Deb Never is a multitasker. Since the release of her debut EP House on Wheels, the songwriting multi-instrumentalist has steadily built an impressive roster of energetic and versatile records, garnering early acclaim and featuring in hotly-anticipated collaborations all while experimenting and expanding what audiences should expect from her music.
She’s spent the past year working on her debut album, and I ask at what point in her songwriting sessions Deb shifted her focus to releasing an EP. She laughs, as if this moment of clarity never quite reached her. “I’m just the type of person that likes, I don’t want to say chaos, but I need multiple things going on for it to make sense in my head,” Deb explains over the phone. “Working on the album at the same time [as the EP] gave me a kind of release. Like, no matter what type of music I make, there’ll always be a space for it. For this EP, it felt like the perfect amount of songs, and the right songs, to release together.”
Releasing her latest offering, she says, feels equal parts reliving and nerve-wracking, as it marks her first solo output since 2021’s Where Have All The Flowers Gone? “It’s not an album, but at least it’s something I’m still proud of. I love this EP and I’m really excited to have that closure, using this EP as the closure on this chapter of my music and move into the album,” she explains.
Deb is quick to remind me that she’s yet to release a full-length record, and she admits her reluctance to label her music definitively too soon. She has good reason for this, as her sound continues to evolve through hyper-pop, emo grunge and acoustic singer-songwriter genres, and she cites artists from Summer Walker to Saya Gray and Alabama Shakes as her most listened-to tracks while writing and recording Thank You For Attending.
The bulk of ‘Thank You For Attending’ was written over the course of one week last summer, with the single ‘Momentary Sweetheart’ teasing Deb’s emotional and musical range across the EP. “I think it’s my personal favourite on the record,” says Deb of the track. “It just felt like it embodied where I was at, in that exact moment and making the entire EP, and it has a bit of everything from every track. It encapsulates the entire project, to me anyway.”
Following her performance at The Great Escape festival this month, BRICKS meets Deb Never to discuss the inspirations behind her EP Thank You For Attending.
The common theme throughout the project is just how I’m feeling in that moment, whether that’s dealing with heartbreak or if you’re like ‘Open Season’ – it’s the different stages of love, I guess.
The final act
In the context of her discography, Thank You For Attending is the third instalment in her series of EP releases. “I’ve had this plan for a while to release a couple of EPs and let the fans grow with me as I gross and experiment with more music,” she begins. “Thinking of House On Wheels and Where HaveAll The Flowers Gone?, Thank You For Attending is almost like at the end of a play, it’s the third and final act. You see [the phrase] when you leave an old movie theatre or at a play, and it felt right for this project because I’m saying thank you, thank you for growing with me, and now I’m moving on.”
Living in the moment
Deb reveals that this release is her most personal yet, and was driven to document her current feelings while working on other projects, culminating in ‘Thank You For Attending’. “I went through a breakup and I wrote ‘Paper Houses’, and ‘Momentary Sweetheart’ is about a fling,” she explains. “The common theme throughout the project is just how I’m feeling in that moment, whether that’s dealing with heartbreak or if you’re like ‘Open Season’ – it’s the different stages of love, I guess.”
Stripping back production
Unlike Deb’s previous release, this EP hears her release her most stripped-back work to date, with a new focus on organic instrumentation and production. “There’s something that I really loved about the simplicity of the production and just letting my voice lead the way,” she grins. “There are some tracks where we still have heavier moments, but I really wanted to strip back a lot of it.”
She points out that ‘Paper Houses’ was originally “very produced”, and was reworked more than once to hone in on its meaning. “There was too much going on, and I wanted to take it all out and just leave room for the lyrics so you can really understand what is being said,” she explains. The track explores the low felt after experiencing a euphoric high, and the subdued accompaniments only make lyrics “I never knew I could’ve felt this way / Even if I’m in pain, I smile and wave / I feel like an actor, man, I should get paid / For keeping this act up” all the more heartbreaking.
There’s something that I really loved about the simplicity of the production and just letting my voice lead the way.
“I’m definitely a hugely collaborative person,” Deb declares, as we discuss the process of finishing the EP. “I’m all for hearing others’ thoughts and ideas and making sense of it together. Even if I have a strong idea of how I want one thing to go, it’s so interesting to hear because I’ve been with these songs since the beginning. I know what inspired them and it’s so valuable to see what other people hear from it.”
In the two years since Where Have All The Flowers Gone? was released, Deb worked on tracks with Slowthai, Biig Piig and Lava La Rue. “I love seeing somebody else’s process, I’m so stuck in my ways and it’s good to get out of this,” she affirms. “You also want to be inspired and want to see different ways of doing things – maybe their process is different, or the outcome changes, but to me, that’s what is so inspiring and interesting about collaborating.”
Deb says that when she records projects with friends, she doesn’t feel like she’s working. “It felt so comfortable to be able to freely express myself and for them to do the same. You’re sharing this vulnerable, intimate moment in making a song, and you can’t help but take away something from that.”
For the EP artwork, Deb worked with photographer Michael Percy and The Uncanny Boys to visualise the record, which she says came later in her process this time. “It was definitely one of those things where it all came together quite organically, and we just went with the flow of how the song inspired us, we didn’t have it planned from the start,” she explains. “It worked out because I feel like in some way, even though the [artwork] is very sci-fi, I like that juxtaposition with the record where I’m using more raw instruments.”
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