Debbie Neigher
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Debbie Neigher

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter




"Paste Magazine Review of "Unravel""

There are moments of poetic beauty so front-and-center on Debbie Neigher’s sophomore album, Unravel, you’d be remiss not to struggle to swallow a bit after hearing them. Operating within both minimalist fits of piano-led dream ballads and surging, epic arrangements, Neigher’s gorgeous voice is given ample room to sing lines like, “I open my eyes and all the lightbulbs burst/the halogen showers fill up the pails on the floor/Halos of glass around my feet/We kneel in the dark/My knees crunch the glass like virgin snow/it doesn’t even hurt/we don’t even feel it anymore.”

Later, the narrator sews her eyes to sleep.

So opens Unravel, a production helmed by a who’s-who of San Francisco engineers and collaborators, including John Vanderslice—whose Tiny Telephone Studios housed the recording of the album. With arrangement assistance from the Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie) and accompaniment by Jason Slota (Thao and the Get Down Stay Down), Jesse Cafiero (Split Screens, Thao, Sean Hayes), Sylvain Carton (Japonize Elephants) and Justine Leichtling (The Sam Chase), Unravel sounds, ironically, like a tightly wound snapshot of a woman confronting life’s ebbs and flows.

Sometimes epiphanies come in full-on pop revelry, as on the radio-ready dance jam “I Am Ready,” a tune that could be dismissed as a saccharine-sweet single were it not for Neigher’s insistence on traversing a world of dark self-introspection.

“Tomato Fields” relates a leisurely romp through suburban nostalgia, where the narrator grew up in parking lots and is simultaneously mortified and proud at the remembrance of it. Neigher croons, “We’ll walk through tomato fields and make a paste between our toes/you bring the cheese, I’ll bring the dough/we’ll make a pizza with the scarecrows…/We don’t want them to know that we grew up in parking lots and cul de sacs/We need to be believe that we had culture/we had truth and we had rules in places completely faked.”

Forget that the tune is propelled by somewhat corny horns and skunky keys—it’s the kind of musical sashay you might hear in the background of a commercial for glass cleaner, despite the ensemble’s obvious proficiency—Neigher’s insightful prose is such an honest vignette of empowerment that it’s tough to fault the vehicle.

Besides, there are plenty of daring escapades on Unravel, including the title track, which finds Neigher flittering her nimble digits over plunky piano lines, where dynamic drum patterns and intriguing instrumental layers lull you into a place the lyrics might not make you think you ought to be.

Debbie Neigher’s advocates, and accolades, continue to multiply the more her craft is whittled. On Unravel, with a little help from her friends, overcoming vulnerability has never sounded so painfully good. - Paste Magazine

"KQED The Do List Feature"

Californians are rightfully concerned with a lack of rain these days, but San Francisco singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher hails from New Jersey originally, so she can be forgiven for pining after a different weather phenomenon: snow. “It Never Snows Here” is her latest single, a follow-up to the her dreamy 2013 indie-pop record, Unravel. Her band borrows from some of San Francisco’s best local acts, but her vocals really need no embellishment — equal parts honey-sweet and surprisingly powerful, there’s no question who’s in command onstage.

Neigher also plays Thursday, July 23 at Awaken Cafe in Oakland. - KQED

"See Debbie Neigher, A Star in the Making"

Debbie Neigher, the San Francisco singer-songwriter who recorded her last album with John Vanderslice at his analog Tiny Telephone studio in the Mission, returns with a lush new piano ballad, “It Never Snows Here.” The song will serve as a centerpiece for her live show, which typically spills over with haunting melodies, intricate wordplay and the star-in-the-making’s seductive personality.
It also offers Neigher a chance to recall the white stuff from her New Jersey childhood.
— Aidin Vaziri
Debbie Neigher: 9 p.m. Thursday, July 23. $7. Awaken Cafe, 1429 Broadway, Oakland. - San Francisco Chronicle

"Noise Pop Festival is back with a mix of local and left-field"

As Noise Pop Festival enters its 24th year, the annual concert series serves as more than just an excuse to pinball around town hearing great music for two weeks. It’s also a bastion of independent culture, underground artists, local music and, well, Carly Rae Jepsen.

“We have a formula that works, but we have to evolve because we’re in a city that is constantly in flux,” says Jordan Kurland, the music executive who produces Noise Pop. “The people who connected with the brand 10 years ago might not be here anymore, but I feel like we have a really good, diverse lineup that’s going to get people in the room.”

The event, which takes place Friday, Feb. 19 to Feb. 28, will bring more than 150 acts to venues all around San Francisco, including the Independent, Bottom of the Hill, Rickshaw Stop and 1015 Folsom.

As always, the festival lineup is loaded with indie-rock veterans (Drive Like Jehu, the Mountain Goats, Bill Callahan), up-and-coming acts (Vince Staples, Charlie Hilton, Day Wave), left-field surprises (Kamasi Washington, Ilovemakonnen) and a substantial list of Bay Area artists (Debbie Neigher, Be Calm Honcho, Rin Tin Tiger).

“It’s especially important with the struggles of the local art community,” says Kurland. “We need an outlet for the music scene more than ever.”

The promoters are expanding the film program this year, including an evening with “Decline of the Western Civilization” director Penelope Spheeris, a documentary on the slow-core band Morphine and one on the esoteric exotica music pioneer Korla Pandit.

Meanwhile, at Noise Pop headquarters at the Swedish American Hall, there will be a full program featuring Litquake events, industry talks and the recording of a Song Exploder podcast.

But for all the eclectic curation happening around the festival, there was one show that almost didn’t happen: Carly Rae Jepsen, the Canadian pop star who rose from “Call Me Maybe” fame to becoming an indie fetish item with her latest album, “Emotion.”

“I don’t know what to make of it,” Kurland says. “There was a long conversation internally about whether or not we should do the show. Whether she was a guilty pleasure, and now it doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure, I don’t know how to explain why everyone is excited. We’re certainly rolling the dice a little bit.”

Aidin Vaziri is The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic. E-mail: Twitter: @MusicSF - San Francisco Chronicle

"Video Premiere: “It Never Snows Here” by Debbie Neigher"

How do you know when to feel sad and lonely in California when it’s always warm and sunny? That’s the question San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Debbie Neigher poses in her song “It Never Snows Here” off her upcoming fall album.

A piano ballad at its core, “It Never Snows Here” is bolstered by a full band sound and choral ‘aahs.’ There’s an emotional intensity in her powerful, flawless vocals, rounded out by a soft, bluesy quality. The video, which features Neigher alone with her piano, builds on that intensity with dramatic lighting. Directed by Dan Huiting and filmed entirely in black and white, the aesthetic feels like a throwback to the silver screen era, her music a modern interpretation of classic blues.

“Being born and raised on the east coast, I found it completely deregulating when I moved to San Francisco, a city without any seasons. I realized that you get used to the external cycles of the year and your internal emotional cycles reflecting each other, and it felt very strange to live in a place where time seems to just run into itself,” says Neigher about the song.

Watch "It Never Snows Here" by Debbie Neigher:

Celebrating tomorrow's release of "It Never Snows Here" as a digital single, Neigher will perform at The Independent in San Francisco on June 11. - Culture Collide

"Debbie Neigher Kicks Off West Coast Tour with Marathon Performance"

Later this year, San Francisco based singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher will release her second album, “Unravel,” once again produced by John Vanderslice and arranged by the Magik*Magik Orchestra. But first she’s heading out on a West Coast tour with Doe Eye that kicks off Friday at Bottom of the Hill.

