DVO Talks Healing Through
Trauma to Become a Better Musician
Story by Ryan Percy
Photography by Oluwatobiloba Olawale, Mactools Visual
With the pandemic slowly going away and with nearly two entire years of it affecting our lives the scars of it are still deep and raw for many.
DVO is the stage name of 24 year-old Amir Haghparast a Windsor born Canadian Persian who found a way to express himself through his music.
It all really started in 2017. An incident in DVO’s home life shook him to the core and a part of him yearned for an avenue to cry out through. His gung-ho dive into the music world and way to work his creative endeavours around it was how he got his name.
“Music was my way to escape,” DVO says of beginning his career and finding his voice and name. “I started kind of devoting myself to this career style and coming up with different names.”
The names were things like Real Flow 519, a way to emphasis both his talents and being able to represent the town he called home. However, it was a mouthful and for DVO it had to be something quick, simple and snappy.
He wanted it to roll off the tongue.
“My team and I sat down and came up with a bunch of variations of words and letters,” he says of the naming process. “We ended up going with devotion and took the three letters from that.”
While it may have been just a stage name it has become an integral part of his identity, to the point most of his friends now even call him DVO.
In 2017 he opened his YouTube channel and started doing music covers while working on his own music. Style-wise he found himself covering fellow Canadian singer-song writer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd.
Listening to the two the voices are almost eerily similar, DVO’s first video being a harmonious cover where he duets along with The Weeknd’s track Nomads. These covers even turned out to be the secret to the start of his success.
But at the time, while covering tracks from other artists, DVO was still looking for his own personal voice.
In 2018 his first major release hit streaming platforms, his EP Genesis, the start of his story. It is a strong first outing though you can tell he had not found himself yet, a part of his voice feels shackled, as if he was holding back something inside.
Come 2019 he set out to release his first album, the self-titled Devotion. The album starts with the track Chapter 1 invites the listener into a 15-track serenade of happy go lucky R&B and pop with a dash of house music and EDM. It brings up the feeling of driving through Windsor’s downtown late at night while out partying with your friends. The music banging and everyone having a good time.
Unbeknownst to DVO, at the same time a fellow YouTuber with around half a million subscribers made a video comparing various covers of The Weeknd’s song in a contest. He did not know he was a winner until subscribers and comments started to pour in along with a partnership that lit the fuse to boost DVO’s career.
“Pretty much all of a sudden a very well renowned DJ in Italy named Kharfi reached out to me,” DVO says. “He heard my voice on The Weeknd’s Too Late cover and told me he wanted to recreate a beat and re-release the song under our names.”
DVO and Kharfi’s version of Too Late released in 2021 and is currently sitting at over 200,000 plays on Spotify.
From that point on other DJs from across the world have reached out for DVO’s vocals and song writing talents to collaborate with. With him teaming up with Leggiero and Pop Mage to create solemn Save Your Tears sitting at over 420,000 plays and The Hills with Harddope and LexMorris which sits at 1.2 million listens.
“It’s emotional,” DVO says of when he got the message, he’d cracked the million mark. “Your mindset has never really been wired to understand you’re going to get millions of streams. I was tearing up because I never expected it.”
It helped DVO and his team earn respect in the music industry, opening doors to talent he had never expected.
There was a dark shadow looming over DVO and the rest of the world. When 2020 rolled around and things started to shut down, venues closed, gatherings were put on hold, it began to weigh heavily on him.
“It got rocky for me, I was on the verge of quitting,” DVO says of how the COVID-19 Pandemic affected him. “I couldn’t have studio sessions, and everything pretty much came to a stop.”
But thankfully there was a supportive voice in his corner, Sik from Six Vision Media. He told DVO not to quit and to keep putting covers out and releasing content he recorded at home.
This reignited DVO’s passion and he dove in, putting out covers, teaming up to feature on tracks from various artists.
With his voice and range so similar to The Weeknd, he found himself snapping up tracks producers and artists previously designed with The Weeknd in mind. The weirdest of which happened in late 2020.
“We had a crazy breakthrough, Nickelodeon reached out to us,” DVO says. “If you go and watch the 2020 HallowScream advert that’s me singing their rewritten lyrics for The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights. It caught me by surprise.”
He continued song writing and let his experiences and emotions come through. What it led to was Hearts Retired, the second album and chapter of his story following Devotion.
“It’s dark, very dark,” DVO says of the new album due out at the end of July. “A lot of the lyrics are very heartfelt to what I was feeling during the pandemic.”
In storytelling, act two is usually the low point. It’s the same here but shows how technically and lyrically DVO has matured and grown. With Chapter 3 in the works already it seems the sky is not even the limit for the young artist. An attitude he wants others to remember as well.
“Always pursue your dream, don’t let people stop you,” DVO says. “When you know you have a talent, go for it. Do what makes you happy.”
Listen to DVO on your favourite streaming service or visit him on Instagram @dvo_music.