By Katy Wilkie
May 3, 2017
Deb Talan, most known for her work as one half of the duo, The Weepies, is hitting the road this spring and taking the stage on her own. After winning a harrowing battle with breast cancer, Talan embarked on a new adventure to rediscover herself. She’ll be at the Neighborhood Theatre on May 5 for an intimate show to support her upcoming album, Lucky Girl, it’s her first solo album in more than a decade. We sat down with Talan to discuss life after breast cancer, her new record and what her future holds.
CLTure: Lucky Girl is your first solo album in a decade. What pushed you to release a solo album?
Deb Talan: The need for me to make this album was recognized first by my husband and bandmate Steve! I resisted at first and then, once I acknowledged I wanted to do it, I saw and felt it as a chance to connect with a part of myself that’s sort of a through-line in my life and my identity. After cancer, I found I was not the same person, exactly. Making this album allowed me to feel the constant, intact parts of me: I’m still an artist. Also, after having to rely on the kindness and love of people around me for quite a long time, it felt healthy to feel my own initiative again. My sense of being able to do something with energy and purpose. Just me.
CLTure: You crowdfunded the album on Kickstarter. Did this allow you to share the experience of the new album more intimately with your fans? Is it something you’d consider doing again for future albums?
DT: Yes. And no. I confess, I’m not very adept at social media. But, yes, I think I was able to connect with people more directly, and selfishly it made me feel I was making a record that would be embraced by at least the people who supported the project.
CLTure: How was the process of recording a solo album different from working on a project for The Weepies?
DT: Honestly, it wasn’t that different. Steve and I give each other a lot of room and freedom to try whatever we can think of production-wise. And we pretty much always start by laying down the central guitar and vocal, or keys and vocal tracks. I did that here, too. In some ways, I was maybe a little more of a mad scientist than for a Weepies project. I had a sense of urgency and I used each workday very efficiently. I also had a little bit of an overview of how I wanted to experiment with drum loops and electronic sounds, while keeping the central sounds pretty organic. I think of that as a real Weepies aesthetic, but we don’t often say out loud: here’s how we’re going to approach the production for this project. And with this album, I did.
CLTure: Where did you draw inspiration from for Lucky Girl? What was the most challenging aspect of writing for this record?
DT: Inspiration was truly from anywhere and everywhere, but the core of each song was usually some strong emotions in my present life. I definitely only follow songs that come out that have a powerful emotional resonance for me. If there isn’t that thread, I get bored and don’t feel like spending the time in production that it takes to get each song ready to go out into the world. My life with my family is rich and complicated, difficult and beautiful. Having kids is transformative. Having cancer was transformative. So those elements are pretty much in every song. Also, I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse and having kids has brought up a lot of the difficult feelings and experiences from my own childhood. I know that having children does that for every parent, it’s part of the self-growing-up aspect of raising kids. But those of us who have a particularly traumatic childhood tend to have a very challenging time managing what comes up for us while navigating parenthood, and seeing our kids growing and changing. Some of these songs explore the tumult from that part of my life. Other songs dwell in the beauty and joy and wonder of being alive. Those songs came out and gave me a lot of comfort. I hope they do the same for the people who listen to them.
CLTure: You’re hitting the road for a 12-stop intimate tour alongside the release of Lucky Girl. Did you have any anxieties about getting music out here again as a solo artist and hitting the road as a solo act?
DT: Yes! But I’m also excited. And the shows I’ve done so far have been encouraging and rewarding.
CLTure: What are your plans after this tour? Can fans expect more shows in 2017?
DT: I don’t know. I know that Steve and I are going to get on the road with our kids as The Weepies this year. And I know we’ll both pull out some solo songs for those shows. As for performing more all by my lonesome on stage in 2017? Well… we’ll see how the album does out there.
Catch Deb Talan at Neighborhood Theatre on May 5.