In an attempt to earn the most drink tickets possible in one show, Neigher will sit in with all three acts on the bill (which also includes Fox and Woman).

“I feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded by so many inspiring, diverse, and welcoming bands in this city,” Neigher says. “Since the last time we spoke (in 2011), I was trying to balance working full-time at Larkin Street Youth Services (co-managing their Art Program for homeless youth) while trying to pursue my music career at the same time. I felt that both paths needed me to be vulnerable, strong and constantly emotionally present, so after an amazing and challenging three years of juggling both, I decided to leave Larkin Street and finally try and discover how far I could take my music.” - San Francisco Chronicle

"Noise Pop 2016: Debbie Neigher"

Favorite go-to places to eat/drink/hangout in the Bay?
I absolutely love my neighborhood (Western Addition/NOPA) and have been here ever since I moved to San Francisco. You can usually find me at the Page, Mojo, Little Chihuahua, The Independent, or Alamo Square Park.

What can we expect from your Noise Pop Festival performance?
We'll be playing lots of songs from a new album in the works, as well as premiering a brand new song we've never performed before! My sound is shifting towards a new direction I'm really excited about, and we can't wait to showcase that at Noise Pop!

What’s something you must absolutely have with you on tour?
Pants! (I did a tour once where I somehow completely forgot to pack any pants). It's always a struggle to stay healthy on tour, so I usually bring Throat Coat tea for my voice. I also always have a journal with me to help remember and process everything that happens on the road, as well as a journal for writing down song ideas.

What’s your pre-show ritual?
I like to keep things pretty mellow before going onstage - I'll usually hang backstage with my bandmates to get centered before performing.

What’s your go-to hangover cure/festival survival tip?
My drummer swears by Pedialyte for hangover cures, but I haven't tried it yet! In terms of festival survival tips, my go-to approach is usually to just keep drinking steadily throughout the day so I don't get sleepy!

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on tour or during a show?
I was on tour playing keys for Ezra Furman a few years ago, and he has this really great, raucous song where I bang and punch the keyboard. Unfortunately I got a little too into it and my giant keyboard flew off the stand and almost knocked the sax player over!

Favorite snack?
Does ice cream count as a snack? Then definitely ice cream.

What’s ahead for you in 2016?
I'm almost done with a new EP featuring the incredible Oakland band The Tumbleweed Wanderers as my backing band. It's been the most amazing collaborative project, and the songs are wildly different from anything either of us have ever done before. I'm also in the process of finishing all the songs for my third album, and will hopefully be recording those later this year! There are so many new sounds and songs on the way!

Catch Debbie Neigher with Julien Baker, Gracie and Rachel, and Kacey Johansing at Bottom of the Hill on February 25th! - DoTheBay

"Debbie Neigher blends beautiful melodies, incisive lyrics"

Debbie Neigher
Debbie Neigher's music has an indie pop sound, but she approaches the vocals as a singer-songwriter. She taps into themes of social injustice as well as vulnerability. Whether the lyrics are serious or playful, there's always a beautiful melody.

Neigher has two full-length releases. Her latest, "Unravel," came out in November.

Lineup: Debbie Neigher, vocals, piano, synth; Jess Silva, backing vocals; Kyle Kelly-Yahner, drums; Jesse Cafiero, bass and lap steel guitar

Was there a band you heard when you were young that inspired you to become a musician?
I wanted to be like my big brother, who is a fantastic musician, so I stole his music note flashcards when I was little and taught myself how to read music. I started writing my own songs when I was 12 or 13, and I distinctly remember hearing Joni Mitchell for the first time and just knowing that there was something pure, timeless, wise and profound about her voice and music. It was like I already knew her.

What's the most important aspect to putting on a live show?
Transcendence, both for the audience and for the performer. If I'm too in my own head, or worrying about my voice, I'm not doing my job correctly. I believe that the performer is supposed to embrace abandon and oblivion in order to help the whole room feel like they are in another world, in a moment that is only for them and can never be repeated. When I see a show and I forget about all the worries and stresses and confusion in my life, it's absolutely religious, and those are the shows that affect me the most.

How does living in the Bay Area affect your music?
The Bay Area itself is a strange and magical place of natural beauty, political progressiveness and an overflowing artistic community, while at the same time fostering a class war and a rising tide of poverty. This juxtaposition of beauty and its underbelly definitely influences the way I view the city and its subsequent impact on my music.

Check it out:

Next gig: 8 p.m. Sunday. With Rio Rio, Ghost Town Jenny. $7-$10. Brick & Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission St., S.F. (415) 800-8782.

- Tony DuShane, - San Francisco Chronicle

"Debbie Neigher puts her life, soul into her music"

At just 5 feet tall, Debbie Neigher isn't easy to spot in a busy Valencia Street coffee shop. I stand in line behind her for a good 10 minutes before I actually see her. But she makes up for her diminutive stature with her oversize ambition.

The 24-year-old New Jersey native dropped everything two years ago and moved to San Francisco, having only briefly visited the city once before. After landing a full-time job working with at-risk youth as an art program counselor at Larkin Street Youth Services, she set aside two weeks to make her first album, a self-titled collection of songs that she unconditionally put her life and savings into.

"I moved to San Francisco a few months after school," she says. "I figured I already did something reckless, so why not take on something else that felt big and scary?"

The gamble paid off. John Vanderslice, the acclaimed local singer-songwriter who has produced albums by Spoon and the Mountain Goats, asked Neigher if he could produce the record after giving her a tour of his all-analog Mission District studio, Tiny Telephone - a task he takes on as infrequently as a lunar eclipse occurs.

"I was completely shocked and bewildered," says Neigher, who plays a record-release show at Cafe Du Nord on Tuesday. "I'm still in shock."

Vanderslice brought in a full band to bolster her piano compositions, along with engineer Ian Pellicci, whose credits include Deerhoof; and Minna Choi of the Magik*Magik Orchestra, who provided all the strings.

"I rarely produce records at Tiny Telephone," Vanderslice says. "Debbie gave me her demos on a studio tour and I was hooked."

The Tiny Telephone crew helped Neigher craft a lush, beautifully scored album on par with those of her personal icons Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple.

"I went into the studio with the core of the songs," Neigher says. "And they did an amazing job bringing in all these colors. It turned out far more expansive and imaginative than I ever expected."

Natural and savvy
Vanderslice is equally pleased with the collaboration. "It's one of the most natural and harmonically savvy records to come out of the studio," he says.

The whole thing was recorded in 11 days, with Neigher working around the clock to get all 10 songs - some of which she had written as a teenager - on tape.

"It was intense, but it was remarkably smooth," she says. "I feel like I was pregnant for seven years."

Her father is a musician with classical and theater experience. Her brother played trumpet before taking up the drums and introducing her to some of his favorite hardcore bands. Neigher started playing the piano at 4 years old, wrote her first song at 13 and started performing at local clubs long before she could legally enter them. "I remember carrying my huge keyboard through the back door," she says.

On "Evergreens," she contemplates her move across the country; on the bare-bones ballad "Wishbone," she muses on a lost childhood friend; and she goes experimental on "Cathedral."

But it's "Pink Chalk" that stands out as the album's starkest moment, with Neigher revisiting the details of a sexual assault. Her big blue eyes get a bit watery as she recounts the day they listened to the final take in the studio.

"Hearing these things in a roomful of people I didn't really know was overwhelming - especially when it's something you haven't told your closest friends," she says. "Just to take something terrible and make it into something beautiful is very cathartic."

Going on the road
After the album comes out, she hopes to take it on the road with a full band - surely an insurmountable challenge for someone just starting out.

"Everything else has been up to this point," she says. "Why quit now?" {sbox}

Debbie Neigher and Tidelands Double Record Release Show: 8 p.m. Tues. $10. Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market St., S.F. (415) 861-5016.

To hear Debbie Neigher's music, go to - San Francisco Chronicle

"NOISE POP: Julien Baker @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16"

Noise Pop brings a mix of local and national acts into San Francisco. The festival is spread out over nine days in 17 different venues around the city. The Bottom of the Hill was the scene of four all female fronted band’s that captivated the audience throughout the night.

Debbie Neigher a bay area singer-songwriter started off night. With a mix of indie pop and jazz. She played a new song It Never Snows Hear that the audience loved. Neigher and her band were a great start for the night.

Debbie Neigher @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16Debbie Neigher @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16Debbie Neigher

Up next was another Bay Area musician Kacey Johansing. Her moody music pop was well received by the crowd. Keep an eye out for a new album in the near future. Gracie and Rachel with their orchestral pop was a dynamic addition to the night. A surprise version of Kreayshawn’s Gucci Gucci had the room screaming one big room full of bad bitches.

Kacey Johansing @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16Kacey Johansing

Gracie and Rachel @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16Gracie and Rachel @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16Gracie and Rachel @ Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco 2/25/16Gracie and Rachel

To finish out the night Julien Baker sang us “sad” songs from her debut album Sprained Ankle. She remarked about how quite the audience was. Maybe just a little unnerved that we didn’t want to spoil the mood and make a lot of noise while she was playing. She did hesitantly play a beautiful new song for us, unnamed as of now. So we will have to waith and see what she ends up calling it. We were just as captivated by Baker as everyone else that was there that night. - The Owl Mag

"American Songwriter Magazine Song Premiere: "I Am Ready""

Debbie Neigher is releasing her sophomore album, Unravel, in November, and like her, we’re ready.

In “I Am Ready,” a space-y synth intro leads to an electro-pop chorus, backed by even more synth and foot-tapping drum beats that make you want to get up and dance.

Unravel was produced by John Vanderslice (Spoon, The Mountain Goats), at his Tiny Telephone Studio in San Francisco. Together, Neigher and Vanderslice created what they call the “Dream Team” – a collaboration of San Francisco talent to help put together the arrangements.

“This song is all about facing one’s vulnerability; embracing it, owning it, and having it lead to power,” says Neigher. “It’s important to me that this is specifically about a woman loving herself and being tired of the fear that comes with accepting love, making mistakes, self-doubt, and self-image. It’s also just about being grateful for life itself and not wanting to waste any more time being afraid to live it fully and honestly.” - American Songwriter Magazine

"A-Sides With Jon Chattman: Chase Your Hump Day Blues Away With Jus Post Bellum and Debbie Neigher"

Debbie Neigher just dropped her sophomore album, Unravel, on us last month, and it proved to be another solid, piano-driven, singer/songwriter record showcasing her raw power and brutally honest lyrics. A few weeks back, the talented San Francisco native braved the cold in Brooklyn to play a track off Unravel for A-Sides, and sat down for a brief chat. Naturally, it was all kinds of awesomeness. Watch. Listen. Love. In that order perhaps?

[Live Performance Video and Interview] - Huffington Post

"MySpoonful Feature"

hometown: San Francisco, CA
categories: Indie, Pop, Singer/Songwriter
for fans of: Regina Spektor, Feist, St. Vincent

why you should check them out:
San Francisco’s Debbie Neigher blends her classical piano training and pop tendencies into a hybrid mix of pop, jazz, folk, and just about everything else in between. Her jazz influenced vocals perfectly compliment the tender piano and backing arrangements throughout her work. Influenced by everyone from Joni Mitchell to Jimmy Eat World, Neigher’s music is a refreshing and honest window into a burgeoning artist’s world.

background check:
Neigher’s uninhibited approach to writing music results in some brutally real material. Her latest effort, 2013’s Unravel, is a “collection of songs about vulnerability - avoiding it, embracing it and turning it into strength and power.” Her penetrating lyrics range from forgotten friendships to spontaneous relocations. Despite the sometimes somber topics, Neigher’s beautiful voice and careful production create lush backdrops full of captivating melodies and hooks. It seems like Neigher has truly embraced her vulnerability and relishes in its endless possibilities. - MySpoonful

"Localized Appreesh: Debbie Neigher"

Localized Appreesh is our weekly thank-you column to the musicians that make the Bay. Each week a band/music-maker with a show, album release, or general good news is highlighted and spotlit. To be considered, contact

This week’s Localized Appreesh is the lush-vocal’d Debbie Neigher. She's a stunning jazz-tinged singer-songwriter, who recorded her recently released self-titled LP with John Vanderslice at his Tiny Telephone Studios, along with the backing orchestral help of Minna Choi of the Magik*Magik Orchestra.

Neigher, a transplant from New Jersey, has the kind of effervescent voice that transcends time. She’s youthful (just 24), yet her voice is strong and conveys a wise understanding of past, similar to Michelle Branch or Fiona Apple. Her lyrics often dive into difficult topics, particularly on dramatic tracks like “Cathedral.” And her intricate piano work on the album soars.

The talented songstress plays the Haunted Hoedown at Bottom of the Hill this Friday, Oct. 28. She’ll be premiering a new song, and will be backed by guest musicians on bass, lap steel, drums, violin, guitar, and sax. The event includes costume contests, free treats, and a rather creepy concert poster. Get spooky.

Year and location of origin: I started performing my original songs when I was 15 back in my hometown in New Jersey in 2002. I wasn't even legally allowed in half of the bars I played!?
Personal motto: If you are lucky enough to figure out what truly moves you, it's your responsibility as a human to stop at nothing to pursue it.?
Description of sound in 10 words or less: Intricate/lush piano, jazz vocals, and painfully honest lyrics.
Instrumentation: I sing and play the piano and have an absurdly talented crew of drummers (Jason Slota, Ezra Lipp, Andrew Maguire) and bassists (Jamie Riotto, Jesse Cafiero) that I call on for live shows. We usually have lap steel (Jesse Cafiero) and guitar (Phil Pristia) as well.?
Most recent release: I just released my debut full-length record (self-titled) this past July. I had the honor of working with John Vanderslice (Spoon, The Mountain Goats) as my producer and the Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie, The Dodos) on the project.
Best part about life as a Bay Area musician: The warm, welcoming, and collaborative nature of the music community here. I've never met so many talented players with such humility - I'm grateful to know these people every day!?
Worst part about life as a Bay Area musician: I work a full-time job and teach piano lessons on top of writing/performing music to afford the rent in our fair city!?
First record/cassette tape/or CD ever purchased: Oh god I just asked my mom and her guess was a New Kids on the Block cassette. In an attempt to redeem myself, I also distinctly remember having Nirvana's Nevermind CD and Bush's Sixteen Stone CD when I was little.?
Most recent record/cassette tape/CD/or Mp3 purchased/borrowed from the Web: Local Natives "Gorilla Manor"
Favorite local eatery and dish: Plantain black bean burrito at The Little Chihuahua.

