“Amelia Devoid” is a great handle for an electronic musician. In Devoid’s case, though, the name is no pseudonym. And discovering the history behind her unusual last name started Amelia Devoid down the path towards her magnetic new album.
Devoid’s heritage is a Native American tribe called the Abenaki. Based in New England and northeast Canada, the tribe came together during the continent’s colonization out of the splintered remains of other groups. Like so many Native tribes, their history over the past several centuries can be a painful one. Devoid even learned that her home state’s University of Vermont practiced eugenics on the tribe all the way up to the 1930s. “Researching this history has informed a large part of my identity, and has helped me in part make sense of my unusual last name,” she says.
The recent pipeline protests at Standing Rock drew Devoid back to her heritage and inspired her wonderful new electronic album, Hypogeum. Songs like “My Ancestors Died Here” and “Hopeless Call for Peace” tie directly into the recent conflict.
“During the invasion of Standing Rock, I cried every day,” she says. “To continue to witness sacred land being ripped piece by piece from the people that have protected it for generations, until they have but a small patch to cling to, is torture and it is cruel and it happens globally. I thought of my own ancestors. The only way I can process the pain and confusion I hold is to compose music. I dedicated the album to the Water Protectors, because they are heroes and should be remembered as powerful leaders.”
The music is dark and surging, blending skillful production with found-sound samples of nature and running water. The album’s painful backstory belies the beautiful music, ethereal layered harmonies soaring over downcast beats. When you think of protest music, Joan Baez strumming a guitar comes to mind, but on Hypogeum Devoid proves that protest can come in all genres.
Stream Devoid’s Hypogeum below, then buy it on Bandcamp.