Geek musical duo: Debs & Errol

debsanderrollMy friend emailed me a song I had to listen to. Thank goodness I did. Now, I have Disney’s Frozen parody song “Make it so” on my iPod. What is ‘Make it So’? It’s a Star Trek/Frozen mash-up… and it’s epic! I had to talk to the musical duo that wrote and sang that song!

Their names are Debs and Errol.

Based in Canada, Debs and Errol create geeky, original songs and parodies. I chatted with them to get to know them and their quirky lives of music, comics, and geekery.

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NR: I know you guys met at the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). How did this all start?

Errol: The funny thing about NaNoWriMo is that 90% of them are nerds in the Toronto Chapter – 80% female, 90% nerds. I’m actually quite extroverted so I’ll just talk to anybody that that will talk to me, so I’m very excited about lots of things. I will just talk to anybody and Debs at the time was a Word War Captain.

Debs: I had to control him.

Errol: She can’t control me. I can’t help that I was having fun.

Debs: I would get complaints because he would go to the other cities’ forums that we were competing against and congratulate them on hitting milestones before they actually hit it.

Errol: I was excited!

Debs: I got complaints, it was not good. [laughs]

Errol: We were in a Word War! There is a tradition that you have to trash talk the other city and I was thinking, I don’t want to trash talk anybody! I’ll congratulate them! They got mad at that, they rather me trash talk.

NR: But how did you find out that both of you were musically talented?

Errol: I found out that she was musical because she started playing on the piano and singing. It was during an all-night writing session. There was a piano there and she started playing and singing.

Debs: Really? I don’t remember that.

Errol: That’s when I notice, she had a princess voice! That’s what I noticed. You have quite the Disney princess voice. But I was “old creepy man” so she didn’t talk to me and didn’t know I existed. It’s true. She’s not denying it!

Debs: Anyways, then he asked me to sing one of his parody songs that he wrote.

Errol: It’s on the EP – “A Part of Your World”. No, “A Virtual World”.

Debs: Then in 2011, another friend that we met through NaNoWriMo. He founded a geeky theater company and was doing a showcase. He sent us an email that he was looking for musical acts.

Errol: He had a bunch set up. Two or three other acts… and then he asked Debs and then he asked me. Debs finally said ‘I only have emotional sad music’ and I said, ‘I know. I heard.’ She asked, ‘can I just sing with you cuz I know your songs and it’s a geeky theater kind of thing?’ Yeah! That’d be awesome. I like anybody to sing with me! Then what happened is the other acts all cut out and it was just us. There were six shows and two 15 minute sets.

Debs: It was a set of 8 songs. So four and four songs each set. So we had to quickly learn and arrange the songs. We only had a few weeks to do it and I had gone on a trip so we played 8 songs. That’s how it happened.

Errol: And the surprising thing was, and you may have seen this in our comic, people really liked us and that was shocking. They didn’t know we hadn’t played together before.

Debs: Because he got us T-shirts.

Errol: I did. I wanted us to look professional.

Debs: Because he didn’t want to embarrass them [the company] – the T-shirts made us look legitimate and professional.

Errol: Because we had only known each other at least before, we had written some songs together before – the February Album Writing Month [FAWM]. So we have written a couple of songs together. We are friends. So, on stage, all we did was just be like how we are right now. The audience saw “oh look, they are having fun together”. We were hoping not to be booed. We thought we were going to tank and we didn’t care. So we added fun on stage and people enjoyed it.

NR: You both have a Disney prince and princess voice.

Errol: She has a princess voice. I don’t really have one.

NR: No, both of you do. You sound like Aladdin.

Errol: Aw, thanks!

Debs: See! People like your voice!

Errol: You’re the one who tells me they don’t!

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NR: What’s the process like in creating your music/song – the geek stuff?  Do both of you work on it? Your inspiration?

