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DEVIN TOWNSEND Talks About How Genre-Hopping Fuels His Creative Fire

"Listening habits for me were never black and white"


Devin Townsend. The name conjures images of a kaleidoscope of styles, a never-ending exploration that shatters genre boundaries with glee. To limit him to the metal label is like trying to confine the ocean in a teacup. Or to describe the Grand Canyon as a "hole in the ground." Yet many still paint him in that corner alone.

His genre-hopping might ruffle some feathers, but Townsend shrugs it off. He's not confused by others' confusion, he's bewildered by their insistence on musical segregation.

"It's not like if you are in a certain genre you should limit yourself to that, otherwise you're stepping outside. It's like there's no nuance between opinions lately, is what it seems," he explained in a recent chat with MusicRadar. "It's not like you can say, 'I do believe that but I also believe that. I agree with you. I also agree with them, and somewhere between that, it's a grey area. It's not so black and white.' Listening habits for me were never black and white. I loved everything – except for the stuff that I didn't love and I absolutely hated!"

"I think when I first came out people were like, 'I don't understand.' It seems indicative of some kind of schizophrenic personality disorder that you would release something like 'Oh My Fucking God' and then also do things like 'Thing Beyond Things', or do 'Death Of Music', or 'Punky Brewster', and I was always confused by that because I thought, 'No. I like all of those different things." Townsend added.

And it's that very freedom that fuels Townsend's creative fire, unchained by genre expectations: "It is a simple thing. I am a musician – not a genre-dependent musician. It's just I love all sorts of music. In the same way that my aesthetic was informed by musical theatre, it is exactly the same with those listening habits I had in my 20s, right?"

From the guttural growls of Strapping Young Lad to the atmospheric shimmer of Ocean Machine, Townsend's sonic palette defies categorization. He's gushed over Judas Priest one minute, spun electronica yarns the next, and then serenaded you with a heart-wrenching ballad before you could even blink. What he will conjure next, will probably be anything but black and white.

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An interesting insight into a complicated album.

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