Today marks the long-awaited release of Deau Eyes’ first full-length album, Let It Leave, on Egghunt Records. We caught up with Ali Thibodeau to get the full story behind her all-encompassing debut release.
Creativity and positivity mesh in a stylistic rainbow with power and purpose in Let It Leave, Deau Eyes’ first album. Deau Eyes is Ali Thibodeau, a Richmond-based songstress who’s stories of adventure are only outnumbered by the immense amount of tassels on her fringe denim jacket. To encapsulate some of these stories and make her biggest musical debut yet, Thibodeau is releasing her first ever full length album as Deau Eyes, the aforementioned Let It Leave, on May 8, and she couldn’t be more excited for you to hear it. Truly she couldn’t, she’s already released a number of songs off the album in anticipation.
“Full Proof,” “Some Do,” “Paper Stickers,” and “Parallel Time” have all been released to various media prior to the album itself, including videos for each song on YouTube. Each song and video is special in its own way, and each captures a slice of the vastly different energies created throughout the album.
“The heart of this song is about finding what lights the fire inside of you and really pursuing that no matter what is happening elsewhere in your life,” Thibodeau said of “Some Do.” “Being able to escape from something that is bogging you down or making you feel less than what you have to bring to the world.” The “Some Do” video captures this idea through an energetic use of big wigs, long denim tassels, and colorful cowgirl boots.
The music video for “Parallel Time” was shot entirely by Thibodeau at various points of her life; traveling, practicing, enjoying huge pillow fights, and singing over an unanswered FaceTime call. The personal touch this video extends helps convey the DIY lifestyle Thibodeau holds dear, and brings everything about Deau Eyes down to earth.
All of the videos add up to a visual version of the album that adds new textures to and expands upon what Let It Leave is all about. That is, of course, intentional.
“I’ve always kinda wanted to do that, but I’ve always felt like an amateur when it comes to video. I have a real passion for it, and I’m excited to have an excuse to be like, ‘Yeah, I was in the house, but here’s my iPhone videos that I made on iMovie. I did something,’” said Thibodeau. “It’s an alternative way to experience the album, whether or not we get to have our release show.”
Approaching the album release date during a pandemic has introduced a number of challenges that Thibodeau has chosen to take on with grace. As this is her first album, she had been looking forward to many new experiences: the album release party, the first big supporting tour, shows upon shows packed with good people and friends from all over.
But as she says, “If my parents and my family have taught me anything, it’s that you always make lemonade out of whatever lemons you got. These are some really weird lemons, but we’re figuring it out.”
“It’s a weird combination of mourning how things were going but also being really excited about what I’m going to get to create with all of this time. There’s no pressure at all for anybody to be cranking out anything. If anything, this is a time when we all need to check in with ourselves and our intentions, and look at each other as human beings in the same world, having the same experience, and slow down,” said Thibodeau. “My current situation is that I’m in a house alone, so I’m calling a lot of friends and family, and I’m also having a lot more dance parties by myself and painting my face with all the eyeshadow that I have from my Ipsy bag and getting really weird. I’m trying to document it.”
And document it she will. The videos she’s already released are just the beginning; Thibodeau has been working on a visual representation for the entire album in the form of music videos, as an exchange for the in-person album release show experience. Aside from the four already released, the album has five more equally thrilling and lovable songs to work with.
Thibodeau is no stranger to change and adaptation, so this new quarantine experience can be added to a list of incredible times she has worked through for her ultimate benefit. Having been a waitress, baker, busker, Zumba instructor, and so much more, she has proven there is almost nothing the world can hand you that you can’t find a good adventure in.
“I have a friend that does set design, and he made this huge Polly Pocket display for a toy convention. He needed someone to drive it in the back of a U-Haul across the country, and he thought of me,” said Thibodeau. “So, I just took a U-Haul across the country by myself with all this Polly Pocket stuff in the back of the truck. When I got to L.A. there was a Holiday Inn with a hot tub in the room, and I was just like, ‘Oh I’ve made it, I’ve really made it.’”
From wacky cross-country excursions to professional experiences most people only dream of, Thibodeau really has done it all, even making the cast at Universal Studios’ Harry Potter World.
“I was a wizard at Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. I was a puppeteer and the narrator of a show called ‘Tales of Beedle the Bard’,” she explained. “That was a whirlwind two-week crash course of puppeteering and monologuing over a track. We would rehearse in the middle of the night; we’d be at Universal Studios at like 3 a.m.. It was wild.”
All of these experiences have contributed to Thibodeau’s music in its purpose and voice. Her life has not been linear, and Let It Leave reflects that. From one song to the next, there is so much to be gained from her inspired lyrics, set to various tones and aesthetics.
“It’s almost like a meditative obsession that started when I was a kid,” Thibodeau said of songwriting. “It was never really about how good my guitar skills were or if I was going to be able to sing in front of people. It was always just something that centered my mind and helped me be concise with my thoughts and what was really going on at the heart of every situation. All of these jobs that I’ve had have shown me that life is about so much more than this one straight shot through, and I write a lot about that, and how I navigate chaos.”
Back at the beginning of the Deau Eyes journey, Thibodeau posted a YouTube video asking for Kickstarter donations. She promised supporters that she would write letters, send pre-releases and t-shirts, and more, in exchange for their support backing the creation of her debut album. The grand prize was that you’d get your own live show in your living room. That one’s still available to be claimed. “No one really took me up on the living room show,” said Thibodeau, “which I’m still down to do if anybody reads this article and is in… like, I’m so down.”
She was glad for the opportunity that fulfilling all those Kickstarter rewards gave her to reflect on how much support she did receive.
“I love writing letters to everybody and taking time to really think about the person that was helping me, no matter how small the gift was,” said Thibodeau. “It’s so important when you’re making music to realize that people believe in you, because then you start to believe in yourself, and that changes the game.”
Thibodeau said that without the outpouring of support she received from friends and strangers alike to push the album into existence, Let It Leave might still be far from complete. It helps that, as she’s traveled, the friends she’s made have come around seamlessly, contributing to her story with theirs.
“It was a lot of people from all walks of life, from all these jobs I’ve done, and just friends that I’ve made along the way in different cities,” she said of her Kickstarter backers. “Whenever I’m traveling, I love just walking into a bar and sticking up a conversation with somebody — just for the story. I do a lot of things for the story. Mostly just entering the world with an open heart and knowing that you have so much to learn from literally anybody that you talk to. I think that just opens up a whole world.”
Thibodeau has a strong desire to encourage those around her, and her music has become a primary way for her to do so. Having learned that life can change and take on many different forms you never expected, she aims to remind us all that we can go with our gut, that we are never glued to one thing in life. Whether you’ve been at a job that doesn’t fulfill you or spent too much time with a friend who, let’s be honest, isn’t a friend at all, she knows where your heart’s at.
“I have this song called ‘Autonomy’ and I always say that it’s about self-love and independence, but I think it’s also about giving yourself permission to cut the bullshit out of your life, and giving yourself permission to not feel obligated to things that aren’t necessarily serving you,” she said. “I know I don’t know everything and I am still figuring it all out, but I feel really grateful that I’ve had these influences in my life that said, ‘Hey, I know you were all gung-ho about this one dream, but if it doesn’t end up being your dream at the end of the day, that’s okay.’ You can have just as much of a fulfilling life following your intuition, because at the end of the day we are so much more than what we do. We are valuable beyond our careers and what is making us money.”
Top Photo via Deau Eyes/Facebook