A redheaded lady with two cats is tattooed on Nicole Pfeifer’s arm.
She said the two cats represent her own, and she got the lady tattoo because “red hair is pretty.”
It’s taken years, but the musician behind electronic solo project Devata Daun is finally comfortable in her skin.
“I’ve always been an odd duck,” Pfeifer said. “I think [that] allowed me to think outside the box. … It’s always been my prerogative to not go along with the crowd.”
The singer-songwriter grew up as a minority in the small, German town of New Ulm, Minn.
“I was literally the only Asian in my school,” Pfeifer said. “I recently just embraced my heritage and have felt comfortable with [it].”
A person wouldn’t know by looking at her nose ring, bold cat eyes and dramatic red lips, but Pfeifer said she came from a sheltered, conservative upbringing.
She wasn’t exposed to many outside musical influences, but she learned to play piano as a 2-year-old and sang at her church for many years.
“Music was never really something that I sought out. … I went to school for Spanish and marketing — I didn’t have any intention to pursue music,” Pfeifer said. “It was like two years that I was fighting it, and then I finally started songwriting. … My brother forced me into it, and I’m glad [that he did].”
Pfeifer said her previous project — Nicole and the Avalanche — was more of a starting point or a way to start making music. The vibe was more melodic Baroque-pop than electronic darkwave.
“Things just started making more sense when I did Devata Daun,” Pfeifer said. “I had more of a goal in mind.”
Devata Daun began as a band, but Pfeifer said it became a solo project to be more “efficient.”
“I’ve found that to remain sane, [it’s better not] to delegate things between band members. … If you can make your live performance and everything else about your project work without extra, unnecessary business, then I’m all about it,” Pfeifer said.
Pfeifer said it’s empowering to be a female solo artist. She said she’s flattered that people find inspiration in her confident approach to music.
Pfeifer said she tries to home in on specific instruments by limiting the different synth patches and drum beats.
“I found this old Casio at a thrift store, and I started writing on that because it has such a limited amount of sounds to it. It’s fun to be limited, as opposed to having too many options,” Pfeifer said. “It’s a good way to build a foundation.”
Pfeifer said her new self-titled album — produced by her musical inspiration Ryan Olcott — is almost finished. On the album, Olcott runs all of the music through a four-track cassette player and then puts it back in digital form to create a warped, tape-y effect.
“I feel like it’s going to have a really fresh vibe in the Minneapolis scene, and I’m hoping that people are going to gravitate to it,” Pfeifer said.
Olcott said Pfeifer is creative and one of the easiest people he has ever worked with.
“She knew what she wanted to a degree, but she really wanted to leave a lot of the executive decisions in my court,” Olcott said. “She trusts me; I can tell.”
He said the pitches and sound variances that are tied together throughout the album are dissonant and disorienting.
“It’s a new sound, and a lot of kids like it,” he said. “If you’re drunk enough [when you hear it], you’re going to puke.”
“It has [happened] a few times already, which is awesome.”
What: Devata Daun at the Wait, What? Festival
When: 9 p.m., Friday
Where: Acadia, 329 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis