Coyote 87 is a musician and composer making synthesizer-based albums that manage to feel nostalgic while being forward-looking. QC Nerve’s journalist Pat Moran accurately described C87’s work as “pulsing cinematic music, alternately soothing and sinister.” 

Coyote 87, a.k.a. nonfiction writer Devan T. Penegar, has stayed busy since adopting his music moniker, releasing two EPs, the ambitious double album BASED and the concept album DREAMCULT. This is all within a year and he shows no sign of slowing down. He told the Gen Z publication, “I won’t take a week off working on music until I accomplish my goal of scoring a movie soundtrack. But even then, after conquering that goal, I’ll probably celebrate for a couple days and then be onto the next soundtrack.”

Like I said, no sign of slowing down.

“I quit alcohol and this is the most productive period of my life. My sobriety is my superpower.”

His most recent album is titled DREAMCULT. It’s a wildly unhinged concept album with a cult leader theme. Despite (or in spite of) the bizarre subject matter, you can dance to the majority of DREAMCULT as Coyote 87’s mainstream influences are evident for perhaps the first time in his production. Tangerine Dream and Hans Zimmer are who he cites as his go-to music to put on while writing prose (he is working on a memoir about PTSD) and their layered compositions clearly have had an influence on his sound, obvious on his previous releases. What wasn’t obvious, until DREAMCULT, is that underneath the white noise and abrasive rhythms, Coyote 87 has had a love for the mainstream all along. He’s a self-described “Dua Lipa superfan.” “I can’t dance for shit,” he adds, “But her music, her deep voice over a dance beat? That’ll lift you out of a sour mood. I dance to Dua like a fucking goofball in my living room. For the eyes of my cats only.”

I wouldn’t have guessed her to be an influence but the Lipa effect leaves a mark on C87’s newer material. While his previous LP, the double album BASED, is epic in its own way, BASED is often brooding whereas DREAMCULT invites you to get up and move to its chaotic weirdness. 

DREAMCULT was co-written and produced with dominatrix Camryn Bell, a.k.a. Princess Camryn. Her kinky influence drips like bittersweet honey over the tracks. It should be noted this album isn’t the coyote man’s first collaborative outing with Camryn. They now have an extensive co-writing history with Camryn performing spoken word parts, subverting the casual listener’s expectation of sung lyrics and a verse-chorus-verse structure. Their kink-positive songwriting has earned them a cult following in Helsinki, Finland, a long way from C87’s home studio in North Carolina.

The infectious opening track “Tethered (S&M Pop Induction )” is what C87 modestly described as “merely following Camryn’s lead. Luckily, her lead allowed me to tap into my love for Madonna’s “Erotica.” That Madonna song was eye opening for me. It was the first time I realized music can be sensual.” His droning synth playing over Bell’s sultry voice is a one-two punch combo creating a hypnotic effect.

Track 2, the self-titled DREAMCULT song, wears a Nine Inch Nails influence on its sleeve. C87 says he is particularly proud of that song and spent weeks on it, adjusting the synths to have them emulate a cello in the opening sequence, leading into Camryn delivering a cult leader monologue over a drum machine’s driving force.

The title of track 3, “Kinky Helsinki (The Noise of Rebirth),” is a nod to the Finland fanbase Camryn & C87 gained thanks to streaming. The synth riffing on this track has a Death Grips influence on full display.

I won’t continue with a track by track analysis but by the end of the album, DREAMCULT will have you feeling like you’ve been inducted into a tribe, like you’re a part of something devious and sexy, stepping over a dividing line in the sand, separating you from the monotony of your previous life. 

My conversation with Coyote 87 concludes with a Q&A:

Q: Where are you from?

A: Charlotte, NC

Q: We talked extensively about DREAMCULT but you’ve put out a lot of other music this year. How do you stay so productive?

A: Insomnia and sobriety. 

Q: Do you remember the first album you bought as a kid?

A: The first I spent allowance money on? I don’t know. Maybe Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. I have a distinct memory of buying it and Nirvana’s Nevermind and playing them from beginning to end. The intensity of “Lounge Act,” for example, spoke to me. That song is a drug and it floored me as a kid. Kurt’s voice has this primal energy.

Q: Who did the awesome cover illustration for BASED?

A: KC Roberge. She’s a fantastic Illustrator and graphic designer. A great bass guitarist too. She plays in the punk band RAATMA. She illustrated Camryn as herself and me as the coyote on a synthesizer. https://linktr.we/kcmariegraphicdesign

Q: Who did the photo cover for DREAMCULT?

A: That’s Camryn, posing with a knife. That coy smile. The lighting. That’s all her. I just came up with the logo for the cover.

Q: Do you have some collaborations lined up?

A: Sort of. I want to make an EP with a sense of humor. There’s two women on Twitter I follow who crack me up and I want them to recite their tweets in recordings I’ll sample over some beats. My Twitter @Coyote87_ is basically a stan account for BB Apes @bb_apes and Gas Station Dick Pill @miss_pissyy … There’s a lot of negativity on social media but those two keep it fun for me. They’re gorgeous but I also appreciate nonsense and they’re like the queens of nonsense in my Twitter feed. Plus imagine seeing a Spotify track that says “featuring Gas Station Dick Pill.” [laughing] That would be phenomenal.

