We catch up with Devy Man on the French Riviera…
All images: Devy Man.
Hi Devy Man, how did you come up with such an original nickname?
Hi James, and hello to your readers! What an excellent question! Thank you for asking (laughs)! In fact, at the start of my artistic aspirations, I was very interested in theatre, music and contemporary art, and I often tried my hand at these 3 disciplines. As a young singer and musician, I used to do rock concerts, particularly in the north of France (where my family comes from… even though I was born in the south) and particularly in the streets of old Lille where the friendly, festive atmosphere was inimitable. Back then, I was more into group identities and the need for a pseudonym wasn’t as essential as you might think in today’s ego-driven world. So I kept my real first name (which my parents had chosen because of the violinist Devy Erhli) and which everyone thought was original, even though I was often given the nickname ‘Crockett’ by analogy with ‘Davy’.
This didn’t bother me too much, in the sense that even as a child I was a fan of the Disney series of the same name: In it I discovered a fascinating character, civilised but with a wild instinct, representing in many aspects of his lifestyle (like living in a cabin, canoeing, being in harmony with nature, using his unique talents and practising diplomacy between high authorities, for example) a fine example of simplicity and humanism to follow … and which I still use today as a frame of reference for the way I function in my search for personal balance! To be a hero who defended the culture and the almost non-existent rights of the American Indians, when everyone was against them in the popular sense, I found that powerful, rare and therefore very impressive. Somewhere that must have sounded like an echo in the depths of my saviour’s soul ….
I rediscovered this kind of feeling later in my career when I had the chance to participate in the communication of several international foundations that promote artistic creation, local cultures (in both senses of the word), intercultural dialogue, women’s, children’s and animal rights, among other things… But also PEACE, as for the Peace Jam foundation, for several consecutive years during the Monte Carlo television festival in Monaco, which rewards and highlights world citizens with sometimes incredible initiatives, like that of the young Indian engineer whose 1st interview I did in Europe (using the technique I developed and often use, the selfie interview, described in my previous article on star média). “Harshwardhansinh Zala”, the genius who, at the age of 14, invented and designed a drone capable of spotting anti-personnel mines in war zones, yet years later they are still wreaking havoc… (even though the conflict no longer exists) see the video here:
All of this is accompanied by meetings with Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Rigoberta Menchu (nicknamed the voice of the Mayans), or her Excellency Oscar Arias, twice President of Costa Rica, who, by an astonishing feat of strength, succeeded in making his Central American country an example of a nation with no army and almost no crime at the time.
It’s an atypical journey that is also reflected in Peace Jam co-founder Dawn Gifford Engle’s documentary “Without a Shot Fired” 2017. She makes one every year about every Nobel Prize winner who has taken part in their event, which are always the scene of almost surreal encounters. I also felt very close to Betty Williams, whose death in 2020 touched me deeply.
Another astonishing woman … To approach people who, through their peaceful but revolutionary actions, have changed to such an extent the immutable workings of our societies, which are thought to be irrevocably doomed to draconian strategies of power, linked to the possession of energy resources, is totally galvanising! Is another way out possible for all of us together? Yes, we must try and do everything we can to achieve it, but why is it still so difficult today? I invite you to find out more about these personalities if you don’t know them, because they’re better than most people who are abusively idolised on the media and networks these days, especially influencers, most of whom achieve success through an attractive or even inaccessible lifestyle rather than real talent. As a result, they are becoming stooges for consumer products, often in disguised, dubious, or even pathetic ways. There’s a huge gap between what you are and what you have… Oh dear! A little humility! Being famous doesn’t mean being the centre of the world! Other people have made humanity shine in a more essential way… so to give more meaning to their lives, how could they contribute to making this planet a better world? For all intents and purposes, I’d like to remind you that access to the mass public also gives us the power to set an example and pass on sound values, which helps us to take responsibility and even reposition ourselves in terms of messenger: “letting something nobler than ourselves pass through us”… that’s rekindling the heart!
I’ve already touched on this subject in an interview with well-known French personalities at the Peace & Sport festival in Monaco (here it is https://youtu.be/MOa_sZoaVss ), although business and spirituality are not totally incompatible, if at least one could serve the other… and not just the other way round, that would be better! But let’s talk about peace again! Here’s a notion that should come back into fashion because of the invading spectre of war, because this is the true meaning of combat… if it becomes inevitable! Why is it essential today, how can it be obtained personally and how is it taught? There’s a shortage of courageous craftsmen who understand its value and are committed to it, but it’s a concept that’s well worth everyone’s while, isn’t it?