Errol: It really all depends. Just really all depends. For example, when we did “Let It Go” parody’s [Make it So], she came to me and said ‘We need to do this! We have to make this a song!’ I said, ‘yes, I know we have to make this a song’. So what we did together, we started throwing ideas around and I said obviously it should be ‘Make it So’ and Debs liked that.

Debs: [singing to the melody of Let it Go] To-to-ro! To-to-RO!

NR: Was that another option?

Debs: There was Totoro. There was ‘I want Pho’.

Errol: Just silly things! I like a lot of Star Trek. I watched TNG [The Next Generation] growing up. However, I like Star Wars better. I know a lot about Miyazaki but I don’t know much about Star Trek. I know their names but if you asked me which episode had such and such, I wouldn’t know.

Debs: I was a really crazy Star Wars fans. I knew some of it, but not a lot. So we asked people.

Errol: We have tons of geek friends. We do have Star Trek Trekkie friends.

Debs: I can do this. It took me a long time to do this.

Errol: So I told Debs, since it’s “Make it So”, it should be a guy singing it.

Debs: I was like, NO! IT HAS TO BE ME! I was going to write another parody song about how I couldn’t sing it.

Errol: If you noticed, Debs sings a lot of songs and she complains to me now, “how come I always have to sing?”… Because half the songs you wanted to sing. During NaNoWriMo, we wanted to sing this song. Debs would go “I want to sing this song!”… but it’s a guy singing it. When we were singing Double Rainbow, she was like ‘I want to sing your part’… what do you mean you want to sing my part?! That’s my part!

Debs: So a bunch of friends suggested Star Trek First Contact. So I watched it and I basically sat with the script for a long time. I sent the script to him and it went back and forth.

Errol: A lot of our stuff goes back and forth. We’d open up a Google Document and if it’s a parody, then we list out all the original lyrics and what we try really hard to do is match the rhythm and the rhymes of the original. So it takes a really long time. Not too many people do that and it’s a lot of work. We don’t really have to. We just like doing that. We wanted it to sound like the original. Like ‘Tie After Tie’ [Star Wars parody of Time After Time], we tried to make it match the rhythm. [sings Time After Time]. We tried to make sure it sound relatively the same.

Debs: Even with verb tenses, like ‘flying’ versus ‘lying’.

Errol: She worries about verb tenses and spelling. Spelling is important. Yeah, I can understand that.

NR: How long would a typical song take to complete?

Debs: ‘Make it So’ took a while. It was really hard. That was a really hard song.

Errol: That was a really hard song for you.

Debs: ‘Tie After Tie’, we wrote it in an afternoon. It was just easy, but sometimes it takes a long time.

Errol: The good thing was we were both Star Wars fans. It wasn’t that hard to write. Now other times, it’s whatever we’re excited about at the time. I always did want to write a Doctor Who song. So I did finish a Doctor Who song – it’s still not done. But I always wanted to write the Totoro song. I saw Sherlock episode 1 season 2, I immediately have to write a song. I wrote about The Woman and Debs had to sing it again. There are a long of songs I made Debs sing. That was an original one. We do parodies and originals as well.

NR: What other songs do you have planned? Do you try to write one songs a month?

Errol: A lot of songs happen when we are excited about something. And a lot of our songs happen during February Album Writing Month, so we write songs but we haven’t recorded a lot of them yet. We have two albums out but we have more songs.  I have one song that I just wrote two weeks ago. I don’t have a title for it – I called it ‘mindless nerd song’ and it’s a nerd/geek anthem and I wanted to write it because I didn’t want it to sound bitter. A lot of geek songs I hear sound a tad bit bitter. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to be super excited about being a geek. I also wanted to make sure that it was very generic. It could apply to any type of geek. So I wrote it, “I am excited to be a nerd” song. I always wanted to write that.

Debs: Sometimes when we have a show coming up and they need a particular thing. Tribbles song ‘I knew you were Tribble’, we wrote that because we had an show. It was a Star Trek event and we didn’t have any Star Trek themed songs.