Q: Any dream collaborations?

A: Euphoria actress Chloe Cherry. I would like to work with her on some art. She has an absurdist sense of humor and she lives her life like she’s a walking meme. Chloe is my definition of cool. I would love to make a music video with her starring in it. That would be a dream collaboration. Being silly, I titled a song “Chloe Cherry Fan Club President.” I start the song by quoting something assertive she said in an interview, embracing that attitude. The synth is heavy on that song. My mom is a birder and I looped a recording she made of birds chirping in the background. 

Q: Other than yourself, who is a synthesizer artist people should check out?

A: I’ll say Ether Diver. He doesn’t just create songs, his tracks are their own world of sound. His Bandcamp is 

Hania Rani is also a musical stunner. You can get lost in her songs.

Q: What got you into making music?

A: My parents. They’ve always been encouraging, no matter how noisy it got when I was making a racket in the basement as a kid. I started with drums and guitar. My dad took me to a lot of concerts and my mom got a kick out of me pretending to be a DJ making elaborate playlists for the house.

Q: What’s an album you consider perfect?

A: St. Vincent’s Masseduction. I quit drinking and have listened to it nearly every day since I quit. I’m approaching 2 years. The timing of finding that album, it signifies a rebirth in my life. The art you’re meant to find is like a radar homing missle. It’ll find you. I consider her self-titled album perfect as well.

Also, Sky Ferreira’s Ghost EP. It’s flawless as far as I’m concerned and I have a ton of memories associated with it.

Q: On the album BASED you open with a song titled “Maddie Fucking Hasson.” There’s no lyrics to that song so why title it after the actress?

A: My favorite acting performance is Maddie Hasson in the short-lived series Impulse. Her portrayal of living with PTSD from sexual assault is referenced a good bit in the memoir I’m working on. I relate so much to that performance. She handled that portrayal with such nuance. It wasn’t a caricature or one-note. I was rewatching the show, finding comfort in it, coping with my own flashbacks when I started recording under the name Coyote 87. So I named the first song on BASED after Maddie. 

Q: Do you have an interest in doing some acting?

A: Yeah, I do. I was recently in a short film directed by my friends Kate Claesson and Brett Green. Kate cast me, making my fantasy of getting to play an unhinged lunatic come true. So thanks, Kate, if you wind up reading this interview. 

I’m more interested in soundtracks but I’m open to acting roles if I’m a good fit.

Q: Obviously you’re passionate about film. Any interest in scoring video games?

A: Absolutely. I don’t play games but I love Trent Reznor and his work on the Quake soundtrack elevated shit for gaming. I also used to play the soundtrack for this game from the ‘90s called Cold Shadow. It was a goofy game playing a ninja duck but Cold Shadow’s soundtrack has some bangers. [laughs] I have no modern references for games.

Q: You have an EP titled BITCH. Why that word?

A: [laughs] Some people told me I remind them of Jesse Pinkman.

Q: DREAMCULT manages to have quite a bit of harsh noise over its dance beats. Is it to mask your love of pop music?

A: No, not to mask it but to coexist alongside my love of pop. When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Pixies. I love little moments of chaos sprinkled over a beautiful song. That started in my parents’ basement, with my friends Dillon and Brennon, playing noise-rock when we were young, trying to make bizarre solos out of noise, shunning flashy technical playing. I got a little pretentious with it at times but I look back fondly on those memories.

Q: On the double album BASED you have a song called “Nostalgic Moody Flannel Boy.” You have a really powerful scream in it. How come you don’t do vocals more often? 

A: I’m just not interested in writing lyrics. Not at this time. I’m also really pitchy. But I do sing on an acoustic cover of Sonic Youth’s “The Diamond Sea.” It’s on Spotify.

Q: On your Bandcamp page, you put out a 13 minute mixed tape in which you remixed 3 songs by fellow Charlotte, NC songwriter Kadey Ballard. THE CAMPFIRE GHOST MIXTAPE.

Kadey’s singing is haunting. How did that mixtape come about?

A: I agree, her voice is haunting. It is fucking ethereal. The first time I heard her music, I got chills. So, I listened to her music obsessively for weeks and then pitched the idea to her at a gig, the idea of building an eerie world of synthesizers around 3 of her songs. 

Her voice is perfect so I didn’t do anything to alter it in the mixing. Kadey Ballard is so phenomenal, she should be a household name.

[end of Q&A]

It’s evident in his words and sense of wonder that Coyote 87 approaches all his creative efforts as a fan first, artist second. If he isn’t going to tackle a project with a burning enthusiasm in his gut, he won’t tackle the project at all.

He can be reached for collaborations or film scoring inquiries at:

His work can be found at these links:

Spotify discography:

Bandcamp discography:

Dreamcult on Youtube:

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