"There once was a man who really loved salt/So he tied his nose to the sea/And then God came down from his silver throne/And said, 'Honey, that water ain't free.'"

~ Devendra Banhart

Devendra Banhart was born May 30, 1981 in Texas. His strangely enchanting name comes from an Indian Mystic his father and mother followed. At age two his parents split up; his father went to San Francisco and his mother moved to Venezuela amidst the shanties and the sweatshops. Although they had enough funds to stay above the poverty level, Devendra still grew up in straining and dangerous conditions. At the early age of 12, Devendra began to write his own songs.

At age 18, Devendra decided to go to art school so he left Venezuela to enroll in the San Francisco Academy of Art. Soon, the constraints of academic art started to take their toll. While in school he started his days as a wandering minstrel. He would play anywhere that would take him, but the true songwriting genius had yet to emerge. One day while lying in the woods with his girlfriend at the time, Devendra had an epiphany. He and his girl were arguing about the song "Street Fightin' Man" by the Rolling Stones. He argued that Mick Jagger had not actually gotten into any fights, where his lady begged to differ. She asked why Mick would sing about it if it didn't happen, and then Devendra knew. From that one statement he figured out that you could write songs about anything at all (note the limerick about the sea).

"That's when I realized I could write about anything I wanted, it was like being constipated and then taking a suppository."

Soon, after playing any place that would allow him, he packed up, left art school and moved to Paris, but not before having a little tiff with Sammy Hagar. It seems that Devendra was playing at some sushi bar for no pay one afternoon and Sammy comes strolling in. After ordering some sushi, Sammy sits down and begins to eat. Eventually, he seemed to not have any appreciation for Devendra's singing so he gets the great idea to go turn the jukebox on in the middle of the set. Of all things to play, he chooses Van Halen, thus escalading the rudeness. Devendra sets his guitar down, gets up and walks over to Sammy's table, spits in his sushi and attempts to spit in his face but it misses. Needless to say, a fight ensued.

Devendra is also a member of a band known as Vetiver. They're somewhat the same style (freak-folk) but with more instrumentation. Just as any entrepreneur of the music industry, Devendra has just recently decided to start his own label with his good friend Andy Cabic. The label, known as Gnomonsong, will feature Jana Hunter's Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom and a mysterious new group called ABRA as its first releases.

Now, the time you've all been waiting for, trivia and gossip.

It's rumored that Devendra has a little bit of a thang' for one of the singers of another "psych-folk" group known as CocoRosie. The songs "Be Kind" and "A Ribbon" are supposedly dedicated to her (whichever one it may be). Another tidbit of information that some might not realize is that Devendra wasn't really discovered by Michael Gira of "The Swans." Who truly saw Devendra and then suggested him to Michael was a man by the name of Siobhan Duffy. He came to one of his shows at a place called "The Hop" and was really impressed with what he heard and saw so he told Michael and the rest is history. Also, just recently did Devendra get his own private residence. He's been wandering and living in friends pads for quite a while and just recently did he purchase a place in New York.

Concerning recording quality, Devendra certainly has a unique sound to his voice, music and overall atmosphere. When just starting out, he used to record on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder and sometimes even friends' answering machines. When Michael was confronted with the problem of how to record Devendra, he was torn. He could have continued the lo-fi stuff or forced him into a huge recording studio. Consequently neither of the options seemed suitable for Devendra's music. Luckily, Lyn Bridges contacted Michael and invited them down to house somewhere on the Alabama/Georgia border to record on all of his great vintage recording gear. Devendra sat in Lyn's living room and just played for 12 to 14 hours a day. The result is a perfect sound for Devendra and if you listen closely, you can sometimes hear crickets and cicadas in the background of some songs if the windows were open that night. All albums are released on Young God Records.

Following is a complete discography of Devendra's work up to this point:

Oh Me Oh My The Way The Day Goes By The Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs Of The Christmas Spirit (Nov 12, 2002)

  1. Tick Eats the Olives
  2. Roots...
  3. Charles C. Leary
  4. Nice People...
  5. Animals...
  6. Cosmos and Demos
  7. Michigan State
  8. Lend Me Your Teeth
  9. Hey Miss Cane
  10. Soon Is Good
  11. Tell Me Something
  12. Red Lagoon
  13. Gentle Soul
  14. Happy Happy Oh
  15. Pumpkin Seeds
  16. Thumbs...
  17. Legless Love...
  18. Marigold
  19. Make It Easier on Me
  20. Ones

Black Babies E.P. (May 27, 2003)

  1. Bluebird
  2. Surgery I Stole
  3. Cosmos and Demos
  4. Onward the Indian
  5. Lagoon
  6. Charles C. Leary
  7. Long Song
  8. Old Thunderbird

Rejoicing in the Hands (May 4, 2004)

  1. This Is the Way
  2. Sight to Behold
  3. Body Breaks
  4. Poughkeepsie
  5. Dogs They Make Up the Dark
  6. Will Is My Friend
  7. This Beard Is for Siobhán
  8. See Saw
  9. Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicry
  10. Rejoicing in the Hands
  11. Fall
  12. Todo los Dolores
  13. When the Sun Shone on Vetiver
  14. There Was Sun
  15. Insect Eyes
  16. Autumn's Child

Niño Rojo (Sept 21, 2004)

  1. Wake Up, Little Sparrow
  2. Ay Mama
  3. We All Know
  4. Little Yellow Spider
  5. Ribbon
  6. At the Hop
  7. My Ships
  8. Noah
  9. Sister
  10. Water May Walk
  11. Horseheadedfleshwizard
  12. Island
  13. Be Kind
  14. Owl Eyes
  15. Good Red Road
  16. Electric Heart

Cripple Crow (September 13, 2005)

  1. Now That I Know
  2. Santa Maria Da Feira
  3. Heard Somebody Say
  4. Long Haired Child
  5. Lazy Butterfly
  6. Quedateluna
  7. Queen Bee
  8. I Feel Just Like A Child
  9. Some People Ride The Wave
  10. The Beatles
  11. Dragonflys
  12. Cripple Crow
  13. Inaniel
  14. Hey Mama Wolf
  15. Hows About Tellin A Story
  16. Chinese Children
  17. Saw Kill River
  18. I Love That Man
  19. Luna De Margarita
  20. Koreandogwood
  21. Little Boys
  22. Canela

My copy of Cripple Crow also came with some sort of hidden or bonus track entitled "White Reggae Troll/Africa MP3." The song won't actually play if you put the CD in your stereo but it shows up as a separate file than the audio disc when you put it in your computer.





Personal collection.