We’re at a divey Mexican restaurant in Austin, Texas and Debby Friday is eating tacos and reliving her SXSW set. “Good vibes all around,” she tells us in between bites. “There was a group of people there who have known my music since my ‘Bitch Punk’ days,” she adds, nodding to her 2018 EP which introduced fans to her genre-defiant sound. “I was really shocked because I’ve never even been to Austin, never played here and I’m just putting out my first record. It was so heartwarming, I had no idea what to expect.”
Friday’s full-length debut, ‘Good Luck’ gives listeners insight into her wide-ranging influences as she walks a knife’s edge between industrial rock, house music and pop. Across the album, the Nigerian-born singer’s voice is soulful over sinister arrangements and caustic production, like on lead single ‘So Hard To Tell’, as she wonders aloud about her fears, admitting, “Is this heaven or hell? / When it gets like this Oh, it’s so hard to tell”. On another album highlight, ‘What A Man’, she sings against quivering guitars as she calls out her previous, tumultuous connections with “chaotic” men.
Friday’s ability to inhabit multiple sonic worlds at once, layering them with sultry vocal tones and candid lyrics, is what makes the electronic producer stand out. Though it’s just the beginning of her career, with a fanbase growing worldwide and eagerness to continuing experimenting with her sound, the uniqueness of her music is already shining through.
NME: How do you feel about sharing ‘Good Luck’ with the world?
“I’m very excited. It feels like it’s been a long time in the making so I’m just ready and I’m ready to see what happens. When I made the album I had the intention of making something that felt honest and I feel like I accomplished that with ‘Good Luck’. It feels authentic to me and to so many parts of my artistry. It’s a very personal album.”
Was it daunting to produce and write such an authentic record?
“I don’t think I’ve had a choice. Even from the beginning as a young person growing up in a very strict household being myself was an act of rebellion. When you’re in a really structured environment you have to find ways to express yourself outside of your home. You have to find ways to be honest about who you are. It comes automatically, I don’t know what else I would do.”
You’ve previously said that if you could describe your music in one word you’d choose ‘thunder’. What word would you use to describe ‘Good Luck’?
“I would say ‘journey’. A lot of the emotion that went into ‘Good Luck’ was coming from a place of feeling lost and finding myself and becoming myself. A lot of those songs are me in the present time writing to a past self, either sharing words of comfort or reflection. One of the things I wanted to do with this album was connect with people who had similar experiences. If you’ve ever felt lost, or like ‘what am I doing’ or ever wondered, ‘is this heaven, is this hell?’ I wanted to translate that question of ‘who am I?’ into the album to let people know they aren’t alone in that experience. It’s something that’s very common and a lot of people go through that, and a lot of my album speaks to that.”
What messages were you hoping to share with those past versions of yourself on ‘Good Luck’?
“I love you. Don’t be scared. Keep going. Especially keep going. I never thought I’d be a musician. I was very creative as a child but the idea of being a musician never entered my mind. My parents are immigrants and I had no understanding of the music industry. Even now, putting out this album I still feel so in awe of everything. I have a lot of gratitude and I’m still wide-eyed. I’m still like ‘what life am I living right now?’ So I would tell my younger self, ‘keep going’. Everything I’ve been through all of the pain all of the suffering, all of the fucked up moments, my path hasn’t been linear but I can say now on the other side that it’s worth it.”
You’ve described yourself as the “zillennial anti-heroine”. What is it about that title suits you?
“I feel in between generations. I’m a very young millennial and I grew up on the internet which I think is the dividing factor. I call myself an anti-heroine because I think if you look at the beginning of my story, you wouldn’t think I’d eventually figure things out. I was very lost and rebellious when I was younger. Now, I feel like an unexpected underdog in a certain sense.”
You recently released ‘Hot Love’ and said it’s about “intoxicating and combustible” relationships. What drew you to write a song about it?
“I write songs in this vein because I’ve been through a lot of these explosive relationships. Now, I feel like I’m writing from the perspective of someone who is able to break that cycle. I’m not in those types of relationships anymore, but I can see why I was. It happens to a lot of people. We aren’t really taught how to love each other properly and we aren’t taught to love ourselves properly. So when we get into relationships, what do we expect is going to happen? I’ve come to terms with it because I’ve learned from it. Any experience I can have, I can handle if I’m able to derive meaning from it.”
How did you approach the production on ‘Good Luck’ compare to your previous EPs?
“I wanted to hear my progression as a producer. I’ve self-produced everything that I’ve made which is really important to me because it’s my voice, my sonic voice. For me, it’s important because if you’re going to hear something from me, I want you to hear it the way I intended. Even if it’s not polished and I’m not the best producer in the world… yet. I want people to feel me in the sounds and in the songs and I feel like I accomplished that with ‘Good Luck’. It’s me, like it or not.”