If peace emanates from within before being projected outwards, our actions reveal us to ourselves… and to the rest of the world. In this area, there is still much to be invented and even rediscovered…
Individually, we forget the strength of cohesion of peoples for what remains of the real good causes of life to defend. Sometimes, however, they emerge unexpectedly, as with the “me too” movement! So there’s every reason to hope! … Who’s next to try and live his or her destiny in a way that’s useful to the community?
Let’s get back to our original question. When friends saw me perform and wanted to talk about me, they often nicknamed me “the devyman” and even, by extension, just “Man”… So, after hearing it so often, the day I had to identify my artistic persona in the extension of my public activities, the choice seemed obvious…
Tell us about the metaverse. Does it frighten you like it does a lot of French people? Or on the contrary, are you looking forward to seeing more of it?
Fear of change has always been a constant in human evolution, but like the seasons, there’s only one process: adaptation through the permanence of impermanence! “You can’t stop progress’, and societies will always bend towards advanced technology… so as not to lose the race to compete, in this ambient neo-imperialism that encourages conflicts of all kinds… and we’re only just beginning to understand who benefits from the crimes. Humanity needs something else. So the real question we need to ask ourselves is: how can we mark out our evolution with a healthy ethic? Bhutan, with its (incongruous) Ministry of Happiness, seems to be on the right track… These questions and so many others are already asking us today in the multi-level progression of artificial intelligence, the arrival of generalised ‘wokism,’ the transhumanism of the immediate future, and the intense ecological awakening. If the intentions are good, what about the practice? As we all know by now, electric cars pollute more than combustion engines in the manufacturing process and should be reserved for small means of transport (scooters, bicycles, etc.), whereas large means of transport (lorries, cars, motorbikes, planes, boats, etc.) can run on electricity. France is developing this type of engine, which will be on the market very soon, and I can’t wait to see the first flying cars (which are no longer a pipe dream today and are even the next challenge for the mobility market), operating in this way as if in the 5th element!
In this context, the Metaverse could become a sanctuary for good ideas.
For here is a source code that heralds a new market for the expression of a parallel universe within our own. In my opinion, it is an absolutely brilliant and necessary outcome for creation and creators. For example, I can create an image myself (here’s one for example https://gateway.pinata.cloud/ipfsQmbgSEvtdepihGhF1X9tDnusYQfZdA7924oPJ9V3KhzvKR ), a piece of music or a video and give it a value, then sell it because I am the undisputed owner on the blockchain. Then continue to receive royalties when it changes ownership… WoW! But do I still need to go through production or publishing companies? At the same time, I’m still having to sacrifice the lion’s share of the profits from my work, my research and my know-how (e.g. Weinstein) to strangers of sometimes questionable merit, and God knows that all this costs a lot of money on a personal level for any artist who is totally committed to his art… Would sharing in the Metaverse seem fairer? The only thing that worries me is its propensity for individual isolation and the loss of the natural empathy that real human contact suggests.
Don’t you fear that in years to come we’ll be spending more time in a virtual world than in the depressing real world, like Spielberg’s film Ready Player One?
Here’s a film that shows us the total trap. Anticipation works can warn us, but do we often listen to the voice of reason? Yes, James, I’m afraid we do! Human relationships are already increasingly complicated, and encounters with other people have become complex instead of simple. And the difficulties of real everyday life are becoming more and more a search for virtual satisfaction! This is made all the worse by the inability of today’s social systems to make us happy in a sustainable and healthy way. We always need more, or better, in the eyes of others, but for a fleeting purpose. Surfing between frustration, anger, sadness, disarray and depression … or other illnesses for the most sensitive, joy becomes futile and fleeting, love remains fleeting, indescribable & mysterious … and the appreciation of life less relative. This is the imbalance towards which we are heading…
Far from living together, will the individualism created by the selfishness of capitalism be our undoing in this decadent empire of the God of Money? In Asia, or in contemporary art in particular, these symptoms are already apparent (as they are in the case of faecal matter collectors)! Is this a cultural difference … or an aberration?
I’ll leave you to judge for yourself. Just like the current trend of monetising anything and everything on the Metaverse, we can sometimes see that the most widely-followed Nft are more concerned with the need to make the world a better place than our universal reality is, or even to have a positive impact on it. Example: I can buy a Nft sold by a real restaurant that includes a vegan dish specially prepared for me served in recyclable containers … etc! It can be a powerful tool, it’s up to us to know how to use it … awareness, as always, is the key word!
The Nft are falling and losing a lot of money, especially to small investors. Aren’t they victims of their own greed?
In a world where money reigns supreme in all relationships, whatever their nature, we are perpetually condemned to fall victim to our own greed… at some point or another, out of weakness or necessity, that’s where a code of ethics comes in handy… not everyone is capable of having one… so what can we do?
There have always been abuses, whatever the paradigm, but aren’t they worse when it comes to the stock market, which is capable of ruining countries in record time? Or even orchestrating unrealistic policies? Aren’t there limits that need to be set urgently, but which have never been set? But we can imagine the opposite…
A virtuous circle and put it to good use! I’m counting on the ingenuity and benevolence of the actors of the future… on the other hand, the spiritual need is awakening…
But our modern entertainment society, perversely narcissistic, fills us with useless and time-consuming content, and makes us forget the adages of the sages, who have always suggested that the ego should be a creative tool and not an end in itself. Down here, then, everything is governed by the law of the fundamental number! What emotional misery that will lead to even worse! People have never felt so alone, even when they’re together. The focus on screens is not helping.
Greed always has a price, and we’ll never be rich enough to pay for what’s coming our way, in terms of ecology for example, but it’s even more surprising when you see the general drift of our youth, cracking the sack of condescension because they no longer have any respect for their elders, I find that totally appalling! Who can honestly do without the ultimate luxury of the wisdom of their elders?
To return to the cryptocurrency market, the Metaverse tool, Bitcoin, which nobody believed in at the start, was worth less than a dollar. In October 2021, it will be worth 66,000 euros, and that’s an insane increase in value, even though it has recently fallen to a third of its value, and the whole system is often under threat, with upward fluctuations resuming sooner or later… it’s cyclical, even inevitable, and all the big brands are getting in on the act… You just have to be patient and invest sums that you know you won’t need any more… but you still have to have the means to do it… while managing the addiction like in a casino… it’s always up to us to make these micro adjustments.
What do you intend to do in the metaverse?
I’ve always involved talented people in my projects. I’d like to thank them for their help and, in some cases, their eternal support.
In collaboration with an ingenious Doctor of Programming, I’ve recently been working on a new state-of-the-art website based on a domain name I’ve owned since 2000. The influence of this name, as well as the patented technologies that will be unveiled, will be directly dedicated to artists of all kinds, whatever their speciality, whether they work in the real or the virtual world, so that they can take advantage of this Metaverse in a number of ways, including the possibility of creating their own universe within ours to protect, represent and distribute their work. Of course, they can then be sold on our main ‘one-of-a-kind’ market place.
I also intend to show my work there, particularly that which has never before been distributed on any medium, including the internet, in music, film or graphic design. After decades of offering my work free of charge to Internet users, it’s time for me to finance my future Top Secrets projects myself. These last 20 years, though laborious in every way, have seen the flowering of many works that will bear witness to the evolution of my path through multiple apprenticeships as an example to younger generations.
The press presentation is planned for spring 2023, certainly during the next Cannes Film Festival, where I’ll also have a new animated short to present, a story about the history of humanity … bearing in mind that last year I screened a one-minute animated film about human rights in the Metaverse at the Nft dans le Cinéma festival organised by the Franco-Chinese Wagas group! I made it a few years ago, for a competition in 1 week on 1 smartphone (image, sound editing, voice-over) and here it is for you at this link: https://vimeo.com/327288167
Your final word?
Because of the social crises we’re going through, which affect us all in different ways, I’ve had to slow down the development of my next works, but in the meantime, they’ve evolved and matured! My TV series project, ‘the Anarchist’, has become a full-length film in the form of a journalistic, autobiographical docu-fiction… mainly about my never-before-seen experiences at the Cannes Film Festival… but not only that! It’s the exploration that makes me who I am… I’m trying to translate this journey… of a modern-day alchemist… a witness to my time.
The filming of The 3 Gates of Wisdom (an initiatory short film) is currently underway and should start next year. I can’t wait to make it, finish it and show it to you… I’m always looking for artists capable of transcribing my dreamlike verve and it’s a beautiful story that’s useful for all ages, a beautiful message…
And every day I’ve been fine-tuning my live music for a long time now, using a variety of smartphone applications … mixed in real time, of course … like here https://youtu.be/ZW-GMYlF8xs, to which I’ve added a special technique I’ve christened ‘Harmoniphone’!
Getting him out of this confinement has motivated new energy collectively … for my part, I still need to feel free to create and express myself … I wonder if today it’s still the prerogative of artists to be able to do so … in our modern dystopia?!? It seems to me that many subjects can no longer be raised publicly and that censorship stalks us … I’ve personally experienced this on the biggest network a good number of times, for example, to the point of having to choose to keep my opinions to myself in order for my art to survive … is this normal? if the conflictual dimension of pointless procrastination on the networks and administrative life doesn’t end up drowning out any desire for appropriate rebellion, will we have the courage to take back our freedoms? Come on, stateless children … we are citizens of the world and tenants of planet earth. There is only one and only one … like each life to make a difference! Step by step, let’s change this world that no longer suits us! I’m counting on you … but I’m not waiting for you. Each of us can do our bit on a daily basis. Thank you, and see you soon for new adventures.