Deau Eyes is the musical project of Richmond, Virginia born songwriter, Ali Thibodeau. Balancing music among other jobs and interests that stretch from camp councillor to dog walker and Zumba instructor to painter, Ali has always followed her art and her interests wherever they take her. Having often followed other people’s words either as a singer or an actor, it was only on working on her own music that Ali once again returned her focus to her own words. Recorded back at the start of 2018, the result is the debut Deau Eyes album, Let It Leave, which saw the light of day last week via Egg Hunt Records.
Working with long term friends and collaborators, Jacob Blizard and Collin Pastore, known for their work with the likes of Lucy Dacus and illuminati hotties, Let It Leave is a record that seems to celebrate life. It is a record that revels in contrasts, the highs and lows, loves and heartbreaks, the soaring successes that come even when they seem the least likely. Both lyrically and musically, it’s a record that seems to strut with a certain swashbuckling confidence; whether it’s the rambunctious thrills of Paper Stickers, a song that quite literally demands to be heard, or the record’s only stripped back moment, Parallel Time, a beautifully open take on long-distance love and feelings of, “jetlag and ecstasy”. Throughout the record Ali seems determined to be heard, this is the sound of her casting off the images projected onto her by others and making a statement of intent, this is Deau Eyes, real, raw and rather wonderful.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
The first show I ever played intentionally with my own music was an open mic at an Irish pub in NYC called Paddy Reilly’s. I was hustling in the lower east side and was starved for a creative outlet. I had a really shitty acoustic guitar that wouldn’t stay in tune and my hands were shaking. There was an Australian surgeon visiting the city that I quickly befriended over a Guinness and he leant me his beautiful Cole Clark guitar to play my three songs. I was wearing cowboy boots and a bandana and I felt both completely out of place and exactly where I was supposed to be. The second I started playing it felt like I had a whole new life ahead.. mind you, I was still shaky and my fingers slipped all over the place but I was so hungry to do better. Miraculously enough, that Australian guy let me keep that guitar because “he had another at home and I needed it more”.. he packed a little recording microphone in there as well and it changed the trajectory of my whole life. That night could have gone way differently. Pretty wild. I’m very grateful.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I have so many creative interests and music is the one that can facilitate most of them.. writing, video, dance, visual art, crafting, merch things, and of course singing my heart out and playing instruments is among the most vibrant things I can do with myself. Pursuing music cultivates community in something honest and shared. I spent a lot of time working in theaters and theme parks and started feeling like a puppet. I kept being pulled to sing the way I wanted and write what I put out into my own corner of the world. There also began to be too much creatively stagnant time in between gigs that I felt I needed to fill and then this became what I’m wildly passionate about. There’s also travel and the lifestyle of sharing stories and meeting people and the adventure in it all. I’m addicted to the physical energy surrounding music.. it changes the molecules and has always been there for me unlike anything could be.
FTR: What can people expect from the Deau Eyes live show?
That’s fun to think about because of these times and also because I’ve never been in the audience.. but what I’d hope is that people come to feel something and that they come to share a safe and inspiring space knowing that we are all so resilient and powerful in our own right. I can’t wait until we’re back at it and in safe spaces with one another. The show is a blast. We cry, we laugh, we get loud, we get quiet, stories are shared, and we make friends… I miss it.
FTR: What’s next for Deau Eyes?
Since the album release show was postponed, I’ve been making music videos for every song on the record with my brother. We’ve been building and destroying sets from free appliances off of FB Marketplace, making costumes, learning stop motion, baking cakes. I poured paint all over my body and made a giant paper airplane bigger than my minivan to fly off a cliff. It’s going to be a virtual soiree if we’ve ever seen one and we couldn’t be more stoked. That’s all coming out May 8th.
After the release, I’ll be continuing to work on my next album. It’s mostly written now and I’ve got some stuff cooking back and forth while we’re all quarantined. I’m looking forward to this creative time even though it’s a strange adjustment to what we were all expecting with touring on our first album for the rest of the year. I think when we come back we’ll be stronger and won’t take a single thing for granted. Safety takes absolute precedent and I’m in no rush to push anything before it’s healthy to do so. But lots of creations are coming your way.
They Listen To…
John Prine – That’s the Way the World Goes Round
I discovered John Prine when I was working on the cruise ship singing country tunes for six months. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard his stories. I fell hard for his love, kindness, and heartbreakingly hilarious lyricism. When he passed recently it had me right back down the ole rabbit hole. I love the live version of this song where he stops to tell the story about a woman that thought the lyrics were “it’s a happy enchilada and you think you’re gonna drown.” I’ve listened to it on loop all through quarantine.
Fiona Apple – Newspaper
I could easily list every single song on this album…especially Under the Table…and Ladies…and Relay. But this one hits particularly close to home and I think is a story so seldom told in this way. There’s a sisterhood amongst those who’ve been abused or mistreated by the same man. There’ve been multiple women I’ve wanted to reach out to since that song came out, one of which texted me before I could text her. I love a song that motivates you to do something you wouldn’t do otherwise. Additionally, “you’re wearing time like a flowery crown” is the most cathartic lyric to sing along to. Preach.
Band of Skulls – I Know What I Am
… is what I cranked when I found out our SXSW tour was canceled and rode on it for a week or so to keep my spirits up. There’s a video of me dancing with a lamp to this song somewhere on the internet. “I got the time but the time don’t pay” could not be more relevant timely material.
Angelica Garcia – Jicama
This one is by my dear friend Angelica. She’s a genius and inspires me all the time with her art. I’m in love with the way she uses her voice with a strong message of empowering her roots in latin music and culture in America. I’ve been home alone dancing to her album ‘Cha Cha Palace’ pretty consistently for a month.
Erin Lunsford – Virginia Brother
This one is from another Richmond sister from another mister, Erin Lunsford. This song gives me chills every time it starts. Her strong and gentle soul shines through every song on this album and her voice is beyond powerful and dynamic. Whenever I see her live I feel like I’m witnessing a miracle. I’ve been feeling particularly grateful for my Virginia Brother lately as we start a new chapter of creativity together.
Let It Leave is out now via Egg Hunt Records. Click HERE for more information on Deau Eyes.