The low-riding trap basslines and grunge guitars on Deb Never’s songs situate her firmly in the realm of emo-rap – but then, she starts singing. Deb’s angelic voice is unlike any of the other alt-hip-hop artists on the rise right now. The way the LA-based artist drizzles her melodies over sparse yet rich production from fellow WeDidIt crew members Shlohmo and D33J marks her out as a totally unique voice in the gen-Z emo resurgence.
Deb hasn’t been making waves for very long – her debut EP, House on Wheels, dropped in late 2019 – but she’s already made an indelible imprint on her scene. She’s toured with Floridian break-out star Dominic Fike, sung on the Brockhampton album Ginger, and started collaborating with artists as diverse as Jim-E Stack and Jam City for her follow-up EP, due later this year.
She started from nothing, by stealing a guitar from her local church after feeling inspired by a Nirvana music video as a teenager – but she’s still at the beginning of her journey. “I don’t feel like I’ve reached my proudest moment yet,” she says. “I know there is more I want to do and more I want to say.”
What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?
Deb Never: I’ve always hated seeing someone homeless lying on a sidewalk begging for money and right in front them is another person in a fucking G Wagon not even giving a second glance. Class and inequality. Wealth and power distribution. That stark divide is an issue that I’m passionate about. Growing up, we were so poor and at one point we were homeless, sleeping at a bus stop or women’s shelters. The thing that always bothered me was the way people would stare. I always felt like they were judging me because I had holes in my only coat or because I wore dirty shoes. They looked and treated me less because of it. That’s something that’s always stuck with me.
How do you want to influence the future?
Deb Never: I want to influence the future by paving a way, not just in music, for people who are like me and feel out of place. Being Asian, growing up poor with an immigrant mom, being a girl, being gay... there are so many different things that work against me. I want to be someone who gives people hope that they can do whatever they want in life.
“I want to influence the future by paving a way, not just in music, for people who are like me and feel out of place” – Deb Never
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Deb Never: When I knew I wanted to play guitar, I couldn’t afford one, or lessons, so I stole a guitar from my church and taught myself how to play. So, I’d love to build a community school for kids who don’t have access to creative things, and give them a place and the ability to create.