Complicated Mess

Debra Arlyn

A Pop/Rock CD full of catchy choruses, singable melodies, and angsty love-torn lyrics, put together in up-tempo tunes with plenty of ear candy. Debra's radio-friendly vocals are the cherry on top.

DEBRA ARLYN, piano-pop songwriter, and winner of the "06 Singer/Songwriter Award", continues to receives industry acclaim for her remarkable talent as

A Pop/Rock CD full of catchy choruses, singable melodies, and angsty love-torn lyrics, put together in up-tempo tunes with plenty of ear candy. Debra's radio-friendly vocals are the cherry on top.

DEBRA ARLYN, piano-pop songwriter, and winner of the "06 Singer/Songwriter Award", continues to receives industry acclaim for her remarkable talent as both songwriter and astonishing vocalist. Blending classic styled songs (i.e. Carole King) with a contemporary sound has won Debra comparisons to Alicia Keys and Sarah Mchloughlin. However, there is no comparison for Debra’s soulful, honest, and dynamic voice. Her fearless performance and ability to emotionally engage her audience, earned her the label "The girl with the incredible voice."

Debra's talent has captured the attention of American Idol judge Randy Jackson, producer & songwriter for Mariah Carey, Ben Margulies, grammy winning producer Jeff Weber, founder of Trauma Records,Jim Martone, and president of We Are Listening, Lior Shamir. Also, former CEO of Capitol Records, Andy Slaytor, during a private showcase, commented Debra is "something you wont hear everyday."

In '03, Arlyn won the Fox sponsored "Oregon Idol" contest and competed for the "American Idol" crown. Since then, Arlyn's origional work has earned her a spot on the "Top Hot 100 Artists" by LAs Music Connection Magazine, an exclusive performance at the NACA college showcase in Reno, and a national college radio campaign, spurred by her award-winning song "Fine". Debra's song "Why Cant We Start Over?" was hand picked by legendary producer, Marta Kauffman, of "Friends", to be featured on the WB TV show "Related", and won honorable mention in the "Billboard World Songwriting Contest". Her music has also been featured in films, including "Clear-Cut" which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and “Valley of Angels”, Best Feature winner at the NY International Film Festival.

Debra Arlyn has something significant to offer the music world. Not only is she a musician, songwriter, producer, and performer, she is young, attractive, and gifted with an exceptional voice. There is no doubt, DEBRA ARLYN has the depth and soulfulness of a true artist.

Debra's Musical Accomplishments:

  1. Winner of the "2006 SINGER/SONGWRITER AWARDS" for her song "Fine". Sponsored by

  2. Twice featured artist on Portlands Emmy nominated entertainment TV show "PDXposed".

  3. Included in the Top Hot 100 Unsigned Artists by Music Connection magazine of 2005.

  4. Debra's sonf "Why Can't We Start Over?" was featured on Warner Bros TV show "Related"

  5. Performed 12 City BORDERS Tour in 2006.

  6. Voted Top Female Pop Vocalist of all time on

  7. Wrote and recorded soundtrack for the indie movie Clear Cut screened at the Sundance Film Festival 2006.

  8. Featured artist in Clear-channels and program NEW!DISCOVER MUSIC.

  9. Won the Clear Channel 2003 "Oregon Idol" contest, and was flown to L.A. to compete for the American Idol TV show.


"Confident and self-assured at 20 years old, singer/songwriter/keyboardist Debra Arlyn demonstrated a sense of maturity and poise that takes most performers years to cultivate. With a voice that recalls the power of Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aquiliera and even Mariah Carey, Arlyn was always in control of her instrument and utilized it to great effect. Whether belting out a song with swelling chorus, being sultry like a torch singer or showing a quieter vulnerability dropping down her voice down a key or two, Aryln exhibited the talent of a seasoned pro." - ALL-ACCESS Magazine

"I like this record, she's very good and the album as a whole is a very slick production, it sounds and looks very major label." - COLLECTED SOUL "Guide to women in music"

"The stage is where the girl becomes a woman. Suddenly seeming comfortable in her own skin, in her sexuality, in her place at the focal point of everyone in the room. It's the stage that belongs to her, and not the other way around. And unlike her Britney-esque established competition, she writes her own music and lyrics, and plays piano as well. It's her musicality and talent that will propel her to stardom in the not-so-distant future. Arlyn is diverse in her vocal range, as well as the styles of music she floats seemlessly between. While her pure pop tunes are what will make her famous, it's her jazzy and R&B tunes that will make her stand out from the crowd." -MUSIC SPECTATOR MAGAZINE "the magazine for the portland music scene"

"Debra Arlyn has grown from an aspiring pop starlet into a singer-songwriter of impressive vocal and emotional dynamics." - THE ENTERTAINER

"Arlyn has the pipes and point-of-view of a mature songwriter. This young artist is working at a high level and is ripe for major label interest." - LA MUSIC CONNECTION MAGAZINE."

