Singer-songwriter L Devine has been on our radars for some time now, and in that time she’s gone from strength to strength, cementing herself as one of the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming musicians.
After capturing listeners’ attention with tracks offering a fresh perspective on queer love and sex – including the heartbreaking Daughter and unapologetically horny Naked Alone – she’s just released her most provocative single to date, the frank and catchy bop Girls Like Sex.
For our Over The Rainbow interview series, we caught up with the singer about the LGBTQ artists who’ve inspired her the most, and the Pride performance that could have ended in disaster, but ended up being an unforgettable moment...
What is your favourite Pride memory?
I’m pretty gutted, because I was meant to be doing Brighton Pride last year and this year, so I can imagine those would have been my favourite Pride memories.
The last Pride I performed at was in Madrid, and it was unbelievable. Someone told me there were 40,000 people there, which is not what you want to hear when you’re about to go on stage, really. That was definitely the biggest gig I’ve done to date, and the atmosphere was just amazing. Especially because my whole band is gay as well, so we were all just in our element.
So, I got up there and my guitar broke during Daughter which is, like, my gayest song, and that’s the moment of the show where I talk about my own coming out experience and then play this song. And my guitar just wasn’t working. And there was a bit of a language barrier with the guitar techs because obviously we were in Madrid.
I just had to think on my feet quickly, and I ended up putting the guitar away and doing it acapella, and everyone got their phone lights out and it was such a nice moment – when really, I could have got booed off stage. But no, it was absolutely lovely, and that will always be my favourite Pride memory.
Who is your LGBTQ hero?
When I was growing up, I didn’t really see anyone that made me feel like I was represented, or that I related to. But over the past few years there are so many more LGBTQ+ artists that have come out and that I really relate to.
When I was 15 I remember watching a Hayley Kiyoko video for the first time, and I was just like, “woah, this is so cool, here’s a pop star who happens to be gay and is making music videos with queer storylines”. It just blew my mind.
She definitely made a huge impact on the community, because she was one of the first people to really do that, and you can tell that everything really comes from her, that it’s her truth and her story, which I think is so, so important. Her videos aren’t directed by some bloke who’s trying to get two girls kissing on a music video, it’s really authentic and really important.
What is your go-to Pride anthem?
Pussy Is God by King Princess. There are so many reasons that this is my Pride anthem. But definitely being a lesbian, that song does a lot for me [laughs].
This song takes me back to being on the bus with my drummer, Gabby, and she used to play that song nonstop, so it really reminds me of just being on the bus and having fun.
What is your favourite LGBTQ film?
I’ve got so many, I’m a proper queer film nerd. The Handmaiden is brilliant – I’m not going to try and summarise the plot because it’s the most twisting, turning story ever, but just go and watch it if you’ve not seen it.
And another classic, if you want something that’s a bit of a lighter watch, is But I’m A Cheerleader. That’s so funny, so brilliant and Natasha Lyonne is the best.
What was an LGBTQ TV show or TV moment that made you feel represented?
This is pretty embarrassing, but I used to have what in my head I used to call “the gay episode” of Skins from season three, with Naomi and Emily, downloaded onto my iPod. And I used to watch it!
I think I went on Limewire and downloaded it or something, and I used to watch it in secret, because I didn’t want my mum seeing on the family computer that I’d been watching it.
Who would be your ultimate queer icon?
I always say Christine And The Queens, but she helped me so much in terms of how I express my gender expression and bending those norms and stuff. I think she’s just a super liberating artist, and just totally embodies being yourself.
And an ally who embodies the spirit of Pride, I’d probably say Charli XCX. Her shows are like a Pride festival in one hour, it’s absolutely mental. The majority of the crowd are gay, so that probably helps. And then I just think the music is so freeing and bonkers, you just lose yourself in it, and that’s what Pride’s all about. It’s just a super fun time. I’m a proper little Charli fangirl.
What is your message for young LGBTQ people this Pride month?
I feel pretty bad for young queer people this Pride season, because if this is their first experience of Pride, it’s probably a lot disappointing, you can’t really fully go out and celebrate. But I just want people to know that it’s going to be so worth it next year, and we’re going to come back with a bang. It’s going to be incredible.
And to anyone that’s struggling with being stuck inside these past two years – I know that not everyone is as lucky as I was and some people have been stuck in homes where maybe they can’t be themselves – but I want young queer people to know that we’re waiting for you with open arms, and we love you so much.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Take a listen to L Devine’s latest single Girls Like Sex below: