Interview: Deborah Bond “I would much rather be a starving artist and be happy with what I’m doing, than to be someone in the limelight that deep down inside is feeling like an artistic sellout”
Last week, critically acclaimed independent artist Deborah Bond released her long awaited second studio album “Madam Palindome” which is the follow up to 2003’s “Day After”. The project, which Bond says “is all about perspective”, gives listeners a scope of love, passion, struggle, self-discovery and self-acceptance on this 11-track masterpiece. In this exclusive interview, she breaks down the album for us as well as gives us some history behind her music and her journey as an artist.
On Sound of “Madam Palindrome”…
Deborah Bond: I would say just like the first album “Day After,” it’s a big melting pot of so many different sounds that influenced us, the root being soul music; but definitely r&b, funk, psychedelic, a little bit of acoustic soul, kind of all melted into this Deborah Bond/Third Logic sound. It’s kind of hard to put any real name on it because we have so many influences and we come from so many different directions, we don’t really approach writing songs or putting music together with any particular genre or sound in mind. The more you listen and the more you really get into it, the more you’ll notice that it’s a lot of everything.
On Title of the Album….
DB: It’s funny. Myself and my bass player, who goes by the name “Funky Chuck,” midway through creating the album, we sat down with about five songs that were already completed, not recorded; but ready to be recorded. We started to listen to the songs and the lyrics to try to get ideas together for the title. We noticed a common thread with all of the songs that we had so far. The songs seemed to come from these two different sides, so the content of the songs were dealing with some type of perspective from usually two sides. Although the perspectives were different, they were very similar and that was kind of tying the two together in between. My bass player said, “You know, that make me think of Palindromes.” A palindrome is something that you can read forward and backwards the same way. It’s two of the same things on either side and there is something in the middle that is in between those two things. He just thought of the word palindrome, and we just started to think where we could go with that. A couple of days later, he called me and said “Madam Palindrome” I think that should be the title. We thought it was too wordy, and we thought it was kind of weird but myself, Third Logic, and my production team really like “weird.” We like something that will make you think. After going back and forth about it, we all decided that it just fit. The word “Madam” is a palindrome, if you spell it the English way it has an “e” at the end, but we took the “e” off. There are two perspectives to that word, “madam” is not always seen in the brightest light but sometimes people greet someone but saying “Oh, good day madam.” Once we had it, we kind of ran with it, we embedded a lot of stuff within the music and we hard work took it real deep.
On Staying True to Her Sound without Compromising….
DB: That’s probably the number one rule for me. I have a song on the album called “Blind Paradise”, it’s really kind of my personal message in that regard because I’ve had a lot of people give me advice on what I should do to “blow up” or “make it.” Most times, it’s always involving some form of me compromising my sound, compromising my look, just compromising my heart. I’m an extremely stubborn person when it comes to that. I’m not in a part of my life where I feel that it’s necessary, I think maybe ten years ago when I was younger in my 20s, maybe I would have felt more moved to bend a bit. At this point in my life, I feel so confident in what I do, and I really believe in what I do, I feel it would be a complete injustice to myself to change anything. I feel like what I’m doing right now is so unique and it’s so pure that it has to be that way. It’s highly important for me, I would much rather be a starving artist and be happy with what I’m doing, than to be someone in the limelight that deep down inside is feeling like an artistic sellout.
On a Shift in the Industry Towards Real Music….
DB: It’s coming, I feel a change coming and I feel there’s a lot going on in the universe and a lot going in the world that is prompting artists to start speaking with a message. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with a lot of the mainstream artists because so many of them are forced to do things and they just have stars in their eyes and they want to be rich and make money and their focus is material instead of using your music to heal someone or motivate someone. I have a feeling that with the way the world is right now, there’s going to be another wave of really powerful musicians and artists and luckily we have a few good mediums to get our voices out there.
On Her Collaboration With Lewis Taylor….
