Women » Features

Lesbian Rocker Deborah Vial Plays Dallas House of Blues

by Jenny Block
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 22, 2014

She's from Dallas. She lives in Maui. And she's going to be putting on quite a show at the House of Blues, from the sound of it. Openly lesbian rocker Deborah Vial -- who is 47 but likes to tell people that she's 55 so they can tell her that she looks really good for her age -- is bringing her indie rock to town on July 26.

Concertgoers can expect to hear music from her album, "Stages and Stones," which includes fan favorites, "Don't Make Me Take It" along with "Simple Girl," "Angel" and "Lose Again."

Edge recently caught up with Vial to find out more about her work and her upcoming show.

EDGE: Where did you grow up?

VIAL: The sense of where someone grows up changes as they move through life. When I was younger, I always said my family was from New Orleans because that was my parents' home and the place we returned to for the summers and holidays.

But in truth, I was raised in Dallas and Georgia and Chicago. We moved so frequently that I never felt attached to those places when thinking about where I grew up. I always said New Orleans. It was the one thread weaving through childhood. Now, when asked where I grew up or where I am from, I say Dallas. We have been on Maui for 10 years but Texas feels like the constant thread to me now. We moved there when I was a senior in high school and that was a very long time ago.

EDGE: When did you first become interested in music?

VIAL: All children are interested in music. Every baby's eyes light up when they hear music. I remember a few years back when Caron had sold one of her guitars to a local Dallas musician who took the guitar home but never seemed to have the $100/month (he was supposed to pay her $100/month for 8 months).

He made his first $100 payment but failed to make any further payments yet he would not return the guitar. Caron would call him and he would say "but I really love music" and Caron would let it slide for another month. We laughed because the first time I said to her, "Everyone loves music, asshole" was the first time it occurred to her that everyone does love music. Each of us may have different tastes, but we all love music.

EDGE: What bands or musicians inspire you?

VIAL: I love Sia. I love World Music, Indian, Sephardic, Eastern -- anything that does not scream "Western" when I listen to it is the most intriguing to me. The Bulgarian Women's Choir. Interesting dissonant chords. The Buddha Bar series.

EDGE: How would you categorize/describe your music?

VIAL: Western. Ha! It may not be what I like to listen to but it is who I am. I am a creature of the Western civilization and my music is American four on the floor.

EDGE: What things (other than music) inspire your music?

VIAL: All of my lyrics are stories about my life and what I am exposed to. We just finished a song called "Cut the Chord" and it was written because we had two very good friends end their relationship in the near distant past. The lyrics are the story of that break-up told from the perspective of one of the parties, if she could have opened up her skin and allowed several of us to jump in there with her and speak for her.

EDGE: When did you meet your partner?

VIAL: I met Caron Barrett in 1996? It may have been 1997.

EDGE: How did you meet your partner?

VIAL: I met her at Sue Ellen's in Dallas. It was an intentional meeting-not a bar hook-up. Caron owned a record label and recording studio in Dallas called Last Beat Records (in Deep Ellum) and we had a mutual friend who thought Caron could give me some advice on my music career.

EDGE: How did you end up playing music together?

VIAL: For Caron and I to end up writing and playing music was organic. Two musicians living together naturally end up playing song ideas for each other. I loved having my solo project and I loved attending Caron's performances with her band, Astrogin, but one night, Caron's singer quit the band and announced her departure with a throwing of a shoe to Caron's head, and that was that. I already knew the songs and loved the band so I stepped in as the singer for Astrogin. It was fun for me. It was fun to be in the supporting position.

EDGE: How would you describe your fan base?

VIAL: I don't know about the term "fan." That is such a bizarre word to me. I can say this: the audience at our performances is easily 75 percent women.

EDGE: What do you like to do when you're not playing music?

VIAL: Well, I love wine and I love to cook and garden. I love the moments I have with Caron and our six dogs. I love to swim in the ocean. I love my 4-5 hours long regular Sunday phone call with my best friend. I got really into condo remodeling a couple of years ago. My house is kind of like the shoemaker's son, whose shoes were full of holes.

My house is a mess but the condos we have bought, remodeled and sold are absolutely gorgeous. We have been remodeling and selling two to three condos per year for the past few years. It is a great artistic adventure. There is not a lot of money to be made due to the high price of labor and materials, but it is an artistic endeavor. I cry every time we sell whichever condo I just finished. I get so attached. They are pieces of art for me.

EDGE: What's your dream for your future when it comes to music?

VIAL: I would love to be a part of someone else's project. I loved singing background music for the super heavy metal band Sweetooth. That song, "Black-Eyed Susan" was used for so many heavy metal documentaries it was comical. We would be at home and hear my voice coming out of the TV and it was from Black-Eyed Susan" being used in the Pantera, "Behind the Music" episode, or we even heard it being used in the background of a missing kid documentary. There is something so interesting about a woman's voice in the midst of heavy metal. I would like to do more of that.

EDGE: What's your dream for the future outside of music?

VIAL: In the short term, I am hoping that the housing market stays calm for the moment so I can buy my next art project/condo before Maui kicks back into high season (winter). In the long term, I don't know. I have never thought too far ahead in life. I say yes to whatever is asked of me and those yeses send me down the next path and I don't look too far down the road. I am like a dog. I live in the moment, for the moment.

EDGE: What's one thing that you think people would be surprised to learn about you?

VIAL: I'm smarter than I look.

EDGE: What can fans expect from your show at House of Blues?

VIAL: I love a parade. I love drag. I love big hair, big makeup, go-go dancers: the more we can get away with, the more I want on stage.

EDGE: Anything else you want to share with Edge's readers?

VIAL: Yes. There is an after-party at Nova in Oak Cliff on July 26 so if you can't make the gig, we are going to invade Nova afterwards. Then, there is a hangover party the next day at Lee Harvey's in Oak Cliff.

Deborah Vial Band is live in concert at 7 p.m. on July 26 at the Dallas House of Blues, 2200 North Lamar Street, Dallas, TX 75202. For tickets or information, visit http://www.houseofblues.com/dallas/events/deborahvial or www.deborahvial.com

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, and ellegirl.com. You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).


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