Singer-songwriter and multi-intrumentalist Devi Majeske has been making music and sharing it online since she was a teenager in 2015, but over the past few years she’s truly come into her own creatively.
We first met the artist known as Air Devi in this 2019 interview with Moriah Kofsky, who called her “the best kept secret in Philadelphia” and praised her “refreshingly idiosyncratic repertoire,” something that’s only expanded in the years since. “From an angsty bop that playfully airs personal grievances about her conniving landlord to an entrancingly mellow French track, Air Devi honors her songwriting process, wherever it leads her,” wrote Kofsky.
That fall, Devi left Philly for a few months to live abroad with her grandparents and study Indian classical music; she wanted to take a deep dive into her roots and incorporate them further into her music. Upon her return in March, Air Devi released a terrific EP called Swanning About, recorded with her bandmates Jacob Hershman on guitar, Seth Fein on bass, and Jay Fein on drums. And despite getting back to Philly just in time for lockdown, Devi’s productivity continued over the ensuing months, resulting in terrific singles like the irresistible “Mosquitos In The Backyard” and the moving “Lint Of A Masterpiece,” as well as “Musee De Erreurs,” her collab with Ali Awan and French producer Les Flammes Obscures.
This charismatic Key Studio Sessions performance at WXPN studio encompasses all of that, and gives us a taste of what’s ahead.
The two videos you can watch above are those songs referenced in our interview from 2019 — the breezy French tune and the punkish landlord smackdown. Below, you can get an idea of where Devi is heading with her next body of work with a first listen to the new song “Dharti.” Devi explains that she wrote it about a girl she met in India, who was about her same age and possessed many of the same personality traits, but who comes from a completely different life experience. As Devi warmly sings “I could have been you, you could have been me,” she’s concerned but full of empathy and love.
Musically, this Air Devi session is a meeting ground of bright indie pop, brash punk rock, melodies and arrangements inspired by her Indian heritage, and witty scene-setting and storytelling. If you have an affinity for Belle & Sebastian, Buzzcocks, and Bollywood soundtracks, these clever and cinematic performances will easily draw you in, as will Devi’s rapport with her bandmates — sharing laughs when the unhinged energy of “Landlord” threatens to go off course but never derails; fist bumping excitedly when Hershman nails the epic guitar solo in “Lint Of A Masterpiece.”
It’s a lively but all-too-brief taste of an exciting emerging artist from Philly, but it’s also a solid argument for heading out to West Philly Porchfest this Saturday; Air Devi performs at 5 p.m. on a porch at 331 S. 43rd Street; also on the bill are Romaine The Child, Gene Wildest, and recent Key Studio Sessions star Tubey Frank. More information and details can be found at Air Devi’s Instagram; to dig further into her discography, pay Bandcamp a visit.