"Debra is nonetheless getting music-bizzers abuzz over her TRL- ready voice (a sweet but strong instrument capable not merely of Mariah-like melismatic feats but of real emotion, too) and her more wholesome, less-buxom Britney looks."

"Between her sexy, soulful, infintely accessible (and, thankfully, unassisted by auto-tune) croon and her whitebread good looks, Arlyn could successfully become a pop diva." - SPLENDID MAGAZINE


"American Idol" has become one of the most attention-grabbing cultural phenomena of our time, and a viable stepping stone to at least short-term pop stardom. But Corvallis singer Debra Arlyn should be congratulated for falling short of that televised brass ring.

Arlyn won a 2003 "Oregon Idol" competition sponsored by the media conglomerate Clear Channel, but was cut in an early round at the real deal in Los Angeles. So instead of focusing on the superficialities of performance and the interpretive challenges of wretched songs, Arlyn has had the freedom to work on what ultimately counts, or at least what ought to: writing and delivering a good, honest song, making music that reflects her heart, not her marketing plan.

And that work is starting to pay off with "Complicated Mess," the 21-year-old pop hopeful's promising new album. Handling all writing, vocals and keyboards, and producing this (only her second album) on her own, Arlyn sounds impressively mature and confident. Her voice is warm and clear and can affect both a youthful lightness and a richer, more soul-inflected feeling, and she's sussed how to shape the sound of guitars and a taut rhythm section in ways that both support her vocals and build the emotional resonance of the songs.

But as appealing as her voice is (and on that count she has a refreshing sense for when not to use her power and melismatic athleticism), it's the songs that mark Arlyn as a talent to watch. The title track in particular builds around a memorable central hook that's dramatic but never oversold, and throughout the 10 songs she shows a knack for concise structures and graceful melodies. Most notably for a young artist shooting for the mainstream moon, she doesn't slip into the cheesy musical resolutions or lyric cliches that tend to hamper artists of this stripe.

Forging a path to stardom from the base of what's essentially a family-run label out of Corvallis won't be as easy as withstanding Simon Cowell's sarcasm might have been. But Arlyn's clearly headed down the right road. And she might end up someone actually worth idolizing.

"IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL, COMPLICATED MESS." By Jason Gearhart Northwest Noise

Recently, NORTHWEST NOISE was fortunate enough to conduct an online interview with the lovely and talented Northwest pop sensation, DEBRA ARLYN. Arlyn has recently completed her sophomore record titled Complicated Mess, only a year after her debut album Thinking Out Loud created a positive buzz within the national and independent music communities. Arlyn answered a wide variety of questions about her personal endeavors and interests. Id like to call the overall theme to this Northwest Noise online interview piece, Debra Arlyn: Musician in Transition! Read on, my children!

NW: First off, how are you enjoying your summer so far with the release of your sophomore record Complicated Mess and your tour schedule up and down the west coast?

DA: Im very excited about the official release of my CD coming up August 8th. We have tons of fun shows to support the release, from Portland down to San Diego, and its always a blast to travel and play shows in different cities. There really is no better way to spend a summer.

NW: Epic Records recording artist and native Oregonian Justin King produced and lent his musical talents to your debut album Thinking Out Loud. How did you meet King and what was it like working with him on that record?

DA: Justin probably doesnt realize what a HUGE influence he was on me. I met him through a mutual friend that had worked with him before, and I asked him if he would produce my songs for me. I cant believe he actually accepted because he was so busy with his own thing at the time, but Im so thankful he did. I learned so much from him. Every time I listen to Thinking Out Loud and I hear him playing on it, it makes me smile.

NW: You produced the Complicated Mess record all by yourself. What did you learn from King as far as producing a record and did you draw from any other sources to help guide you in your debut producing effort?

DA: Justin taught me about crafting a song through producing, how to make the chorus stand out, and how to simplify melodies so theyre more accessible to listeners. He also was very aware of song length for things like radio. The last thing Justin said to me at the end of our sessions was to never let anyone tell me what to do. To do music that was from my hearthe probably doesnt remember saying that, but it stuck with me. As far as other influences I had, I mostly just listened to a lot of records that were out at the time. A lot of Coldplay and of course Kelly Clarkson. I wasnt trying to copy them or anything, but they were great inspiration.

NW: Both of your albums have similarities and differences in the messages and stories you sing about. Can you expound on some of the similarities and differences between Thinking Out Loud and Complicated Mess? Is the theme within each record a similar one or has your latest release evolved into a whole new thematic machine, so to speak?

