Deborah had the sudden realization that she wanted to be a composer during her high school music theory class in Palo Alto, CA. Everything mathematical and theoretical about music that she was learning in class was essentially what she had been learning intuitively on her own since before she could talk. However, in her mind, it all made sense according to her perceived patterns and relationships of color. Deborah was born with a combination of perfect pitch and synesthesia, which causes her to identify every note she hears by seeing a corresponding color in her mind’s eye.
Her experience in the arts until that theory class consisted of modern dance, musical theater, choirs, garage bands, and a few life-changing family trips to Disneyland. Though she was studying piano in a traditional classical setting, her ability to musically mimic, accompany, collaborate, and her joy of playing anything and everything by ear proved to be a much stronger force in her life. For her final music theory project, she chose to stage a scene from Romeo and Juliet, using student actors and her sister’s choreography, accompanied by an Elizabethan consort, which led to composing the score for her high school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
While earning her bachelor’s in Music Composition and Film Scoring at USC, she scored many student films and was hired to transcribe pieces of pop music for plagiarism related court cases for her professor who worked as a legal expert. Her reputation for her remarkable ears landed her a job with Mark Snow on The X-Files movie as a transcriber, while her scoring work on student films led to the viral short film, George Lucas in Love, directed by her college friend and frequent collaborator, Joe Nussbaum.
Deborah went on to score Joe’s feature films Sleepover, Sydney White, and Disney’s Prom, and they are currently headed towards a second season of the wildly successful Amazon show, Just Add Magic, which she scores with her longtime friend and collaborator, Zack Ryan.
She has also worked prolifically as a music arranger and producer for a number of live productions including the original Hudson Theater production of the cult hit musical, bare, and the star-studded Pussycat Dolls live at The Roxy. Her work on bare caught the attention of film composer John Ottman (The Usual Suspects), whom she arranged and wrote additional music for on a number of his films, and ended up scoring Imaginary Heroes based on his themes. At the Pussycat Dolls show, she was introduced to music mogul Randy Spendlove, first while heading the music department at Miramax and later moving to Paramount. This alliance led to her scoring Paramount films including Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Katy Perry: Part of Me, Footloose (2012), and producing/arranging musical numbers for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Also stemming from Randy’s support and guidance at Miramax, Deborah met director Lasse Hallström, first scoring the Robert Redford/Morgan Freeman movie An Unfinished Life, and then moving on to the popular Nicholas Sparks romances Dear John and Safe Haven.
Having always been a collaborator at heart, some of her other favorite musical endeavors include arranging and producing Joss Whedon’s original score for his critically acclaimed film Much Ado About Nothing, and arranging Harvey Mason, Jr.’s score for More Than a Game, the celebrated documentary about LeBron James.
Deborah brought her dramatic musical sensibilities and orchestral prowess to the radio waves through a longtime collaboration with rock hit maker Howard Benson. Her string arrangements can be heard in hits by The All-American Rejects, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Papa Roach, and with producer David Hodges on the Christina Perri song “A Thousand Years” for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.
Other highlights of her career so far include bringing Danny Elfman’s themes to life on the Thea Award winning theme park ride Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, as well as scoring the Tim Burton produced animated film 9, recorded at the famous AIR Studios in London.
Throughout her career, Deborah has kept a balance between work on the highest budget mainstream movies, albums, and shows, to the most art house, labor-of-love indies. While forever fascinated by musical trends, technology, and sounds of the present and future, she has developed a voice that combines modern innovation with the timeless human emotion of melody. Whether in an action sequence, an ironic dark comedy, or a sweeping romance, to Deborah, music always comes back to emotion and storytelling.
Photo by: Danika Singfield