Haunted Hoedown
With Debbie Neigher, Owl Paws, Rin Tin Tiger, and Please Do Not Fight
Fri/28, 8:30 p.m., $10?
Bottom of the Hill?
1233 17th St., SF

- San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Band of the Day App Feature"

Luminous singing and expressive keyboard work from a San Franciscan songstress... - Band of the Day

"Debbie Neigher: The Unraveling of A Pop Indie Star"

Singer-Songwriter Debbie Neigher has been making a name for herself in San Francisco for the past 10 years. She’s worked hard to support her music career and recently released her sophomore album, Unravel. With honest lyrics, a hauntingly beautiful voice, and unique song structures Debbie Neigher has created a perfect album that pushes you to unravel yourself and let go a bit.

So Gutsy recently spoke to Debbie about her new album, her move to San Francisco, and her future.

SG: In your own words, who is Debbie Neigher?

Debbie: I am a songwriter, pianist, and singer.

SG: Are you originally from San Francisco?

Debbie: I’m not, I’m from New Jersey.

SG: What made you decide to head out West?

Debbie: Well, I graduated college in Boston, I had grown up on the East Coast my whole life in New Jersey; and then I went to college in Boston and I graduated right when the economy tanked which was really, really, really hard trying to find a job. So, I figured it didn’t really matter where I went because it would be a challenge either way. I was kind of deciding between New York City and San Francisco… I couldn’t really explain it, but I had always felt this draw to California particularly San Francisco, and I just wanted to see what the West Coast was like so I just moved here. I didn’t have a job or a place to live but thankfully both of those things have worked themselves out.

SG: That’s a really courageous thing to do, to move across the country.

Debbie: Thank you. It was a great, great experience.

SG: How’s the San Francisco scene?

Debbie: I love it. I love it. Its been getting a lot of s**t by national media, and local media, because of the crazy, crazy gentrification that’s going on and the supposed exodus of musicians. They’re saying like, “everybody’s moving to LA and everybody’s moving away,” which is totally not true.


SG: What do you enjoy most about making music?

Debbie: This is gonna sound really cheesy, but it’s like, I think one of the few things where I am performing, or writing, or recording it feels like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be on the planet in that moment.

SG: That’s not cheesy at all! That’s amazing. So, this was always what you wanted to do?

Debbie: Yeah, I started playing piano when I was four, so I always had music in my life since I can remember, actually, since before I can remember.

SG: What inspired you while you were writing your latest album, Unravel?

Debbie: I think it was a number of things. I think that one of the big ones and, whether or not a lot of this material literally made it into the songs and into the album, I think my overall experience of what I was doing for my full-time job for the first three years that I moved here; which was working with homeless youth in San Francisco. At first I was like an appointment for them, and helped them build resumes, and get ready for interviews and things like that. And then a job opened up in the art program there and I spent the majority of those three years working in the art program with these homeless young people and it was really really unbelievable. I was teaching music lessons, I was taking groups of youths to things like plays and museums and concerts. We were organizing performances, open mic nights, creative writing workshops, all these things. So that’s what I was doing on top of music during the time that I was writing this latest record.

SG: I read that you said, “mistakes become part of the patchwork of performances,” and I found that really interesting. Do you think that good things can come from making mistakes sometimes?

Debbie: I’ve never really believed in regret. I’ve never found it useful and all you just do is stew in it. So I think whether it’s musically or just in life I try and see everything as like, “well now I know for next time,” and as a learning and growing experience and that is relevant with both music.

SG: What was different about your writing process when you were writing Unravel versus your first album?

Debbie: I was trying to branch out a little bit in terms of, you know, I wasn’t trying to adhere to a really rigid song structure even though a lot of the songs on the record are like “first chorus, first chorus, bridge,” you know? There are definitely some as well that are just like pieces of the song sewn together in a way that’s a little bit less traditional and I think it was very freeing to try and do that.

SG: I noticed that a bit in “I Am Ready,” it starts off steady and then jumps into a nice beat. I really love that song.

Debbie: Thank you very much. The first song and the last song of the record I kind of just see as two halves or two pieces of a song like part 1, part 2. It was a more exciting way to approach things, I think, for this last record.

SG: I really enjoy the overall message with Unravel, which is, embracing vulnerabilities rather than hiding them away.

Debbie: Thank you. I really appreciate that you say that. Yeah, I think that it’s [vulnerability] associated with weakness or shame and it was my exploration into it and something I still struggle with; but as I said earlier, working at that job where you had to be constantly and emotionally available, but not to a point where you were a disaster or unable to contain it, for hearing the stories and life experiences that I was hearing. So it was a very strange line to be walking all the time, and also just having to be very together all the time for other people and I think that spilled over into other areas of my life. In all of its different forms dealing with vulnerability kind of shapes through the ten songs on the record.

SG: I saw that “Wishbone” was featured on Dance Moms recently. How did that come about?

Debbie: {Laughs} Have you seen Dance Moms?

SG: I’ve seen a few episodes of Dance Moms, it gets intense.

Debbie: Yeah, I’ve never actually seen a full episode which I feel a little guilty about, but I uploaded my first record to a licensing website years ago and forgot about it. It wasn’t an exclusive contract or anything it was just a website where anybody can upload their songs and then it gets put in a library and the company shops the library to you know, film and tv people based on what they’re looking for and I just got really really lucky that I’ve actually had two songs on there, in different episodes. It’s such a unique way to have your song in a show because it’s completely connected to what’s happening in a way that’s very direct because these amazing little ladies actually choreographed dances to the songs versus it just being something that’s played in the background. I think it is just such a cool thing and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to see somebody interact with my music in that way that I think is very rare.

SG: Outside of music is there anything that really inspires you?

Debbie: Yes! I think I’m inspired very often by the amazing work that my friends do. I come from two psychologists, who are my parents, who have a very strong social justice and activism background. And I studied sociology and music in college so a lot of my friends also ended up going in to social work or creative arts or social justice through film and all these things.

SG: Did your parents influence your music intake as a child at all?

Debbie: Yeah, well, my dad is a musician, he’s a trumpet player and he used to conduct musical theater, so he loves music and I was always around it and my brother is also a musician. He is a phenomenal trumpet player, but actually only wanted to play drums in a rock band, which is what he’s done for over a decade and he’s amazing. So I was getting a lot of this really funny, really polarized musical exposure.

SG: Do you have any advice for fans of yours who are considering a music career or any career in the arts?

Debbie: Oh my god, do it. Do it now. Don’t wait, do it now. One of the hardest things for me though, you know, I was working at that job and trying to do music on top of it and I was saving as much money as I could and building community and starting to teach piano on the weekends. I was basically trying to line everything up so when the timing was right I had some things to help me before I totally jumped off the cliff, and went to just music full-time about a year and a half ago, so that was helpful. I think one of the most difficult parts, honestly, is having to be your own cheerleader so much. It’s a lot of hustling and it’s a lot of rejection. It’s very easy to be discouraged but I think just to keep going and to at least try it.

SG: What does the future hold for Debbie Neigher?

Debbie: I am very excited to be writing more songs right now, so hopefully recording something in the near future, and just kind of continuing to develop my voice and my sound and to try to push myself creatively and more touring…

-Laura Benitez - SoGutsy

"Debbie Neigher Embraces Vulnerability on "I Am Ready""

There’s no shortage of artists with compelling backstories and interesting songs — artists like Debbie Neigher. The San Francisco singer and songwriter (and one time study-abroad student in Ghana) released her second album, “Unravel,” last fall, after giving up her job working with at-risk teens to focus full-time on music.

Like her self-titled first album, Neigher recorded “Unravel” with John Vanderslice producing at his Tiny Telephone Studio, and tapped Magik*Magik Orchestra to arrange the songs. The result is a collection of lush pop-friendly soundscapes surrounding Neigher’s vibrant, crystalline voice on songs that she says are about vulnerability in its various guises.

Neigher currently has just one show on the calendar, June 29 at Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco, but we can hold out hope for a more extensive tour. In the meantime, listen to her song “I Am Ready.” - Listen, Dammit.

"BA of the Week: Musician Debbie Neigher"

This week’s featured broke-ass is Debbie Neigher, a professional musician who used to work at Larkin Street Youth Services. Now she’s doing the dream though and making a living off working in the arts. I gotta salute her for that! When I asked her if she and anything to promote in the intro she said:

I would love to promote my upcoming show at Amnesia next Tuesday, May 6th (part of Cave Clove’s month-long residency). The show starts at 9pm with Jess and Andrew from Fox & Woman, and I am on at 11!

You can stream her most recent album here and check her out on Facebook here. And most importantly, read her answers to our grueling questions below!

Name: Debbie Neigher

Age: 27

Occupation: Musician

What neighborhood do you live in?: Western Addition or NOPA depending on whether or not you’re a real estate agent.

Best money saving tip: My amazing Jewish mother is far better equipped to answer that.

What do you refuse to spend money on?: $4 toast

Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?: Making my 2 records!

How’d that feel?: Amazing that I did it on my own, and horrified that I drained my life savings in 30 seconds…twice. But there’s nothing better to spend your money on!!

Favorite cheap eat: Fish tacos at El Metate!

Favorite dive bar: Oo that’s a tough one – I’d have to say either Geary Cocktails or the High Tide in the Tenderloin. Although the last (and only) time I went to the High Tide the window sill was lined with empty shot glasses filled with chicken bones. I’m actually not sure if that makes it the winner or not!

Best deal you’ve ever gotten: My friend who used to work at a car rental business gave me some company’s corporate code so I can rent vans for way less when I go on tour!

Favorite free thing to do: Classical Revolution on Monday nights at Revolution Café!! It’s amazing that you can drink wine and watch symphony-level musicians play for free in the middle of an awesome café!

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: I’d give a lot to the organization where I used to work, Larkin Street Youth Services. Then I would probably buy a badass tour van and a car!

Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: Yes! I have to pinch myself everyday that I am paying my rent by having a career in the arts!

Do you own my book?: I don’t because clearly I’m a cheap ass! BUT when I first moved to San Francisco, I spent hours upstairs at City Lights Bookstore reading your book and taking notes on the best things to do in the city!! You really helped me feel excited and at home in a new place!

Best hangover cure: Breakfast burrito at Bean Bag Cafe

Are you a hipster?: I think that word has completely lost all meaning since its latest resurgence in the last decade or so…and yet, I play an analog synthesizer from the 80’s in my band. - Broke-Ass Stuart

"Q&A: Debbie Neigher talks sophomore album, ‘Unravel’"

San Francisco resident Debbie Neigher released the sophomore followup to her eponymous 2011 debut in November. Much like her self-titled debut, 2013’s Unravel was recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios with John Vanderslice, enlisting the help of engineer Ian Pellicci and Minna Choi of Magik*Magik Orchestra. While Neigher has played synths and keyboards with a number of other Bay Area bands, her refined piano skills and intensely personal songwriting shine through on her latest solo effort. We recently caught up with Debbie Neigher via email to discuss her recent album release, and plans for the future. “I Am Ready” is the record’s first single.

The Bay Bridged: You moved to San Francisco from New Jersey a few years ago. What is your favorite, and least favorite thing about living in SF?
Debbie Neigher: I love the natural beauty of the city and the incredibly vibrant arts (and food!) scene! Growing up on the east coast I still have to pinch myself sometimes that I live in a city that looks like this! My least favorite aspect is definitely how expensive it is. And the appalling lack of a decent bagel.

TBB: You used to play keyboards with Phantom Kicks during their live shows. Have you been involved in any other collaborations aside from your solo work?

DN: Yes I love those guys! I’ve been fortunate to perform with Split Screens, The Sam Chase, DOE EYE, Ezra Furman, and Fox & Woman since then, and I recorded some piano for DonCat earlier this year. I love having the chance to learn so many styles of music in this city with such passionate and kind people. I feel that there’s a real spirit of collaboration and mutual inspiration in San Francisco – there’s been so much propaganda about a kind of musical brain drain from this city to Los Angeles, but anyone who is involved in the community would see how much talent is still here and working harder than ever!

TBB: You recorded both of your solo albums with producer John Vanderslice at his analog Mission District studio, Tiny Telephone. It took 11 days to record your self-titled debut. How long did it take to record Unravel?

DN: I think it was 11 days again! It’s so great when you get to have the same recording family back in the studio – you really understand everyone’s rhythm and personalities.

TBB: Were there any major differences in the recording process between the two albums?

DN: For my first record, the main focus was definitely on the piano and the voice, with the Magik*Magik Orchestra beautifully filling in the colors. This time, I really wanted to take a step back from the piano to reflect more of the music that I was listening to. We recorded all of the basics for the songs insanely quickly (in a day and a half I think?) with a digital piano, which we then scooped out so we could replace it with a wide array of organs, synths, and keyboards. JV [John Vanderslice] also helped a lot in taking me further with effects, instrumentation, and creative vocal harmonies.

To be honest, I was kind of nervous before we went in – we had a lot less planned out arrangement- and instrumentation-wise for this record. But I think that spirit of spontaneity and not over-planning, along with having such an incredible creative team, made it even more successful and fun in the end.

TBB: Have you always preferred recording your music on tape, without any digital editing?

DN: Both my records have been recorded on tape and I have been really blown away by the process. The act of cutting ribbons of tape by hand, not having a computer screen in the control room, having to be incredibly prepared with your material, and watching the ballet of live mixing feels beautifully hands-on and organic.

TBB: You worked with producer John Vanderslice, engineer Ian Pellicci, drummer Jason Slota, and Magik*Magik Orchestra arranger/conductor Minna Choi on both of your albums. Were there any changes in personnel while recording Unravel?

DN: We brought in the amazing Justine Leichtling (The Sam Chase) for some violin and the secret weapon that is Sylvain Carton (Japonize Elephants) who can pretty much play any instrument on the planet. We would throw him in front of a mic and say “make up a sax part! Okay great, add some clarinet! Now some guitar!” My long-time bassist Jesse Cafiero (Split Screens) got to join me for this record too. My dear friend Shawn Alpay, who often plays cello for me live, was a fantastic assistant engineer as well.

TBB: They say you have your whole life to write your first album, and a year to write your second. Did your inspiration for Unravel come naturally?

DN: Thankfully it did! I think I was really eager to experiment more with sounds, song structures, and storytelling this time around – I had songs on my first record that I wrote when I was 17! I felt like I was a 23-year-old reading my 17-year-old self’s diary entry up on a stage in front of an audience!

I was also playing with so many different bands in the Bay Area that I think I absorbed some of the inspiration and styles I was surrounded by.

TBB: How have your own personal experiences helped shape the tone of your music?

DN: For the first 3 years I lived here, I worked at Larkin Street Youth Services, an amazing agency serving homeless youth in the Bay Area. While only a song or two made it to the record that directly spoke to what I was seeing there, the nature of that work forces you to be present and honest with your emotions at all times. If you can’t be open and vulnerable yourself, the young people we worked with would find it hard to open up to you about their stories. At the same time, if you couldn’t hold boundaries and be strong for others, you couldn’t do your job effectively. I think that general environment, that dance of facing or stifling your emotions and vulnerabilities, spread to many aspects of my life and seeped into the theme of the album.

TBB: You are performing at The Satellite in Los Angeles on February 9. Any other upcoming shows planned?

DN: Absolutely! I’ll be touring the Pacific Northwest in March/April and my next San Francisco show thus far is March 26th at Milk Bar.

TBB: Will you have a backing band supporting your live performances?

DN: Yes, I always do! We’ll do anything from a trio to an 8-piece band with horns and strings! I love the life it gives to the songs. - The Bay Bridged

"Get Local: San Francisco Live Shows Week of 2/16"

First up is local pop-centric singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher. Front and center working keys and vocals Neigher has been performing as a four piece featuring another set of keys, drums, and bass (with the ever swoon worthy lap steel). The band will be performing a new song for the first time so go early and you might as well take advantage of that food service. Seattle’s Kris Orlowski and friends will headline as they continue a run down the West Coast after wrapping last year’s Believer. Orlowski’s indie folk is much more grand often releasing music featuring a sole acoustic guitar to a 17 piece orchestra. Highly recommended for fans of Hey Marseilles, Tall Heights, Hey Rosetta! - Sol Republic

"Thao takes down the Swedish American with her bare heart"

Tuesday night, as part of the Noise Pop festival at the Swedish American Music Hall, I had the pleasure of seeing the excellent Thao Nguyen (of The Get Down Stay Down). Maybe you all know this already, maybe I’m late to this game, but yeah, wow. She lived up to every word of hype, and there is loads of hype.

From the moment she took the stage, Thao made two things clear: 1) She was there. 100% full-bodied THERE; and 2) she was really happy WE were there. In her own words:

“I love playing shows in the city I live in, cause we can talk like friends.”

Joined by drummer James Slota*, Thao writhed and shook with a hollow-bodied electric guitar nearly twice the size of her torso. She plucked – loose but not sloppy – intricate and sometimes fiery lead lines and punctuated them with harmonics and brusque strums. At other times she played the mandolin or the banjo (in such a way as to call to mind the qinqin). Topped with lyrics yelled, or sung and always delivered with utter earnestness and heart.

While Thao’s voice might not appeal to all, being more powerful than polished, it was impossible not to be swept into her fervor. One line in particular swept me in, “If the breeze leaves with the one you love / You go out & catch them.” She vowed to hit on every person in the crowd, and kept good on that promise with her inherently flirtatious stage presence. She could bring down the house with a foot stomp.

Word is that the band has just completed recording another album, which would be their first release since 2013′s We The Common. Clearly, there are good things to come.

A word of appreciation for the 3 opening acts: Debbie Neigher, Annie Girl & The Flight, and The Mynabirds. Neigher, who stepped in last minute to cover for Everyone is Dirty after a band member suffered liver failure (gasp!), had a gorgeous pure-toned voice that was sometimes mesmerizing, and a classic and composed piano style. Annie Girl took us all deep into inner space with psychedelic folk songs that pit existential sadness against innocence with her little-girl voice.

The Omaha-based Mynabirds – played by lead singer Laura Burhenn – blew me away. Literally, (the mic was a little too hot at times), and figuratively with a powerful, nuanced and polished sound. I’d read that she was able to do the girl-with-a-piano-singing-about-the-heart thing without shmaltz and didn’t quite believe it. But there it was. Of the 4 acts of the night, this was the one that most surprised me, and the one who carried the most composure. Her voice evoked at different moments Loreena McKennitt, Jenny Lewis, Emmy Lou Harris and Cat Power. Of the loop station and vocal harmony processor she used to turn the solo performance into rich arrangements, she joked, “the cost of having a band is going up, so I’ve got robots as back-up singers.” The robots (via vocal loops) were also her drummer and bass player. An impressive show that’s got me looking forward to a deeper delve into this band’s music.

As a final note, there was an interesting (and exciting) announcement in the Noise Pop program that stated the festival will be curating 2015 (and beyond?) at the Swedish American. It’s great to see energy to revitalize this incredible listening room. - SF Critic

"Kata Rokkar Favorite Albums of 2011"

It’s not hard for me to admit I love heartfelt and well produced “chick-behind-a-piano” rock. But while Debbie Neigher’s music is brutal in the way it subverts the traditional coffeehouse vibe, it’s less interested in upheaval and more concerned with the ecstasy of changes in life, melody and revelation. Her John Vanderslice-produced and Magik*Magik Orchestra arranged album is full of surprises; it displays an easy competence with song structure that enables her to go in different –sometimes deeply personal–directions without sounding over polished or cheesy. - Kata Rokkar

"Debbie Neigher: Unraveling in the Best Kind of Way"

San Francisco-based Debbie Neigher’s musical career is still fairly fresh, although she already has quite an impressive list of credentials. Last week she released her sophomore LP, Unravel, her second to be produced by John Vanderslice, most famous for his work with the likes of Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, and St. Vincent. The album represents Neigher’s first time fully embracing life as a musician. The album has Neigher confidently and competently exploring a far more diverse and more varied scope of sounds than the piano-based singer/songwriter aesthetic of her debut. She’s currently touring behind the release and has two east coast shows later this week, with a November 22nd stop at B. Good Lounge in Boston and a November 23rd date at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. Neigher recently took some time to chat with me about her recent evolution, both in her sound and her lifestyle, and what the future might hold for a still-young, but quite promising musician.

Izzy Cihak: You’re based out of San Francisco. How do you feel about the city’s music and arts scene? I’ve interviewed a lot of really cool acts out of the area in recent years.

Debbie Neigher: I really love the San Francisco music and arts scene. I particularly love the rich history of muralists and street art in the city. I also feel deeply connected with the music community – I was so lucky to stumble upon the extended family of Tiny Telephone (recording studio owned by John Vanderslice) – there is so much groundbreaking talent, coupled with the kindest and most humble people I’ve met. There’s also a lot of collaboration and sharing of band members in SF – I think I’ve been in four different bands with my bass player!

IC: You recently released your sophomore LP, Unravel. How do you feel like it compares to your debut?

DN: I feel much different about this record than my first – I had songs on my debut I wrote when I was 17! This time around, we left a lot to spontaneity; instead of the piano being the main narrator with drums and bass and orchestra filling out the songs, we tracked drums, bass, and electric keyboard so we could gut out the piano sounds and replace them one by one with the plethora of keyboards, synths, and organs laying around the studio. John Vanderslice got his hands a little dirtier as producer this time, too – he would make lightning decisions about throwing in or removing instruments, have me write new harmonies on the spot, and did live dubbing on synths while I was playing and recording. Recording once again on tape contributed to spirit of spontaneity and commitment to a take and a moment; everyone feels way more present without the surgery that can happen in digital editing.

IC: Have you had any favorite responses to the album, whether from critics or friends or family? Is there anyone who you think best “gets” the album?

DN: I was blown away by a very kind review from Paste Magazine – I was so shocked to be on there, let alone such a lovely review! I was so nervous I think I refreshed the page about 100 times waiting for it to come up. My friends have also been incredibly supportive – “Your new album is cray,” would definitely have to be a personal favorite.

IC: What were the album’s most significant influences?

DN: I was listening to a lot of St. Vincent and Bon Iver in the time between my debut record and recording Unravel. I also ended up playing with a bunch of different Bay Area bands over the past few years, including everything from bluegrass to psychedelic rock to electro-indie, so I’ve been very fortunate to have been learning and performing a lot of different styles of music all at the same time. I was also inundated by my work with homeless youth in San Francisco, and some of those experiences made their way into the record. Trying to incorporate social issues into songwriting has always been tricky for me; the outcome dangles on the edge of being preachy/trite and being compelling.

IC: What have been your highlights of 2013?

DN: 2013 has been both amazing and challenging. I quit my full time job of three years, co-managing an arts program for homeless youth in San Francisco, right at the end of 2012, to record this record and to fully pursue music. It was liberating, terrifying, and emotionally turbulent – finally plunging all the way into my dream continues to come with moments of bliss, fear, and self-doubt, depending on the minute. I released a record, fell in love, moved, toured, and performed with six different bands in 2013 – I feel insanely grateful for these experiences and feel very different than I did in 2012.

IC: You’re going to be playing a couple of east coast shows in the near future. What can be expected of the live experience?

DN: I’m so excited to finally be playing the east coast again, especially in cities where I used to live! We have a lot of energy at our live shows and I’ve tried to recreate a lot of the sounds from the recor - Philthy Mag

"Americana UK Review of "Debbie Neigher""

I do like a nicely packaged album. Good design, gatefold sleeve, booklet with lyrics, nice paper, interesting pictures, it all says that some care and thought have gone into it. Of course, sometimes the outside is the best part of an album, but not in this case. Twenty-four year old Debbie Neigher’s debut is a rich, piano driven set of original songs that you can lose yourself in, although there are enough jagged edges to keep you on your toes.
It’s not as raw as Tori Amos but it still bleeds, notably on the standout “Pink Chalk”, where a woman who’s been sexually assaulted is lying next to a new partner and thinking about what she’s prepared to reveal of herself. “My secrets are bone scaffolds that hold me up/and make me who I am/if I tell them to you all at once/how will I stand?” Quite.

The music is loosely jazz-based with some great cascading piano on “What Say You Now” and Neigher’s supporting musicians, the ten piece Magik*Magik Orchestra on brass and strings, create a big wash of sound for her to emote over. It’s easy for this type of music to descend into mere background, upmarket supper club muzak, but this doesn’t. What it does do is have things like the irresistible chorus of “Frames”, complete with key change a la big ballad, a sweet core – the tale of adolescent friends in “Wishbone” is deeply touching – and the gumption to tackle the heavy stuff head-on – the harrowing “Daytime”, wherein a woman, perhaps a prostitute, perhaps a girlfriend, is by turns assaulted, ignored, treated as a mere object, is superb. An excellent debut. - Americana UK

"Live Show Review: Record Release at Cafe Du Nord"

On a cool night on July 26th at Cafe Du Nord, our favorite Bay Area solo-pianist songstress, Debbie Neigher provided an intimate record release show for friends and fans.

While her jazzy pop melodies can be labelled as radio-accessible, her relationship-oriented lyrics can be unexpectedly salty (“What Say You Now” and “Daytime” are honest and disarmingly vulnerable). Even calming songs of lost friendship like “Wishbone” received a quiet and respectful response from the attentive audience, allowing Debbie to express herself freely without distraction. Debbie is not above specializing in accessible pop epics though, the kind of songs that fit perfectly over the end credits of a great Hollywood tearjerker. But what separates her from the bubbly piano-singer-songwriter types is her dedication to that true jazz spirit and blueness. Her stage presence is charming and her structured melodies translate live like an experienced road warrior. You can hardly believe she’s just getting started.

Joining her were members of the Phantom Kicks (her other band) as well as producer of Debbie’s album and all around awesome guy, Mr. John Vanderslice performed an impromptu set in the middle of the floor with Debbie doing backup vocals. Hearing “White Dove” like that was quite magical.

Debbie played her entire album in track order without much effort and to a room of smiles, including her own. We’re happy for her and hope to be seeing her in larger venues very soon. - Kata Rokkar

"Music Pick of the Week"

Art program counselor, member of the San Francisco indie-rock outfit Phantom Kicks, singer-songwriter, and pianist: Debbie Neigher can do it all. While she was DIY-ing her upcoming self-titled full length album, pop-folk icon and owner of Tiny Telephone recording studio John Vanderslice came out of retirement from producing records "in the luckiest freak accident" to work with her. In Neigher's upcoming album, her silky soprano showcases her versatility in the effervescent "Frames" and the painfully courageous "Pink Chalk." Neigher was the winner of West Coast Songwriters Best Song competition for the track "What Say You Now"; she was also nominated for SF Deli Magazine's Emerging Artist Award of 2010. (Verzosa) - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Debbie Neigher Unravels Her Latest Project"

Last month brought us a new album from the San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher. Her latest project is entitled Unravel and it reveals an artist who is continuously inspired and willing to push her creative and personal boundaries in her quest to deliver a wonderful collection of music.

Before pursuing music full-time, she was broadening her horizons as a college student who had taken a semester to study abroad in Ghana. Later, deciding that college wasn’t for her, she picked up and moved to San Francisco to work with homeless youth for three years. As one can see, Miss Neigher is no stranger to taking the plunge. So, when it came to putting this album together, it became another chance to push herself personally as well as creatively to put out a project as musically diverse and empowering as this latest work. Her long-time producer John Vanderslice, she had explained in a recent interview, helped her in this stylistic reinvention. Included are a dynamite team of collaborators (a list of significant talent from the City by the Bay), including arranger/conductor of the Magik*Magik orchestra Minna Choi (Death Cab for Cutie), engineer Ian Pellicci (Deerhoof, The Dodos, Rouge Wave), drummer Jason Slota (Thao with the Get Down Stay Down), and Jesse Cafiero on bass and lap steel guitar (Thao, Sean Hayes). Additional musicians who contributed their threads to this wonderful musical patchwork include violinist Justine Leichtling and multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Carton. Calling them the “Dream Team”, Neigher and JV (her personal name for Vanderslice) were to craft a wonderfully collaborative masterpiece.

When asked to describe Unravel, Miss Neigher explains that it is “a collection of songs about vulnerability—avoiding it, embracing it and turning it into strength and power; the vulnerabilities of femininity and how that can be interpreted; emotional hibernation…” I must say, when one throws him or herself into the sounds of her melodic electric keys in combination with her down-to-earth, yet emotionally tinged, lyrics it is easy to feel the fire of the human experience and how such fierce winds from the outside often blow those flames from one side to the other, sometimes nearly extinguishing them altogether. “Arboretumes” poetically illustrates such anxieties. However, such exposure isn’t always angst-ridden. The gleeful bounce of “Tomato Fields” shows us another side of vulnerability; the ability to be open and carefree without the artificial frames and boundaries society uses to “guide” our development as well-rounded individuals. The horns that came in late are, in my opinion, a wonderful addition to the piece and it blended itself perfectly with the bouncy percussion and piano; an excellent motif for the spontaneity that comes with being completely open. The title track also provides an inspirational tone. Miss Neigher’s piano skills shine beautifully as the percussion plays a slower, yet far-from-lacking-energy tempo that keeps the lowest soul up and moving like a jog through a park on a sunny day. With such a diverse array of songs, Miss Neigher has once more proven that taking the plunge and doing something completely different, more often than not, is the most fulfilling thing a person can do. Unravel is the result of such inhibited willingness and it is the best example to follow. - Fourculture

"Best of SF Emerging Artists 2010"

Selected by some of San Francisco's most influential writers, musicians, bloggers, and scene makers as one of the Top 5 Best SF Emerging Artists of 2010 in the Deli Magazine. - The Deli Magazine

"Music I Dug & You Should Hear Week of Jan 17: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Debbie Neigher"

I’m way behind the times on this one: I only recently discovered Debbie Neigher’s music; so far I’m only in a position to comment on her 2011 self-titled debut. But what a debut: I’m pretty obsessive about lyrics, so if an artist is going to hang his or her hat on a piano and clever turns of phrase odds are I’m not going to be wowed (unless you’re Regina Spektor, in which case I worship at your feet/pedals). But I’m wowed: so many smart, surprising lines (“I’m lying on a bed of evergreens in my head” in Evergreens; “There’s static on the radio but I can sing without the music anyway…. I can feel you without remembering your face anyway” in Frames). For me it calls to mind the estimable voice of Natalie Merchant plus that extra edge of more-than-just-pop creativity like Spektor delivers. - Hard Times Hundred & One

"Debbie Neigher Opening for Kris Orlowski at Hotel Utah"

San Francisco singer-songwriter Debbie Neigher will perform a rare solo set at Hotel Utah this Thursday, opening for Seattle’s Kris Orlowski. Watch her latest video for “Lavender Honey” below.

Neigher was kind enough to speak with The Bay Bridged about a year ago, sharing insights on her accomplished sophomore album Unravel. Produced by John Vanderslice and recorded on analog tape, Unravel showcases Neigher’s songwriting, keyboard, and vocal talents. Thursday’s show will present a stripped-down, more intimate version of her live set. She also plans on premiering a brand new song. Tickets for the show are available here.

Kris Orlowski is on his first headlining tour with his Seattle-based band. The tour follows the successful release of his Columbia City Theater Sessions EP, produced by Damien Jurado. Hear the title track from Kris Orlowski’s debut album, Believer, below. - The Bay Bridged

"Mixtape: Spotlight on San Francisco Singer-Songwriters"

It’s not entirely clear why a remarkable new wave of singer-songwriters has begun to emerge in the San Francisco Bay Area recently, but we certainly aren’t complaining. Other genres may fall more in and out of vogue, but a wide array of local songwriting talents influenced by folk, rock, blues, pop, and psych are performing regularly in places like Viracocha, Doc’s Lab, and The Chapel, and banding together for showcases like the Fog City Songwriters series of quarterly events.

While veteran performers like Lia Rose and The Sam Chase regularly headline shows around the Bay Area, buzzed-about artists like Fantastic Negrito are beginning to join them. Xavier Dphrepaulezz’s blues-influenced project won NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and he’ll be performing at Outside Lands this summer. Also on the radar: SF’s Andrew St. James, who, despite being only 19, released his second album, The Shakes, to much acclaim late last year.

The term “singer-songwriter” often triggers mental images of a lone troubadour with an acoustic guitar, and, to be sure, a handful of the songs included here fit that mold. Travis Hayes often performs with a full band, but late last year’s Young Daze [Acoustic] offered a compelling, restrained take on songs from his 2014 LP. Similarly, Kevin Patrick fronts the rollicking trio Rin Tin Tiger, but his solo work as Field Medic is quiet, sparse and weighty.

But this mix also showcases Bay Area musicians exploring sonic terrain beyond the stripped-down acoustic landscape. Jordannah Elizabeth‘s latest, A Rush, mixes psych, soul, and other influences in a way that’s unique and unpredictable. Speaking of unpredictable, Kendra McKinley‘s album Chestnut Street was very stripped-down, so the deliriously kaleidoscopic “Do What You Want” suggests a new and exciting direction on her next LP.

This mixtape collects fourteen songs by singer-songwriters from the San Francisco Bay Area, including all of the artists discussed above and many more. Enjoy the mix!

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About the bands:

The Sam Chase – “Ode to San Francisco”
Andrew St. James – “Falling Up”
Rosie Cima – “The Pablo Song”
Fantastic Negrito – “An Honest Man”
Field Medic – “Fuck You Grim Reaper”
Lia Rose – “In Your Place”
Jordannah Elizabeth – “A Prayer for Black America”
Travis Hayes – “Young Daze [Acoustic]”
Rachel Angel – “What I Want”
Debbie Neigher – “Smile”
DonCat – “Where Wind Blows”
Kendra McKinley – “Do What You Want”
Rivvrs – “I Will Follow You”
Karmen Buttler – “Daze of Love” - The Bay Bridged


Still working on that hot first release.



An artist with a gift for earnest lyricism, Debbie Neigher is one of San Francisco’s most promising singer-songwriters. On Unravel, her sophomore album produced by John Vanderslice (Spoon, The Mountain Goats), Neigher explores her battles with vulnerability through luminous singing, expressive keyboard work, and startling arrangements. 

Unravel navigates her journey toward self-acceptance through insightful, dream-like ballads, as well as triumphant, danceable pop anthems, vividly expressing her joys and sorrows in a way that is disarming and inspiring in equal measures. The music on Unravel moves in delightfully unexpected directions, incorporating her years of classical piano training with an indie pop and jazz approach. 

Neigher’s eponymous 2011 debut began garnering attention with its striking melodies, lush piano, and jazz-infused vocals, earning her two television placements on the Lifetime Network’s “Dance Moms,” as well as features in The San Francisco Chronicle and AOL Spinner. On Unravel, the music is more expansive, making use of synthesizers and electronic effects, producing cinematic soundscapes that immediately pull you in. 

Unravel was recorded in eleven days of intense analog sessions to capture the dynamic and exposed energy of Neigher’s live, full-band shows. In addition to Vanderslice, she enlisted the help of her San Francisco friends Minna Choi, the arranger/conductor for the Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie), who provided the string and horn accompaniments; engineer Ian Pellicci (Deerhoof, The Dodos, Rogue Wave); drummer Jason Slota (Thao with the Get Down Stay Down); and Jesse Cafiero on bass and lap steel guitar (Thao, Split Screens).

Neigher now returns with a new single, “It Never Snows Here”, recorded on Christmas Day in Oakland and released on June 9, 2015.  Of the inspiration for new track Neigher said, “Being born and raised on the east coast, I found it completely deregulating when I moved to San Francisco, a city without any seasons.  I realized that you get used to the external cycles of the year and your internal emotional cycles reflecting each other, and it felt very strange to live in a place where time seems to just run into itself."

Neigher has received features in American Songwriter Magazine, Daytrotter, The Huffington Post, Paste Magazine, and has shared the stage with Mary Lambert, John Vanderslice, and most recently with Thao & the Get Down Stay Down at this year’s SF Noise Pop Festival. Paste Magazine raves, “There are moments of poetic beauty so front-and-center on Debbie Neigher’s sophomore album, Unravel, you’d be remiss not to struggle to swallow a bit after hearing them."

Band Members