When it comes to music and nightlife, to say that Serge Devant has been around the block is an understatement at best. Born in Russia, Devant was trained in classical music until he moved to New York City as a teenager and fell in love with the city’s nightlife and music culture. As a young adult, he frequented legendary clubs like Twilo and Tunnel, and sought mustical inspiration from artists such as The Prodigy, Carl Cox and Underworld work their magic over the dance floor. Now, with over two decades under his belt as a known and respected producer and performing artists (not to mention numerous lucrative residencies), Devant knows a thing or two about the shifting music and nightlife scenes in the U.S. We caught up with Devant after his show at Do Not Sit On The Furniture to pick his brain on the subject.
“Alot has changed,” he says. “Table service and VIP areas came into full effect, the music went more into the commercial realm, and technology has evolved to the point where people are too busy taking pictures and looking at their phones rather than just dancing and enjoying the music they came to hear.”
But while it may have pushed aside the club culture of the ‘90s that he grew up with, Devant admits the commercialization of the music scene has bred some positive effects. “On the other hand, there’s a ton of great new festivals now and more options to go to amazing parties and see your favorite DJ up close and personal. At the end of the day, things evolve and we just have to get used to change.”
The statement may sound like one of acceptance rather than hope, especially coming from an artist who once said America’s music scene was “in a state of crisis.” Devant, however, insists that he now has a much more positive outlook on things overall. “It’s actually getting much better these days,” he says. “Clubs that used to book mainly EDM DJs are now looking to push the envelope with bookings, because they know there’s a much greater demand these days.”
Devant says the music and nightlife landscape in Miami specifically is “maturing” and undergoing change. While few may call it a shift away from velvet-rope nightclubs and bottle service, most will at least agree that there are definitely more options for party-goers looking for a more intimate and “underground” experience. Lounges are becoming increasingly popular, and music directors are filling rooms with talent formerly deemed too obscure to ever book in a city like Miami. Devant says it’s a nationwide phenomenon, and a natural one at that.
“People are definitely becoming more mature in their music taste and are looking for new nightlife options. I mean, how can anyone listen to the same 40 tracks over and over again? I wouldn’t say that America is moving away from bottle service, but rather that clubs are adapting to the changes that are happening around them. They are becoming more mature with their bookings, they’re getting more underground DJs to play, and people are responding to that.”
Devant says that, in a way, his own artistic development reflects this process of “maturing.” From his house roots, to his darker and more bass-driven recent productions, he’s demonstrated exceptional range across his musical career. Devant says this too was a “natural progression.”
“When I was younger I was only interested in one type of music, but as I got older the whole genre started to become more and more repetitive. I started to get bored, and that’s when I explored the deeper side of music,” he says. It took a couple of seasons in Ibiza and several trips to Burning Man for Devant to find new inspiration. His music got darker, but he held onto classic Serge Devant elements, like emotive vocals and melodies. “It’s actually nice to look back on my own musical journey now and see the whole progression,” he adds. “As an artist, it is important to always stay inspired and true to yourself and your music.”