INTERVIEW: Deva St. John on her new single, Preacher

Back in January, we brought you Deva St. John's first single of the year, Reckless - and now she's back with more! New single Preacher sees the London-born singer/songwriter return with her fiery energy and fierce vocals as she takes aim at political and authoritative figures in her latest alt-rock belter.

Deva St. John by Dann Emmons

Fusing a brilliant concoction of pummelling drums, glistening guitar riffs, and Deva's urgent and mighty voice, Preacher builds in melodic friction before a drop of silence - then it sends you headfirst into its hefty frenzy of a chorus. The track is pure sarcastic, angsty rock 'n' roll vivacity, and Deva delivers it perfectly with her powerhouse vocals, stirring her tangible anger into a commanding rock banger. Plus, taking a stab at shitty political leaders and abuse of power is the exact sort of rock anthem that we need right now.


Luckily, we got to chat with Deva St. John about new tune Preacher, the story behind it, and everything in-between!


Hey Deva, thanks for speaking to the Coven! How have you been lately?

Hello! I’ve been alright thank you! Been busy editing and organising the Preacher release. I’m so excited about it.


We're loving Preacher! The lyrical aggression that it aims at authority and those who abuse that power really speaks to us, and it seems even more relevant now than ever. What inspired you to write the song?

Thank you! I wrote Preacher a little while ago now. Trump was in the US office, giving the gross underbelly of American society permission to be shitty. Boris was in the UK office, lying to us about Brexit and being a general twat. It's everyone’s responsibility to have difficult conversations and ask important questions. Artists create mantras and messages for the wider population - ideas are power! I just wanted to do my bit.

Deva St. John by Rebecca Need-Menear

Preacher is quite political, while Reckless was more personal as it explored your experiences within acting and the music industry. When it comes to song-writing, what's your process like?

Yeah! Well usually, I come up with hooks or lines and try to build a song around them. With Reckless, I started with the premise. I was miserable at the time - so I wanted to write a song about how and why I felt the way I did. It’s a pretty unique experience - but pretty much everyone in my position could relate to it. Going from child actor to adult actor is a weird and uncomfortable journey - especially if you have a rebellious streak. It would’ve been a very helpful song to discover when I was a teenager, so I wanted to create it for someone else like me.


With Preacher, the process was very different! We were going through The Information Age one evening at band practice. As a joke, Stu (my drummer) kept playing after we had all stopped. The drums during the outro of The Information Age are really beefy and big and they actually sounded really cool on their own. Stu said something like - “aw, how awesome would it be if we transitioned from The Information Age straight into another song!?” We were like “woah, yeah!” So he continued playing the outro beat, I mumbled a random melody over it, recorded it, wrote lyrics to it, and - that was it! Preacher!


Your recent singles have more of an alt/rock 'n' roll edge than the bluesy rock of your earlier releases - was this just a natural progression for you, or was this the sound you always wanted to work towards?

Yeah, I think it was a natural progression thing. Dear Ocean and Afterlife were initially written on piano, so they’re very piano-driven and - because I’m a pretty lame piano player - they’re simpler than The Information Age, Reckless and Preacher. They were also written before I started playing with a band. XV was written by Split The Dealer, and he’s brilliant at writing more commercial stuff. I’d definitely like to go down a more commercial route. I love that classic sound, it’s my favourite and I’ll always revisit it. However, I really want to try everything. I’m still discovering my sound - and a lot of my favourite music is very production-driven and commercial. I’m still not there yet, but I am getting a better at it!


We've seen you've been busy filming a music video for Preacher! What can you tell us about the music video?

I have! I love directing and editing. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always been completely fascinated by filmmaking. Dann Emmons was the DOP on it and co-edited it. It’s messy, dynamic, cool and VERY well acted. I got some friends in to perform and they’re all so fantastic. I’m very lucky to know such talented, hard working people. I even got my mum and dad to be a part of it! That was funny. Especially because - spoiler alert - my dad is murdered at the beginning of the video. As soon as I told him the premise, his eyes lit up and he was like “can that be me!?” He’s a big horror fan, so the idea of wearing a prosthetic and fake-dying a horrible death was very exciting for him.

Deva St. John by Rebecca Need-Menear

With things looking optimistic for live music returning later this year, what are you most looking forward to when gigs can be a thing again? Any live shows already planned?

Oh my god. I’m so excited to get back on a stage. It’s my absolute favourite thing to do. I’m booked to play the main stage at Readipop 2021 for BBC Introducing. Though, I have a feeling that’ll probably get pushed to next year again. The gig that’ll most likely happen this year is my joint-headline show with Split The Dealer on Saturday 25th September 2021. It’ll be at The Waiting Room in London! If you have a fiver and some ID, it’d be great to see you there!


What can we expect next from you, an EP maybe?

Oh man, I would love to release an EP. It’s just a case of money really. When you’re unsigned and still building a fan base, it’s usually better to just have a decent budget for a single rather than stretch yourself thin on an EP. I can’t wait to create a big piece of work - I love albums that take you on a journey. Little interludes and random fun shit. Hopefully I can do something like that soon!


Thanks so much for talking to the Coven, it's been a pleasure!

Thank you for having me! Have a lovely day!


Keep an eye out for the Preacher music video - out April 14th.


Stream Preacher on Spotify and Apple Music


Review and interview by Chloe Robbins

Photography by Dann Emmons and Rebecca Need-Menear

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