Errol: We have this thing called the Toronto International Film Festival and the theater that runs that had a ghibli showcase – Studio Ghibili [Miyazki’s studio] and they did My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. So we were super excited, so I didn’t get to learn the ghibli songs. So we did a bunch of ghibli covers. I was happy.

NR: What has been your favorite event that you have performed at?

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Debs: OryCon, but you would say TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival].

Errol: Oh wow, what is my favorite event?

Debs: Our anniversary show. Everyone was singing along.

Errol: There are so many good elements from some of our performances. This is really hard.

Debs: OryCon is in Portland. It was our first international appearance. It was through Friends of Filk.

Errol: We were guests of honor and it was really exciting and it was our first international show.

Debs: They flew us out there!

Errol: We had two concerts and it was a lot of fun. These were people who had never heard of our song before. They weren’t too sure what to expect from us. Everybody there was super friendly. There are a lot of geek artists. So we got to meet some of them and they are all very supportive. We did a podcast with Seattle Geekly. It was just a lot of fun. Even Debs was happy and that’s saying something.

Debs: Hey!

Errol: I’m always happy. It was a lot of fun. It was tiring. We tried to go to a lot of panels. [To Debs] Tell them about our anniversary performance.

Debs: So this is our second year anniversary and we had booked this bar and they double booked the place. Luckily, they had this upstairs strange area for us, it was raining, and we set up an acoustic set. We had 80-90 people show up. Our friends made us ‘Debs and Errol’ cakes. It was a really small space and people were packed in.

Errol: And we were very supported. Our listeners are so supportive. They were sitting off in the small patio.

Debs: Everyone had small umbrellas and they were all singing along! We weren’t expecting that. His parents were there.

Errol: My parents aren’t geeks but they were smiling and laughing. They are supportive. At one point, we stopped [singing].

Debs: And everybody just kept singing.

Errol: That’s cool!

Debs: TIFF

Errol: Oh, the Studio Ghibli!

Debs: They had a contest here to find the biggest Studio ghibli fan. He entered it and we all voted for him.

Errol: There was a showcase on the big screen. They showed 15 ghibli films and I was so excited about it. The winner of the biggest Studio ghibli fan would win 10 pairs of tickets to see them all. I was going to see them anyways and I won.

Debs: The night before the showcase officially started, there was a screening of Castle in the Sky. Guillermo del Toro was there. He [Errol] was totally fanboying. So I checked my phone and there was an email from TIFF asking, ‘Hi! Do you want to perform in front of the screening of My Neighbor Totoro?  Oh my God! We’re in the theater right now! I flipped out.

Errol: Just say yes! Just say yes! I don’t care. I’ll pay to do that. We will play songs that nobody in the audience knows. I don’t care. Sometimes when I sing My Neighbor Totoro to our audience, only one or two people will get it or nobody will. I don’t care cuz I like the song. But at the screening of My Neighbor Totoro, everybody in the audience knew what that was. Everyone was like “Awww”.

NR: Since you guys sing geeky songs like this. Would you ever do music videos that feature you as the characters or cosplaying?

Debs: I would love to do that.

Errol: I would love to, but it’s the matter of it not looking really crappy. We have a lot of cosplay friends but we don’t cosplay.

Debs: I used to cosplay as Princess Leia and Padmé.

Errol: I have cosplay friends. I know how hard it is and how expensive it is. So I think that would be the hard thing – trying to make it look good. That would what I would be worried about. I shouldn’t worry about it but we have a lot of cosplay friends that are really good.

NR: Would they consider being in it?

Errol: Oh they would be in. That would be awesome.

NR: What are your future plans with your music? More albums?

Debs: We did the first one, all original songs. The EP of parody songs was a good interim project. We are going to do another album of original songs. That’s what we’re kinda writing for now.

Errol: For the new year, we want to do more conventions. We have a lot of fun at conventions. We have one this weekend and we want to do more YouTube bits. Not a whole slew of videos. Once a month. Nothing too crazy.

Debs: It’s hard to pick a focus because there are so many different directions you could go.

Errol: That was the hard thing. We redid our website. It was the hardest thing to do. Our website is not just a music website. If it were just a music website, I would let Debs go for it. Make it pretty. But it’s not. It’s a community website. A lot of people go to it to talk and some ready the comic. We also feature geek people. We like to do interviews with geek bands and promote geek things in our city.

NR: What inspires your daily comics?

Errol: Life. Pretty much, life. Life is crazy being in this band and hanging out with friends. Yeah. All those people in the comics are all real.

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NR: About the characters, how can one be in the comic with you? Have your friends ask to be characters?

Errol: Yeah, I get that a lot. I do. Usually it’s whom I interact with. For example, today’s comic is about my friend Kari, who is a geeky ukulele girl. Her web-comic that had been going on for seven years had ended. It was the end of a good run. A lot of events happened that I could write about. People always try to give me some ideas but no, I’m trying to catch up. There are a lot of fun things that happen. I’m still trying to catch up on all the OryCon stuff that happened. I haven’t gotten passed second day.

Debs: New stuff keeps popping up that we have to post. This is important!

NR: Do your feature your family – kids?

Errol: No, I am single in the comics. That’s the only difference. I do exaggerate a lot. In the comic, I am single. When we first started Debs & Errol sketch, I was the geeky guy that repelled women. I still kinda do that now, but I’m married, so I don’t care. And Debs just got men all the time and that happens still now too.

Debs: Oh my God.

Errol: That was the first few shows.  I played a single guy. So that’s how I played the comics to be – I was a single loser and Debs was somebody stuck with him. I just stayed that image. However I do have the Valentine’s comics, I refer to a blonde girl – like in Peanuts refers to a redheaded girl –I like. And every year, I write a song for her on our anniversary because it’s on February 14th and I’m very cheesy like that. We’ve been married for 15 years. No wife.and kids in the comics. She’s not a geek whatsoever. We had over 50 gigs and she’s been to 2 of them. She looks after the kids when I’m gone and I don’t want to force her to do the things she won’t like.

NR: Speaking of your blog, what can people do to be in your Geek Blog?

Debs: Email us!

Errol: Ask. We usually do geek bands. If they’re in a geek band, we’re happy to meet other geek bands. When we first started, I was excited to be part of a geek band. There are bound to be other geek bands in Toronto. I wanted to meet them all! I didn’t find any. I wanted to find some so we can all perform together! I only found one or two other people. Now that we’ve done this for two or three years, it’s such a niche thing. It’s exciting to find geek songs and geek artists. So that’s one of the reasons, we did Search for Geek.

NR: Would you do collaborations? Or are you going to?

Errol: Nerds with Guitars.

Debs: We haven’t written a song with them.

Errol: That’s true, we performed with them a lot. We’re not against it. When we find another geek band, they are also crazy busy. That’s the thing – they are crazy busy. Sometimes when you talk to someone, they are really home – and sadly, I had to cut down the amount game playing and TV watching because of the daily web comic and Twitter.

Debs: It’s worth saying, on the first CD, a lot of the songs were written with other people. A lot of them were collaborations. They weren’t geek bands but they worked with us.

Errol: Like Michael Sky [in New York]. He sent me four music tracks and this was great. One of the songs was At-Ats in the snow and he sent me the guitar for it. I sang it for AT-ATs and he had no idea what this was. He asked “Will kids like this?” I don’t care! I’m singing about AT-ATs! So yeah, I have collaborated with a bunch of people and they don’t know what’s happening. It’s fun to collaborate with other people. Now, it’s a hard time getting songs out. It’s not a bad thing. Last FAWM, we couldn’t do a lot of songs. We had another gig and judging another song contest. That took a crazy amount of time. This FAWM, we have this convention.

NR: If you could sing with anyone in the geek realm, who would you want to sing with.

Errol: ALL OF THEM!

Debs: At the same time!

Errol: That would be cool! We could do like a Band-Aid thing. That would be like wow, gee. I would like to sing with tons of people. If we wanted to think practically, then it would be kinda cool if everybody who have different instruments. We could get Angela and Aubrey [of the Double Clicks].

Debs: They have a Cello!!!

Errol: Is there a violinist out there?

NR: Lindsey Sterling.

Errol: Yes! Lindsey Sterling.

Debs: I just want a billion harmony cracks!

Errol: We can do a choir version of Baba Yetu, that would be awesome. From Civilization Four – the opening song from a game. It’s amazing. I love that song.

Debs: Email them all.

Errol: Who would mix and master it? I can’t. I need to get someone who could mix and master.

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NR:  What is your main geekdom?

Errol: Her main fandom would be Star Wars.

Debs: Yeah.

Errol: My main fandom would be Miyazaki. Also AT-ATs. When people share things on my wall, it’d be Totoro and AT-ATs. I also do like board games a lot. I collect almost every Terry Practhet books. Neil Gainman as well.

Debs: I like Game of Thrones.

NR: Will you be doing a Game of Thrones song soon?

Debs: I was looking the other day in Dothraki but it would take a lot of research. A love song in Dothraki.

Errol: Then you would have another Debs song. At least cut down and do duets. I keep writing songs thinking ‘Oh Debs would sound great singing this.’ I wrote an Elvish song. A friend of mine and I wrote a love song to Wheatley (Portal 2) that Debs sang. She sang the Sherlock song about Irene Adler.

Debs: I told him he could not write anymore solo songs for me to sing. We need balance.

Errol: ‘My Partner is a Nerd’ is also an all Debs song. I never played that one live. I don’t know why we never played it live. We do now a little bit.

NR: When you hear the popular song, would you want to change it to a parody?

Debs: Sometimes. We have to wait until the right subject comes along. Not shoehorn it in.

Errol: I always wanted to do ‘Tie After Tie’ because it was a perfect fit. I’m a huge 80s fan. For Let it Go she just wanted to do that song badly. We are both Disney fans. I begged her to do Disney songs with me. Sometimes I’ll hear a song, but I don’t know when to put a parody to it. If it does, then I would.

Debs: We do songs that are suited to our voices. We won’t sing something that is out of our range. People judge parodies. They want you to sound exactly like the original.

Errol: ‘The Falling Quickly’ thing. She told me she really liked it. It’s a really nice song. When you read the song, it is about losing something. So it like a game. So we chose Tetris because it’s about falling.

NR: Because you guys are from Canada, there are several Canadian nerds – Nathan Fillion, William Shatner, Wolverine/Logan? Dedicated to them! All the nerds are coming from Canada. I love Canadians.

Errol: That’s a good idea. We should.

Debs: We should.

Errol: The song I have to an actual celebrity is Neil Gaiman. It was called ‘Neil Gaiman Tweeted Me’ because it actually happened. I was so excited. It was one of those songs I had to write. I do mention Takei in one of my songs. A silly one I wrote for my wife called I wanna be your Asian. Another one I want to write, in the top ten geek people, there are no Asians. Only Takei. There should be tons of them!

NR: GEEK CHALLENGE TIME!!!

Errol: Oh wow! Challenge!

NR: Okay, Star Wars VERUS Battlestar Gallactica!

Debs:  Oh my God! Why would you do this to me?! Why would you do that to me?!

Errol: I say Star Wars.

Debs: Oh, I have to say Star Wars.

Errol: Because AT-ATs are cool.

NR: Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit?

Errol: I’d say Lord of the Rings.

Debs: Lord of the Rings.

NR: Xbox or Playstation?

Debs: Playstation lets me watch Netflix and play Little Bit Planet.

Errol: I’ve only played with Playstation. I played Lara Croft and a lot of stuff from Playstation.

NR: Marvel or DC?

Debs: I don’t know!

Errol: We have more friends Marvel based. I do a podcast called 3 Geeks in a Pod. One is into Marvel. I do like a lot of Marvel but I grew up with X-Men but I also grew up with DC. I like them all.

