The Honesty behind the Music


An Interview with The Land of Deborah 




By Lauren MacFarland
Photo: Noriko Nasu-Tidball

Described as sounding like “Sarah McLaclan and Jewel playing scrabble”, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter act ‘The Land of Deborah’ puts every inch of her infectious persona into her music. Her songs are introspective and upbeat, each written from the heart and telling a story.

“Calling herself ‘The Land of Deborah’ was a unique way for Deborah to put a name on her creative brand, which doesn’t just include personal songwriting and performing, but also composing scores for television and film and video blogs.

“Years and years ago I thought ‘Deborah’ was just so boring, so one night I decided to be called ‘The Land of Deborah’ and it just stuck,” she explained. “The way that I see it, the music comes from me and my mind is the ‘land’, so therefore ‘The Land of Deborah’ is songs from my mind! It’s not just the songs, it’s who I am, I also love art, and public art…and that’s what the ‘Land’ turned out to be. I get called ‘Land of Deborah’, or ‘Land’ or just ‘LOD’ and that’s kind of what it’s become.”

Her various creative outlets have grown and expanded over the years as Deborah explored the different opportunities that came her way. “At the beginning it was just songs, but I’ve always wanted to do something with film and through a chance meeting I ended up writing a song for someone’s film. It’s not something I actively pursue, but if I meet someone and they need a score for a film I’m all over that.” Working for somebody else almost requires a separate muse, when someone asks for a specific type of song it allows her to exercise her science background and approach the song logically, looking at all the different variables needed to make a great song. “I tend to use my intuition a lot, but I just take a song and break it down and look at it like a puzzle. I dedicate a lot of joy to taking something apart and putting it back together.”

Aside from her own work, Deborah is also involved with some teaching, working to foster creativity wherever she can find it. It’s not something she actively pursues, but she holds a firm belief that everybody is creative and there’s creativity to be found in everyday life, from decorating to parenting. “I think some people get pigeonholed from an early age…when people are very creative but aren’t fulfilling that part of their lives, it can be mind-numbing. They could benefit peoples’ lives, even on a small scale, I think you have to honour all parts of yourself, and you’re actually a lot happier that way.”

She herself made a huge leap into her creatively driven lifestyle; she was a biochemistry student earning two degrees before deciding to pursue her music. “I’ve done music all my life, I was always writing my own stuff and I loved science and once I graduated I had a few jobs, all really great, but being a musician was the path that was least painful for me.”  All creative endeavors require courage and self-direction, but Deborah stresses that as long as you’re doing what you love, you can’t go wrong.

“You have to give yourself permission to screw up, to fail and make mistakes, and the people I admire the most are the people who are not afraid to fail. The fact that you fail, it just means that you’ve made a decision and you have to acknowledge that, even if it didn’t work out, you learnt something and you have to celebrate that.”

Deborah’s own personal style of music is nothing deliberate, but it is unique. Her songs are filled with harmonies and layers. “I don’t set out to imagine that people will want to read that papers when they’re listening to this, but I imagine it’s something people would put on if they just want to chill out. It’s not something that’s going to make you want to jump around, but it also won’t make you cry into your tea.”

Deborah’s newest album, Little Stories, will be released later this summer, with an acoustic album coming out this December. She’s already got her next album half-written, and she’s constantly writing, wanting produce as much music as possible. She pours her whole self into her lyrics and performances; there’s no façade or show-face. “I have this idea that if you meet me in real life, I’ll be the same person you see on stage. We’re all unique, so if you’ve got to be you, you might as well be you completely. The more you’re yourself, the more people dig you and the more opportunities come your way.”

More than anything, Deborah wants to spread her philosophy of being yourself in everything you do. “I want to encourage people to just put themselves out there and be fearless. If you follow your passion, then you will feel like everything can fall into place and if you keep at it long enough, you’re going to realize that you’re capable of doing amazing things.” This has proven true for the singer herself, in her lyrics and music, her personality shines through; truly, one of a kind.

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