Deb Never, Musician
INTERVIEW BY : VICTORIA JESIONEK | PHOTOS BY : RICK RODNEY
BETTER OFF DEB <3
Listening to Deb Never doesn’t trigger just one emotion. Her day-dreamy melodies and raw voice paired with porous guitar riffs and unexpected kick drum beats make for a grungy sound that could only come from one place, Washington. The LA transplant cites a wide range of references from Three6Mafia to Nirvana. Mr Nobody is her newest track and it will either make you cry, or make you feel like you’re on drugs.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up moving around a lot. Mostly in a city outside of Seattle called Spokane. It’s a Midwest vibe, I have friends that still live there but for me it was shitty because it was too small and there wasn’t enough going on. Everyone is either retired or doing drugs.
How did you get the name Deb Never?
It’s really stupid but when I first made Instagram I was late on making it and really against getting one. Eventually when I made one I was so anti I made it Deb Never so I came up as Deb Never liked your photo. Then it just caught on and everyone called me Deb Never because no one really knew my last name.
I was making music because it was my way of escaping from everything else that was boring.
When did you realize you wanted to make music?
The first time I picked up a guitar I was 11. Even when I started learning guitar I never did covers I always liked making my own tunes and playing by ear. From living somewhere like Spokane where I felt so isolated music was my escape. I didn’t even know if I was good at it or not but I was making music because it was my way of escaping from everything else that was boring.
What musical styles have you carried over from your roots?
I think the grungy sound, a trashy vibe which makes sense because, Washington. And aesthetically I like things looking not polished and very raw. I guess in music too I like everything sounding raw, not as digital.
What were some of your earliest musical influences?
Nirvana and Three6Mafia, honestly just two opposites. It was really heavy metal, grunge, rock, or dirty rap, and indie music too. Because I listened to so much of those two groups that’s what influences my music now I like to mesh the genres without it being corny.
What do you do in LA when you’re not making music?
Skate, bullshit. Hang out with my girlfriend, hang out with friends. That’s about it.
Has moving to LA influenced your music?
I don’t think moving to LA has changed anything about me. I’m still doing the exact same thing I was doing before. I noticed a lot of people are into electronic and a happier vibe in LA but that never really had an effect on me. Moving here never changed what I wanted to do or the way I wanted to sound.
Why did you move to LA?
By accident. Three years ago I went on a Euro trip and when I came back LA was my last stop. I had a friend here and he was like you should move to LA. I was about to quit music and I’ve been in a ton of bands so I was like what did I have to lose? Why the fuck not?
I want you to hear how I’m saying it. I want you to feel how I’m singing it.
How would you describe your style musically?
I like a heavy guitar and a drowning sound. I like a beat that gives you a feeling like your on drugs but want to dance. I don’t want to say a trap beat but it is an 808- something that is a deep sub bass. That influence but then also a guitar that has an indie, grunge side.
What is your process for conceiving new music?
I always start with my guitar, come up with a simple riff, and then I’ll record that and add a simple beat to it. Then I’ll write a melody, then lyrics. Lyrics are the hardest part for me. For the longest time I focused on melodies and making everything perfect production wise I forget to focus on writing.
For me the biggest thing is when I listen to music, initially I don’t really listen to the lyrics. Lyrics are still important but for me, I black out on the lyrics because I focus on how the song makes me feel and then I hear the lyrics afterwards and I’m like oh shit. I like approaching music in that way where you listen to it and I rather make you feel something rather than listen to what I’m saying. I want you to hear how I’m saying it. I want you to feel how I’m singing it.
Your music video for Mr Nobody just came out, what was it like shooting?
It’s mostly a compilation of a bunch of videos from the past three years with my friends that I’ve had on my phone or my friend Ganna had. That video is more of an insight into my life. There were only a couple of scenes that we actually shot just to put a storyline together.
You’ve been making music for a long time, why release all this new music now?
For the longest time I was so self conscious about putting my music out or I would make someone else sing it. I never thought to sing or make things by myself because for me, music is like a diary. On the outside I’m fun and social but the shit that I write about and sing about makes me feel too vulnerable. But now I think I’m ready and I don’t care. I lost the care. Fuck it.
In a dream world, what artist would you like to collaborate with?
A$AP Rocky would be a fun one because of his style and how he is so experimental with rap. I have a song with Na$t which is perfect because he’s someone I think is really talented. I’m always drawn to rappers. I know how I come across how I sing and I like meshing that with hip hop. In hip hop now a lot of people are experimenting and trying to find new sounds – I think it would be cool to have another artist that sounds so different from me that brings it to a different level.
What emotions do you hope to evoke with your music?
Whatever I’m feeling at the time. If I’m feeling super sad, most of the time I’m writing a lot of depressing music, but that’s also because when I’m alone thats just what comes out and I can’t help that. If I’m writing that I’d hope if you listen to it that you are there with me or you can relate onto some level. Or some people feel super dreamy like their floating in the clouds which is great also that’s providence. I’m not trying to make people depressed but sometimes that happens if you listen to what I make, or makes you feel like you’re on drugs.
What’s next for Deb Never?
I want to keep making music, getting better and experimenting. I always wanted to create a sub label with a ton of other artists that are like me, girl artists too. There are so many groups of artists like XO or Odd Future, A$AP, they have all these people that support them. You don’t see any other girl artists that have groups like that, every girl artist is out there competing with another girl artist and it’s not like that with male artists. It would be cool to start something that is a collaboration with other female artists and have that supportive dynamic for other girls. I’d love to collab with another girl artist that maybe has a more girly tone than me and I can do the low. In the future, I want to keep making good music and eventually have people that want to join me.