Behind The Cover with d4vd: “It’s an absolute blessing to be a part of NME”

Behind The Cover with d4vd: “It’s an absolute blessing to be a part of NME”

NME’s flagship franchise The Cover turns one this month! Join us in celebrating our cover series and the emerging talent it spotlights by going behind the scenes of select Cover stories – here, DIY pop innovator d4vd.

d4vd represents something fresh – both for the music world and for NME. The alt-pop up-and-comer has gone from making tracks on BandLab in his sister’s closet to leading the charge for a new generation of genre-hopping storytellers and poets. He’s also NME’s first artist on The Cover – and the first cover star of our revived and rejuvenated print magazine.

READ MORE: d4vd is pop’s new DIY innovator: “I can make 10 songs in one night!”

“Being on The Cover is an early preview of the future for d4vd,” manager Josh Marshall says. “NME represents what the culture has been for music and the standard, and he’ll be defining what it means for the future.”

“It’s an absolute blessing to be a part of NME,” d4vd says. “I feel like [The Cover] told my story and how my aesthetic was perceived.” When he saw the finished article for the first time, he screamed – and then hung it on his bedroom wall as a reminder of what he can achieve if he keeps going. “I don’t have any of my plaques up, just that on my wall. It’s one thing to have your artwork on the wall, but when it’s your face? That’s the staple for me to keep [moving forward].”

That path forward is incredibly bright but, for Marshall, that’s always been the way with d4vd: “His talent has always been there from day one. His ability for storytelling is rare and one in a generation.”

The Interview

“Speaking to d4vd was one of the most inspiring conversations I’ve had as an NME writer,” says Kevin EG Perry, the journalist who profiled d4vd for The Cover. Although he was aware of the artist’s talent before, during the interview he was struck by the 19-year-old’s ambition, maturity and thoughtfulness.

For Perry, d4vd’s conviction in himself is a key part of his package. “He has the confidence to bring his ideas to life by whatever means he has at his disposal, whether it’s singing guitar riffs into a mic or tapping out drum beats with a pencil,” he says of the star. “That assuredness is part of what makes him such a special artist.” With that in his arsenal, he says, d4vd is set to go far: “He’s not going to let anything stand between him and making his dreams reality.”

d4vd on The Cover of NME. Credit: Jonathan Weiner for NME

The Photos

Jonathan Weiner shot d4vd for The Cover in Boyle Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles. “I love getting to be part of the beginning of an artist’s journey, where they’re fresh and figuring out where to go,” he says. After developing the direction for the shoot with NME’s art director Simon Freeborough, the photographer made the shoot his own, incorporating the white roses from the artist’s own imagery into the set-up.

The location’s built-in set and red room reminiscent of Twin Peaks steered the shoot’s aesthetic, with Weiner and his team working on creating theatrical lighting to “make it pop how we wanted with shadows and shapes”. Weiner says his favourite shot is of d4vd sitting by a window: “It feels honest and timeless. I liked how it all came together.”

Credit: Jonathan Weiner for NME

The Art Direction

For Simon Freeborough, conceptualising this striking Cover started with the foundations: listening to d4vd’s music. After researching the artist’s “vibe and aesthetic”, Freeborough knew he wanted something gothic, but not gory, with the classic motifs of roses and blood.

The result is a cover that kicks off a brand-new NME franchise in enigmatic fashion: d4vd coolly meeting the viewer’s gaze, his name traced in ‘blood’ – a blend of golden syrup and food colouring, mixed up in Freeborough’s studio. That shot of d4vd is Freeborough’s favourite: “I’m really glad we went for something a little unusual. I love the fine balance between menace, madness and vulnerability.”

A version of this story appeared in NME Magazine’s July/August 2023 print edition, which featured d4vd on the cover.

The post Behind The Cover with d4vd: “It’s an absolute blessing to be a part of NME” appeared first on NME.

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