Dev Hynes returns to his hometown in the video for a remix of “Uncle ACE” by Kindness, which also features vocals from Frankie Knuckles collaborator Robert Owens. The questions that appear in the video as Dev revisits “scenes of where [he] grew up/went to school” are answered below by him and Robert Owens. The remix keeps the funky nature of the original, but adds some booming, powerful vocals from Owens towards the end.
Did your hometown influence the adult you became?
Devonté Hynes: I’d like to think, whether good or bad, we are all affected by the place we grew up, laying the groundwork for later in life. I know, for myself, I spent a large part of my life running away from, rebelling against a lot of things that were around me. Due to negative connotations that I drew up, due to bullying I experienced. But the further I pull away from that time period, the more I’m now able in my late twenties to reflect, enjoy, and see a lot of my roots.
Robert Owens: I would say that street life had the biggest influences on who I am as a person; learning to not fear being alone and learning to love the possibility of becoming more than the someone I left behind countless times on my quest to find balance with myself. That balance has unfolded happiness, a happiness I enjoy sharing with others.
At what age did you first hear music?
DH: As long as I remember, my mother would listen to the soul legends, Lionel, Luther, Marvin, Nina… but she also loved the people in the UK that were big at the time, UB40, Simply Red, Sade & Annie Lennox. My sister loved Nirvana & Blur and my brother would listen to all of the above including a lot of the rap greats. My dad would play classical music in the car, which had a huge impact on me.
RO: From five or six years old, I remember family members putting me up on tables telling me to dance and sing for other family and friends – it’s been something naturally in me from childhood. They also would ask me to play the music at our family house parties, so I guess I can really say, music has been my life.
Did you have other interests as a teenager?
DH: I played cello for the school orchestra. I would play ‘Magic The Gathering’ and read comics at the local comic store. Ilford library was a safe haven. I was also playing a lot of basketball, tennis and football, for the school and other local teams.
RO: No, music really has been my life.
Are there songs which you link with your hometown?
DH: When my sister would play it, Underworld “Born Slippy” has the line “Going back to Romford…” which would always stick out in a “I’m from that place!!!” kind of way.
RO: At present, I’m forever evolving with music to a point where I’ve forgotten about what I’m sure was some beautiful musical moments. Lost in time, but my heart yearns to move forward, so I’m lost in thinking, on and up.
Has music ever been a refuge in your life?
DH: As I look back, I’d say the whole time. A few years ago I probably would have said no, and talked more about sports, and books. But as I look back, it really was a one true safe place for my mind to go.
RO: Music is my healing power, my light out of darkness, the only place I can give unconditional love.