Dev Hynes

In the Goings On About Town section of the December 14th New Yorker, this fine photo (by Charlie Engman) of an intense Dev Hynes, in dreadlocks and a black leather ballcap, kneeling, one leg splayed out, cradling his cello.


If altruism is the new orange, Devonté (Dev) Hynes wears it well. As the recording artist and songwriter Blood Orange, formerly Lightspeed Champion, he’s enjoyed a warm reception downtown and beyond, for his sharp style and affectionate mastery of nineteen-eighties pop tropes, as well as for his influential collaborations with musicians like Florence and the Machine, the Chemical Brothers, FKA Twigs, and more. “At this point in my life, all that matters to me is giving back to communities and making people happy,” he said, of his Dec. 12 engagement at the Apollo, “Blood Orange and Friends.” All proceeds will go to the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. “If it wasn’t for the chance to play cello or piano when I was a kid growing up in Essex,” he continued, “I shudder to think where I’d be right now.”

I’ll get to “altruism is the new orange” in a while, but first a little more on Hynes. From Wikipedia:

Devonté “Dev” Hynes (born David Joseph Michael Hynes 23 December 1985), also known as Blood Orange and formerly Lightspeed Champion, is a British singer, composer, songwriter, producer and author. He has written for artists such as Solange, FKA twigs, Tinashe, Sky Ferreira, Florence and the Machine, Carly Rae Jepsen, Diana Vickers and The Chemical Brothers on their 2007 Grammy award winning album We Are the Night.

Here’s a still of Blood Orange performing the Prince-inspired “You’re Not Good Enough” from Cupid Deluxe (2013):


You can watch a video of this performance here. Blood Orange not only wrote the song and sings it (with his girlfriend Samantha Urbani) here, but the man also dances up a storm. Immensely enjoyable stuff.

I’m not sure why Hynes picked Blood Orange as his performance name — possibly because he views himself as black to the core, black by blood — but here’s some information from the Wikipedia entry for the fruit:

The blood orange is a variety of orange (Citrus × sinensis) with crimson, almost-blood-colored flesh.

…The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. Chrysanthemin (cyanidin 3-O glucoside) is the main compound found in red oranges. The flesh develops its characteristic maroon color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night. Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The skin can be tougher and harder to peel than that of other oranges. Blood oranges have a unique flavor profile compared to other oranges, being distinctly raspberry-like in addition to the usual citrus notes.


(Amazing fruit, fragrant and intense. It makes a killer water ice or gelato.)

One more piece, the tv show Orange Is the New Black. From Wikipedia:

Orange Is the New Black (often abbreviated to OITNB) is an American comedy-drama series created by Jenji Kohan. The series, produced by Tilted Productions in association with Lionsgate Television, is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison (2010), about her experiences at FCI Danbury, a minimum-security federal prison. The first season, comprising 13 episodes, premiered on July 11, 2013 on Netflix. The second season, consisting of 13 episodes, was released on June 6, 2014. The third season, consisting of 13 episodes, premiered on June 11, 2015. On April 15, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth season, scheduled to premiere in 2016.

Orange is the New Black is Netflix’s most watched series. It has received critical acclaim.

The show’s title is an instance of the snowclone The New Y (“X is the new Y”; Ben Zimmer’s 12/28/06 Language Log piece on “The new black” has a capsule history of the snowclone). Orange is the color of prison garb, and black is the basic color for fashionable clothing for women.

Then, we have orange as reference to Blood Orange and black meaning ‘African American’, and “altruism is the new orange” as a reference to Hynes’s altruistic work as Blood Orange, giving back to the Harlem community that nurtured him. The lead-in to the New Yorker write-up of Hynes’s benefit performance at the Apollo today, “altruism is the new orange”, turns out to be a play on what is already a snowclone, that is, a snowclone once removed — a showily complex, even tortured, bit of language play.

Getting back to the real world, I remind you that this admirable man is only 35.

One Response to “Dev Hynes”

  1. some songs I liked in 2018, idk – signs & wonders Says:

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