Blood Orange

Call him Blood Orange, Lightspeed Champion, or just plain Dev. Whatever the case, Devonté Hynes was a multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer, composer and author who created critically-acclaimed works in a variety of musical styles. Hynes grew up in Ilford, Essex, England, developing a varied taste in music by buying most of his early records and CDs in bargain bins. Hynes attributed his varied musical stylings to these early influences, which included everything from Neil Young to Broadway musicals to modern composer Philip Glass. He formed his first band, a noisy indie-rock trio cleverly called The Test Icicles, at the age of 18; their debut album For Screening Purposes Only was released in 2006, but the trio split the following year, with Hynes famously quoted by the UK music bible NME as revealing, "We were never, ever that keen on the music. I understand that people liked it, but we personally, er, didn't." Once removed from that project, Hynes moved to New York in 2007 and adopted the persona of Lightspeed Champion, a name taken from a series of comic strips drawn by the then-teenaged artist inside his math books. Lightspeed Champion's two albums, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge (2008) and Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You (2010) were melodic, musically varied indie pop records, with Hynes performing all the instrumental and vocal parts himself. Hynes then changed his project name and musical style once more, moving into a semi-psychedelic style of indie R&B under the name Blood Orange. Along with two albums of his own under that project name, Coastal Grooves and Cupid Deluxe, Hynes also produced and wrote songs with acts like The Chemical Brothers, Van Dyke Parks, Sky Ferreira, Florence + the Machine and Britney Spears. Hynes gained mainstream notice as Solange's musical partner on her breakthrough EP True, but the partnership fell apart afterwards, with Hynes later revealing that he had written several of the EP's songs by himself. In December 2013, a fire destroyed Hynes' apartment; he lost everything he owned, as well as his pet dog.