Meet singer-songwriter Deb Never, whose unique sound blends different styles of hip-hop

·3-min read

Alex Hughes, Executive Producer Jordan Walker, Executive Producer Ilse Atkinson, Producer Lolia Briggs, Producer

Growing up, Deb Never was an introvert who was afraid to be her true self. But now, the singer-songwriter is coming out of her shell and making powerful music that blends different styles of hip hop. Her latest album, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” is full of boldly creative songs that capture Deb’s unique style.

These days, Deb (@debnever) loves performing her music and sharing it with an audience. But it wasn’t always that way. As a child, Deb was so shy, she would sometimes hide from people. “I couldn’t even look at somebody,” she says on”Making It,” a co-production between In The Know and Complex. “My mom actually told me this and I vaguely remember, but anytime someone would look at me, and I was probably like 5 or something, I would either hide behind [something] or I would start crying because it terrified me.”

Deb recalls listening to other artists and feeling jealous that they could express themselves so confidently. “I’d look at other artists, and they’d be so free,” she explains. “I was like, ‘Damn! I know I could be,’ and it just sucked that I felt so trapped in my own body.”

Even as a very young child, Deb was drawn to music. And, ultimately, it was music that allowed her to start expressing herself. She recalls, “It’s funny because my mom told me when I was younger, like in diapers, before I could walk, if music was playing I would try to find like a table to hoist myself up against and just start dancing. In doing music, I feel like I was able to channel that side of me, where I felt like I could make loud music or say whatever I want.”

Making music wasn’t always smooth sailing for Deb. She tells In The Know that her first few attempts at music-making weren’t particularly impressive. “The first song I wrote was called ‘Anonymous.’ It wasn’t good,” she explains. “The very first song I performed on stage, I bailed halfway through the song. I don’t know what I was thinking. I think I forgot the lyrics halfway through because I’d just made the song and I got so embarrassed I just stopped and walked off.”

Fortunately, Deb eventually found her stride. Nowadays, she still feels nervous performing sometimes, but she also finds it exhilarating. “It’s like a release,” she tells In The Know.

Deb also feels a lot of gratitude towards her fans. She recalls how, growing up, she didn’t have many Asian American role models to look up to. When fans come up to her and tell her how much it means to them to see her, as a Korean American, making great music, she finds it empowering.

“Growing up, I’m looking at all my influences and there were no Asian American women or men even,” she tells In The Know. “A lot of people come up [to me] like, ‘Oh! Korean American! I’m also Korean American! It’s so sick seeing you doing your own thing and representing,’ and for me it’s so powerful. I love that. That’s something that I can provide and on top of that, them liking my music, yeah, it’s cool.”

For Deb, making music is a way of life. She tells In The Know that, even now, her mom sees her music-making as a hobby. But Deb wants her mom, and the world, to know she’s here to stay. “I’ve never told my mom that I wanted to do music. If she knew, she would’ve freaked out,” she tells In The Know. “I think she still thinks it’s a phase. Mom, if you’re watching this, it’s not a phase. I’m doing it.”

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