DB: That was a very quick wrinkle in time of a situation of time with Lewis Taylor. So many people have been asking me how did I get him out of retirement and it’s so funny because I can be that girl and run with it and come up with all kinds of stories. I have to be honest, the song is pretty old, maybe five years old and it was written before Lewis Taylor retired. During the time when I was writing that song, I had written it with a duet in mind and I had a manager at the time who asked me randomly one day if I could work with anybody right now on the soul scene, who would it be? At that point in time I was really completely motivated and inspired by Lewis Taylor and then I had really just started studying him and listening to his work and I just fell in love with his sound and everything about his musicianship and artistry. So that’s who I said. Within a couple of weeks, my manager came back to me and said “I think I can make that happen!” I don’t know what he did to be honest with you, I’ve never really asked, I was just so dumbfounded that he actually found a contact for Lewis Taylor and got the ball rolling. I wrote that song with my guitar player and we kinda wanted it to be this lover’s pact, this back and forth between a couple. We wanted the song to say “I’m so sick of you, I just want to walk away, but just deep down inside I know I really can’t”. That song was actually one of the songs that brought about a part of the perspective because of the perspective of the woman she’s saying “I treat you like a King and do all of these things for you” and from the perspective of a man he’s saying “Are you forgetting about these things I do for you?” In the middle of it all, they have the same sentiment of feeling like they can’t leave each other no matter how much they think they should or they want to; they need each other and their love is too strong to pull them away. That was one of the songs that actually led us to the perspective idea. Basically I wrote it, I recorded the female part, and did everything via the internet and sent it to him and he reviewed it, said he was in, and I couldn’t believe it. I was just so astounded that he was willing to work with little old me! It came out as a really cool back and forth. He took it very lightly vocally at first, he didn’t do too much embellishing and I was begging him to give me more and more and more because that’s what I really know him for: amazing, lush, intense harmonies and cool riffs. I asked him if he could continue to build and build and he told me something interesting about how he was in a place in his life where he just didn’t feel like giving that much. He felt more like less was more and that he didn’t really have anything to prove and he wasn’t really in a show off time of his life. I just begged him to go a little harder and he did eventually at the very end of the track where the music is building and the intensity is really building. He took it there so much that I was like “Oh my God, now what am I going to do?” In the end it turned out to be a beautiful record and I’m glad people are enjoying it because I was nervous about it, but I’m glad people are latching onto it.
On “Nothing Matters” and “Never Was”….
DB: “Nothing Matters” is another old one that was actually shopped to another singer in the DC area who passed on it. My bass player Funky Chuck came up with that groove. Once she passed on it, I was all about it, I just thought it was really funky and it had this Chaka Khan 80’s kinda vibe. Old folks who know me know that Chaka’s in my holy trinity of singers. That song honestly came from the sentiment of being very personal to me but I wanted it to be very relatable to people from all walks of life. I wrote that song about being in an inter racial relationship and being judged and having people who claim they are righteous people or people who claim they are good people and have their own opinion about me being with someone other than a black man. That’s really what the song is about, being it’s another song about perspective. If we’re all about love in this world, then who are you really to judge who I love? Not that it should really matter when you’re feeling someone, why should it matter if they’re a different race or the same sex? Why should it matter if they’re in a different financial class or if there is a huge age difference? There are just so many things when it comes to love that can be judged and that tends to be judged. I just don’t really believe in all of that and that’s where the song came from. It started out being very personal to me but it morphed into me wanting it to touch people who are being hated on for who they love. That’s where that song came from. “Never Was” was another song that almost didn’t make the album because it was produced by Robbie McDonald, my guitar player, and it’s a very, very old track. The minute I heard it I felt I had to write something to this and it has to be on the next album. Robbie felt it was a classic Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis kinda vibe, Janet Jackson groove, which I completely loved. I love, love, love those guys and I love Janet Jackson and I felt like this was a great way for me to get my own flavor and twist into that kinda vibe. It’s another perspective song about being in one mental space about someone that you may have felt you were in love with at the time that you might have been caught up in all kinds of other emotions that aren’t love. Maybe it’s lust, maybe it’s infatuation, or whatever it may be, but you thought you loved this person and you move on.
Listen to the audio below for more from the interview