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12 October 2012

When The Sun Hits Interviews Devi Ever, Effects Pedal Designer/Maker/Musician.

When The Sun Hits
Interviews Effects Pedal Designer/Maker/Musician
Devi Ever 
Interview by Jason Poffenbarger
devi ever: fx, previously known as Effector 13, is a boutique effects pedal company based in Portland, Oregon. The company was founded in 2003 and is named after the company's founder, Devi Ever, with whom this interview is conducted. All of the devi ever: fx pedals are hand built in the USA, in small batches, and are mostly fuzz and distortion pedals, often with an emphasis on another effect, such as scrambling, gating or tremolo. devi ever: fx gear is highly sought after by many, and the shoegaze community in particular is taken with the Shoegazer pedal  and the Beautiful Disaster pedal (as well as many others). Devi Ever herself not only owns and operates the company and builds the effects; she's also an artist, musician, and all-around awesome human being. As a successful female in a male-dominated field, Devi is nothing short of inspirational.

How did you get interested in electronics, and more specifically, audio effect and guitar pedal circuitry? Do you have any formal education in electronics, or are you self-taught?

I've always loved gear.  Ever since I realized it was guitar pedals that really helped breathe life into a lot of the great music I got into when I was a teenager, like Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, or Nine Inch Nail's Downward Spiral, or Jimi Hendrix and his amazing use of fuzz and wah sounds.  That interest turned into a passion in the early 2000's when I decided I was going to do my best to catalog everything there was to know about guitar pedals.  I was building a website called The Guitar Pedal archive while I was fortunate enough to take a summer to get an education at a recording studio, and somewhere between building that website, and learning to record bands in the studio, I realized it'd be pretty easy to build guitar pedals.  So yes, I have a bit of a formal education, but in regards to recording music, and the electronic engineering was all self taught. :)

It seems you collaborate with other circuit designers, Infanem being one – tell us the story behind the Silver Rose. It seems pretty rad. And rad is not a term I use lightly in talking circuitry.

It's a funny story.  I had been in touch with Billy Corgan off and on through the years because he had expressed interest in my Rocket fuzz pedal, which of course whose name was inspired by the song off of Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins.  At one point I had actually spoken with him on the phone and had sent him a Shoe Gazer fuzz as well.  Well, he eventually gets active on facebook and I friend him.  He actually had a personal page which he was pretty liberal about adding people to, and one day I noticed he liked one of my random posts, and I was flattered (and a little shocked) Billy was actually following my own personal page.  Well one day one of our run-ins on facebook turns into a conversation about building him the perfect fuzz pedal, so he mentions a few of his favorite fuzzes, and that's where the Silver Rose came to pass.  He was really interested in a more tweakable version of the Super Fuzz, and I figured since he had such luck with the IC Big Muff in the past, that combining them together would be a very interesting fuzz machine!

As far as working with Infanem, I've been friends and biz associates with Ken (the man behind Infanem) for some time now, so when the chance to design a pedal for a notable musician came to be, especially such an interesting spin on a classic design, he was totally down for it. :)

Many small-operation effect pedal manufacturers are open to collaboration with customers, as well, when a customer is after a particular effect – creating an entirely custom pedal – is this something that Devi Ever is open to?

It depends on the musician.  At the time I was still a bit of a fan of Billy's, and had been a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins since I was a teenager, so I definitely was up for doing something there.  Then again, even for more unkown guitarists I have been known to put together custom conglomerations of my fuzz circuits if people ask nicely and I have the resources. :)  I definitely enjoy custom work.  Unfortunately there's a lot of time and money in this biz that needs to be focused on the day to day normal stuff to keep things going.  I think that's one of the reasons I want to move towards more projects involving the Console that Ken and I are working on, because it'll grant more freedom to do more weird things without those projects sinking their teeth into the bottom line.

I like to tweak and combine existing effect circuits. Do you design, prototype and troubleshoot your circuits from scratch, or do you utilize existing designs and then work to elaborate upon those to get the desired effect?
In the beginning my circuits were experiments that came from the pure ether.  I was just trying to squeeze all I could out of misc. transistor combinations, but eventually I did move towards borrowing and tweaking from other designs. :)

There are many effects/synth kit manufacturers which have designed their projects to be open-source. What are your views on open source?

I love open source.  It's the future, whether big business and copyright holding interests want it to happen, it's going to happen.  Beyond its inevitability, I truly believe the more information is available to the masses the quicker humanity, art, and technology will evolve, and I want my god damned robot body sooner than later.  So, I know giving up my fuzz secrets isn't going to exactly lead to a cyborg civilization, but I aim to do what I can to make sure people have free access to the projects I work on, and then some.

Any upcoming pedals or projects that we can hope to see coming from Devi Ever in the near future?

The Console is the main big project I am working on right now.  We already had a successful Kickstarter and are now trudging through the slow process of getting the final manufacturing specs sussed out so we can get into production!

I know are also a musician yourself. How and when was the band formed?

Haha. I'm not in a band. I mean - I am a musician, I do write and perform songs, but no band for this girl.  I've never had luck with bands.  It's funny.  It seems that every band I've been in up until this point has been a slow evolution to me realizing I just want to do things on my terms... so I guess you can say I've finally gone solo.  Though, the project I'm currently working on his a concept album / performance piece that involves the love of my life Charlotte, that we are tentatively entitling “Stars and Stripes”, though it's still my project more than anything else.  We're going to be playing post apocalyptic prophets sent back in time to warn the world of it's destruction. :)

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?

I actually just released my first official physical EP on compact disc called FUCK IS A FOUR LETTER WORD which people can download for free and buy the CD here :

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites? Are you influenced as a musician at all by these genres, now or in the past?

True story: I don't listen to a lot of new music.  I think the newest band I've heard that I can remember their name is SONOIO, and I fucking love them.  It's hard for me to get into new music, and when I say new music, I mean music I haven't heard before.  I have a weird head space about music.  I fucking LOVE all music, but it takes a real special band to reach me at a real special moment in life for things to click and to really have their music enter into heavy rotation when I do listen to music.  The last two bands that really hit me hard like that were The Dresden Dolls and The Distillers, and both of those bands have definitely had a huge influence on me.  As far as general genres go, there is definitely something about the weird 80's / 90's synth rock hybrid thing that has been going on for a while now that I am really digging.  I think SONOIO is a great example of that, and is something I definitely want to emulate but with more emphasis on the dirtier more organic part of 90's industrial and alternative rock.  That's some place I'd like to head with Stars and Stripes, and something you can hear a little bit of on the electronic songs of FUCK IS A FOUR LETTER WORD.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer? Do you mostly use your own gear?

Bit Crushing.  Hands down I couldn't be me without a good bit crusher. Which is funny because I've never owned or really thought to push hard to design a physical bit crusher.  I always just end up using whatever is available in whichever software I am recording via at that moment... usually Logic or Garageband.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?

I'm excited and terrified about the state of the music industry.  I'm still an outsider.  I've never tried -really- hard to make in the music biz, but I aim to start soon.  I think the thing I am excited about is that there definitely seems to be a slow shift back towards love for local bands, scenes, and indie artists.  The best part is, that even though anyone and their dog can be in a band or create a record, I feel like there's that much more pressure to create a really stunning act, both recorded and live, and we're just now beginning to see the fruits of such pressures forcing musicians to evolve and become more creative.

On the other hand I'm terrified because it seems there is this significant lull financially where the people with money are no longer giving it up to bands who dare to do things differently, but I think that's where the likes of Kickstarter and direct-to-fan sales is slowly picking up steam.  So, there's less opportunity for people to make it big and live a rock star life, but there's more and more opportunity for people to at the very least make a living doing what they love!

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?

I think labels are still a great jumping off point.  Amanda Palmer for instance.  I don't think she'd be where she is today if it weren't for that initial push she got from having Dresden Dolls sign to a major label.  That being said, if I could make it just off the support of fans, I think the freedom that comes from that trumps kowtowing to corporate interests anyday.  Given the opportunity, if the circumstances were decent, I'd personally have no trouble signing to a label, but I'd rather do it myself if signing meant losing the freedom to be creative and speak my mind.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?

I love vinyl, but I don't mind digital music, though lately I have definitely begun to appreciate lossless audio versus even high quality mp3s.  At the end of the day I prefer vinyl, simply because of the experience of holding music in your hands, and knowing you are going to sit there and have to listen to an artist's overall album vision in its entirety.  It's like... with vinyl you have to commit to listening to an artist and their message , which is something you just don't get generally with digital music.  I mean, obviously you can, but it's just so easy to switch do a different song or band as your mind so desires.

What artists have most influenced your work?

Too many to list.  Ha ha.  How about I tell you the artists I've enjoy most seeing live.  In no particular order : Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Mindless Self Indulgence, Destroyed for Comfort, Tia Carrera (from Austin), 311, Arkane Dream.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?

The secret to success and happiness is to spend as much time as you can doing the things you love.  The more time you invest in those things, the more prepared you'll be when opportunity arises, and if you live in a good part of the world and are fortunate enough, things will work out in the long run. :)

About Jason Poffenbarger
Jason Poffenbarger is an artist, musician and maker/hacker. He has been known to play out as a DJ, audio/visual installer, and live performer of  noise-music/electronic bliss for folks who will listen. He hacks synthesizers and drum machines in his spare time, and is currently working to clone several vintage effects units. He works under two monikers: Pfaffenberg and Mooshiko. A few bits of his work can be found here: