by Lorie Lewis Ham
Recently I had the chance to see Devan Bolding perform as Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf in Raisin’ Cain Players production of Into The Woods at the Selma Arts Center. I loved his voice and performance and thought what a fun local actor profile he would make for KRL. I went to check him out and found out that he is also a musician. So I took some time to chat with this talented performer and learn more.
KRL: When did you first start singing and how did that come about?
Devan: In the words of everyone else, there was never a time I wasn’t singing. I was the child that would sing louder if told to be quiet. I got involved in choir at 9 or 10 years old.
KRL: When did you decide to make it a profession?
Devan: I made it a profession when I was 13 by singing at weddings to earn some cash. I took on a “real” job at 15 but kept singing as an extra source of income. After completing the acting program at Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA), my drive to be an entertainer as my sole profession was pretty intense. I was still making ends meet by holding down other jobs, but I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t because I hated the day to day job but inside I knew what I truly wanted to do. I couldn’t give up even with the fear of the unknown and failure in my mind. As some say, “Yolo.” I saw an audition to sing for a cruise line in Los Angeles.
It so happened it was my only day off for the week. I threw the question of “Should I go or not” around for longer than I should have. And why? Because I was thinking about the expense of gas to get down to L.A. All the while, I knew if I didn’t dive in and walk the limb that I’d regret it every time I stared at the ceiling dreaming of the day when I’d fall asleep and wake up knowing that I loved doing what I do every moment of the day. I could tell you how much popcorn was on that ceiling. Haha. That was it. All or nothing! That’s when it was final; I made the decision.
I left after work and made it into L.A. late that night, slept a few hours and made the audition in the morning. I got a call an hour after the audition and was told I’d landed the gig and would be flying out at the first of the month. It so happens that my lease was up on my apartment the same date as my flight. It was a trip…the type of news that makes you pull over because your mind is blown…
Since that decision, I’ve traveled the Mediterranean for a year, the Caribbean for a year, co-founded Bolding Music Entertainment (BME) with my brother, A.J., recorded my debut album, “Who Ever Knew?” and continue to sing and travel as my profession.
KRL: What style of music do you sing?
Devan: I like singing many genres of music. As a vocalist, I enjoy the challenge of finding the vocal placement for each style. When touring on the ship, I cover songs from eras such as: the Woodstock Generation, 70s Funk & Disco, Motown Soul & R&B, 80s Pop and Rock, and the 90s to current tunes. My album, “Who Ever Knew?” has a Neo-Soul/R&B groove.
KRL: Is it original or cover songs?
Devan: I wrote the lyrics, performed all vocals and produced many of the songs on the album. Some of the beats for a few are produced by Al Fraser.
KRL: Where does your inspiration come from when you write a song?
Devan: Of course some are inspired from personal experience or experiences I’ve observed in others. I usually have no set topic for a song but let it create itself in time. You can’t rush the creative process. I get inspired by listening to the lyrics of a song. My hope is that my lyrics might encourage or inspire someone if only for a moment.
KRL: Where can we find your CD?
Devan:For both, digital and physical form, visit me at www.devanbolding.com .
KRL: I know you are from Selma, do you still live their now?
Devan: I am a native of Selma, California, the raisin capital of the world and proud of it. I reside in Los Angeles when I’m not out at sea.
KRL: Where do you perform?
Devan: As of late, I’ve only been performing out at sea. I recently just finished up a run of the production of Into the Woods at the Selma Arts Center. I’m not only biased because of the location, but truly, the Selma Arts Center is one of my favorite venues to perform in.
KRL: How often do you perform?
Devan: Six days a week when touring the seas.
KRL: Do you perform with a band?
Devan: I am the front man of the Showband on board. Nothing but a good time!
KRL: Who inspires you musically?
Devan: That’s a good one. I love all styles of music. There’s a list, but if I had to name two…although it’s not in the same genres that I typically perform. I’d say, Dave Grohl and Chris Cornell. Super talented dudes.
KRL: You also act. Please share how and when you first got involved in theatre?
Devan: I’ve always enjoyed the stage and acting in shows. My first theatre experience on the theatrical stage was as a freshman year at Selma High School as The Pharaoh in Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat directed by Rick Robbins. I wasn’t in choir or theatre that year. Now, that’s a story. I had auditioned for the Ensemble choir, but at that time, freshman weren’t allowed to be in the Ensemble choir because the process was set up to make you earn your spot in the Ensemble. So I thought, “Well, looks like I’ll wait till next year to join choir…” I chose Peer Counseling instead. When spring rolled around, there was an open audition for the whole school for the role of Pharaoh. I saw the poster and went because of my interest of being an entertainer. It never crossed my mind as a career at this point. How the tides change!
Thankfully, Robbins cast me after blatantly not joining his choir at the beginning of the year. So, I was that guy, the one who refused at first but was drawn back and couldn’t stay away. By the end of that show, with no clue how it would unfold, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer. I wanted to be on the stage in some way, shape or form. It felt too natural for it to be any other way. My decision to go to that audition and performing in that show ultimately set in motion a dream that I am professionally pursuing still. Along with that, I can proudly say that Robbins is my great friend and mentor today. He’s been a constant support and an inspiring role during this incredible journey.
KRL: What shows have you done?
Devan: Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, Into The Woods, The Music Man, Beauty & The Beast, Godspell, Fools, Macbeth, Manon Lescaut…it’s been a good time.
KRL: Do you have a favorite type of roll?
Devan: I like a good challenge. Character development is one of the best things to let your mind delve into as an actor.
KRL: How does singing in a show differ from performing as a soloist?
Devan: Well, in a show, you’re a character in that story. As a soloist, it’s your own story. They’re both relative because either way an audience wants to go on and be a part of the journey. We want to “feel the magic”. The entertaining part is the creation of the magic.
KRL: Do you like one better than the other?
Devan: I love the stage. There are differences because of the type or setting and specifics involved in each show. A lounge has a much different feel than a Main Stage theatre. The intimacy of a lounge can allow for a nice connection with the audience that may sometimes get lost in a large theatre. However, in both spaces you can always learn and discover new things which only make you a more confident, well-rounded entertainer.
KRL: Future goals both for your music and theatre?
Devan: My brother, A.J. Bolding, and I founded our company, Bolding Music Entertainment (BME) and released my debut album under it. So, there are goals to create more music. We foresee that one day our company will be able to inform, to support and guide other passionate independent artists toward their goal of finding their own success–to be persistent, diligent and dream big. The sky is no limit.
KRL: What do you like best about singing and theatre?
Devan: The opportunity to express art through theatre is wonderful and to be given the gift of the voice is humbling. As we all know, you can’t control the power of music and how it inevitably affects us individually. My gratitude for being able to express myself through singing a lyrical melody is beyond words.
KRL: What is the hardest?
Devan: Acting! Simply because singing has always been more natural for me, but I’m not going to say it’s easy by any means. They’re equal in their own right. It’s pretty amazing that the mind can process them each simultaneously.
KRL: What makes your music unique?
Devan: I don’t want to be known as a singer with one learned style of music. I want to stay true to that inspiring moment which enflamed the desire to produce a song. It may contain a versatile sound enveloped with plush layers of harmony that reinforces the context within its rich meaningful lyrics. I want to be a vocalist that can approach each genre with accurate vocal colorizations that compliment the natural ambience unveiled through the music.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
ambienceI’m so thankful for all of the love and support. You all replenish my confidence and my fervency in the pursuit of my goals and dreams daily. We still have many wonderful adventures ahead of us. Love life!
You can find more theatre articles, and other entertainment articles, in our Arts & Entertainment section.