By Claire Stern
Updated Aug 22, 2014 @ 12:59 pm
Credit: Photo by Rose Cefalu

Every summer, there's always one, inexplicably catchy tune that dominates the music charts and seems to play on loop wherever you go ("Fancy," anyone?). In 2010, it's safe to say that song was "Like a G6" by Far East Movement. And what made it so good was that infectious electro hook, which, as it turns out, was sampled from someone else's song. That someone is Cali-born rapper Dev (born Devin Star Tailes), a 25-year-old lyricist and proponent of the spoken-word style favored by other artists like Ke$ha. The song was "Booty Bounce," off her debut album The Night the Sun Came Up.

"I was totally shocked when it first happened," she told of the collaboration. "But it worked out well because I was able to witness how big it was. I got to see what I liked and didn't like without anybody putting pressure on me and my career." Sorry to break it to Dev, but now it seems the pressure is on: With a forthcoming EP Bittersweet July (available for pre-order on iTunes) and a follow-up album on the way, she's poised to rub shoulders with her blue-haired, gold-toothed Nashville nemesis. We caught up with the singer at a listening party for her new EP and previewed her five new tracks, one of which is bound to become our end-of-summer anthem. Here's an excerpt of our chat:

How did the collaboration with the Far East Movement come about?It was right when I moved to L.A.—at that time me and The Cataracs, who produced the track, were trying to network and collaborate, and the Far East Movement loved the hook idea by taking the bridge and putting it in. Originally people didn't like it, but organically it just blew up.

You've always been a champion of the spoken lyric. What made you gravitate toward that medium?I didn't even mean for it to happen, but it's interesting to see that it has become an acceptable thing for females to express themselves that way musically than it ever has before.

Like Ke$ha?Yeah—more power to the spoken word females! I just prefer writing verses: I like it to be sassy, I like to play with cadences and flows. It's just more fun that way.

What type of music did you listen to growing up? Was rap a big influence? Eminem was a big influence. I remember when my dad bought me The Marshall Mathers LP. My parents were a lot more alternative when I was a kid—they showed me The Fugees—they introduced me to a lot of different kinds of music. I liked to mix it up.

Bittersweet July
Credit: Courtesy

How has your sound shifted between your last album and Bittersweet July?There are definitely some songs that are a bit more vulnerable. There's a love song, there's a heartbreak song, there's a fun one—because I still like to drink champagne all the time, and that will never change.

Some things have definitely changed though. You're a mom now!It's crazy, but I do feel very lucky that I'm able to have a career and a family. If I didn't have [my daughter] Emilia, I wouldn't be in the same situation that I am right now. She's a total blessing. I've brought her on the tour bus, I've taken her to Canada. She's a little road dog!

Wow. Must be a tame tour bus!I just get a nice buzz and hang out. A cradle and a buzz. She does come on the road, she has her little headphones that protect her ears. They're like, gun range headphones. She's there during sound check, and when I'm performing. She's rad.

Who is your dream collaboration?Kanye would be crazy cool and interesting. I can only imagine what he's like in the studio.