DA: Thinking Out Loud wasnt as consistent as Complicated Mess is musically or thematically. Thinking Out Loud was more or less about love and being in love and musically it definitely wandered a bit. With Complicated Mess, every song in a sense is telling the same message; which is that life, and all its various situations like love or following dreams, is a struggle and its complicated. It never works out like we think. I actually remember lying in my bed one night thinking about stuff and saying out loud its such a Complicated Mess. And I knew I had to write a song with that in mind. Thats why the first line of that song is I close my eyes when I lay down at night. Its interesting though that I talk about things being difficult and messy but I dont mean it in a negative way like oh look how tough my life is. I just mean it as more of an observation. Hence why I put the word beautiful in front of Complicated Mess, because it really is fascinating to me how life works out sometimes.

NW: Has your music gotten radio airplay? If so, what Portland and non-Portland stations was your music played on? Are you still getting solid airplay? What tracks from both albums have been promoted and played?

DA: I have been played on various radio stations: Eugene 104.7 KDUK, Portland KINK 101.9 to name a couple. I also am being featured in the Clearchannel and program NEW!DISCOVER MUSIC, which means I am on over 400 Clearchannel radio station websites.

NW: Whats it been like to have performed on the same billing with other prominent Portland, Oregon musicians such as Geoff Byrd and Scott Fisher? Have you learned any ins and outs about the music industry and touring from these up and coming artists or from other artists?

DA: Ive talked a lot with Geoff about the music scene in the Northwest and hes helped guide me a lot. I loved sharing stages with both guys because I really enjoy theyre music. I love Scotts lyrics. He talks about things that are important and his music makes you feel good at the same time. If only he would return my emails

NW: Out of all your musician friends from the Portland crew, whos the biggest wise ass of the bunch?

DA: Paul from Intervision 5. ;)

NW: Has there been one particular gig youve done that stands out more than all the others? If so, which one and why?

DA: I had a great show in January at the Room 5 Lounge in LA. Very intimate venue that was absolutely packed. Great response from the audience and the band played well together.

NW: If I recall correctly, you were discovered through the Oregon Idol competition in 2003 by winning the whole thing. Do you embrace that period of your musical journey, the show giving you the exposure to help your career take off from its musical launching pad or is that time with the show a memory youre glad to forget about and move on from? If you have distanced yourself from that show, why have you decided to do so?

DA: That experience was great. I got a lot of exposure and attention from it which helped me a lot. Im not purposely deciding to distance myself from being the Oregon Idol, I just have to make it clear to people that I do more than just sing. I am a singer/songwriter who plays piano and writes 100% of her music. When people think of American Idol, they think of a person who performs other peoples songs. And I dont do that.

NW: Going back to the very beginnings of your musical evolution, at what age did you learn to play the piano? Did you teach yourself to play the piano and to sing?

DA: Ive never had any vocal lessons or piano lessons. Some would argue thats not a great thing. Ha ha. But it has developed into something that makes me different I think. I taught myself how to play piano at 15. I cant read music so I memorize everything in my head. My dad always worries Im going to fall and bump my head and my career will be over...

NW: Do you come from a musical family that inspired you to explore the music building within your soul?

DA: My dad was a musician all of his life. Lets just say Tony Arlyn and The Mama Feels Goods was the most under-appreciated band of the 70s era.

NW: I was grinning ear to ear when I found out your music had been featured on the WB television series Related. Which song or songs were chosen for the series?

DA: Three songs were played on the show, most notably Why Cant We Start Over? from Complicated Mess. They had an actress on the show perform the song. That was awesome and difficult to watch someone else sing my song.

NW: Is it true that Friends co-creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman discovered your music for Related? If so, how did it make you feel that she wanted your music featured on the show?

DA: I did have a meeting with Marta and the music supervisor for Related. They heard about me through a review in Music Connection Magazine. I almost had the opportunity to be on the show, but I think the lack of acting experience did me in. Its flattering that they liked my music, and I really appreciate the opportunity they gave me.

NW: Okay Debra, heres where it gets good for your fans! Let the asking of the personal and random questions begin! Ill start by asking how you find a healthy balance between your singing career, family, friends and a love life.

DA: I dont really. Music will always come first, but I am young still and I dont like feeling that Im missing out on things with my friends and stuff. Sometimes that gets the better of me and I lose focus. Fortunately my family is so involved with my career and helping to build it, that they keep me in line. And as far as the love lifeI always have time for that. Ha ha. Jk.

NW: Outside of making music, are there any other interests, pursuits or talents that you have?

DA: I scored a documentary that showed in Sundance this ...

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