Devon Shaw, better known as D the Lyricist, is a founding member of Unite the North, a homegrown hip hop group. He’s also a forerunner on the music scene grind, investing countless hours creating and maintaining huge projects like the annual AK Rhymefest music festival or his new podcast.
Shaw recently participated in a question and answer interview to discuss his passion for music and his ongoing efforts promoting Alaskan artists.
Q: What are you currently working on?“Rhymefest man, expanding the business… We’re it. We’re the movement… We just launched the podcast… We just launched our weekly countdown, a music video countdown. It’ll be every Monday.”
Q: How’s the podcast been going?“We’ve been having a lot of success with it… We also have the radio show at Radio Free Palmer Saturday nights at 8 p.m… The podcast kinda expands everything throughout those various platforms.”
Q: So you’re developing an app as well?
“If you go to the AK Rhymefest Youtube and you subscribe there, there’s artists from all over the state. The app is gonna be running off of Youtube, so all the plays that get generated are monetized by the artist’s Youtube account. So, all the money goes back to them… It’ll basically be an app that’s strictly dedicated to our music scene.”
Q: What’s your vision for the podcast?“The vision for this podcast is to shine light on the little guy, trying to help independent artists out here have a voice. We’re showing people that together, we can amplify that voice. Our platform is completely unbiased. We don’t care. As long as you’re an Alaskan artist and you’re out here pushing the scene, we support you. We wanna put you out there… We will play your tracks. We will play your videos… Once your music’s on there, you’ll instantly qualify for the app. Your music will be featured on the app.”
Q: When do you hope to launch the app?“By summer we should have the app out… I’m blessed to be around a lot of hardworking individuals. It’s not just me. I have an incredible team.”
Q: What does the podcast format look like?“We go live Thursday nights at 9 p.m… We tell them to send in their music, and we review it right there. We play the music. We bump it. So, they get that opportunity. We’ve had a lot of artists drop their exclusives on our show just to see what people think about it. We’ve had DJs do DJ battles on our show before… It’s an open platform for artists to break their records.”
Q: What’s been your favorite part of featuring these artists on the podcast?“We interview a little bit of everybody… I like everything about it. I like the idea of being able to talk to these artists... A lot of these artists I know because I’ve been making music for so many years. I know how it is… It’s cool to reach out to these artists because I’m a fan of them as well. So, as a fan I get an opportunity to listen to their experience as artists. You can’t really love music unless you’re a fan of it first.”
Q: What’s the latest with UTN and your solo work?“I’ve got a couple of projects getting ready to drop… This is the 10 year anniversary of ‘Train Leaving,’ our big album… My solo album, ‘The Lyricist’ will be out October 21st, my birthday.”
Q: How long have you been making music?“Almost 20 years. I first started professionally recording when I was 17.”
Q: How do I get into music in general?“It was a family. It was always one of those things, that music came naturally to me. My brother did music. My mom, she sang. My dad, he used to sing. It was just something I was always around, and I naturally gravitated toward it.”
Q: What about expressing your creativity through music is so important to you, and has it changed with time?“Yes. I would say my reason for making music has changed, like a lot. I think as a young man, my motivations were mainly like, ‘anybody who does music, you want to be the best at it.’ My focus was trying to get my name out there. To me, it’s more so I want to show my kids that if you believe hard enough in something, it can happen… We deserve it... I believe in our scene… I’m doing what I love to do, and I’m doing it to the fullest.”
Q: What value does having a strong bring the community?“You should take pride in music that’s where you’re from... It’s a symbol of a strong community... I believe music is just another voice... We are the northern light. Music is the voice.”
Local artists interested in contacting Shaw can reach him at 907-795-0054 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com