Debs: I feel like I’m not a big enough comic book fan. But I like Loki.

Errol: I will say Marvel. That’s hard. That’s mean.

Debs: Marvel.

NR: Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch versus Sherlock’s Robert Downey Jr?

Errol: Benedict Cumberbatch.

Debs: Benedict.

NR: Who shot first?

Errol: JR?

Debs: Han shot first.

Errol: Oh, Han shot first! When you said “Who Shot?” I thought JR!

NR: Vampires or Zombies?

Debs: Vampires because I like Spike. Totally. Vampires! I watched the Buffy Musical last night. Vampires!

Errol: The thing is they are both genres that are overdone. Vampires. Not a huge fan of The Walking Dead but I did like Last of Us.

NR: Buffy versus Firefly?

Debs: Oh my God!

Errol: [To Debs] That’s your question.

Debs: I’m going to say Buffy. I grew up with it and still watch it. My secret with Firefly is that I haven’t finished watching it cuz I don’t want to get to the end of it and then it’d be horrible.

NR: Favorite Doctor [Who]?

Debs: I abstain! I’m not well versed enough.

Errol: [agonizes] Uh, I don’t know! Ohhhhh! This is hard. I would… ok. I will go with the Doctor that Regrets and Forgets. Smith. 11th Doctor. I have both their sonic screwdrivers.

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NR: Picard versus Kirk?

Debs/Errol: PICARD. Definitely.

NR: Favorite Disney Princess?

Debs: Noooo! I always say Ariel. Because she is the one I grew up with.

Errol: I saw The Little Mermaid when it came out and it rebooted my like for it. I was in college and I was into The Little Mermaid. Someone gave me a cardboard cutout and I had it in my room. I thought it was a brilliant film.

Debs: She was 16!

Errol: I wasn’t in love with her!

Debs: Can you say Belle?

Errol: No, I like Ariel. I mean I could say Mulan. She’s the only one who doesn’t get married. Yay Mulan!

Debs: Belle doesn’t get married either. There’s no wedding in it.

Errol: Yeah, doesn’t matter. I go with Ariel. She makes stupid life choices but it’s hilarious.

NR: Favorite Ninja Turtle?

Debs: DONATELLO! We met the voice actor. When I was growing up, he was Raphael and Donatello now. He does a lot of voices. We met him at convention.

Errol: I like Donatello too. We actually wanted to do a comic where we fought who was Donatello.

Debs: I’m Donatello.

Errol: No! I’ve known him longer. Why do you want to be Donatello?

Debs: Because I love him.

NR: Who looks better in Purple?

Debs: I totally look better in purple.

Errol: I look better in purple!

Debs: Nice try, man. We have Shreddies [Shredded Wheat], when I was a kid – 8 or 9, there were these plastic Ninja Turtle rings in the cereal box and I wore the Donatello one all the time.

Errol: When I was in high school, I had my mom make me a Donatello costume. I had one in high school and nobody knew what it was. I had my own bow staff at the time.

NR: Back to the Future versus The Karate Kid [old school].

Errol: Back to the Future.

Debs: I liked the first one but I don’t get the other two at all.

NR: Favorite Pokemon?

Errol: Magic Carp! When I meet a kid, they are always surprised when I know what it is. I hear some kids talk about Pokemon. I tell them to get the Magic Carp. It’s the weakest thing in the planet. It splashes! I say ‘A Wild Debs Appear’.

NR: What Harry Potter House are you in?

Debs: I take the quizzes and I always get Ravenclaw. [To Errol] You would be a Hufflepuff.

Errol: Yeah, I would be a Hufflepuff. They’re loyal.

NR: Thank you guys for answering all my questions. It’s so fun to chat with geeks! I love your song Make it So and all your other songs! 

Debs/Errol: Thank you!

For more information on Debs and Errol, click on their website. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

About author

Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1699 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul