'm still really creative here just in different ways.
I think "One Whole Me" is probably one of my favorites. That was the first song I made with Jondren Hwang and the process was really cool because I had the song written, but I just had no idea what direction I wanted to take the production. I was just like,"Oh, let's do something electronic." I recorded all the vocals acapella, with no instrumental under them at all, and Jondren sends me this draft and he's like, "Let me know what you think, I don't know how you're gonna feel about it," and he sends me this, and I only asked for like a couple of things to be added to it. But other than that, it was just like, "Dude, what the fuck?" It just blew my mind because last I'd heard the song there was nothing under it, and then he sent me this and it was ridiculous. When I first heard that song, it was really special, so that's my favorite.
"Guessing Games" is also my favorite because I think the chorus is really cool, and it was a fun one to write. Both of those songs I made completely virtually though, which is really interesting, but I don't do that anymore.
You worked with Jondren on "Autopilot" and "CEO OF MY ASS" as well, right. Did you do those in person?
No, "Autopilot" was also completely virtual. Well, for "Autopilot," we were writing a different song. He made a draft of the beat in person — he was visiting me here — and then we shelved it because I wasn't really stoked about the vocal melodies I did on it. But then the autopilot chorus came to my head, and I revisited that because I loved that beat. So I was just like, "I wanna use it. Let's see if this fits," and I sent Jondren just the chorus over the beat, and he was like, "Yeah, that goes," so I wrote the rest of the song here in a day and sent it back to him and he mixed and mastered it. "CEO OF MY ASS" we did do in person. We finished it virtually, but we did it in person. It was really fun doing that song.
It's so funny, I took this random R&B sample and he just processed the hell out of it and was like, "What do you think of this?" and just played all this noise and then we massaged it a little to make it that melody. Then I was just like, "Hey, I have an idea, let me throw it on." and then I did the chorus and then he really liked it. So that song was so fun. It took a bit of massaging, but we figured it out.
It was so fun, I really love writing things. The way I like to do studio sessions, I like to go into it having no real idea of what I wanna do that day, because when I have gone into studio sessions and been like, "Oh, I wanna make this song," it's just not as fun. It also just feels too forced, you know? I feel like it's better to just go into these sessions with producers and be like, "How are you feeling today?" and then I'll just mold myself into that and we'll just bounce off each other and then I'll write something on the spot.
Yeah, and then I'll finish it later. I think it's so fun to do stuff like that because it feels fun when you're making it. Some people disagree, some people think it's better if you know what you want, but I think it's better if you don't, because if you know what you want, sometimes it's forced.
So in 2020, I just got so into hyper pop. I still really enjoy it, but it was literally all I listened to. There was a period of time where actually my brain would just reject anything that wasn't 100 gecs, like genuinely. So I think that's what sort of made me really wanna go hard into this electronic phase of my career, but it's funny because my previous trip to LA last month, everything I made is just not hyperpop at all really. I made a bunch of different stuff. It's like alt-pop, kind of alt-rock-y, a little symphonic, a little psychedelic, but the next drop I'll do is a song I made a while ago probably, it's a little bit more in the vein of hyperpop, but when I come out with my EP, it's gonna be very different. I don't like doing the same thing, I just don't think I can.
I wish I did. I just have so much to figure out before, because I have demos of all the songs - I know exactly which songs are gonna be on it, we just need to finish them. It's mainly production stuff that needs to be done except for one song that I just need to completely rewrite the lyrics for, but I don't think it's gonna come out this year. I wanna take my time because I was thinking like, "Oh, I could sign to a label and it would help to have a team and a budget." But part of me is considering what if I just do it all myself and really take my time, make sure I have everything I need to roll out an EP and then I start rolling it out. So I would like to start rolling it out at the top of next year, that would be cool, but I don't have a set date yet because I need all the fricking stuff.
I'm definitely gonna put out more music this year though, I just don't know if it's gonna go towards the EP. I was considering it because there's this one song I made that I really love but I just don't wanna start rolling out the EP until I know what I'm going to do label wise. Because then it would just be annoying to figure out, and I don't wanna sign over a song that they didn't help roll out even though I wanna drop it right now.
I should just drop the demos. Screw it, it's not mixed or anything, the bass is really low, but take it or leave it. I should just do that, you're right. I should actually just upload it all right now, we should just pause the interview and I should just leak it.
Yeah, oh my God. "She said what?!" You're full of ideas today, Freddie, that's a good idea.
That's a good question. I think that Song Psych really helped drive me to learn music theory even more and get excited about it and get excited to share it with other people. Not only learning music theory, but then trying to explain it in a way that everyone can understand I think really helped me actually learn what I was studying. I taught myself over YouTube and reading and stuff and I had a friend from Berkeley who I could ask questions to but I think that really helped refine my craft. I also think it was cool to put my face out there in a different context than just a musician. So on Song Pscyh people are startin to recognize who I am, be like "Oh, that's the girl who did that." So I think that helped jumpstart me as an online person. I also met a lot of cool people through doing Song Pscyh, I met a lot of other content creators that I don't know if I would have met in the early days, so I'm really grateful for Song Psych.
In terms of Twitch it's been really fun because I feel like people are super serious musicians and you have to take yourself super seriously. My Twitch just kind of takes it a step farther away from that, because I'll go on and I'll try to make the worst song I possibly can, and it's really fun to engage with chat and be like, "Okay guys, what do you think would make this song even worse?" Just taking suggestions from people, and it's so fun to interact with people who like my stuff, because it's so wild to me that people like my stuff enough to come watch me make unfathomable noise for two hours. It's really cool to see chat talking to each other and then I talk to chat and it's cool to see who comes back. It's just an added layer to building a community, which I really think is so special.
Then on Lorem Life, that's another one where I've just met so many cool people through it, and I've learned a lot through talking to other musicians and hearing the advice they have for people and asking questions to people that I've just loved for so long is just so cool. There's so many people we have on that I'm just like, "Holy shit. I get to talk to this person." That's just so crazy. And the people I work with at Spotify are really awesome, it's just a lot of fun. Everything is one big learning experience.
Thank you! It's fun.
Thank you so much, that was so funny because I was gonna record a different video and then I had that idea, so I just recorded and I threw it up thinking nothing of it because it just was a stupid idea. It turns out people thought it was awesome.
I think it's genuinely just the way I am. I'm just most comfortable expressing that side of myself online just because I wasn't always a musician, I didn't always think I was gonna be this star or something. But the one thing that I always have known about myself is that I do like to make people laugh and I've always just enjoyed performing, whether it's doing theater and playing a funny character or making a silly TikTok. It's something I've always loved, putting myself out there and just making people laugh. I mean no one is truly themselves on social media, but I feel like I'm as close to myself as I possibly can be on my social media. I feel like I'm just my completely unhinged side of my personality. My normal side I say was more Song Psych, but even Song Psych now is kind of devolved into me being more silly and stuff like that. I don't really do videos of me just talking like we're talking right now, just because I have the most fun just putting myself out there as silly. Even with Miss iPad, the only way I really promoted myself was on Twitter, through memes and just shit posting
I've always taken the stance of, if people like me as a person, if they're drawn to my personality, then maybe they'll be more inclined to check out my music and look for things they like in my music. I was never really confident in my music for a really, really long time. I always thought I sucked, and I needed to overcompensate for it by just showing off who I am first, but it's cool now that it's not the case and people are just finding my music and then they're like, "Oh, she's on TikTok." That blows my mind.
Thank you. Sometimes I do think it would be fun to play a character and just always be acting, but I can't, because I feel like it's just fun to be myself. The fact that people like it when I'm myself is crazy, so I'm just gonna keep doing it I guess.
Oh, absolutely. I think that there are definitely downsides that come with it, because if you do too many things at once, it's hard to really be like, "Oh, who is this person? Are they a musician or are they a talk show host? Or are they a content creator?" And I think you can be all of them. I think that as a society, we're just so primed to be like, "Oh, this person does this thing. You only do this one thing,” but I think that also, especially with Gen Z, people are shifting towards not having to just do one thing. You can do a bunch of different things at once. There's no point to just being one thing, and especially with social media, I think that having your eggs in as many different baskets as you possibly can is just more sustainable. I mean, if I were just a musician right now and nothing else I would not be making enough money to live. So I just feel like it's always good to branch out and do as many different things as you can, even if people get confused about what you do - well, then they can figure it out. I think that the fact that I've done so many different things has gotten me where I am, and although it would be nice to be able to focus on doing one thing, for example I would love to focus on just being a musician or just being an actress or something like that, but you just gotta grind.
Oh, yeah, that's what I always wanted to do.That was like why I went to film school, was to learn more about writing and just behind the scenes stuff so that I could understand acting more and maybe even be a director someday. But now I'm doing music and I'm really happy with where I've landed. But, I think that if you're a musician just do everything you can, just show off all of your different hobbies and don't just show off your music. For me, it's kind of funny because all of my hobbies at this point center around music aside from playing video games sometimes, but I think it's so important to put yourself in as many baskets as you can, because if you put all your eggs in one basket and something goes wrong you're fucked.
Dude! I have one right here, made of resin. You don't have to put this in the freezer, I don't even think it's plastic, but it's this liquid that solidifies after 48 hours or so, and you can put things in it. So I put resin in a popsicle mold and made it a forever popsicle. It's disgusting, because it's decomposing. It's really gross.
Yeah. Never meet your heroes. I guess.
And it's just an insane zoom in on a popsicle. I'm so glad you like the popsicles, they're really hit or miss. Most people in my life, in my immediate circle, hate them.
Yeah. Shame on them. They just don't get it. They just don't understand us, Freddie.
I'm writing them down. Yep.
Oh, yes. Oh my God, and then you could layer the bread, you could wet the bread or something. Yeah, that's a good one. That would actually be pretty and honestly would taste edible as well. It would be like the pop music of popsicles.
Yeah, who doesn't like that, besides someone who's allergic or something.
Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. It looks so nice. That would be beautiful.
Yeah, I could. And then it'll melt in the glass and it'll seep out onto the wall.
That's where the resin comes, let me tell ya.
Tea and biscuits popsicle! Ohhh my God. What type of biscuits are we talking? Those oval shaped ones or literally any biscuit?
Oh, I love slowthai. Yeah, this is what I'm talking about. And then the tea seeps into the biscuits and then they get soggy and they kind of break apart a little bit, so it's just tea with a lot of backwash, but really it's a biscuit.
Oh yeah, you've given me so many ideas. Give me another.
Oh my God, gumdropsicle. That's a really good name for anything.
And then I could rip it off of the bone, shove it in the mold and it's gonna be disgusting. I'm gonna tell everyone when I make the pork chopsicle, "Hey, don't blame me. This was Freddie's idea."
Your Magnum Opus: the pork chopsicle
Wow. These are really good. I enjoy them. I'm definitely gonna make at least one of them. The next one I'm thinking of is maybe a mac and cheesesicle, because it's just gonna be disgusting. Or maybe a peasicle, like little peas.
People keep tagging me in this coinsicle. This guy took a bunch of coins, puts them in a plastic cup, shoves a stick in them, and it's a coinsicle
There is, I guess, because I saw someone put their pregnancy test in a popsicle and I was like, "This is too much for me." I don't know who started it, maybe there was someone before me, but I've been seeing more popsicles lately. It's really inspiring. This is my Magnum Opus, I did the popsicles.
It's gonna be mass hysteria or something, this will go down in the Wikipedia. Oh my God it's gonna be so bad.
Literally. I'm so glad that we could share this moment together because I'm gonna make one of these. Maybe I'll even do all of them? Maybe I'll do peanut butter and jelly in the corner, and then I'll throw some tea in there, a little biscuit in the corner and then get a huge gum drop and put it in the middle. The bottom is a pork chop and then it's one of those rocket popsicles only with some different layers.
Yeah. They should be thanking me in advance, because I'm saving the popsicle industry.
There's a void to fill, and I could fill that void with just spaghetti-o popsicles.
Someone understands me. Who says no! No one's telling me what I can and can't do.
Of course! Thank you for having me, I'm so glad we got to do this and I'm so glad you like popsicles — and the music, that's a plus.