It was the pandemic that altered the course of his life. Musician and singer songwriter Justin Devereux speaks to PJ TAYLOR on a mid-life crisis during Covid 19 that gave him the much-needed impetus to accomplish his lifelong dream in the Californian media-centric metropolis of the City of Angels.
A former first-class flight attendant, Justin Devereux is an adventurous Howickian heading into the dynamic Los Angeles film and TV industry and releasing his music to the world for the first time—recording with big-name session musicians and producer.
He’s got two singles out, Deer in the Headlights (2022), and the most recent Cotton Wool, released on September 1. The next day it got its first play on New Zealand radio, on East FM.
Recorded at Studio City Sound in LA by Grammy Award-winning producer Tom Weir, Cotton Wool was played by highly credentialed musicians – keyboardist Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel Live), drummer Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr, David Lee Roth), guitarist Laurence Juber (Sir Paul McCartney’s Wings, Cleo Laine, Charles Aznavour), bassist Lance Morrison (Alanis Morissette), Luanne Homzy on violin, and even a tap-dancing percussionist Stevie Lekaszewski.
“That’s sensational, but that’s pretty typical of how it works here,” Devereux says. “You can get access to some good musicians. It’s great. The doors are all open.
“Studio City Sound’s was the first door I knocked on. Luckily, Tom Weir was there and he’s a good guy. We’re really excited about what we’re going to do.”
More singles are scheduled for release soon, leading up to putting out his debut album.
Devereux moved from Howick to the sunny climes of California with wife Maria and their son over the past year, to, as he says, “follow dreams”.
Justin was an enthusiastic AUT journalist intern at, Times Media and Newspapers in 2014. He later moved into creating advertising content and working on film productions such as The Meg (2016), Ash vs Evil Dead, and was the prosthetics coordinator for Amazon Prime’s record-breaking budget and Emmy Award-winning Lord of the Rings (The Ring of Power, 2022).
The Covid era gave him time to “reassess and regret missed opportunities”, choosing to “jump-in and chase down” his goal of being a singer-songwriter.
“What started off as a box to tick-off suddenly started to sound good,” says Devereux.
The catalyst for the musical journey came courtesy of the first lockdown.
“Everybody started to get creative. It made me reassess where I was going with my career.
“I always loved music. I kind of had a mid-life crisis – I don’t know whether it was a real one, but I was waking up in the middle of the night freaking out, and fretting that I was running out of time, and I needed to make music. It was always my dream.
“I thought, well, if I don’t try, I can’t fail.
“Deer in the Headlights was probably the first song I was trying and ends up being recorded first. It covers a little of that, the procrastination, the going around in circles.”
In the recent interview on East FM, Devereux said he’d just released Cotton Wool and because it came out at midnight, it ended up being a late night to bed. The much-needed sleep after the excitement was then rudely interrupted by a local LA inhabitant.
“At 3am, the cat was making the most terrifying noises. There was a coyote scratching at the French doors downstairs trying to eat our cat.
“It’s been crazy, and exciting. The song’s been tracking very well and getting lots of plays. That’s encouraging.
“LA’s a crazy place. You think of it as a concrete jungle, but there’s just nature everywhere. It blows me away.”
Devereux says Cotton Wool is a song about “a child losing their innocence and the struggles associated with knowing too much”.
“When you’re young and innocent, hopefully you get a chance to grow up in a safe and ‘Disney-like world’.
“But when you grow up and lose your innocence, you can’t return to that bubble, even though you wish you could.
“The chorus lyric comes from the term ‘wrapping someone in cotton wool’, referring to that protection layer parents often create for their children, and by softening the blow with cotton wool.
“Cotton wool is a plea to return to your parents’ arms even as they grow old,” says Devereux.