23-year-old Devin and Cody Sapp hold a deep-seated passion for a space in music beyond their time. The kind-hearted two spoke earnestly about how they ended up with guitars cradled in their arms while pursuing a degree in broadcasting and cinema arts. Their sound manages to recapture some of the most organic aspects of music hidden deep within the recesses of this generation's music through a combination of blues, folk, soul, and much more. Although they don't actively pursue music as a career— rather, for the love of it— Devin confessed that he sold his saxophone to compensate for the upkeep of their two acoustic guitars, and neither one of them have looked back since.
How did this come together? When did you start singing and play guitar?
Cody: We didn’t really start singing together for a while. We kinda did improvised jams around a really simple structure, and from there it grew into trying to sing— I say trying because playing guitar, you’re never going to be the best guitar player or the best singer. You need to figure out how you sing or how you play— at least for me, that’s an ongoing process.
Devin: On a really basic level, we were just really into music and gradually I think it got to the point where I just needed to play guitar. It’s been a slippery slope. I’ve become far too interested in the guitar where it’s become a weird obsession.
Cody: Devin started to learn the guitar first, then he taught me, and then he really took off and became proficient really fast. He might not say it himself, but I’ll say it because I was there.
Do you read sheet music or do you play by ear?
Devin: Cody doesn’t read music and I don’t read it anymore. I used to play the saxophone in high school, but I sold my sax for guitars. I bought 9 volt batteries for our next gig and bought new guitar strings to restring them. I’m trying to musically prioritize at this point.
You said you’re still trying to learn how to sing and play guitar and that it’s an ongoing process, but your music has a very distinct sound. It sounds very central to the blue. Who are your musical influences?
Cody: The blues is a huge influence. You can trace the blues back to every part of popular music right now. Soul music, like Sam Cooke, Etta James, Otis Redding—
Devin: — we love Otis Redding. Otis-Fucking-Redding.
Cody: Then there’s classic rock like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young.
Devin: And I think the best music is spontaneous. The best music is improvised, and part of it comes from being selfish. I think I’m an incredibly selfish artist. I play what I want, and what I want is music that’s free flowing but has exciting points and is fun to participate in.
Cody: And I think for some people that we don’t normally play for, they might feel like we’re being selfish, but we're just trying to explore different chord progressions and change in rhythms and patterns.
Devin: I think our music requires a certain amount of selfishness and openness, but we need to be selfish about wanting new and unexpected things to happen within our music. Although, sometimes that does mean being derivative, repetitive, and simplistic.
When you play at different venues, what type of audience do you bring in? And if you’ve ever asked people who have seen you perform or have heard your music, what type of feedback have you gotten back?
Devin: Older people come see us perform because we play music that sounds older. When we first started playing, it was at breweries where people in their late 20’s hung out. We have a relatively small, loyal fan base of people who are local. Those who try to keep up with our music and see us perform are all fascinating people. Not too many young folks come to see us.
What do you think of music today? Does any of it resonate with you? Do you draw influence from it?
Devin: I think music today is exciting. I don’t know that I’d ever get into playing electronic music or really dance oriented music. I like listening to production; things I’ve learned about through my audio classes. I’m into that. But generally, I don’t know what it is about music today, but I personally don’t find much emotion in it; although, it is hugely prevalent, and every once in a while there’s something that’ll hit you. For example, I like Adele. I mean, she’s fucking awesome. I like Radiohead but that’s closer to the 90’s. There’s a few contemporary people we keep up with and there’s still some exciting people doing work in the blues now, like Gary Clark Jr.—this guy out of Texas doing fantastic stuff, like merging the blues, hip hop, and R&B. That’s something I didn’t think I’d be open to, but it’s pretty cool. We listen to Kid Cudi a lot. That’s art. There’s not a lot of people these days who do conceptual albums. I think the big thing about Kid Cudi is that he has these concept albums and he pushes them. A lot of people don’t promote that their album is about something meaningful.
Cody: Because it’s not cool to have an album that’s about one thing anymore. People just want a pop single now.
Devin: That’s the whole music industry. I’d like to think that for a while, Kid Cudi was interested in his art. I think he probably still is, but once you get into the music industry, I hear it’s hard to get out of the. We like to stay on the peripheral and just make music so we can have fun.
Cody: It would be nice one day to not worry about bills and shit like that though-- college debt. Maybe that’s why people sell out. I don’t know.
I guess that leads into my next question: do you make music as a hobby or do you pursue making music as a career? Because you two are both studying BCA and I’m not sure what you two are concentrated in for those majors.
Cody: It was never our intention to be musicians. We’re studying film in the BCA department and I’m still super into film. We wanted to make movies, and that’s still something I’m really interested in. It’s honestly a little bit more feasible than making music. Although I wouldn’t even call making music a hobby because it’s such a big part of my life now.
Devin: I’d say it’s an impulse, if anything at this point. It’s a habit. I think it’s a healthy habit.
What does art mean to you? Why is that such an important part of your life?
Cody: Art is such a broad thing, and different pieces of art mean different things to me. I get a very different vibe from visual arts than I do from music. I can say that music for me is the first thing I do when I wake up and usually one of the last things I do before I go to sleep. I guess you could say, without me really going into too much detail, that it’s a fucking huge part of my life.
Devin: I had this conversation the other day and it occurred to me at work that—and this isn’t a new thought that popped into my head, but it blew my mind when I thought about it again—there are people that don’t think about music at all, and music is all I think about all the time. It really scared me. When I’m in the car I’m listening to sound. If the radio isn’t on I’m listening to the engine or listening to my breaks; I mean, sound is all around us and in a certain sense of music, I think it’s one of the greatest forms. I think film is honestly the most intricate and collaborative art field. You could be blind and you could just grow up to music. It’s fun to associate things with music, which is why I think film is so incredible, because it’s the combination of two huge senses. Music is just fucking awesome.
Cody: I think for a lot of people, music and art are intangible things because you can’t always understand it. For there to be people who have something that’s such a huge part of their lives, which to some people are considered intangible to so many people, makes artists a little bit different. I think you can always tell an artist from a mile away. It seems like there’s this joke, and if you’re an artist you’re in on it. That’s the way I think about it.