Updated: Sep 1
Ali Thibodeau's Journey As a Producer for Her New Album, 'Legacies'
photo by Lucienne Nghiem
Ali Thibodeau, who performs under the moniker “Deau Eyes,” is a Richmond-based songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, and producer. Her sophomore album, ‘Legacies’ was released on June 10th, 2022, and is “a sprawling, majestic exploration of what it means to leave things behind that have integrity and meaning.” In this interview from June 21st, 2022, Ali talks about the process of bringing ‘Legacies’ to life, her role as co-producer, and she explores themes of her experiences thus far as a woman in the music industry. Her new release can be found on all streaming platforms, and is available for physical purchase.
Nan Macmillan: How are you? Congrats on the album release, it sounds so great.
Ali Thibodeau: Thanks so much, thanks for listening to it! It’s definitely so awesome to have it out, it’s kind of surreal, you forget about that part – that it’s gonna come out. You just get so lost in making it and everything that goes along with the album cycle, releasing singles and everything like that. But I’m really glad it’s out.
N: Can you speak a little bit about the thematic content behind ‘Legacies’? What’s the story behind the album?
A: This record was a collection of stories, kind of like journal entries. I was feeling an overarching theme once I started putting them together over all this time. I have lived with the feeling that every single thing I do is the last time I’ll do it. Like when people said growing up, “Dance like no one’s watching” or, “Live like it’s the last day of your life,” I really took that to heart. So I treat relationships and pursuits in general as if it’s the highest stakes possible. The way that the climate is right now, socially and physically with illness and Covid and everything, it was feeling more and more apocalyptic. Like anything could happen and the stakes were really high. And the drama in my heart and mind was at an all time high. So originally when I was putting this all together, I was going to name it 'Love Songs for the Apocalypse.' I think the choices you make and the legacies you’re leaving behind really fueled this record.‘Ends’ is that love song at the very end of time, between me and whomever – it could be anyone, like a stranger. And just knowing that our existence was shared, and there’s a level of compassion that supersedes any circumstance.
N: Was there a song that felt like a turning point for the album? That once you wrote it, you then knew what the album was about?
A: ‘Moscow in the Spring’, I wrote first out of all of them. In that one, there’s the theme of just owning the space you take, just saying you know what, this is my one life. I can choose to either keep being an escape for other people or I can own it and stand my ground. And I’m still actively learning about that. Most of these songs are anthems for myself to keep learning that because it hasn’t quite integrated. And so, I think that song set me up in a way to stand my ground and own my experiences in a different way than I usually would.
N: When you were writing, what was the process like? Did the songs all sound similar in their origin phases, i.e. you and a guitar?
A: Yeah, I just play guitar, sometimes I mess around on keys. And of course playing around with my vocal looper and stuff. ‘Moscow’ is the song that took the biggest, complete 180 degree turn in style. I wrote that song four or five years ago. It had electric guitars, was an angsty, guttural song, and extremely raw. In the place I was in then, it was really important for it to start that way. And the evolution of the song got to the point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. I went into the studio and said “Here’s a song that I feel like should be on the record, but I also don’t feel like it should be on the record.” And then Scott Lane, my co-producer, said “Well let’s just put this in a completely different place. Like, where else could this live?” And I said, “how about we go to an Iceland airport and we’re in a waiting room, see how that feels.” And he responded saying that maybe we completely strip it back and make it ambient. It’s so cool to work with someone who just so immediately understands your language. That’s what I love about collaborating and co-producing. All of the songs I wrote on an acoustic guitar started as a folk song. Very storytelling heavy, no production at all. And then going in, it’s like having a coloring book and you color it in the way you want it to look and sound.
N: Were you working with anyone in-person?
A: Scott and I kept ourselves pretty much just he and I. I was waiting tables most nights and I would go to his studio every night after waiting tables. We made this record in the middle of the night.
N: It sounds like it, you can hear that coming through.